This semiannual feature highlights the recent works of Quaker organizations* in the following categories:
- Consultation, Support, and Resources
- Environmental and Ecojustice
- Investment Management
- Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
- Service and Peace Work
*Editors’ note: We invite all explicitly Quaker-founded and/or Quaker-run groups and organizations to submit to the Quaker Works column. Most, but not all, are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The content is supplied by staff members of the organizations and edited to fit the style of Friends Journal. More details can be found on the Quaker Works submissions page.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) made important progress during the 115th Congress, despite the prevailing hyper-partisanship. The mission for peace, justice, and sustainability is essential for all humanity, regardless of political views.
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 establishes the prevention of genocide and other atrocities as core national security interest and moral responsibility of the United States. The act also creates the Complex Crises Fund.
The farm bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) reauthorizes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP helps more than 40 million Americans put food on the table.
The FIRST STEP Act of 2018 reforms the federal prison system and seeks to reduce recidivism. The full name of the law is the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.
The PREPARE Act of 2017 created an interagency council to establish government-wide goals to deal with extreme weather. It stands for Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness.
These laws were not passed just within one session of Congress. The work of FCNL goes beyond a session of Congress: it includes persistent advocacy that stretches across decades, working for change that takes years of effort to achieve.
Quaker Council on European Affairs
QCEA works to bring a vision based on the Quaker commitment to peace, justice, and equality to Europe’s institutions.
Its “Building Peace Together” resource—which brings together 80 real-world examples of civilian conflict resolution techniques—has been at the forefront of QCEA’s peace advocacy work and has been more successful than expected. In addition to being included in the library of Oxford University as well as the national libraries of Wales and Scotland, this resource has made its way into the hands of hundreds of policymakers, diplomats, and civil society staff via launch events across Europe.
This year also saw the translation of “Building Peace Together” into French, Arabic, and Russian, making it even more accessible to potential peacebuilders in some of the world’s most conflict-afflicted regions. This will be the focus of QCEA’s peace program in 2019, together with the dissemination of a newly published report that makes the case for “peace education” as a conflict prevention tool.
QCEA’s human rights program has continued vital work on some of the less highly publicized challenges facing refugees and migrants in Europe. In particular, the program has researched the phenomenon of child immigration detention, and published updated statistics on the practice which continue to be some of the most reliable available. This has enabled QCEA to continue to press Europe’s policymakers to end the detainment of children.
Quaker United Nations Office
Recently, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) hosted its annual peacebuilders retreat at Quaker House in New York City, which provided a space for mutually beneficial dialogue with global peacebuilding partners. Using Quaker approaches and working methods, this gathering allowed for communal reflection and sharing of insights around upcoming peacebuilding challenges, particularly with respect to international peacebuilding policy work. This year’s discussion centered on articulating the core issues and messages of peacebuilding: “With refocused global attention on issues of peacebuilding and prevention, are we any closer to identifying a core set of ideas and approaches that can help us to prioritize our actions, our advocacy, and our investments?”
Participants affirmed that, at its heart, peacebuilding is about people and the relationships between them, and that moving from “less peace” to “more peace” is a generational and nonlinear experience. Participants shared insights into the “how” of peacebuilding: the importance of inclusive, reflective, and transformative activities.
QUNO has been encouraged to see participants and others use group reflections as a source for inspiration and advocacy ideas. The organization hopes to build upon collective efforts to foster global peace at next year’s retreat.
Consultation, Support, and Resources
Friends General Conference
Thanks to a generous donation to support family and youth attendance, discounts and reduced fees are coming to the 2019 Friends General Conference (FGC) Gathering. For this year’s weeklong event at Grinnell College in Iowa, children and teen program fees are waived, and 50 percent of their meal costs are covered by FGC. Early registration is April 1–14, with priority consideration for financial assistance. Standard registration starts April 22.
