Authentic leaders draw strength from a deep understanding of the values that motivate them.
When Congress is in session, Representatives, Senators, and their staffs are driven by schedules filled with committee hearings, constituent meetings, and votes on the House or Senate floor. They have little free time for personal and leadership reflection and dialogue.
That’s where The Faith & Politics Institute plays a role.
We regularly convene political leaders, their staffs, and other public servants, and we engage them – not in partisan debate or policy analysis. Rather, we engage them in reflective dialogue that fosters the rediscovery and reaffirmation of values common among transformational leaders – values like conscience, courage, and compassion.
We achieve this through experiential pilgrimages, weekly reflection groups, retreats, discussion forums, Congressional Conversations and Dinner Dialogues, and other programming. In doing so, we believe we support their desire to remain true to their core values and ultimately contribute to a more effective democracy.
For centuries, pilgrims have sought transformation and renewal from their travels to holy sites.
With that model in mind, The Faith & Politics Institute regularly leads bipartisan delegations of congressional members from both chambers, senior congressional staff, other political leaders, and guests on pilgrimages to sites that have potential to teach – and reinforce – lessons of conscience, courage, and compassion.
The Faith & Politics Institute’s pilgrimage destinations most often have been associated with the struggle for civil rights in the southern United States. Other pilgrimages have explored the “American Experience,” truth and reconciliation in South Africa, and sectarian divide and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Since the launch of our pilgrimages in 1998, nearly 300 Members of Congress have participated, and their value has been regularly reaffirmed.
Congressional Conversations is a program designed to provide support to members of Congress as they constructively address challenging issues facing them and their constituents. Many members want to provide leadership around reconciliation and unity but often do not have the resources or platform to do so. This initiative is meant to support those needs.
The weekly reflection groups organized by The Faith & Politics Institute allow members of Congress time and space for introspection and reflective dialogue. Other reflection groups for senior congressional staff are designed to meet needs unique to their role. Participants in all the groups support one another and engage in meaningful conversation about values as they relate to their roles as Washington professionals. As one reflection group member said, “What these reflection groups are really all about is keeping us grounded, connected to some more fundamental things than our daily lives, because the daily lives in politics are so chaotic and so confusing and so pressure-filled that we need another way to stay connected.”
St. Joseph’s Day Breakfast
Since 1997, The Faith & Politics Institute has celebrated St. Joseph's Day with an annual breakfast, speech, and awards presentation. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the worker, and the Institute's annual St. Joseph's Day breakfast was founded to raise awareness of the spiritual and moral issues that affect economic life in America.
Capitol Forum Series
These public forums feature lectures by well-known speakers whose lives reflect moral courage in the political arena. The speakers come from very diverse political and religious backgrounds and have life experience in areas that fuse spiritual values with politics. Previous speakers have included South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh; Senator John Danforth; General Colin Powell; Georgetown scholar Deborah Tannen; Rev. Dr. Bernice King; Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne; and a number of notable, best selling authors.
Lewis-Houghton Leadership Award
The Lewis-Houghton Leadership Award recognizes leaders who have exhibited qualities of conscience, courage and compassion in their roles as public servants. Honorees are recognized for demonstrated integrity between their spiritual values and their actions and for their long-term commitment to leadership in service of the common good, regardless of short-term political ramifications. The namesakes of the award, Representatives John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), served as co-chairs of The Faith & Politics Institute from 1997 to 2005.
The Faith & Politics Institute hosts Congressional Receptions to acknowledge and thank those who have participated in and generously supported its programs. It is a time to reunite, further develop the community they have built, and collaborate on the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
United States-South Africa Initiative
Launched in 1999, The Faith & Politics Institute’s United States-South Africa Initiative offers leaders from both countries opportunities to explore issues of nonviolent resistance, truth and reconciliation present in both the U.S. civil rights struggles and South Africa’s transition to democracy. The initiative has included congressional delegations to South Africa as well as South African leaders’ participation in FPI’s programs in the United States.
The Faith & Politics Institute sponsors a variety of interactive retreats and work projects away from the fast-paced and charged atmosphere of Washington. These retreats are designed to help participants connect their leadership roles with their greater calling.