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​From April 11 to April 13, we had the privilege of immersing ourselves in the Oklahoma City metro area, thanks to the warm welcome extended by the members of the Norman Friends Meeting. This journey to Oklahoma was an incredible collaborative experience that filled both of us with inspiration and hope. We traveled to talk with the people of Oklahoma and explore how we could work together on the many intersecting issues we face.  

These encounters provided opportunities for genuine connections and laying the foundation for future collaborations.

Throughout our stay, the Friends community played a pivotal role in arranging numerous sit-down meetings where we had the opportunity to connect with a wide range of stakeholders. These encounters went beyond mere formalities; they provided opportunities for cultivating genuine connections and laying the foundation for future collaborations.

In these sessions, we engaged in meaningful discussions with the Oklahoma ACLU, Rev. Dr. Justine Wilson at Norman First American United Methodist Church, State Representative Mauree Turner, and City Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon, among others. Each dialogue was characterized by mutual respect, openness, and a shared commitment to positive change.

Jessica, Mwan, Pastor Scott Spencer of Mosaic Community Church, and Rev Kayla Bonewell of Church of the Open Arms spoke about their faith communities’ efforts to support 2SLGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness and harm.

The exchange of ideas was invigorating, sparking a sense of possibility as we explored avenues for collective action on pressing issues. From discussions on social justice initiatives to environmental stewardship, and from debates about education reform to strategies for economic empowerment, the breadth of topics underscored the multifaceted challenges facing Oklahoma and our nation at large.

Mwan and Jessica meet with State Representative Mauree Turner of Oklahoma District 88 to discuss issues impacting their constituents.

The pinnacle of our trip was the launch of a new Oklahoma Advocacy Team – a significant step towards FCNL’s presence in all 50 states. With Oklahoma becoming the 48th state to host an Advocacy Team, our reach and influence expanded further, amplifying the voices of grassroots advocates and strengthening our collective efforts to advance policies rooted in justice and compassion.

Fueled by the spirit of collaboration and the prospect of tangible progress, we left energized and eager to continue our engagement and advocacy.

As our time in Oklahoma ended, the impact of our journey resonated far beyond meeting rooms. Fueled by the spirit of collaboration and the prospect of tangible progress, we left  energized and eager to continue our engagement and advocacy.

Looking ahead, the bonds we forged during this trip will serve as the cornerstone for sustained partnership and collective action. Armed with a deeper understanding of the local landscape and fortified by newfound alliances, we remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering positive change, one relationship and one advocacy team at a time.

In the heartland of America, amidst the rolling plains and the resilient spirit of its people, we watered seeds of hope. Through dialogue, collaboration, and unwavering dedication, FCNL and our allies stand poised to cultivate a future defined by equity, dignity, and the common good.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jessica Bahena Headshot 2024

Jessica Bahena

Former National Field Organizer

As FCNL’s national field organizer, Jessica was responsible for identifying and cultivating new advocates to lobby Congress and connect with FCNL’s advocacy programs.

Mwandeyi Kamwendo

Mwandeyi Kamwendo

Advocacy Teams Organizer

As FCNL’s Advocacy Team Organiser, Mwandeyi Kamwendo works to support new and prospective members of FCNL’s Advocacy Teams program in developing deep advocacy skills and connecting with the national network of Advocacy Teams around the country.