A semiannual feature dedicated to connecting Friends Journal readers to the good works of Quaker organizations.
American Friends Service Committee
At this year’s FGC Gathering in Cullowhee, N.C., Friends participated in a wide variety of AFSC workshops. Topics included immigrant justice, mass incarceration, racial justice, and shared security. Friends also learned about the new Quaker Network to End Mass Incarceration website (qnemi.org) and the Quaker Social Change Ministry Pilot Program (afsc.org/qscminterestform).
AFSC is working to end the federal detention bed quota, a mandate that requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain 34,000 detention beds per day, separating families and devastating communities. Some of AFSC’s recent initiatives include a Google Hangout with more than 100 participants, including several journalists; a week of action held in August with several events around the country; and a successful season of bird-dogging presidential candidates on the issue (gui.afsc.org).
From opening closed houses of worship in Indonesia to advocating against a new juvenile detention center in Seattle, AFSC supports youth organizers throughout the country and world through various youth programs. Peace by Piece, which originated in New Orleans in 2010, now has programs throughout the South, including Baltimore, Atlanta, and Biloxi, Miss. AFSC’s Freedom School program also continues to grow with new Freedom Schools added in Pittsburgh and Charleston, W. Va., this summer and fall, expanding the existing list of Freedom Schools held in Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, and Minneapolis–St. Paul.
Bolivian Quaker Education Fund
Thanks to BQEF’s scholarship program, nearly 120 Bolivian Quakers have graduated from Bolivian universities and technical schools and are bringing Quaker values into their careers as teachers, nurses, engineers, and community organizers. Three graduates are highlighted here:
Ruben Hilare continues the Aymara language website Jaqi Aru, which he helped found, now operating as an NGO. They’re translating the entire Facebook platform to Aymara. He resumed work with Wikipedia and works part-time on the government commission for Aymara language.
Magaly Quispe Yujra, who established the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) in five prisons, finished directing an education project to improve teacher capacity in 80 preschool centers in El Alto.
Isaak Poma Murga, a culinary school graduate, opened a restaurant near the public university in El Alto. He provides a varied menu for three meals a day with special discounts for university students.
Rural young people who attend high school by staying in BQEF’s Student Residence bring their knowledge back to their communities and sometimes continue on to higher education. Recently repaired and improved, the residence is again offering access to high school for youth living a several-hours walk away.
Volunteers from several countries went to Bolivia and assisted in the Quaker schools in La Paz and the Student Residence in Sorata. Volunteers working from home translated student letters, organized programs for meetings, and helped with outreach.
Canadian Friends Service Committee
In June CFSC was honored to witness and participate in a major moment in Canada’s history: the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The TRC has finished its mandate to “learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools and to inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools.” Established in 2007 as part of the legal settlement of the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history, the TRC presented its in-depth report documenting the suffering caused by the gross and systematic human rights violations that took place in Indian Residential Schools.
CFSC helped plan, spoke on, and facilitated two discussion panels at the closing events held in Ottawa: “Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery” and “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The latter was attended by 900 people and streamed online by more than 50,000. CFSC welcomes the 94 Calls to Action of the TRC, congratulates the commissioners on their dedicated work, and pays its deepest respects to all those affected by the residential school experience. CFSC agrees with the TRC that the UN Declaration constitutes a principled framework for justice, reconciliation, healing, and peace, and with former UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya that “implementation of the Declaration should be regarded as political, moral, and, yes, legal imperative without qualification.”
Earlham School of Religion
This fall season is one of excitement and many new faces at Earlham School of Religion. The incoming class is a large and diverse group with a total of 22 new faces joining the various programs. These students represent Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, and Episcopal backgrounds.
In other classroom news, ESR is pleased to announce the appointment of Grace Ji-Sun Kim as associate professor of theology starting this fall. Prior to joining ESR, Kim was a visiting researcher at Georgetown University, and before that served as director of the MATS program and was associate professor of doctrinal theology at Moravian Theological Seminary.
ESR continues to do research thanks to a Lilly grant on alternative forms of ministry. This fall, research on bi-vocational ministry and using social media for ministry is being conducted. The bi-vocational ministry findings will provide the context for ESR’s next Pastors Conference in March 2016.
