Friends Convene in Washington to Lobby for Bipartisan Legislation with FCNL

Legislative Policy Collaborative, PYM

Bill Cozzens, of Germantown Meeting and Margaret Mansfield, of Mount Holly Meeting, prep for lobbying with FCNL staffer Kate Gould (center)

As Quakers from across the United States descended on the capital today, the density of the Quaker population increased significantly in Washington, DC.

Friends came to the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) to talk about faith and witness, sharing their Quaker beliefs and work in support of civic society.

They also joined conversations that will establish FCNL’s bipartisan lobbying priorities for 2019, listened to policy experts, and advocated for legislation supported by both Democrat and Republican congresspeople. We live in a democracy, and sharing Quaker principles is a meaningful way to engage with lawmakers.

PYM’s General Secretary and Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life (Christie Duncan-Tessmer and Zachary Dutton) are attending FCNL’s meetings Thursday and Friday. Each day they plan to post web reports on whom they’ve met, sharing stories about what our monthly meeting members hope to accomplish. For those of us who can’t be with them, here is what they witnessed first hand.

From Zachary Dutton:

There is a display in the lobby of the FCNL annual meeting that reads, “Remember when we thought we could change the future? We still can.”  That positive attitude pervades the gathering I’m attending this weekend.

“This morning, people milled around greeting each other and I took a moment to connect with Nancy Martin (Newtown Monthly Meeting) who identifies as a ‘first timer’ at FCNL’s retreat and lobbying weekend. She said she’s been wanting to do this work for her whole life, because it brings the voices of different justice movements to the very doors of the people who have the power to improve lives through legislation. She talked about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and explained she sees similar needs now. Activists, organizers, and legislators need to work together! There is more work to be done!

“This is my first time at the Annual Meeting of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, but when I arrived, I instantly recognized so many PYM Friends. I ran into Bob and Gloria Horvay (Mickleton Meeting) who are part of PYM’s governance leadership and serve on Nominating Council. I encountered Mary Lou Hatcher (Lehigh Valley Meeting), who is  a leader in PYM’s Legislative Policy Collaborative and a member of FCNL’s General Committee.

Emily Temple, Zachary Dutton, and Joey Hartmann-Dow bond at FCNL

“Emily Temple, of Downingtown Meeting, was my “buddy” for the weekend, assigned to help me navigate the conference. She clerks the committee that plans FCNL’s Annual Meeting.

“I asked her what I should say about what makes FCNL ‘the place to be’ when people are considering how best to get involved.  She answered; lobbying and participating in FCNL’s governance proffers hope and energy in a discouraging world.

“I also met up with the graphic storyteller Joey Hartmann-Dow (Lehigh Valley Meeting). She recently created a ‘how-to’ booklet, FCNL SEEKS-issue 1, on lobbying for FCNL, and shared her feelings with me about the importance of empowerment, and the spiritually grounded ways we become motivated through the experience of lobbying.

“There are many ways to help make (legislative and other) change, and it’s important that people involved in various approaches work together as Quakers. Friends Committee on National Legislation is one great way to do it!”

Learn more about how FCNL trains people to lobby through FCNL’s lobbying toolkit.