When Congress is in session, the schedules of Representatives, Senators and their staffs are so packed, they have very little free time for personal and leadership reflection and dialogue. That’s where we come in.

The Faith & Politics Institute offers them opportunities to reflect and engage with each other through experiential pilgrimages, weekly reflection groups, retreats, discussion forums, Congressional Conversations, Dinner Dialogues and other programming. 


For centuries, pilgrims have sought transformation and renewal from their travels to holy sites. With that in mind, we regularly lead delegations of congressional members from both chambers, senior staff, other political leaders and guests on pilgrimages to places with luminaries that have the potential to teach – and reinforce – lessons of conscience, courage and compassion. 

While these trips are best known for exploring the struggle for civil rights in our nation’s South, there have been many others. We journeyed to South Africa to discuss truth and reconciliation with leaders of the anti-apartheid movement, and explored sectarian divide and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Since our first pilgrimage in 1998, nearly 300 members of Congress have participated.


Many members want to provide leadership around reconciliation and unity, and this initiative helps them achieve the resources and platform to do it.


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 help them meet needs unique to their role.

“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.”

–– Member of Congress


Named for the patron saint of the laborer, this annual breakfast, speech and awards presentation was founded to raise awareness of the spiritual and moral issues that affect economic life in America.


These public forums feature lectures by well-known speakers whose lives reflect moral courage in the political arena. They come from highly diverse political and religious backgrounds, with life experiences that fuse spiritual values with politics. 

Our 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

This prestigious 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 actions, and for their long-term commitment to leadership in service of the common good – regardless of short-term political ramifications. This award is named in honor of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Amo Houghton (R-NY), former co-chairs of The Faith & Politics Institute.

Congressional Receptions

We host these receptions to acknowledge and thank members of Congress who have participated in our programs and generously supported them. It is a time for them to reunite, further develop the community they have built, and collaborate on opportunities ahead.

United States-South Africa Initiative

Launched in 1999, this initiative offers leaders from both countries opportunities to explore common issues in our nation’s civil rights struggles and South Africa’s transition to democracy – nonviolent resistance, truth and reconciliation. It has included congressional delegations to South Africa as well as the participation of South African leaders in our U.S. programs.


We sponsor a variety of interactive retreats and work projects away from the fast-paced and politically charged atmosphere of Washington. These retreats are designed to help participants connect their leadership roles with their greater calling.