This fall ESR hosted its sixth annual Quaker Leadership Conference and third annual Quaker College Leadership Gathering. Over 70 Quakers gathered on campus to learn and share about using Quaker values in leadership roles. ESR’s Ministry of Writing Colloquium will take place November 6–7 with a theme of “Words Made Flesh: Creative Writing, Creative Ministry” and will feature several plenary speakers with a variety of writing backgrounds.
Earth Quaker Action Team
In April, a delegation from EQAT visited PNC Bank’s shareholder meeting to acknowledge the bank’s move away from mountaintop removal coal mining after five years of pressure and to announce that EQAT will jump back into action if PNC does not follow through on its new policy.
Meanwhile, EQAT undertook an extensive discernment process to choose a new campaign. A committee shepherded the process, collected ideas, narrowed the possibilities based on a list of strategy questions, researched the most promising options, and presented them to the wider group. In June, the board approved a new campaign: Power Local Green Jobs.
Believing that rooftop solar power can both mitigate climate change and produce needed jobs (especially in historically underemployed communities of color), EQAT chose a campaign that challenges energy corporations to make a major shift to locally generated solar rooftop power. The group’s first target is PECO, the electricity provider for the greater Philadelphia area, which is legally required to increase its solar credits in 2016. The goal is to push PECO to prioritize solar power installation in the chronically underemployed neighborhood of North Philadelphia using local labor.
EQAT plans to expand the geographic focus over time, keeping racial and economic equality central to its campaign strategy. EQAT is confident that this can be done in a way that will also benefit unionized workers and ratepayers.
Friends Association for Higher Education
Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) traveled to the West Coast in June for its annual conference, held this year at member institution George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. Quakers in higher education gathered to present workshops, sessions, and panel discussions around the theme of Truth and Transformation.
FAHE is already looking ahead to next year’s conference, which will be held at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, UK, June 16–19. This fall, FAHE launched a request for proposals on the 2016 theme: Educating for Action.
Ben Pink Dandelion, clerk of the Conference Program Committee, commented on the theme: “Whatever field we are in as Quaker educators, our practice is informed by a faith that calls us to be transformed and in turn to help transform the world. We are nurturing our students to help make the world a better place; we are educating for action.”
FAHE announced the fourth volume in its book series titled Quakers and the Disciplines. At the Woodbrooke conference, Friends will also present papers on the topic of Technologies of Change, looking at Quakers, business, and industry.
Friends Center is the three-building Quaker campus at Fifteenth and Cherry Streets in Philadelphia, Pa. It is a nonprofit partnership among American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and Central Philadelphia Meeting, who work and worship at the center.
Forty-two other tenants include other Quaker groups as well as nonprofits with missions that align with Quaker testimonies. A June meet-and-greet event in the complex’s scenic courtyard enabled tenants with similar interests to connect over snacks, games, and art projects.
Throughout 2015, AFSC continued to host in the Race Street Meetinghouse worship room twice-monthly meetings of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, the local Black Lives Matter movement.
One tenant, the Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, organized a positive media and ad campaign to counter ads attacking Islam that were placed on public buses. CAIR also hosted an interfaith Iftar dinner at Friends Center during Ramadan.
Another tenant, the Center for Returning Citizens, assists people returning home from incarceration. Headed by Germantown Meeting member Jondhi Harrell, TCRC was featured in July in a BBC News magazine story and a blog post by FCNL.
At press, Friends Center had decided to close during the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia in late September. Huge crowds were expected in the immediate neighborhood, and a temporary security fence would limit access to the complex.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends Committee on National Legislation is deeply grounded in the Spirit-led discernment of members of Quakers across the country. For nearly 75 years, FCNL has brought Friends’ perspectives to Capitol Hill. This work is living faith through action.
FCNL supports Iran diplomacy. The July agreement over Iran’s nuclear program is the best chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. war in the Middle East. FCNL quickly mobilized its grassroots network to contact congressional offices, ask questions at town hall meetings, and write letters to the editor. This work gave key members the space to support the deal.
FCNL is building bipartisan support to act on climate change. By encouraging members of Congress to act from their faith or moral values, FCNL is breaking through partisan divides that have blocked climate action. FCNL advocacy has helped cultivate champions on climate action from both parties.
In August, the first class of Advocacy Corps Organizers joined FCNL in Washington, D.C., meeting with congressional staff and discussing strategies to move federal policy. This group of 18 young people returned home ready to begin a year of work in their communities to organize climate action.
