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.
From climate change and pandemic disease to rising authoritarianism, today’s global crises require a complete shift in U.S. foreign policy approaches. Prioritizing Peace, a new report by Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), recommends a set of actions Congress can take to address twenty-first-century challenges without resorting to military intervention. Designed with bipartisan congressional action in mind, Prioritizing Peace details specific legislation, appropriations, and other needed tools for U.S. foreign policy in peacebuilding, diplomacy, and development. The recommendations include making peacebuilding a priority, doing no harm, strengthening the voice of peacebuilding and human rights, increasing staff diversity and capacity to build peace, positioning peace at the center of U.S. foreign assistance, and reaffirming the U.S. commitment to multilateralism. Requiring significant investment in resources, this is long-term work often shunned by lawmakers who favor quicker responses to global challenges. However, as FCNL’s Ursala Knudsen-Latta said, “[T]he investment is worth it—this work gets to the root of violent conflict before fighting breaks out by resolving injustices, healing fractured societies, and improving governance.” As 20 years of militarized approaches have proven ineffective and worsened humanitarian crises worldwide, Prioritizing Peace urges and equips lawmakers to re-evaluate and re-invent U.S. foreign policy for the better.
Learn more: Friends Committee on National Legislation
People throughout the world are witnessing and living through crises, whether the result of violent conflict, humanitarian need, or the impact of the pandemic. These complex crises span borders, showing Friends that the world is ever more interconnected. Also, they are often affected by climate change and migration, which require sustainable and people-centered solutions. Recognizing this, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) began new programming in the area of peace and crisis. This work examines how peace is understood by the United Nations when developing responses to crisis situations. The first step into this new area was to launch a research and learning process in 2021. A key part was a listening exercise, which provided an exciting opportunity to converse with UN staff, diplomats, and civil society colleagues. QUNO explored key questions: How can crisis response contribute to peace? How can a practice of peacebuilding support the delivery of humanitarian aid? Drawing from this exercise, QUNO released the publication, Building Peace in Times of Crisis, which identifies six key shifts in efforts already underway and can strengthen peacebuilding and crisis response. QUNO hopes this publication will be a resource that guides UN colleagues as they grapple with the challenge of simultaneously responding to complex crises and building peace.
Learn more: Quaker United Nations Office
Consultation, Support, and Resources
In response to customer requests and a global paper shortage, Friends United Meeting’s (FUM) press, Friends United Press, has converted about 30 percent of their available titles to eBook format since September 2021. To introduce FUM members to digital reading, the Press offered for six weeks a coupon for one free eBook to readers of their digital newsletter, along with whatever instructions were needed to help download the book and access the content. The press successfully gave away over $1,600 worth of books. Among titles now available digitally are The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman, edited by Phillips P. Moulton; A Living Faith: An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs by Wilmer A. Cooper; Encounter with Silence: Reflections from the Quaker Tradition by John Punshon; The Journal of George Fox, edited by Rufus M. Jones; Prophetic Healing: Howard Thurman’s Vision of Contemplative Activism by Bruce Epperly; and all titles by Howard Thurman. Older titles continue to be digitized, and there are plans to digitize all new titles in the future. FUM is also developing a network of mutual resources and support for the growing number of African immigrant congregations throughout Canada and the United States. In October, the FUM General Board launched a new subcommittee to focus strategic attention on how the FUM community can best nurture, encourage, learn from, and welcome these local meetings, churches, and scattered individuals. FUM anticipates welcoming some of these congregations or congregational networks into FUM membership in the coming year.
The January 2022 Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) retreat at Ben Lomond Quaker Center in California was the first in-person retreat offered by FCE since March 2020. In March, FCE continued its online events with a retreat organized in partnership with Pendle Hill. At the annual Leader Couple meeting in January, FCE affirmed that both in-person and online events are valuable, and both will be continued. This will include an in-person workshop at Friends General Conference’s Gathering. FCE’s monthly online “Drop-in Dialogue” offers couples, who have experienced the power of witnessed dialogue, the chance to continue this spiritual practice on a regular basis. The group is fluid; some people return each month, and others less frequently. However, all participants appreciate the time dedicated to deepening their relationship. The online training for leaders, begun in 2021, has blossomed, and several couples will complete the training in 2022. While originally focused on preparing couples to lead in-person retreats, FCE added a section on offering online events. This self-paced training allows for more mentoring and discernment than the intensive four-day training of the past and has improved couples’ ability to ground their learning in Spirit. The next online information session for couples interested in becoming FCE Leader Couples is Sunday, August 14, 2022.
