William Penn House is a Quaker seminar and hospitality center on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Since 1966, William Penn House has hosted Friends and other advocates for peace and social justice as they come to the nation's capital to learn, vigil, protest and speak to government officials regarding national policies.
Radical Hospitality, in the words of St. Benedict, is "to invite all people into your house as if they were Christ." The purpose of William Penn House, and the personal ministry of many of us who work here, is to practice Radical Hospitality in our work and in our lives. To do this calls on us to let people speak their truth. It is not about denouncing someone else's truth or arguing with them, but appreciating them. There are other arenas for persuasion, debate and advocacy.
When we welcome people into our lives and we act as hosts, providing safe places for many truths to be spoken and heard with love, unexpected and wonderful things can happen. Hospitality can truly transform lives. It seems so much of our culture and our movements are divisive – often to the point that righteousness drives like-minded people apart from each other. Too often, people feel that their truth is The Truth, or their way is The Way. It is hospitality that allows us to come together and share in the many truths and many ways.
Our goal is to simply provide hospitality – a warm place where those gathered can share their hopes, dreams, visions. Among these are family and friends. We ask that people recognize that we do not seek to persuade people in any way. It is an exercise in hospitality – for us to be together, learn together and grow together. We will not agree on all things, and even where we might agree, we will not agree on how we get there. We do ask that we agree to just listen, feel free to speak our truth while allowing others to do the same.
At William Penn House, all are welcome.
We coordinate programs and seminars for groups on a variety of topics. A popular program is Washington Quaker Workcamps, (http://www.williampennhouse.org/?q=workcamps) where we combine hands-on volunteering, advocacy, education, reflection, and witness to explore issues.
William Penn House has paid internships available - we offer room and board, a small stipend, vacation and sick leave. For those who make a commitment of 6 months or more, we also provide full health insurance.