Friends Council on Education
Exciting efforts on the horizon for FCE include expanded program offerings in North Carolina and New York. Designed for Friends school educators, these programs support FCE’s mission of sustaining the Quaker nature of Friends schools as diverse school communities united through Quaker processes for worship, learning, decision making, and service. Additionally, a new Learning in the Light workshop will guide teachers in learning an approach for supporting children’s spiritual lives; wonder, play, and story-sharing practices are used as means for children to explore Quaker testimonies, faith, and practice.
The National Endowment for Quaker Children (NEQC) continues to grow; through the new NEQC pilot program, scholarships supporting Quaker children attending Friends schools are being distributed in six regions across the country. By increasing the presence of Quaker families in Friends schools, FCE aims to strengthen the Quaker nature of Friends schools and extend the reach of the Religious Society of Friends.
FCE is a local co-sponsor of the upcoming seventeenth annual White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., April 14–17, 2016. The theme is Let Freedom Ring: Re-Imagining Equity and Justice in the United States. FCE recognizes this forum as a source of best practices for dialogue about diversity, race, and white privilege. Friends and Friends school educators interested in participating in the challenging and essential conversations around race and privilege are invited to attend.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
In the 2015 proxy season FFC presented resolutions at two corporate annual general meetings: Genworth Financial (a Fortune 500 insurance company providing life, long-term care, and mortgage insurance) and Comcast Corporation (a global cable and entertainment company).
The Genworth resolution asked for comprehensive annual sustainability reporting and was co-filed by Calvert Investments. At Genworth’s annual general meeting in Richmond, Va., FFC’s executive director Jeff Perkins presented the resolution and urged shareholders to vote for it. While the resolution did not receive a majority vote, it did receive over 40 percent of votes cast. Based on this huge show of support, FFC hopes Genworth management will be more responsive in future dialogues with the corporation.
The Comcast resolution asked for greater disclosure on lobbying activities and related spending. At Comcast’s May annual general meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., FFC’s chief investment officer Richard Kent urged shareholders to vote for the resolution because the board and shareholders need transparent and complete disclosure to assess the use of corporate assets for lobbying and any risks associated with this type of spending. Although the resolution did not pass, it successfully reached the proxy, received the support of a major proxy voting service, and gained nearly 30 percent of votes cast by those that are not Comcast insiders.
Friends General Conference
FGC’s Spiritual Deepening program began its pilot phase in May, and early feedback from participating meetings and individuals has been very enthusiastic, lifting up ideas that facilitators hope to implement in the future. FGC plans to make Spiritual Deepening learning materials widely available for Friends and meetings next year.
QuakerBooks of FGC continues to do well at its new location at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pa. Traffic is also steady for the new QuakerBooks website, which debuted in October 2014. Bookstore staff are thankful for Friends’ support and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Friends at the Gathering store in July.
This year’s Gathering in Cullowhee, N.C., was attended by nearly 1,400 people, greatly exceeding early attendance estimates. The theme was Seeking Wholeness. Friends can enjoy recordings of plenary presentations from author Parker Palmer as well as attorneys-turned-activists Daryl Atkinson and Scott Holmes at fgcquaker.org/fgc15videos.
The Gathering also planted the seed for a new virtual Quaker meeting. New Meetings Project coordinator Brent Bill met with young people and parents who expressed interest in starting an online Quaker meeting as part of their experience playing the popular online video game Minecraft. On July 23, Bill facilitated a conversation via Skype with families across the country to share their joys, concerns, and plans for Minecraft Monthly Meeting. A new era of Quaker worship has begun!
Friends House Moscow
Last year Friends House Moscow helped organize Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops led by Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Kiev, Ukraine. At first the workshops were met with distrust from Ukrainian speakers. However, differences were overcome, the word has spread, Ukrainian speakers have stepped forward as facilitators, and there is a demand for more workshops in either language or in both. Words may divide; experience unites.
Now AVP in Kharkov (northeastern Ukraine) is working with teenagers from a camp for displaced persons. They are from the combat zone; many of have lost friends and relatives. The workshops helped these children find common ground in the desires and hopes we all share: peace, friendship, safety. After an exercise on trust, the words just tumbled out: about their fear of falling, the joy when someone caught them, and how extremely hard it is to trust yourself when you are afraid of getting hurt. At a later meeting, the children brought so many sisters, brothers, and friends that there are now two groups. Full stories and photos are on Facebook (April 21 and 30, May 21).