Learn More: Friends Couple Enrichment
Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) continues to connect Friends and bring fellowship to Friends around the world. FWCC welcomed Tim Gee as its new general secretary in January 2022. Towards the end of 2021, FWCC published a new, refreshed website and launched the second series of the popular webinar series “Quaker Conversations,” which explores such topics as food security, the inner work for peace, and the impact of the shift to online Quakerism. Recordings of all past events and details of future events can be found on FWCC’s website. FWCC worked with international interfaith networks and Friends around the world to support Quaker climate action and amplify the Quaker voice at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021. FWCC coordinates the Global Quaker Sustainability Network, which strengthens collaboration between Quaker agencies working for environmental justice. Planning is underway for the forthcoming FWCC World Plenary Meeting to be held in South Africa in 2024. FWCC is also gathering creative ideas for how Friends worldwide would like to mark George Fox’s 400th birthday in July 2024.
“I really appreciate you writing. You are the only one I’ve gotten a letter from this year. And it really makes it a good day to know there is someone that will take the time out of their day and let others know they are thought of.” These words came from Jeffrey, a person incarcerated at Federal Correctional Complex, Butner, a prison in North Carolina. Jeffrey is one of thousands of people visited by volunteers through Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS), an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization based at Friends Center in Philadelphia. PVS volunteers have been visiting people incarcerated in federal and military prisons for 54 years, but the pandemic meant that—like so many others—PVS had to completely change the way they operated. Instead of face-to-face visiting to help people incarcerated cope with the “normal” isolation of prison life, PVS volunteers turned to writing, in hopes of supporting the people they had come to know in facing the overwhelming fear, sickness, and loneliness of the pandemic behind bars. While it has not been the same, the connection between visitors and prisoners has remained strong, and many are counting the days until in-person visiting resumes. In the meantime, volunteers will continue to write, providing “a candle light in my darkness,” as Paulino, incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary, Big Sandy, in Inez, Ky., phrased it.
In the Americas, the Quaker community extends from the Arctic to the Andes, spanning a rich diversity of regional cultures, beliefs, and styles of worship. Friends from the Americas recently experienced this diversity at the FWCC Americas virtual section meeting in March with a theme of “Hope and Resilience: Drawing Strength from Our Quaker Faith.” In the last year, FWCC accelerated its efforts to foster a community that is ever more diverse and inclusive by helping close the gaps created by language differences, geographic distance, technological access, and varied theological approaches. FWCC is enhancing its programs to provide more practical resources and events to assist meetings and churches and enrich their own practices. An FWCC-updated directory of Friends contained more than 1,100 meetings and churches in the United States. This will facilitate FWCC’s work to lift up the diversity of Friends and help Quakers from all forms of worship come together to discover the joys inherent in exploring Friends’ rich forms of religious expression.
Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) has been working to redistribute resources to women’s groups in India, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. The three-year Match Challenge, which welcomed over 450 new donors into the Right Sharing family, was a resounding success. It has made it possible for Right Sharing to expand into a country in Latin America, while partnering with more women’s groups in India and Africa. The countries of interest for program expansion are Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Peru. The RSWR board is meeting in person at Quaker Hill in Richmond, Ind., this spring for the first time since October 2019. At that time, the board will discuss which new country will be RSWR’s new partner, hopefully deciding by October 2022. RSWR general secretary Jackie Stillwell will be a plenary speaker at the Friends General Conference Gathering. She will share her spiritual journey of resistance and obedience, reflecting on the Gathering’s theme, “…and follow me.”