Two years after an assessment was approved by FGC’s governing body, the Institutional Assessment on Racism Task Force’s report and recommendations were presented at the Central Committee’s annual meeting last October. As a result of the report and recommendations, Central Committee approved the creation of an implementation group to guide the transformation of FGC into an anti-racist organization. In addition, FGC has committed itself to confronting and healing white supremacy within its organization and among FGC Friends, and to model anti-racism while supporting the work of the implementation group. The task force’s report and recommendations are available on the FGC website.
FGC’s Spiritual Deepening Library, a web-based resource for Friends and their meetings, has been updated to better serve the Quaker community. The new and improved library will be available on the FGC website in April.
Friends Services for the Aging
Last fall, Friends Services for the Aging (FSA) hosted its first Values Train the Trainer workshop for employees of the senior service organizations it serves. Participants focused on the Quaker hallmarks that make their organizations unique, and learned strategies to work with staff and residents to revitalize and reconnect to these important values in daily work and life.
A new partnership with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine means that FSA members and affiliates receive a 50 percent discount on master’s degree programs and certificates in organizational development and leadership as well as aging and long-term care administration. Several FSA trainings also qualify for credits toward these degree programs.
In January, the seventh cohort of the FSA Leadership Institute began classes. Created for current, emerging, and new senior leaders, the institute is an in-depth experiential learning opportunity that deepens participants’ understanding of what it means to lead in a Quaker-affiliated organization. This intensive experience is designed to give leaders ways of thinking and practicing that are congruent with Quaker philosophies. The group will graduate in April 2019 at the FSA Annual Meeting.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)
Quakers around the world celebrated the fifth annual World Quaker Day on October 7, 2018, with the theme “Crossing Cultures, Sharing Stories,” coordinated by the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Office. Reports from Friends can be found at worldquakerday.org.
In September 2018, FWCC launched the Young Adult Friends Development Fund, designed to strengthen the network of young adult Friends around the world. The fund has been created from Quaker Youth Pilgrimage monies, and it is hoped to generate similar powerful experiences of deep spiritual connection and encouragement for young Friends between 18 and 35 years, across all four FWCC Sections.
September also saw the launch of the new online version of FWCC’s directory “Friends Around the World.” This directory of yearly meetings and unaffiliated monthly meetings helps Friends stay in touch with each other, promoting intervisitation and communication.
FWCC continues to engage in ecumenical and interfaith activity at all levels on behalf of Friends worldwide. General secretary Gretchen Castle participated in the Christian World Communions Conference of general secretaries in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2018, taking part in collegial discussions on church governance, controversial issues, and advocacy issues.
FWCC also attended the UN climate talks COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December alongside colleagues from the Quaker United Nations Office, representing Quakers at an international interfaith coordination meeting.
Quakers Uniting in Publications
Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) is an international network of publishers, editors, writers, librarians, bloggers—anyone with a ministry of the written word.
For two years out of three, QUIP’s annual gathering takes place over a long weekend in different parts of the United States, and for the third year, the group meets in the United Kingdom. Conscious that few UK Friends can afford to travel to the United States for these meetings, and wishing to grow its UK membership, QUIP has recently instigated a one-day meeting in the UK in the years when the main meeting is in the United States. The meeting is scheduled for the day before Britain Yearly Meeting; this way Friends traveling for the yearly gathering from different parts of the UK, and from other countries, may find it easier to attend. So far QUIP is seeing increased attendance and membership from other European countries. The day includes an introduction to QUIP; a couple of plenary talks; and a choice of workshops on such subjects as writing for a Quaker periodical, self-publishing in a digital age, fiction and nonfiction as an outreach possibility, the future of Quaker publishing, and writing as a Quaker service. This year there will be a panel addressing the core subject of “What makes a Quaker book?”
Friendly Water for the World
For the third year in a row, the youth of Orange County Meeting in Irvine, Calif., ran a Christmas campaign to raise funds for Friendly Water for the World. The group collected $1,720. The funds are being used to help a group of former child soldiers in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, build and install BioSand filters in some of the 46 orphanages there, which house more than 7,700 children orphaned by the ongoing war. Currently, they have no access to clean water, and are subject to many waterborne diseases.
