You might know that you can visit members of Congress in their offices by setting up a lobby visit—but did you know that members of Congress will also visit you? Two groups of Quakers put this knowledge to work when they invited their members to attend their Quaker meetings.
On May 2, lawmakers virtually visited two Quaker meetings: Rep. Kathy Manning (NC-06) visited New Garden Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC, and Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02) joined Williamsburg (VA) Friends Meeting for a discussion after worship. Both these visits are part of these communities’ efforts to build relationships and have ongoing dialogue with their elected leaders about Friends’ concerns.
Rep. Kathy Manning Meets with Greensboro Quakers
When Friends at New Garden Monthly Meeting learned they had a new representative in Congress, they gathered Quakers from the region and organized a virtual conversation. Out of that first meeting, Friends from three local Greensboro Quaker meetings (New Garden Friends, First Friends Meeting, and Friendship Friends Meeting) prepared a powerful forum with questions addressing Rep. Manning’s stance on several FCNL policy priorities, from immigration and police reform to election integrity and foreign policy.
During the forum, Rep. Manning spoke about how her Jewish faith informs her approach to legislating, and the centrality of justice in her beliefs. She also highlighted the importance of shared values in finding common ground to work together.
Rep. Manning also discussed her experience in immigration law and her hopes for passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Friends in the meeting asked specific questions about the For the People Act (H.R. 1 / S. 1) and about repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Rep. Manning assured Friends that there are opportunities for bipartisan collaboration within the Foreign Affairs committee, which she sits on, and stressed the importance of advocacy with North Carolina senators as well.
After the visit, Lizzie Biddle, an FCNL General Committee member and one of the organizers of the visit, said, “We have laid a good groundwork for building on in the future toward that ongoing relationship.”
Rep. Elaine Luria Joins Williamsburg Friends for Conversation
In her lobby visit at Spring Lobby Weekend 2021, Megara Sanderson found herself in a one-on-one meeting with her representative, Elaine Luria, who she had never met before. At the end of the half hour conversation, Megara invited Rep. Luria to speak with other Friends in Williamsburg, VA. It took several months of back and forth, but ultimately, Rep. Luria attended a second hour session in early May.
Rep. Luria spoke about her background as a veteran and her desire to facilitate productive, bipartisan conversations in Congress to solve urgent problems in our communities. She touched on her work around environmental protection, police reform, voter rights, systemic racism, economic recovery and infrastructure, and tax reform.
Repeatedly, the congresswoman emphasized the importance of bringing people around a common table to work out compromises and solve policy issues. She highlighted how Virginia is more bipartisan than many other states, indicating more opportunities for dialogue and discussion across ideological lines.
Rep. Luria closed the conversation with a comment on her commitment to helping people in her district and communities, saying, “It can be like a mountain, but also all the ‘little things.’”
After the visit, Megara said: “Everyone was thrilled to be there…someone thanked me for setting this up. And Rep Luria said, ‘Yes! We hear very often from Megara. She’s very passionate.’”
You, too, can invite your members of Congress to speak at your meeting or church—and FCNL can help! Reach out to me at email@example.com and I’ll provide support in contacting your lawmaker’s office and inviting them to meet with your community.
Note: A previous version of this post portrayed the Zoom event with Rep. Kathy Manning as being organized only by New Garden Friends Meeting. In fact, members of First Friends Meeting and Friendship Friends Meeting in Greensboro also participated in planning and holding the event, showing how powerful collaborations between local meetings can be. This post has been updated to reflect that.