Other FHM work helps disabled children and young adults, orphans who have aged out of the orphanages, and young men appealing conscription into military service. Special grants have helped with the translation of Quaker materials into the Russian language (available on FHM’s website).
Friends Peace Teams
(submitted after print deadline for October issue)
Friends Peace Teams (FPT) is a Spirit-led organization working to develop long-term relationships with communities in conflict around the world to create programs for peace building, healing, and reconciliation. FPT’s programs build on extensive Quaker experience combining practical and spiritual aspects of grassroots peace building.
FPT uses processes and methods that respect individuals and help conflicting groups through such programs as Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), trauma healing, community reconciliation, and peace education. FPT’s work is carried out through three Initiatives: African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) with programs in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, and DR Congo; Asia West Pacific Initiative (AWPI-FPT) with visits to Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Australia, with a concern for friends in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Ukraine, and Korea; and Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) with work in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Highlights from a busy 2015 include: celebrating 21 years of Friends Peace Teams with a “Peace Quest” gathering, responding to the earthquake in Nepal with material and psycho-social aid, bringing HROC (Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities, a trauma healing program) to even more conflict-affected countries around Africa, and starting planning for transitions in Latin America by welcoming new partners in AVP and preparing to say goodbye to long-time PLA coordinator Val Liveoak.
Friends Services for the Aging
(submitted after print deadline for October issue)
Friends Services for the Aging (FSA) and Friends Foundation for the Aging (FFA) have closed out the fifth year of an internship program designed to provide college students with the opportunity to experience the possibilities of working in aging services, especially those associated with Friends. Following an application and screening process, interns live at an FSA-member retirement community for eight to ten weeks working on specific projects developed to complement their classroom studies. They are enrolled in a field experience course within their specific major and receive academic credit for the internship. Students have come from majors including health policy administration, hospitality management, social work, kinesiology, nutrition sciences, and more.
FSA and FFA share the cost of providing transportation to and from the internship site and a stipend to the student. Interns have served at locations including Chandler Hall and Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pa.; Broadmead in Cockeysville, Md.; Foxdale Village in State College, Pa.; Kendal at Oberlin in Oberlin, Ohio; Kendal on Hudson in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; Medford Leas in Medford, N.J.; and Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg, Ore. These experiences have been eye-opening for all of the interns. Several have gone on to work in aging services after graduating from college, and two have been hired by their host site.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas)
In July, the clerk of FWCC Section of the Americas, Benigno Sánchez-Eppler, was featured in a QuakerSpeak video called “Why I Worship with Other Kinds of Quakers.” In the video, Sánchez-Eppler guides viewers through benefits he has found in experiencing the diversity of worship practices among Quaker branches. He shows how visiting other meetings can strengthen an individual’s faith, provide a chance to experience parts of worship that one’s own monthly meeting might not provide, and strengthen peacemaking even in the midst of struggle. “The miracle happens when we’re not like-minded,” he says, and holding each other’s differences creates the possibility for God’s love to spill out of us. The video was released on July 9 and can be found on QuakerSpeak.com.
FWCC Section of the Americas has welcomed two new staff members to its Philadelphia-based office. Hye Sung Gehring, coordinator for events and engagement, and Blythe Davenport, coordinator for communications and administration, joined the team in August. Evan Draper, formerly the administrative secretary, has changed roles to development assistant as he begins a new chapter of his life in graduate school.
The summer season was busy with yearly meeting sessions in North America. FWCC representatives worked and traveled throughout the summer months presenting reports to their annual sessions.
The new hybrid education program Answering the Call to Radical Faithfulness began its second class in September. The intensive online/on-campus program leads to a certificate in prophetic activism and civic engagement.
Pendle Hill is celebrating its eighty-fifth anniversary with a woodworkers exhibition and auction. Over 30 woodworkers used wood from a large broken branch of an historic beech tree to make one-of-a-kind wood art. These art pieces will be sold in an online auction October 5–18.
This spring, Pendle Hill hosted a conference on Ending Mass Incarceration. Michelle Alexander, noted author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, addressed participants as keynote speaker.