The program is headed by former child soldier Francois Byemba, who was kidnapped at age ten with his old brother. Francois runs three centers for former child soldiers, where they learn art, music, and drama, as well as receive vocational training. Francois tries to restore relationships between the children and their families, though often that is not possible. Many of them have now been taught to build, distribute, and install BioSand filters.
The project is an act of restorative justice, and will link the three groups of youth in an ongoing relationship. Friendly Water for the World hopes this project will lead to other such partnerships.
Quaker Bolivia Link
Quaker Bolivia Link-USA has just partnered with Rotary Clubs in New Mexico and La Paz, Bolivia, to provide safe water to villages in the Pacajes region of the Altiplano. This partnership connects well with Rotary International’s goals for sustainable development and opens up a new avenue of funding for Quaker Bolivia Link.
Quaker Service Australia
Quaker Service Australia (QSA) has begun to implement new projects to support refugees and asylum seekers, using a bequest given specifically for this purpose. QSA is developing a working relationship with a new partner in Malaysia to support a preschool program that enables parents to engage in vocational training and opportunities while their children are being looked after. A new project in Bangladesh is enabling refugees in camps and nearby communities to learn about permaculture and how it can assist them in producing fresh food for their families, as well as other skills that can help them wherever they may be relocated. Within Australia, QSA is supporting local initiatives enabling refugees and asylum seekers to expand their knowledge about living in Australia, learn new vocational skills, and establish networks and friendships with locals and other newly settled people to reduce a sense of isolation.
This work has gone on alongside continuing projects in Cambodia, India, Uganda, and Zimbabwe to assist rural communities in achieving food and water security, environmental sustainability, and increased livelihoods, and to address social injustice. QSA’s work with Indigenous Australian communities also continues, enabling community support for those going through the court system, including visits from Indigenous Elders to those in jail and the provision of extra resources for Indigenous high school students.
Right Sharing of World Resources
In October 2018, the Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) board of trustees met in Richmond, Ind. The business included approving funding for 20 new projects: ten in India, five in Sierra Leone, and five in Kenya. From these grants, 543 women will each receive a small loan to start or grow a business in their communities. Groups include former bonded laborers in India and several communities of women in Sierra Leone that were devastated by the Ebola outbreak. As the women pay back their loans, the funds stay within the group and are revolved to other women, sustaining the momentum of support and transformation.
Right Sharing offers the opportunity to sponsor half or an entire project in India, Kenya, or Sierra Leone. The Winter 2019 issue of the Right Sharing newsletter features the story of one meeting’s experience funding a RSWR project in Kenya.
RSWR general secretary Jackie Stillwell will be offering a workshop on “The Power of Enough” at this summer’s Friends General Conference Gathering at Grinnell College in Iowa. This workshop can be requested by yearly and monthly meetings as well as other gatherings of Friends.
Friends Council on Education
Friends Council on Education offers programs to nurture the Quaker character of Friends schools and foster equity, community, and social justice.
Friends Council co-hosted a Teaching Black Boys workshop with sessions from nine contributing authors to The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys, a keynote address, and a panel of high school-age Black boys. Over 175 educators from over 50 public and independent schools explored ways to create a foundation of equity in the classroom.
Friends Council distributed tuition aid to 189 Quaker children in 36 Friends schools through the National Friends Education Fund (NFEF). NFEF provides tuition aid for Quaker children nationally, enhancing the ability of Quaker families to send their children to Friends schools.
Educators New to Quakerism (ENTQ) workshops are offered across the country, providing Friends school educators the opportunity to learn about Quaker history, beliefs, testimonies, meeting for worship, and to explore the Quaker identity of their schools.
Friends Council expresses its commitment to social justice through statements in response to national events, affirming that Quaker schools stand for equality, integrity, and a collective commitment to actively work for peace. This fall’s statements were issued in response to gun violence in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, and to proposals to exclude transgender, intersex, and nonbinary individuals from the Title IX definition of biological sex.