Learn more: Right Sharing of World Resources
COVID-19 presents myriad challenges for the partners of Quaker Service Australia (QSA) who have by and large managed to adapt and innovate in order to continue working safely with their communities for much of the past turbulent year. Travel and movement restrictions have posed significant challenges, including for partners in Cambodia. In that country, partners engage local youth volunteers to liaise with and assist their rural communities in participating in online workshops: for example, regarding much-needed nutritional awareness for young mothers, pregnant women, and their partners. In Uganda, QSA partners are continuing agricultural training for smallholder rural farmers through social media recordings as well as COVID-19-safe training in small outdoor groups. Farmers are learning how to run their own practical experiments with improved and climate-resilient banana and plantain varieties, reviving one of Uganda’s staple crops, whilst boosting both food and income security. QSA’s partnership arrangements are already such that the majority of decision making and direction are locally led. It is that one critical touchpoint of a face-to-face visit to partners during the year, however, that is missing. As an Australia-based NGO with no overseas offices, such visits foster and strengthen even QSA’s long-standing relationships. As with many relationships with family and friends, QSA is relying more on digital technologies to bridge this gap.
Learn more: Quaker Service Australia
School of the Spirit asks Friends what they long for in their Friends community. The School’s new program, Faithful Meetings, will provide meetings with opportunities to explore this and other questions about what it means to be a community of Friends today. Over the course of nine months, through in-person and online engagements, Friends meetings will be given openings to examine many aspects of Quaker faith and practices. In worship, worship sharing, activities, and discussions, Friends will ponder their spiritual experiences, struggles, and beliefs with one another. Each meeting community will be invited to co-create a space where spiritual and emotional intimacy can thrive, where differences are welcome as a broader spectrum of Light, and where unity is experienced not as conformity but as a communal connection with the “more” that is beyond limited human understanding. It is in this intimate space that Friends may learn to trust themselves; trust one another; and most importantly, trust the Divine to know and guide them.
Learn more: The School of the Spirit Ministry
Faith & Play Stories offers a publication and materials for 16 stories which explore Quaker faith, practice, and witness using the Montessori-inspired Godly Play method. Training is available for Friends interested in spiritual formation through storytelling and joining a growing community of practice. Two hybrid training workshops were hosted in the fall of 2021 for Friends interested in using Godly Play and Faith & Play stories in their meeting religious education programs. Both training workshops used a combination of two or three Zoom sessions prior to an in-person weekend and an additional follow-up session online. Online sessions using Zoom and a synchronous reading before the training allowed the weekend workshop to be shorter and made training more accessible for many people. A training weekend hosted at Centre Meeting near Centreville, Del., welcomed participants from four U.S. states and Costa Rica. Richmond (Va.) Meeting hosted the second training for their meeting community. For both events, COVID safety guidelines for participants and the trainer and flexible scheduling made it possible to continue sharing this work using a hybrid format.
Learn more: Faith & Play Stories
Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) nurtures community among Quaker religious educators. The QREC studio is an online collection of customizable religious education resources supporting Quaker faith formation, community building, and outreach. The QREC Faith at Home webpage offers resources for faith formation within family life. QREC Africa is recording oral histories of African Friends who have shaped Quakerism. Stories are archived at QREC Africa headquarters and Friends Theological College. A series of online workshops by Friends from Bolivia, Kenya, and the United States comprised the 2021 QREC virtual conference with topics such as design of resources for teens, new growth from religious education roots, oral histories, and nurturing Quaker faith in teens. QREC hosted online Conversation Circles on World Quaker Day, addressing youth faith formation through action, parent support, faith at home, and child safety in meetings. They supported Canadian Friends in exploring Conversation Circles to gather in Spirit from far-flung places. Valiant Together: RE Support During COVID-19, a Facebook group, sustains the Quaker religious education community through the pandemic with articles, resources, and creative ways to connect Friends online.