Eight students spent 27 on-campus days completing Pendle Hill’s first annual Institute for Creative Conflict Engagement and Transformation. A diverse group explored a variety of ways to engage conflict to avoid violence, to understand and address antagonists, and to open up conflict situations to the possibility of transformation. Participants received training in compassionate nonviolent communication, compassionate listening, conflict assessment, basic mediation, and the inner work of peacemaking, forgiveness, and alternatives to violence.
First Monday Lectures welcomed John and Diana Lampen’s presentation on Creating a Culture of Peace in Western Uganda and Barbara Briggs’s presentation on Faith and Work: The Struggle for Labor Rights and Corporate Accountability in the Global Economy.
Dedicated to impacting change, ProNica partners in Nicaragua facilitated educational experiences for international visitors, and worked on community projects with a focused sense of urgency.
An idea for a vocational training program for gang members in Managua originated from a soccer match organized by ProNica partner Los Quinchos a few years ago. The street outreach team had been inspired by the impromptu presentation of the marginalized youth. After a major undertaking and a few bumpy starts, the Casa Lago reopened this past summer to offer electrical repair and carpentry training for young people escaping gang life.
ProNica facilitated a delegation of healers sponsored by Sandy Spring Meeting of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. A focal point of the trip was a three-day retreat with healers and ProNica partners that included trauma work, acupuncture, energy healing, reflexology, yoga, dance, and cross-cultural sharing with deep listening.
ProNica also hosted a Haverford College delegation, with three of the students staying on as summer interns. Guided by community leaders, the interns experienced the challenges and joys of working with marginalized youth as they taught them life skills and helped instill good study habits. They also worked alongside a highly organized youth group to create promotional materials for a rural tourism project. Post-internship reflections revealed deepened awareness of global interconnectedness and greater understandings of the roots of poverty and injustice.
Quaker Council for European Affairs
QCEA provides a Quaker voice to the 28-country European Union and the 47-country Council of Europe. These institutions developed from the devastation of two world wars, and the European Union now has enormous power. In April, QCEA took Friends from 15 Quaker communities on a study tour of the institutions to equip them with skills to engage directly.
Becoming careful stewards: QCEA is the only faith group within a coalition of environmental groups working on proposals for a circular economy—an alternative to the linear, take-make-dispose economic model that does so much harm to our planet.
Building collaboration against lethal drones: In recent months QCEA founded the European Forum on Armed Drones (EFAD). The group now has 30 members, representing anti-drone advocates from many countries, and is working on a joint advocacy strategy and policy position.
Finding loving responses to injustice: QCEA has published reports on pre-trial detention and racist hate crime. Nearly 125,000 people are in European prisons without having had a trial. QCEA’s pre-trial detention report shows how the vast differences in the use of pre-trial detention between countries mean that tens of thousands fewer people would be incarcerated if European countries learned from the best. Most racist crime is never reported to authorities. The hate crime report promotes policies to prevent racist crime, including the use of restorative justice.
Quaker Earthcare Witness
Quaker Earthcare Witness seeks ecological sustainability and environmental justice. QEW is dedicated to spiritual transformation within the Society of Friends regarding our connection with the natural world. QEW provides inspiration and resources to Friends through its network of representatives, bi-monthly newsletter BeFriending Creation, website, and social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. QEW also offers mini grants to meetings around the world for sustainability projects.
Earlier this year QEW issued a call to meetings to take action lessening the effects of climate change in three ways: (1) locally, by using renewable energy and native plants at meetinghouses; (2) regionally and statewide, by engaging with Climate Action Plans; and (3) nationally and internationally, by divesting from fossil fuels. QEW provides resources for Friends to facilitate such actions.
In alliance with QUNO Geneva and UK’s Living Witness, QEW will be part of a Quaker presence and voice at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of the year. In addition, QEW is launching a video project to give voice to the grassroots. This project, called What Canst Thou Say?, is a forum for f/Friends to describe their concerns regarding climate change and to articulate their solutions. QEW encourages participation and plans to distribute these videos widely.
This summer, Quaker House visited meetings and conferences giving presentations. Clearwater and Jacksonville (Fla.) Meetings both organized community moral injury presentations. Veterans, mental health professionals, VA and Vet Center representatives, and Quakers came together to learn how to help servicemembers and veterans who are suffering from wounds of conscience.