School of the Spirit Ministry
The School of the Spirit Ministry recently launched another program under its care: Participating in God’s Power. The program seeks to model a resilient and thoughtful set of tools for exploring how people let their own brokenness get in the way of a robust trust in God’s guidance.
Through four residencies and three webinars over a one-year period that also includes structured exercises and small group practices led by core teachers Angela York Crane and Christopher Sammond, this program seeks to build self-awareness and capacity for wise, brave, Spirit-led risk-taking. The program is designed for Friends and others who have already participated in a spiritual formation program, or the like, and who want to go deeper, or who seek some renewal in their spiritual lives. More information is available on the website.
Sierra Friends Center
Sierra Friends Center is a Quaker-founded educational campus in Nevada City, Calif. Its mission is to steward diverse learning communities and educational programs that weave together spirituality, peace, sustainability, and social action.
Camp Woolman, a summer program at Sierra Friends Center, is entering its fourteenth year. The camp is inspired by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting model of connecting kids with nature through backpacking, small community living, and simple fun. Camp Woolman offers kids age 9–17 programs full of adventure, silliness, and methods of finding deep connection with one’s self, others, and nature.
Last summer the center was able to provide over $20,000 in scholarships and discounts to families who otherwise could not afford camp. Since September 2018, using testimonials from campers’ parents along with social media campaigns, camp staff and alumni have worked to expand the Campership Fund (scholarships for campers) in order to increase the financial aid available for future summers.
Camp activities aim to promote the embracing of diversity and the fostering of self-discovery and self-reliance. Camp Woolman is welcoming of all gender identities, cultural backgrounds, and beliefs. This year the camp will offer all gender inclusive cabins designed to create safe spaces for campers who do not identify as male or female.
Environmental and Ecojustice
Earth Quaker Action Team
After a fall filled with worshipful actions planned by congregations of many faiths, this spring, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) has been escalating its Power Local Green Jobs campaign, launching the “People’s Energy Platform.” PECO (Philadelphia’s local electric utility) continues to ignore needs for renewable energy and green jobs, and EQAT has begun to raise up this issue in local elections. EQAT is taking this step in partnership with POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild). POWER is a coalition of over 60 faith congregations in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. Together the two groups are leveraging POWER’s expertise in holding politicians accountable and EQAT’s history of nonviolent direct action to urge political candidates to take a stand on PECO.
PECO executives have begun to acknowledge the need for renewable energy, but they are not responding with the commitment and urgency that climate change requires. They also are failing to address our region’s needs for decent jobs and a clean energy future. PECO’s parent company, Chicago-based Exelon, continues to extract over $1 million a day in profits from the Philadelphia region.
Quaker Earthcare Witness
Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) is a network of Friends committed to earthcare and environmental justice.
This fall scientists reported that significant damage due to climate change is inevitable and that humans have about 10 to 12 years to begin a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy if we are to prevent catastrophe. QEW works to overcome the responses of despair and inaction by connecting Friends who are taking Spirit-led action; by inspiring and educating through sharing stories in its publications, like the quarterly journal BeFriending Creation; and by visiting Quaker groups across the United States.
Two earthcare curricula for children and adults have been recently updated and are available to download. Pamphlets on subjects like contemplative action, unity with nature, population concerns, and food are also available resources.
Several of QEW’s members participated in the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Calif., in September 2018 and the UN climate talks (COP24) in Poland in December. Network members continue to participate in Indigenous-led actions protesting pipelines. This winter, youth have been rising to bear public witness about climate change. QEW encourages Friends to incorporate a concern for the earth in all they do and follow the lead of young Friends working for justice and a new way of engaging with creation.