Learn more: Quaker Religious Education Collaborative
Friends Council on Education celebrates its 90th anniversary with Sources of Light QuakerEd Talks. In September, Friends Council presented “An Evening of Poetry, Music, and Thought” featuring Darryl J. Ford, the head of William Penn Charter School; Keisha Hutchins, an award-winning singer-songwriter; and Cydney Brown, the 2020 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate. In February, they convened climate activists Ingrid Lakey and Eileen Flanagan, environmental experts Eric Toensmeier and Laura Jackson, and Friends school student leaders Elson Bankoff and Corey Becker for “Climate Activists: Letting Their Lives Speak.” Community Conversations on Race is in year five continuing Friends Council’s focus on antiracism work. A highlight this year was award-winning film producer/director André Robert Lee’s discussion of his recent documentary The Road to Justice. Friends Council issued a statement, “Diversity, Equity, and Justice Belong in Friends Schools,” along with tips and considerations for responding to inquiries about the statement. Workshops such as Educators New to Quakerism have resumed in person, with executive director Drew Smith taking the program to individual school communities. Peer network professional development continues in virtual format, enabling Friends Council to meet the needs of small Friends schools and those at a distance from Philadelphia. Friends Council continues to administer and fundraise for the National Friends Education Fund. This year, tuition aid grants were distributed to 184 Friends students in 33 Friends schools across the country.
Learn more: Friends Council on Education
Environmental and Ecojustice
Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) has begun sharing Zoom recordings of the five-day Summer Research Seminar held online in August 2021. These are part of the QIF YouTube channel which is now available on the updated website. The website now also includes updates on QIF activities through Clerk’s Posts offered seasonally. The 2022 Summer Research Seminar is planned to be held online in the second week of August. It will extend a program of release-time stipends to support the participation of Young Friends. This program was a successful experiment in 2021 and is also being extended to support collaborative workshops in the upcoming May retreat of the Atlantic Friends Gathering in Eastern Canada. The Circle of Discernment book on artificial intelligence is expected to be published by early summer. Progress continues in other Circles of Discernment on bridging polarities, agriculture, and decolonization.
Learn more: Quaker Institute for the Future
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) continues its nonviolent direct action campaign focusing on the role of Vanguard, a Philadelphia investment company, in a just and sustainable future. Joining global, national, and local partners in the Vanguard’s Very Big Problem campaign, EQAT is pushing Vanguard to use its influence as one of the biggest investors in fossil fuel companies to move them towards sustainability; offer sustainable investing options to its customers; and in the long run, divest from fossil fuel companies. While the campaign is global in scope, EQAT sees an opportunity to play a role in organizing Quakers around this issue. EQAT has heard from Quakers across the country who say that taking action together is very encouraging, and EQAT will offer many opportunities in the future, locally and beyond. Vanguard customers have a particular part to play in pressuring Vanguard, and EQAT offers a sign-up form on its website to help customers take collective action. Participation in the campaign is not limited to Vanguard customers. In April, EQAT is setting off on a walk to highlight the connection between pollution and climate injustice in the region and the money and investment that enable it. The walk begins in Chester, Pa., and ends in Malvern at Vanguard’s headquarters, with events and interfaith protests between.
Learn more: Earth Quaker Action Team
The primary goal of Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) is to nurture a spiritual transformation in people’s relationship with the living world. It sponsors a range of events to reach out and support Friends. QEW hosts monthly online worship sharing. Friends greatly appreciate this opportunity to reflect on our individual and collective faith and climate action. The QEW Presents! program coordinates speakers who travel virtually or in-person to monthly meetings and Friends churches to share about a range of topics, such as discernment in nature, eco-spirituality, environmental justice, native landscaping, regenerative agriculture, alternative economics, and population. QEW also hosts monthly webinars. It is collaborating with EQAT to promote divestment from fossil fuels (and re-investment in renewables) with a focus on Vanguard. Past webinars include a discussion about mysticism and physics (January/February) and international climate activism and diplomacy (March). The organization offers matching $500 mini-grants in support of Friends groups’ eco-friendly projects. Recently supported projects include new raised beds for a community food project, an “Exploring Organisms with Literacy” curriculum for first graders at a Friends school, and a meditation garden using native landscaping. QEW also publishes a quarterly newsletter, BeFriending Creation, showcasing Friends’ actions and reflection on Earthcare. Recent articles focused on the human right to a healthy environment, protests against logging, and spiritual support for young climate activists.