Quaker House began providing education on conscientious objection: “Are You a CO and Can You Prove It?” The goals for this presentation are to help youth form and document their beliefs about pacifism and to teach the adults in meetings how to work with their youth to help in this process. Quaker House visited a Bruderhof community to help them teach their youth about conscientious objection and talked to the adults about the plight of servicemembers and veterans today.
At the request of a military chaplain, Quaker House’s domestic violence therapist began counseling victims of moral injury. An agnostic veteran’s AA group started meeting at Quaker House after being unable to find a church that would open its space to the group. Quaker House exhibited the Drone Quilt Project (in memory of the innocent civilian victims of drones) on site, at SAYMA sessions, and at the FGC Gathering. GI Rights Hotline counselors are overwhelmed with soldiers being denied disability and other benefits. The failure of U.S. government to take care of these soldiers is scandalous.
Quaker Institute for the Future
Quaker Institute for the Future is a network organization conducting background research helpful to Friends engaged in frontline change work. QIF provides a Quaker voice within the larger eco-justice movement via its three programs: Summer Seminar, Circles of Discernment, and Publications. QIF’s Moral Economy Project produced the book Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy in 2009.
The week-long 2015 Summer Research Seminar was held in August at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., with participants presenting their research projects on a range of social, economic, and ecological issues. One Circle of Discernment is currently researching right relationship with finance, and another, the determinants of a life-centered economy.
QIF’s most recent publication, Climate, Food, and Violence: Understanding the Connections, Exploring Responses, was launched with a special presentation at the 2015 FGC Gathering. It had previously been distributed to FCNL’s Executive and Policy Committees.
QIF also recently published A Quaker Approach to Research: Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment, a pamphlet which describes and is a guide to QIF’s unique research protocol.
A recent research report prepared by Philip C. Emmi for FCNL, “Conversations on an Ecologically Integrated Economy,” is available on the QIF website. The summary document on the same topic from the Summer Seminar collaboration of QIF and the Eco-justice Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is also available on the website.
Quaker United Nations Office
In April, QUNO and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) published “Filling the Gap: How civil society engagement can help the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture meet its purpose,” a contribution to the 2015 review of the Peacebuilding Commission. Several recommendations from the paper are in the final review, including the need for regular consultation with civil society.
In July, QUNO staff participated in two events in Beijing: a workshop entitled “Emerging Views on Global Peace Practice: New Directions in UN Peace Operations at the Occasion of the 70th Anniversary,” co-organized by QUNO, the UN Association of China, AFSC, and the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, and as a plenary speaker at a high-level event celebrating the anniversary of the UN.
In July, QUNO, through its participation in the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group, supported a Security Council Arria-formula meeting focused on Palestine entitled “Reflections One Year Later and Charting a New Course for Gaza,” featuring briefings from civil society and academia. The last time such a meeting was held was in 1997.
In August, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was agreed. QUNO played an active role in ensuring that Goal 16, on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, remained in the final text. QUNO will continue to actively engage on the Sustainable Development process during the UN Summit in New York in September.
Quaker Voluntary Service
QVS completed its third program year, growing its alumni network to 45 young adults. The organization welcomed 28 new first-year QVS fellows to its expanded network in August. Many QVS fellows go on to continue in leadership among Friends and in the organizations where they served.
In August, QVS opened its fourth program in Boston, Mass., under the care of Friends Meeting at Cambridge. The same month, the new QVS Alumni Fellowship Program opened in Philadelphia, Pa. The alumni program places recent participants from the first-year QVS program in local Quaker organizations for a second year of service. During the pilot year, alumni fellows are serving at Friends Journal and the American Friends Service Committee.
One of the alumni fellows, Genevieve Beck-Roe, recently reflected on her experience of the Quaker way in her year with QVS in Atlanta, Ga., “I had no idea that this dynamic, alive faith lived inside of me, and I’ve only begun to listen to and explore it,” she writes. “I loved Quakerism in college without really knowing what it was that I loved. My QVS year has been the start of feeling out what my Quakerism is, how it moves, and where it will lead me if I let it.”
Quakers Uniting in Publications
Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) began in 1983 when Quaker publishers, journalists, and booksellers realized there was much to be gained by meeting annually to discuss and support Friends’ efforts in creating, promoting, and distributing the printed word. Since that time the publishing industry and the nature of QUIP membership have both changed fundamentally.