Quaker Institute for the Future
Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) has been applying Quaker values and discernment process to a research agenda on economics, ecology, and ecojustice issues since 2003. The institute’s most recent Focus Book is _Energy Choices: Opportunities to Make Wise Decisions for a Sustainable Future _by Robert Bruninga. This 117-page book is a detailed guide on the application of clean energy technology to homes, personal transport, meetinghouses, and business and institutional facilities.
A current QIF research project has been looking closely at the difference between a money-centered economy and a life-centered economy. The Circle of Discernment (COD) carrying out this project is composed of John Lodenkamper, Paul Alexander, Judith Streit, and Pete Baston.
This COD has now completed its research and analysis and has written its report, which will be published this year as QIF’s twelfth Focus Book. The book will be titled, Toward a Life-Centered Economy: Restructuring the Money-Centered Economy.
QIF’s 2019 Summer Research Seminar will be held on Cape Cod, hosted by West Falmouth (Mass.) Preparative Meeting.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
The work of Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) is about partnerships within the Quaker community and beyond. These relationships support its mission to provide Quaker meetings, schools, and organizations the opportunity to invest with Quaker values without sacrificing financial stability. Over the past six months, Friends Fiduciary has been working to cultivate and nurture partnerships in Friends’ planned giving work.
This past October, Friends Fiduciary held its biennial Quaker Fundraisers Gathering. Volunteer and professional fundraisers met at Friends Center in Philadelphia, Pa., to share their expertise, pick up new skills, and connect with other fundraisers seeking to support the variety of work being done by Quaker organizations across the country.
Friends Fiduciary has also been meeting with Quaker organizations and listening to current challenges and successes. With input from planned giving partners, Friends Fiduciary recently lowered its minimum for Donor Advised Funds, making that vehicle more accessible to those who are moved to support Quaker organizations. Partnering with an organization on planned giving projects has seen increased financial support and greater long-term sustainability for that organization. It also ensures that donors get to leverage their legacy by not only supporting a Quaker organization but also investing in a way that is consistent with Quaker testimonies, as well as supporting Friends Fiduciary’s witness to Quaker values.
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Ben Lomond Quaker Center
An annual pass to Ben Lomond Quaker Center (BLQC) programs is currently held by 16 meetings and 15 individuals. The use of an individual or meeting annual pass contributes to over 400 people attending Quaker Center programs each year.
The complimentary childcare offered during programs—making them more accessible to parents—has been utilized regularly this past year, and this has fostered friendships between children from different meetings. Support for young people is also offered in the Family Work Camp, which was multi‐generational this year with over 50 participants. The new weeklong art courses at Quaker Service and Art Camp were enjoyed by fifth through ninth graders. BLQC rents its facilities to Quaker and non‐Quaker groups. Revenue from these renters helps the center operate in a financially viable way.
Quaker Center is changing leadership as co-directors Kathy and Bob Runyan prepare to move on after eight years of service. A search is now being conducted for a director and an associate director. The board no longer requires that a couple serve as co-directors.
In January, Friends Center was the launch pad for the Philly Program of the Tri-College Consortium of Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore colleges. It is a semester-long, nonresidential program that provides students both curricular and co-curricular activities in Philadelphia. Its classes are held at Friends Center two days a week. Faculty and staff also have access to space for holding office hours and administering the program. A February reception brought together students with representatives from some of the seven Quaker and 35 other mission-aligned nonprofit organizations. In a Swarthmore College announcement, program planning director Calista Cleary said, “This academic program offered in an urban environment will present students with the opportunity to better understand the diversity of the world we inhabit; to directly observe the links between scholarship and lived experience; and to appreciate cities as vital sites of innovation, creativity, and complexity.”
Also in February, Friends Center secured approval from the City of Philadelphia to install two exterior signs on the main office building. The signs aim to help people find Friends Center more easily when visiting tenant groups or attending one of the events hosted by more than 70 outside groups each year.