Learn more: Quaker Earthcare Witness
Friends Fiduciary witnesses to Quaker values by directly engaging some of the largest corporations on a variety of environmental, social, and governance issues. Climate change, while impacting everyone, has and will continue to disproportionally affect communities of color and lower income communities, making it both an environmental and a social justice issue.
This year, Friends Fiduciary engaged the rail company Norfolk Southern on the issue of climate lobbying, ultimately filing a proposal asking Norfolk Southern to evaluate its direct and indirect lobbying for alignment with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees celsius. Friends Fiduciary believes companies that publicly support environmental sustainability should not be financially supporting trade associations or other organizations that lobby against climate initiatives. From a business perspective, this exposes the company to reputational risk; from a values perspective, this is inconsistent with the Quaker values of integrity, transparency, and stewardship.
The proposal received support from a remarkable 76 percent of shares voted, the highest approval percentage for any climate lobbying resolution to date. Friends Fiduciary continues to engage on this issue and hopes this vote indicates a shift among the largest institutional investors to recognizing the urgency and material risk of climate change.
Learn more: Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Quaker House is located on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution in western New York. Chautauqua Institution is “a community of artists, educators, thinkers, faith leaders, and friends dedicated to exploring the best in humanity.” It was also home (in 1900) to the formation of Friends General Conference. Quaker House was founded by a committee of eight people representing two yearly meetings and five monthly meetings. The house has five bedrooms and a large multipurpose space that can be a worship space, dining room, and living room. Seasonal programs have included worship sharing, meeting for worship, conversations, and open houses. Friends-in-residence provide hospitality during the nine-week season. Before the season (mid-May to mid-June) and after (end of August to mid-October), the house is available to rent for retreats, meetings, and other Friendly activities. The mission statement of Quaker House is the following: “At the intersection of Chautauqua Institution and the Quaker Faith, we have found a source of the living water. We invite others to this place.” This year Quaker House gained 501(c)(3) status. Its outreach continues to grow, with many Chautauquans looking forward to worshiping at Quaker House, even though they attend other churches in their hometowns.
While autumn 2021 began the transition back to in-person events for both adult and youth programs, Powell House returned to only allowing sojourner visits in December, due to the spike in pandemic cases. The Second-Thirds program, for Friends ages 35-59ish, was well attended virtually this fall, with topics of financial concerns, parenting, and spiritual journeys. Weekly Zoom Bible study regularly gathers eight to twelve folks as they make their way through the book of Genesis. Online or hybrid events will continue to be offered, even as in-person programming begins to return this spring. The Youth program will hold three conferences in March and April: “On The Spot!” for ninth to twelfth grade, “Play, Create” for sixth to eighth grade, and “Outer Space, Inner Space” for fourth and fifth grade. Powell House’s COVID-19 protocols encourage communication and consent along with a combination of masking, social distancing, being outside, and rapid testing. These are working well, and there has not been a single case of COVID-19 in the youth or adult programs. Powell House currently asks that all in-person attenders at Powell House be vaccinated.
Learn more: Powell House
Over the past six months, Pendle Hill has welcomed groups and sojourners on campus while also serving thousands worldwide through online offerings, including a hybrid meeting for worship that generally welcomes over 100 participants daily. Free monthly lectures and reading groups continued. The First Monday Lecture Series began this September with Vanessa Julye’s Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture, “Radical Transformation—Long Overdue for the Religious Society of Friends.” In the spirit of that lecture, Pendle Hill staff have been actively engaged in the Quakers Uprooting Racism coalition and supported an intensive race reparations workshop with K. Melchor Quick Hall and a writing workshop for People of Color. Other programs included a lecture series with John Dominic Crossan on Jesus at Christmas and online New Year’s retreats with Valerie Brown and Karl Middleman. Programs exploring Quaker faith and practice included “Quaker Caregiving in Times of Crisis” with Windy Cooler, “Lectio Divina: A Friendly Exploration of Quaker Writings” with Barbara “Shulamith” Clearbridge, “Friends’ Decision-Making and Clerking” with Steve Mohlke, and “The Way of Clearness” with Valerie Brown and John Baird. Three new pamphlets were released: Living Fellowship Needs Fresh Forms (Daphne Clement); The Atheist’s Guide to Quaker Process: Spirit-Led Decisions for the Secular (Selden W. Smith); and Be Patterns: Reflections on Words of George Fox (John Andrew Gallery).
