Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will again determine its legislative priorities by asking Meetings and Churches to discern their own lists for work in Washington. During January and February, each monthly meeting in PYM will receive an invitation from FCNL to discern what issues should be the focus of FCNL’s work in Washington over the next Congress.
The story below on the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) Annual Meeting and work to reduce child poverty comes from one of PYM’s collaboratives (a network of individual Quakers working jointly on common interests specific to themselves). Collaborative work and witness are distinct from corporate ministry of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Though many individual Quakers join together in addressing social concerns, Quakerism is a faith of continuing revelation and PYM is a ‘big tent’ with many opinions. [Read more…] about FCNL Virtual Annual Meeting & US Child Poverty Conversations in Washington
First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative is seeking Friends’ truths. We are looking for those truths that work toward healing and involve humbly examining and sharing our stories.
[Read more…] about First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative: Healing and Story-telling on Federal Indian Boarding Schools
On Saturday, April 10, the Legislative Policy Collaborative of PYM sponsored a virtual workshop on Pathways to Ending Gun Violence: Legislative Solutions. Nearly 120 people registered for this event – clearly, this is a topic of great concern to F/friends, as representatives from more than 30 meetings tuned in to get informed and to get involved.
Judith Pilla of Radnor Monthly Meeting has published a letter to the editor in the December 23 Philadelphia Inquirer following a trip to Washington, DC, to lobby lawmakers on the importance of preserving the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits. The lobby visit was part of Friends Committee on National Legislation’s recent Annual Meeting and Lobby Day a few weeks ago. The Farm Bill, which included language preserving a more comprehensive set of SNAP benefits, passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives following lobby efforts by Friends and other like-minded folks. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had one of the very largest delegations to FCNL’s lobby day and Annual Meeting. For more information on FCNL, please visit fcnl.org. The text of Judith’s letter to the editor is below: [Read more…] about Food Stamps End Poverty: Letter to the Editor published
Quakers have a long history of political engagement. As the midterm elections approach, the PYM / FCNL Legislative Policy Collaborative encourages all Friends to engage in constructive dialogue with candidates at Town Hall Meetings and via Letters to the Editor.
FCNL’s website section on Questions for Candidates offers nonpartisan guidance on issues Friends care about.
Day 1- Feeling the Faith behind Lobbying
We gather on Saturday, March 17 at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Hundreds of Young Adults from 40 States convene to learn how to effectively lobby our government from a place of faith on the topic of immigration for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Spring Lobby Weekend. Today we go deep right away to answer the questions: “Why are we here?” and “What stories do we bring?” In small group discussions there is a shared shyness about opening up and telling our stories, but it starts, and our advocacy corps member gives guiding support for what stories are useful when talking to our representatives. When we gather back in our large group of around 400 people, we settle into silence and Friends begin to share their stories. Many of the people who stand up share that they themselves are DACA recipients, or have family members who are undocumented, and whose families have been affected by the criminalization of immigration in the United States. My witness to our lobby topic deepens in the worshipful sharing. In closing worship a Friend stands and quotes Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Day 2- The Lobby Ask:
On Day 2, Immigration & Domestic Policy Lobbyist at FCNL, Hannah Graf Evans, introduces us to the lobby ask, or in other words, what exactly we are asking our government to do. This is the wording given by FCNL: “We urge Congress to protect Dreamers by enacting a pathway to citizenship without breaking families apart or ramping up extreme border enforcement. Passing protections for Dreamers is just a first step. True immigration reform will require much more to align policy with our shared values of welcome, compassion, and diversity.” You can find the full lobby ask here.
At the keynote today, Greisa Martinez Rosas from United We Dream shared her story and why she fights for people who are undocumented. She also shared with us a Mexican proverb, “They tried to bury us, but they did not know we were seeds.” You can watch the full speech on FCNL’s Facebook Page.
Day 3- Lobby Training.
After a Congressional Staff Panel, we gather in state-groups to plan our lobby visit. I meet with PA but there are other PYM YAF’s who are representing New Jersey. We have an afternoon appointment in Senator Casey’s (PA) office so there is a sense that the pressure is on. One of the most helpful pieces of Spring Lobby Weekend was the Lobby Visit Roadmap they shared with us (FCNL’s strategy for an effective meeting). It includes introductions, thank yous, the ask, and having three people share their stories, followed by repeating the ask, more thank yous and a post visit follow-up email. In our Pennsylvania delegation we identified the people who would be sharing stories today, which included a DACA recipient who is a student at Penn State, a friend from rural PA with a Christ-based faith approach to the ask, and ME! (Before working at PYM I did a lot of work with undocumented communities and I’m grateful I was able bring this experience here.)
In the afternoon we follow the lobby visit roadmap and have a semi-successful meeting with a staffer of Senator Casey. Successful in the fact that Sen. Casey supports our ask. However, discouraging because the staffer believes the Democrats have no power even to get this on the floor right now. As I reflect on the meeting on the front steps of Russell Senate Office Building, Casey walks right up the stairs next to me!
Day 4- Lobbying and a snow storm
Unfortunately on the final day of Spring Lobby Weekend a snow storm picks up and I head off early as to not get snowed in. However the PA delegation kept lobbying and met with staffers of Senator Toomey!
written by Meg Rose
Young Adult Engagement Coordinator
Can you picture this? There were 425 Quakers from programmed meetings, un-programmed meetings, evangelical Friends churches, and other Quaker organizations from all across the United States, joyfully traipsing all over Capitol Hill on November 2 and 3 this year. About 54 of those Friends were from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Imagine! You would think there would be much silence, but no! Though there was worship, we were raising our voices to insist that thereby no increase to the Pentagon budget. We were encouraging a budget with a moral base, pressing for care for people, and speaking out against a bloated Pentagon budget with no accountability at all, even to Congress. We were passionate in holding our representatives to account. We, as constituents, urged them to do the right thing by all the people in their districts. Money for health care, for food stamps, for housing subsidies, for education, and for care for the elderly should not be cut to meet the increases in the budget for military equipment. [Read more…] about FCNL’s Quaker Public Policy Institute big success!
Maybe you’ve heard of FCNL.
I first came into relationship with Friends Committee on National Legislation by way of a push from a Friend. They said, “This is important, you are important, you should team up.”
So I attended Spring Lobby Weekend (begrudgingly!) in 2014 with expectations of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed in our government. But somehow, over a few days, FCNL sneakily transformed me into a hopeful lobbyist. I entered my representative’s office on Capitol Hill alone, prepared, centered, and, I believe, effective. [Read more…] about In case you’ve never lobbied but are intrigued by FCNL’s awesome work
Daine Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation was recently profiled in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress. Cited in particular is the work done in support of the “Iran Agreement” where PYM Friends lobbied effectively in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
From the article:
Randall, 60, is an optimist, and her faith in humanity is nearly universal. She cites increasing studies around the world, particularly at universities and nongovernment organizations, on nonviolent conflict resolution.
“We’re beginning to see a different way that human beings can live together in the world,” she said. “And despite all the problems we have and all the violence we see in many places, and the willingness to disregard science or to be self-centered, I feel like we’re evolving.”
Connecting to this work, friends in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting have recently formed a Legislative Policy Collaborative with the following mission:
Visiting PYM monthly meetings to support their witness and collaborate on effective national policy goals. Encouraging monthly meetings to participate in the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Priorities Process. Supporting monthly meeting FCNL contacts, and communication between meetings and the FCNL Representatives.
Read the entire article about FCNL here.