FCNL General Committee Members: Expectations
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), organized in 1943, is composed of members of the Religious Society of Friends who bring spiritual values to bear on public policy decisions. Our legislative policy grows out of our basic belief that there is that of God in every human being and that God's love endows all creation with worth and dignity. Through individual and corporate worship, we try to be open to the will of God and to express the spirit of Christ in all relationships and levels of interaction, whether personal, community, national or global.
The work of the Committee has been two fold:
- influencing policy making officials in various branches of government, and
- educating Friends and like minded people about FCNL through publications and activities, including the FCNL website, newsletters, legislative alerts, reports to yearly and monthly meetings, and personal contacts.
Through its staff, FCNL provides information to Representatives and Senators on FCNL legislative priorities, offers testimony before Congressional committees, works in coalitions with other organizations on issues, and provides information to Friends and other citizens around the nation to facilitate and strengthen their advocacy efforts.
The FCNL General Committee is the core of the FCNL and oversees its world mending mission. Each yearly meeting in the United States and several other Friends' agencies are invited to name members to the General Committee. The current General Committee membership is composed of Friends from twenty three yearly meetings, nine Quaker organizations, and at large members named by the General Committee itself, for a current total membership of about 225.
The FCNL General Committee meets annually and conducts its sessions in the manner of Friends. Through our worship we seek to be led to right action in the tasks and decisions required of us. At FCNL's Annual Meeting, the General Committee is charged with approving the budget and approving officers and committee members to act on its behalf during the year. The General Committee is also responsible for setting the legislative policies and priorities that guide our educational and lobbying activities.
Service of General Committee Members
FCNL General Committee members are responsible to the yearly meeting or other Friends body that appoints them and to FCNL. This responsibility includes attending the Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., bringing concerns of the yearly meeting or Friends agency to the attention of FCNL and interpreting FCNL policies and procedures to the yearly meeting or Friends agency represented. It is important that members be cognizant of the legislative process, hold a general concurrence with FCNL goals, and have an expectation of seeking divine guidance. FCNL's commitment to diversity requires openness to varying viewpoints and the ability to discuss these viewpoints within one's own yearly meeting as well as at FCNL's Annual Meeting and in other activities. General Committee members should also be mindful of their responsibility to contribute, as each is able, to meeting FCNL's need for on going financial support. Some financial contribution to FCNL by every member of the General Committee is essential.
Friends bring distinctive gifts to FCNL's General Committee. FCNL staff can provide the training and support needed by General Committee members so that they may fully participate in FCNL's work. In addition to the above responsibilities, General Committee members are asked to serve in one or more of the following special ways:
Friends who feel called to active lobbying and/or learning to be lobbyists will commit to work with their members of Congress and other policy makers to educate them on FCNL policies and their implications for upcoming national legislation. Legislative activists may also have a specific area of expertise or a particular concern consistent with FCNL policies which leads them to participation from time to time on ad hoc FCNL committees oriented towards specific policy issues or actions, such as civil liberties, nuclear disarmament or voter registration.
Builder of Lobbying Networks
Some General Committee members will act as catalysts for energizing Friends in their monthly and yearly meetings to become involved in FCNL work and to engage in contacting legislators. This work may include a wide range of activities from organizing letter writing, coordinating training sessions on issues, issuing action alerts, or in helping to identify Friends who have particular expertise and interest who might be resources for FCNL work.
Member of a Standing or Ad Hoc FCNL Committee
Friends who have gifts and expertise in such areas as finance, budgeting, articulation of policy, communication or development may seek to serve on a standing or ad hoc committee charged with such work. As with the General Committee, these committees conducts their work in the manner of Friends, seeking to be open to spiritual guidance and discernment. Service on a committee often involves travel or teleconferencing as well as preparing recommendations to the Executive Committee and the General Committee. Through this work, Friends from different yearly meetings and different parts of the country come together and share information, build networks around common interests, and develop an appreciation of one another's differences and similarities, all of which strengthens the witness of Friends in our policy influencing work at both the grassroots level and in Washington, D.C.
Advocate for FCNL
General Committee members who are excited by reaching out to others – both Friends and like minded people — will bring awareness of FCNL's witness to their wider community, utilizing FCNL's newsletter, website, action requests and well researched background information on issues. These Friends might also be actively engaging in fundraising, and other activities that expand FCNL's witness.