Quakers lobby for climate change in Washington, D.C.


The Appalachian Online

Chamian Cruz

A small community of student members of the Religious Society of Friends – better known as Quakers – at Appalachian State University gathers weekly for a worship service called “meeting.” Though many are unaware of their existence on campus, the group plans on lobbying in Washington, D.C. for the second time this year.

The SPICE Quaker Student Community is raising money to make a trip to the Friends Community on National Legislation’s Spring Lobby Weekend on March 14, 2015.

FCNL is a nonpartisan, multi-issue advocacy organization that fields the largest team of registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., according to www.fcnl.org.

As Quakers, they advocate simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality, which is where the acronym SPICE comes from, said club president and sophomore social work major Joe Wrenn.

“Quakerism is a branch of Christianity that originated in the early 1600s,” said Ellen Worth, secretary of SPICE. “ We are famously known for our pacifist beliefs in that we oppose war and the death penalty and also for working with the Underground Railroad.”

Last semester, SPICE was involved with the Pro-Peace event. This semester, they plan to host an event to inform people about Quakers and their belief systems, soon after participating in the lobbying weekend.

“We really decided to get involved because of our previous experience with FCNL,” Worth said. “We had a good time last year and we wanted to do it again. We really learn a lot since they change the topic every year.”

FCNL has been involved in issues such as wars, environmental issues, domestic issues and the militarization of police, Wrenn said.

The FCNL Spring Lobby Weekend is a four-day conference that will inform participants on climate change as the topic for this year and train them to make a difference in their community by lobbying.

Lobbying is similar to advocating or influencing a politician or public official for or against a certain cause, Wrenn said.

“You can lobby to your local city council or mayor or just go talk to them and then you can take it to the national level by writing or calling your senators,” Wrenn said. “I feel like you can do it in many forms, but the way we’ll do it is by taking what we learn at the conference and lobby as a group to North Carolina representatives, while also incorporating our faith.”

SPICE hopes to make FCNL a tradition for the organization, but to make the trip possible they are asking for donations.

The student organization is supported by a few Quaker churches throughout the state, but it is not enough to cover the costs of the trip, Wrenn said.

“Since we are such a small club, we really are relying a lot on donations,” Wrenn said. “Hopefully the Go Fund Me page will pay part of our expenses, but the rest will come out of pocket.”

They are currently trying to raise $400 to cover traveling expenses, food and the registration fee through www.gofundme.com/kmk68k.

“The trip is not only to have a little bit of fun, but also to learn about current issues, talk to congressmen and legislatives at the conference and then take the knowledge that we learned from the trip and implement it into making a change in our community,” Wrenn said. “We are giving a voice to Appalachian.”

Story: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter