How to Visit Your Members of Congress
Faith and Action
Moses spoke to Pharaoh, Esther spoke to the King, and the prophets spoke to the rulers of their day, crying out against injustice. Mary sang that God would “lift up the lowly” and “fill the hungry with good things.” Jesus directs us to serve “the least of these” as if they were him. So today United Methodist Women speaks to those in power on behalf of women and children — the first to suffer from injustices — working and praying to serve God’s people who cry out for justice.
Preparing for a Visit
- Decide on your topics. Study background materials on the issue, including the position of the United Methodist Church and the project initiatives of United Methodist Women.
- Learn about your legislator. Find out the committee assignments of your member of Congress. Study a voting record to see how your legislator has voted in the past.
- Develop a clear message. Know exactly what you want to get across and be able to state it succinctly.
A Local Visit
Each senator and representative has one or more local offices in your state. Find the local office number online, in the telephone book, or call your local library or county courthouse.
- Visit when your legislator is in. The local staff can tell you when your legislator will be in the home district.
- Go with a group. It is helpful to join with others. Going in a group shows your legislator that many people in the community share in your concern.
- Watch for public meetings. Be alert for times your legislator will speak in local town meetings. Find out when Congress is in session, a time when legislators are eager to schedule visits with their constituents. This is an excellent opportunity for United Methodist Women members to make comments and raise questions about important issues.
A Visit In Washington, D.C.
- Make an Appointment. You may want to arrange this through the local office. Offer some alternative dates and times. Indicate the issue you wish to talk about.
- Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.If your representative or senator is not available, ask to meet with the legislative aide who works on the issue you wish to discuss.
- Get the interview off to a good start. Be on time. Be positive. You are trying to build a relationship with this person. Legislators are human beings, just like you. Be friendly. Be brief. Begin if possible by thanking the legislator for a vote in support of an issue on which you agree.
- State your concern. State clearly what you would like to discuss: “Senator, United Methodist Women members are active in our communities in our work with women, children and youth. We are concerned about the diminishing federal support for anti-poverty programs. We would like to talk with you about (name the issue.)”
- Ask for specific action. Tell the legislator that you urge her or him to vote for, or against, a specific bill. You may also ask her or him to sponsor legislation, change legislation, or visit your unit, district or conference when Congress is in recess.
- Leave materials. Bring a fact sheet on your issue, a copy of The Social Principles or a General Conference resolution, and other helpful information. (See Resources.)
- Thank the legislator or aide for her or his time. Say you will share the information from your visit with other United Methodist Women members when you get home.