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The FCNL Quaker Welcome Center is a new “must see” stop for Quaker students and families visiting Washington, DC.

The center welcomes students of all ages—even elementary-aged Friends—to explore the Quaker vision of the world as it could be, and to practice using their Quaker voice to press for change through the Witness Wednesday programs. FCNL lobbying training is offered every Wednesday morning and guides Friends step-by-step in rendering our Quaker witness as legislative advocacy.

This is a spiritually-rooted process. FCNL’s Young Fellows and staff show us how to weave head, heart, and voice together to carry our truth into the world with integrity and impact. The training begins where Quakerism begins—with our inner experience.

To develop one’s authentic public Quaker voice, we first take an inner inventory of the leadings and concerns we feel rising. FCNL staff help us sift and sort the many threads for the clearest and most powerful themes. Then we are guided to recall times when we were moved to action around an issue. Personal experience often forges the courage of our convictions and yields the most compelling messages.

Our concerns are matched with legislation currently in Congress. Since we will only have a few moments with our senators or their staff, we hone a request that is focused, actionable, and respectful.

We head across the street to the Senate office buildings to speak truth to power. Our deepest hope is for a meeting of hearts and minds especially across differences in understandings and priorities.

There’s a palpable empowerment in giving voice to injustice and what we know isn’t right and true in our society and government. What a perfect way to live our faith into action with our students.

Look for ways to weave in this Washington, DC, gem. Quaker religious education for all ages can happen on the road and with Congress!

Beth Collea is the former director of children’s religious education of the New England Yearly Meeting and a founding member of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative. She participated in the Witness Wednesday lobby training in 2018.

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