In September 2018, Lives of Service volunteers spruced up the Pendle Hill campus. In October, 11 participants completed Radical Faithfulness, a program on Spirit-led activism. In November, the center hosted its popular clerking workshop, a course for women writers of color, a weaving workshop, and the first seasonal retreat in the Journey Toward Wholeness series. December brought 37 to engage with Beyond Diversity 101. Participants in New Year retreats in painting, music, and mindfulness enjoyed the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration. In January, the center facilitated an Alternatives to Violence Project basic workshop; in February, program topics included race-based economic justice, silencing the inner critic, and a Bible course on Paul.
Pendle Hill sponsored two conferences: “Within and Without: Liberation Theology at Work in Social Movements” and, with American Friends Service Committee, “What Does Justice Look Like? Moving Towards a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.”
Three new pamphlets were published: A Practical Mysticism: How Quaker Process Opens Us to the Promptings of the Divine, The Healing Power of Stories, and Trying to Be Truthful.
Pendle Hill welcomed resident scholars Sarah Ruden, Doug Bennett, and George Conyne; hosted three art exhibits featuring work by Monica Kane, Jennifer Elam, and Blair Seitz; and offered monthly programs, including First Monday Lectures (available on Pendle Hill USA’s YouTube channel), the Poetry Coffeehouse, and one‐day arts and spirituality workshops.
Powell House has been working on completing elements of its strategic plan to improve accessibility and increase the capacity of the facility’s electrical system. Also, the staff have been revising the organizational structure of the Oversight Committee, updating job descriptions, and working on whistleblower and conflict of interest policies.
Programs throughout the fall were well-attended, including two one-day events: a book discussion and a winter solstice observance. Highlights from the youth program included “It’s All Around Us,” a retreat for young adult Friends; “Greens, Blues, and Other Hues” for fourth through fifth graders; and “Comfortably Uncomfortable” for sixth through eighth graders.
In November, Friends Seminary brought the largest group ever from that organization: 85 ninth graders, plus faculty and staff. Fall was also the time for several monthly meeting retreats taking advantage of the beauty of the season. The yearly New Year’s Eve retreat welcomed a significant number of new attenders, who enhanced and energized an intergenerational celebration.
Finally, the annual giving appeal, launched in the fall, was positively impacted by a grassroots fundraising campaign that involved the participation of several young adult Friends (including the facilitator) whose efforts resulted in many new donors.
Woolman Hill Retreat Center
Woolman Hill guests have been blessed recently by frequent sightings of an owl in the ridge-top fields, and by the ongoing presence of the land and its varied inhabitants.
This autumn and winter Woolman Hill welcomed retreats of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) junior high and high school students, and young adults; NEYM Ministry and Counsel, Connecticut Valley Quarter, and two monthly meetings; as well as groups focused on war tax resistance, outdoor education, hypnosis, Joanna Macy’s the Work That Reconnects, and Waldorf education; and two weddings.
Woolman Hill also held its annual year-end silent retreat, and programs on Quaker mentoring, worship, couple enrichment, writing, and handwork. In January, Marcelle Martin and Hilary Burgin hosted an informational webinar for the Nurturing Faithfulness course: a faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to local meetings and beyond.
In February, two longtime staff members—Steve Howes, conference center coordinator, and Becca Howe, housekeeper—moved on to other adventures in New Hampshire and California respectively. They each brought many gifts to their service at Woolman Hill. In this period of transition, the organization is taking the opportunity to explore what roles and structure will best serve the Hill going forward.
Service and Peace Work
Canadian Friends Service Committee
For the last two years, in his work for the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), program coordinator Matthew Legge has been researching and writing a book full of practical and immediately useful tips for countering the rise of extreme polarization. This book compiles and shares Friends’ wisdom, but is also informed by findings from fields like social psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience. It features many stories and activities that are ideal for group learning. The book is written to be easily accessible to a general audience. Quaker activist and author George Lakey wrote the foreword.
_Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division _will be published in May and is now available for pre-order from New Society Publishers and other online retailers.
