Skip to main content
Young adult talks with a group
Attribution
Jennifer Domenick

A distinctive feature of the Friends Committee on National Legislation is our practice of asking Quakers around the country to help shape our work. Every two years, Friends come together to discern what issues are most pressing. This input becomes the basis of FCNL’s legislative advocacy work in the coming Congress.

This process is about you, in your Quaker communities, determining the direction of FCNL’s advocacy.

More than 90 F/friends joined January’s Quaker Changemaker event on the legislative priorities process. This is an exciting indication of the passion and ministry within our network.

The community was full of energy as we gathered on zoom to hear from Dr. Alex Stark, former clerk of FCNL’s Policy Committee, and Deb Hejl, current clerk of FCNL’s Field Committee.

Here are six tips they shared to help you engage successfully and faithfully with this process in your community.

1. There’s no one right way to participate!

Your Quaker community can choose any method of engagement, whether that’s through a meeting for business, a Peace and Social Concerns committee meeting, or leaving out poster boards upon which Friends can attach post-it notes. You don’t even have to be a part of a formal meeting; any Quaker-affiliated group can participate! As Alex put it, “there’s no one right way to do it—there aren’t even a million right ways.”

2. Divide your priorities into the “We Seek” categories:

Framing your priorities around the categories outlined in FCNL’s policy statement, “The World We Seek,” helps the Policy Committee continue their discernment as they gather input from Friends. Speaking of her experience as a past committee member, Alex shared how the Policy Committee has sometimes divided submissions into these four categories to continue the process. Ultimately, these priorities are presented to the General Committee (board of directors) in November for further discernment and approval.

3. Understand that FCNL relies on your worshipful discernment:

Alex and Deb stressed the symbiotic relationship between FCNL and Quaker communities in this process. FCNL relies on your discernment to guide the direction of our advocacy, and you, in turn, trust that FCNL to advocate on your behalf. As Alex said, “The priorities process underscores that FCNL is an organization built by and for a grassroots community of Quakers across the country.

4. Engage faithfully:

This process is not only political; it is also deeply faithful. “This process matters not just to FCNL and to our work in Congress,” Deb explained. “It matters to you as a spiritual being.” This process asks Friends to seek divine guidance on what issues they feel called to prioritize. For Alex, this process was about speaking truth to power. “That’s what allows FCNL to be that prophetic voice on the Hill,” she said.

5. Include many different perspectives:

Both Deb and Alex stressed the importance of diversifying the members of your community who engage in this process. “Give everyone in your organization a chance to be heard,” Deb suggested. For example, her meeting supported their First Day students in participating in this process; the children discerned different priorities than the adults, so their meeting submitted two sets of priorities! Including everyone in this process leads to richer discernment.

6. Be confident—we want to hear from you!

Alex concluded the event with a word of advice to Friends who don’t know where to start. “Don’t hesitate to get involved or feel like you need some kind of expertise!” This process is about you, in your Quaker communities, determining the direction of FCNL’s advocacy.

You can find the priorities process resources on our website, along with the submission portal. In addition, FCNL offers Visiting Friend facilitation for those of you who would like additional support. Please email me at ehulbert@fcnl.org with any questions!

Emma Hulbert

Emma Hulbert

Program Assistant, Quaker Outreach (2021-2022)
Emma Hulbert was FCNL’s 2021-2022 program assistant for Quaker Outreach.