Wilmington College Represented at FCNL Annual Meeting
November 23, 2009
7 Wilmington College students, faculty, and staff joined more than 170 Quakers from 39 states gathered in Washington, DC in early November to worship, plan their work for 2010, and discuss strategies for further strengthening Friends Committee National Legislation (FCNL) to realize the historic opportunities for policy change in Washington.
A top White House official, congressional staff, and FCNL lobbyists emphasized that, in the next two years, Congress could put the United States back on the road toward nuclear disarmament, invest more money in tools to peacefully prevent deadly conflict, and advance many other issues of concern to the FCNL network. The challenge, explained FCNL Executive Secretary Joe Volk, is how to mobilize people around the country to provide the lobbying and financial support that will be necessary to realize these goals.
View a slide show of the annual meeting at Flicker, http://www.flickr.com/search/show/?q=FCNLAM09
The FCNL General Committee approved balanced budgets for the next two years and planned strategies for raising funds beyond that core budget to take advantage of the historic opportunities that exist today.
More than 80 people arrived mid-week to lobby their members of Congress before Annual Meeting. The power of these visits was affirmed by congressional staff from the offices of Sen. Richard Lugar (IN) and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), who emphasized the importance and influence of constituent communication. Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, explained that the “real change agents” are the people at the local level. Throughout the meeting, participants considered how they could take the next step on the ladder of engagement with their members of Congress (with a ladder provided for inspiration).
Participants were visibly moved by Muslim leader Sayyid M. Syeed's description of the evolution of the Islamic Society of North America during the last three decades. As National Director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances at the society, Sayyid Sayeed discussed his work building alliances with other faith communities. Participants in the Annual Meeting approved an epistle encourage Quakers to engage with American Muslims.
Attenders agreed to encourage participation among Friends meetings and churches in setting FCNL's legislative priorities for the 112th Congress, to reach out and thank FCNL donors, and to involve new people in FCNL and the War Is Not the Answer campaign. Participants met by geographic region to coordinate their activities in these areas.
The Friends gathered for this Annual Meeting also met the search committee that will lead the selection process of a new Executive Secretary for FCNL. Several years ago, Joe Volk indicated that he planned to retire in 2011. The formal process for selecting a new Executive Secretary began at this meeting.
FCNL awarded the Edward F. Snyder Award for National Legislative Leadership to Rep. William Delahunt (MA) for his leadership in seeking to end the Iraq war, achieve Middle East peace, support the United Nations, and address the problem of climate change.