Friends House Moscow
Last September, Friends House Moscow and Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) sponsored a gathering of about 25 inquirers in Kiev, Ukraine. The gathering was part of the EMES Ministry and Outreach program. Julia Ryberg, EMES’s Ministry and Outreach coordinator, and Michael Eccles, EMES assistant secretary, facilitated the event, with participants from Ukraine, Poland, Russia, and Georgia.
The all-age group, including children, communicated in Russian, with an interpreter enabling all to speak their own language. For some participants, the gathering was their first encounter with Quakers, while others had been part of worship groups. Two long-term international members living in Ukraine participated.
Titled “An Introduction to Quakers,” this meeting for worship for learning covered the basics: meeting for worship, history of Quakers, Quaker beliefs and testimony, and Quaker decision making.
Spending considerable time in worship, each country group told the story of Quakers in their country.
Beginning with an Experiment with Light session, the weekend featured an excursion around Kiev and country dancing, accompanied by facilitator Julia Ryberg on the violin. They considered the way forward for Friends in their region, including a desire for more gatherings for Russian-speaking Friends and more discussion of ways that Friends and groups in their region can support each other.
Quaker House has been busy. Between the beginning of September 2018 and the end of January 2019, Steve and Lenore, the organization’s two GI Rights counselors, took 922 calls to the hotline from service members stationed throughout the world. Joanna, the licensed clinical social worker at Quaker House, spent 77 hours (working one day a week) counseling veteran and active duty service members and their families for issues arising from domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury. In January, Quaker House started an ongoing writing group for the military community; it provides a creative outlet and a medium for processing experiences, including those of combat.
In February, executive director Kindra Bradley attended the hearing on possible mandatory service requirements coming from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Bradley’s attendance at this hearing continued Quaker House’s careful watch on and advocacy regarding the recommendations coming out of the Commission, particularly as they relate to mandatory military service, the Selective Service System, and the treatment of conscientious objectors.
Quaker House was pleased to learn that the focus of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) advocacy groups this year is the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and Quaker House cosponsored advocacy workshops with Fayetteville (N.C.) Meeting (occurring at Quaker House) and Chapel Hill (N.C.) Meeting during the first weekend in March.
Quaker Social Action
An evaluation report by Learning and Work Institute on the Quaker Social Action (QSA) project Move On Up reveals the positive impact it is making in the lives of young adult carers (caregivers). The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, provides four shared east London flats for young adult carers, plus individualized support.
One-to-one tailored support from the project manager has led to real differences in the lives of Move On Up tenants. One tenant was encouraged to see her doctor about her mental health, which led to improved well-being as a result of medication. Another tenant re-engaged with university and completed missed modules. Help has also been given with careers: helping make a detailed plan for one tenant interested in joining the police force, and helping another who wants to be a teacher to access a suitable mentor.
Toward the end of 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority’s interim report has stepped up pressure on rising prices in the UK funeral market.
The report states serious concern at the significant rise in average funeral prices and provides evidence of the extreme risk of exploitation faced by many of those organizing one. This is a significant milestone in Quaker Social Action’s long history of work on funeral poverty.
Quaker Voluntary Service
Hilary Burgin began as the new executive director of Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) on December 1, 2018. She previously served as the city coordinator of QVS’s Boston program. Burgin lives in Boston, Mass., and is a lifelong Friend from New England Yearly Meeting.
This year QVS celebrates its tenth anniversary since Friends first convened to ask whether a national Quaker-based service program should exist. QVS is now in its seventh program year. Over the last decade, QVS has expanded to five cities, grown the annual fellowship cohort to 36 Fellows, directly partnered with 15 churches and meetings, supported the work of over 60 service organizations, and empowered over 130 young adult leaders.
This past February QVS also convened its first ever alumni reunion offering reflection, retreat, and visioning for the future of QVS for more than 45 alumni and numerous board members and supporters. At this time, QVS is actively discerning how to best equip its young adult Fellows beyond the 11-month fellowship year. The organization is considering what resources, tools, connections, and opportunities it can provide to the young adults so they feel empowered to discern and live into their gifts and callings.