Learn more: Pendle Hill
Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) continues to nurture a 20-person intentional community in downtown Boston and expand the reach of its online programming, welcoming more than 1,000 participants from more than 20 Friends meetings, 28 states, and ten countries during this past year. In September, BHFH welcomed its first two program fellows, who are spending a year supporting programs while living in the BHFH residential community. New this year, BHFH has been experimenting with hybrid (online/in-person) events. Recent hybrid programs include MIDWEEK, a weekly facilitated spiritual practice, and October’s annual Ernest and Esther Weed Memorial Lecture, which welcomed its largest ever audience of more than 100 people. Another program highlight is Caminando con la Biblia/Walking with the Bible, a bilingual series hosted alongside Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Section of the Americas, which featured Emma Condori Mamani (Bolivia), Cristela Martinez (El Salvador), and Nelson Ayala Amaya (El Salvador) in dialogue about their relationship with the Bible. The audience was from the United States, Canada, Honduras, Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, El Salvador, and Guatemala. BHFH also recently developed a workshop and accompanying workbook on vocational discernment grounded in Quaker traditions. It was first hosted at BHFH in December, and BHFH staff will present the workshop at Earlham and Guilford Colleges this spring. An updated video library on the BHFH website hosts edited recordings of more than 80 past programs for individuals and meetings to use freely.
Learn more: Beacon Hill Friends House
The Race Street meetinghouse at Friends Center in Philadelphia hosted a dedication on March 23 of an official state historical marker commemorating Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (1842-1932). (The marker itself is installed at 1342 Arch Street.) The event was organized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Friends Select School in honor of Women’s History Month. According to the organizers, Dickinson was born into a Quaker family and attended Friends Select School and Westtown School. Dickinson was an abolitionist from an early age and had her first essay published in William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator when she was only 13. According to the organizers, “Dickinson became a nationally famous orator, speaking out for the rights of women, workers, and African Americans. In 1864, the 21-year-old Dickinson was the first woman to address the U.S. Congress, a speech attended by President Abraham Lincoln.” The event also marked the first major public collaboration between Friends Center and Friends Select School since the latter bought 1520 Race Street from Friends Center in 2021. The school is currently renovating the structure into a new building for its upper school STEAM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, arts, math). The school plans to open the STEAM building at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
Learn more: Friends Center
Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) shares stewardship of the 1,400-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia, preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use.” Since 1974, FWC has served as “a place of peace and tranquility” in troubled times of war, systemic racism, environmental crisis, and now a global pandemic. During the pandemic, FWC continues to offer monthly guided hikes on the miles of hiking trails that meander around mountain streams and waterfalls between the Appalachian Trail and the Shenandoah River. FWC is working on renovations to the Niles Cabin in anticipation of welcoming guests back to the cabin after pandemic restrictions are eased. FWC continues to serve those who seek access to the beauty and solitude that the Blue Ridge forest provides as a much-needed opportunity for peace and renewal in times of uncertainty, transition, and social isolation.
FWC hosts the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR, ChinaFolkHouse.org) on the property. CFHR preserves a farmhouse from the village of Cizhong, Yunnan. This house was disassembled and is now being re-assembled on the FWC property. Construction of the bathhouse and kitchen are expected to be completed in time to support programs this summer.