This year’s annual conference was held at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, UK, in April. The theme was Sharing the Quaker Message: Working Together on the Word. Attenders included authors, poets, bloggers, publishers, editors, and distributors of books, journals, eBooks, and other media. Animated presentations and conversations took place on creating and publishing ebooks; collaborative blogging and writing projects; using websites, social media, and blogging to teach about Quaker testimonies; and writing and publishing spiritual books for non-Quaker audiences. A full report is available at the QUIP website.
Having finished work on its most recent project, translating Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices into Spanish, QUIP continues to promote Quaker publishing, help new authors, and assist in translations and special projects. Most of the projects are funded through QUIP’s Tacey Sowle Fund for promoting publishing among underserved constituencies. The fund is supported by a percentage of QUIP membership dues. QUIP recently accepted residual funds left from the publishing of Friendly Woman, which opens new opportunities to promote Quaker women’s publishing.
William Penn House
William Penn House had a very busy and exciting summer. In addition to leading the William Penn Quaker Workcamps in West Virginia and Pine Ridge, S.D., WPH greatly expanded its witness in Washington, D.C., and continued its leadership development.
This year WPH embarked on a project of installing raised garden beds in the homes of D.C. residents. Although there were no parameters (such as income qualification), the majority of the garden beds were put in the homes of seniors in underserved areas of the community as part of the urban garden movement. The goal was 25 gardens, but the final number was 58. The gardens, however, were not the main objective; the real purpose of the project was to build bridges in the community.
To do this, WPH brought on three young adults (including two Wilmington College students). Working as a team, the participants challenged each other to grow more into what it means to live the Quaker testimonies (specifically community, equality, and simplicity) in the politically, racially, and economically divided city of D.C.. These young adults led Quaker workcamp groups from D.C. (including Sidwell Friends School fourth graders and summer campers), as well as from N.Y., Pa., N.C., Ala., Ohio, Ill., Germany, and Burma. The result is a greater appreciation for each other and the importance of connecting with people as people.
Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center
This spring, Woolman Hill lost three dear elders. In March, long-time Hill resident and war-tax-resister Juanita Nelson died at the age of 91. Woolman Hill remembers well and cherishes her energetic philosophies, her penchant for ice cream, her delight in visitors and in physical work, her easy laughter, and her constant curiosity. In June, siblings Harry Spruyt and Cornelia “Kee” Spruyt Learnard died within two weeks of each other. Kee and Harry are the daughter and youngest son of Antoinette Spruyt, who donated her land (which then became Woolman Hill) to Quakers in 1954.
In May, Woolman Hill released a public statement in opposition to the proposed fracked gas pipeline which would run across its property. The board also discerned, as a spiritual witness, to join a lawsuit which challenges taking property by eminent domain for the use of transporting gas for export. It is heartening to see the groundswell of opposition to the pipeline, and sobering to see what an uphill battle it is.
Weddings on the Hill this year have been particularly meaningful. A wedding of two women from Orthodox Jewish families was a profound testimony to how their communities had grown into accepting the marriage. Following that, two men’s arrival for their wedding weekend was simultaneous with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gay marriage. It was an especially celebratory event.
Youth Service Opportunities Project
YSOP, a Quaker organization grounded in Quaker values, engages youth, college students, and adults in meaningful service experiences through an innovative program that combines an orientation to the issues, hands-on volunteer work, and reflection.
Spring and summer have been very busy, with lots of programs engaging young people in service to hungry and homeless people. In Washington, D.C., YSOP hosted groups from all over the country, including a Wisconsin group that brought large quantities of Wisconsin cheese to serve to homeless and hungry dinner guests. Groups that were at YSOP at the same time developed friendships, and some are planning coordinating trips back to YSOP next summer to see each other again.
This summer, YSOP NYC hosted seven Service Days, many funded by grants. Participants ranged from low-income middle schoolers to college and graduate interns serving with AFSC. YSOP also enjoyed a number of weeklong programs with groups from California to West Virginia and everywhere in between. One highlight of the summer was working with a group of Irish young Friends from Ireland Yearly Meeting. They were fun, ebullient, and eager to understand the challenges faced by people in need in New York City. Local Friends from Purchase Meeting, including students from the First-day school who’ve served with YSOP in the past, joined Irish young Friends in a dinner party with homeless guests.