A semiannual feature to connect Friends Journal readers to the good 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
For nearly 75 years, FCNL has brought Friends’ perspectives to Capitol Hill.
“How do we love all our neighbors now?” That question has driven much of FCNL’s work recently, especially in light of increasingly virulent rhetoric on the campaign trail. The FCNL network is using its “Questions for Candidates” to find out where the candidates stand on peace, justice, and earthcare, and to highlight these issues in congressional campaigns.
The campaign season has also shortened the legislative calendar, pushing important work into the lame duck session of Congress. FCNL continues to press Congress to pass sentencing reform as the country prepares for a new Congress and administration.
Every summer, staff members relish the opportunity to travel to yearly meetings to build connections and worship with Friends. This summer, staff, General Committee members, and Visiting Friends attended more than 25 yearly meetings and Quaker gatherings.
FCNL staff are grateful to the seven college students who volunteered as interns this past summer. Seven new Young Fellows have just arrived at the FCNL office for their year-long fellowships. FCNL also welcomed a new class of 18 Advocacy Corps organizers to Washington, D.C., for a 10-day training in early August. These young adults, who receive a stipend for organizing in their districts, have already begun working in their communities for action on immigration reform.
Quaker Council for European Affairs
QCEA brings a Quaker vision of just relationships to European institutions. In 2016, its small team of staff and volunteers have focused on peace and sustainability as the strongest themes.
The UK’s vote to leave the European Union is just one of a number of challenges facing the European institutions that were established after World War II. The risks facing peace are expected to grow in the coming years. QCEA is working hard to respond and has just appointed Olivia Caeymaex as its new Peace Programme Lead.
The development of a European advocacy network against armed drones has been achieved, and its management has now been passed over to major peacebuilding organisation, PAX.
QCEA often feels like a lone voice on peace issues. For example, QCEA supporters made up 80 percent of submissions on an EU public consultation about redefining Official Development Assistance to include military spending.
QCEA has been in an ongoing dialogue with European governments about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and held a series of meetings with national member state governments in faith that they hear QCEA’s call for a sustainable economy.
Quaker House continues to host the European Network Against Arms Trade. It has also become a place of worship for Jews and Unitarians, and is the regular venue for a community building project led by Syrian refugees.
Consultation, Support, and Resources
Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts
For the fourth year, FQA cosponsored and coordinated the Quaker Arts Center at the 2016 Friends General Conference Gathering. Many Gathering attenders visited the art show and made comments such as “love that we have art,” “great show,” “fantastic,” “intriguing and beautiful.” About 150 Friends attended the Friday reception, where workshop leaders made brief presentations on art as a meditative and spiritual exercise of self-discovery, and folksingers/social activists Laura Dungan and Aaron Fowler (former FQA board member) gave a lively concert. FQA updated its PowerPoint presentation on the work of Quaker artists, increasing the number of artists featured from 36 to 50.
FQA again coordinated an art show at Camp Swatara, Caln Quarter’s annual family retreat (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting). Blair Seitz and Judy Ballinger hung the show and facilitated a workshop where artists talked about the meaning of art in their lives from technical and spiritual perspectives. FQA also published the spring and summer issues of its full-color journal, Types and Shadows, featuring the work of Quaker artists around the country.
Board member Phil Furnas is developing a regional chapter of FQA in Baltimore, Md., and the board is excited to be developing a project on the Art of Fearlessness, encouraging artists to create art that helps overcome personal or societal fears.
Friends General Conference
The work of FGC’s Ministry on Racism staff with Friends and others on the annual White Privilege Conference resulted in a record attendance of Quakers. More than 500 Friends attended the conference held in April.