Learn more: Friends Wilderness Center
Service and Peace Work
At the end of 2021, Friends House Moscow (FHM) published a Russian translation of Muriel Payne’s book Plague, Pestilence and Famine. The book is an account of her experiences in Samara, in what was then the Soviet Union, working as a nurse for the Quaker mission providing both health and famine relief services. The publication of this book in Russia was timely as 2021 marked the centenary of her 1921 trip to Samara. It also broke new ground for FHM as the publication of this book was entirely crowdfunded. Both a print version and an eBook have been produced. The book has attracted a lot of interest in Russia. A very generous couple bought 75 copies and donated these to libraries and museums in Samara, while another 16 copies were purchased by a local historian.
Learn more: Friends House Moscow
This scholarship program under the care of Redwood Forest Meeting in Santa Rosa, Calif., has been working in Guatemala for social justice through education and by addressing the root causes of migration since 1973. The mission of Progresa is to help Guatemalans with limited resources obtain a higher education. Most students come from rural areas. Nearly 90 percent are Mayan, and over 50 percent are women; all are poor or very poor. They are assisted so that they will be better able to help their communities. Each year the program aids them in planning and executing community service projects in their home communities.
Progresa’s Guatemalan staff switched from in-person contacts and workshops to electronic means to keep in regular contact with students during the pandemic. Initially, the students felt isolated and struggled to handle online classes in communities with weak telephone and Internet signals. Progresa set up twice weekly online workshops aimed at getting them to know and support each other and to recognize that they belong to the Progresa family. In the end, in-country staff were successful and learned new ways to provide support and build community that Progresa will carry forward. Progresa was supporting 83 students in the spring of 2020, 93 in 2021, and 95 students in 2022.
At the end of December 2021, UK anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action (QSA) paused new applications from funeral directors to sign its “Fair Funerals” pledge: a voluntary commitment to funeral price transparency. Since September 2021, UK funeral directors have been required to publish their prices and third party fees both online and in branch, using a standardized price list for key elements. This is legally required by the Competition and Markets Authority, following its detailed investigations into the funeral industry over the past three years. QSA has been campaigning for clearer funeral pricing since the launch of its Fair Funerals pledge in 2015. While it believes that price transparency could still go further, QSA is pleased that many elements for which it campaigned have been included in the requirements. QSA, which runs a UK-wide helpline for people struggling with the cost of a funeral, is researching client vulnerability in the funeral sector to identify what further action it can take to ensure recently bereaved people are well-supported when planning a funeral. As an initial step in this research in early 2022, QSA asked bereaved people who had recently organized a funeral and client-facing funeral professionals to share their experiences via surveys and online discussion groups. QSA received a strong response to the surveys and is currently analyzing the results.
Learn more: Quaker Social Action
This year, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has launched a new program for young adults who are looking to deepen their social justice and leadership skills: Emerging Leaders for Liberation. This February, AFSC received the first applicants, which must be 18-25 and associated with an AFSC program, a Quaker college or organization, or a Quaker meeting. The first cohort will gather in person this spring. An AFSC-commissioned public opinion poll found that the majority of the U.S. public (56 percent) supports cutting Pentagon spending and reinvesting those funds in programs that benefit everyone. Using the news of public support, the AFSC team is working with partners and congressional offices to introduce legislation to reduce military spending. Friends and partners joined AFSC in the “Free Them All Days of Action” this February. In addition to attending online events and writing hundreds of letters to governors, people gathered in Colorado, New Hampshire, Michigan, California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois to advocate for alternatives to detention and incarceration.
Learn more: AFSC
Friends Peace Teams is a Quaker organization that includes Quakers from many yearly meetings who support one another in encouraging and developing long-term peace and justice ministries around the world. It also includes global networks of peace and justice workers, supporters, and donors of many cultures and beliefs. Friends Peace Teams’ work supports the peace and justice work of local partners in 20 countries where there has been war, colonization, violence, and oppression. A message of peace comes through developing relationships and holding workshops on the “Alternatives to Violence Project,” “Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities,” “Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples,” and “Trauma Resiliency.” The efforts of Friends Peace Teams to become an authentically antiracist group have continued this year. They discerned ways to empower regional working groups, decentralize power, and deconstruct colonial mindsets. Their programs uncover the effects of multigenerational trauma and begin a more focused effort to heal team members and those they serve.
Learn more: Friends Peace Teams