Almost 1,000 Friends from the United States, Canada, and around the world came to the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., July 3–8, for the 2016 FGC Gathering. From the opening message shared Sunday evening by Barry Crossno, FGC’s general secretary, naming concerns of Friends of color about white supremacy, FGC, and the Gathering, through the vocal ministry of Peggy Senger Morrison on Friday, and everything in between, this was a Gathering that was challenging, joyous, troubled, deep, spiritual, and much more. Since the Gathering, the composition of the Gathering Site Selection Committee added some Friends of color. FGC is also exploring engaging in an institutional audit that will help identify and provide recommendations to correct any structural racism or implicit bias within the organization.
The Spiritual Deepening Program will launch this fall; Samantha Wilson joined QuakerBooks of FGC as the new manager in September; quakerbooks.org has been updated and offers an improved customer service experience; and fgcquaker.org and the QuakerCloud (along with quakerbooks.org) are now optimized and can be fully accessed on tablets and smart phones. It is a blessed and challenging time.
Friends United Meeting
FUM is an organization of Christ-centered Quakers, embracing 34 yearly meetings and associations, thousands of local gatherings, and hundreds of thousands of individuals. FUM’s purpose is “to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved, and obeyed as Teacher and Lord.”
Recent achievements include the following: installing solar power at Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya; launching an annual “Stoking the Fire” spirituality conference for North American Friends; releasing Joyce Ajlouny to work full time on advancement and alumni relations for Ramallah Friends School and opening the search for her replacement as head of school; redesigning Quaker Life magazine as a quarterly mosaic of Friendly living; appointing a pastoral minister to help grow a Friends church in Belize City; hiring Dan Kasztelan as director of communications; completing two major construction projects at Ramallah Friends School—a commercial building and a middle school campus; launching of a new scholarship at Friends Theological College aimed at increasing enrollment in the residential bachelor’s degree; and hosting leaders from FUM yearly meetings around the world for a solidarity visit to Cuba Yearly Meeting.
The next FUM Triennial will be held July 12–16, 2017, in Wichita, Kans., with a pre-Triennial “Stoking the Fire” spirituality gathering beginning on July 9. Friends from all branches are welcome.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Asia–West Pacific Section)
The Asia–West Pacific Section (AWPS) of FWCC has a new website. Friends are encouraged to browse the site and find out more about this vast section of the Quaker world. There are Friends churches and Quaker meetings spread throughout the region. Many of these are small worship groups who value contact with Friends from the worldwide Quaker family who visit them or keep in touch by mail, email, or social media.
The website is still a work in progress but highlights useful information and is available in over 100 languages through Google’s Website Translator plugin. There is also a page called “Churches and Meetings” with contact details for Quaker groups in the region, including photos of the places where Friends worship.
One of AWPS’s goals is to build and develop caring connections between individuals and groups to promote friendship, understanding, and unity as Quakers. Inspired by this goal, the “companion meeting” idea seeks to connect meetings across borders and has slowly been taking shape. A guide on how to become a companion meeting is posted on the “What’s Happening?” page.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas)
In May, the Section of the Americas received a grant from the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund to continue its series of powerful QuakerSpeak videos. The first video, featuring the Section’s executive secretary Robin Mohr, was released on August 11 and is available at fwccamericas.org and QuakerSpeak.com. In addition, the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) has produced materials to assist Friends to use each video in religious education programs for adults and children. The second video came out in September. Friends are encouraged to use the videos and materials as part of an FWCC program to celebrate World Quaker Day on October 2.
The application period for the Traveling Ministry Corps, a new volunteer corps of Spanish- and English-speaking Friends to send as traveling ministers throughout the Section, ended on September 30. FWCC will provide training, support, and accountability for those Friends who are chosen to travel in this ministry. Local Friends churches, monthly and yearly meetings in the Americas can request a visitor.
Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting requested affiliation with FWCC Section of the Americas. A visitation team met with the yearly meeting to share the mission and vision of FWCC and the roles and responsibilities of a representative. The two organizations will be discerning together with the hope of bringing PFYM into the worldwide family of Friends through FWCC.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)
The third annual World Quaker Day (WQD) is taking place on October 2. WQD serves as a reminder that Quakers are worshiping through every time zone, celebrating deep connections across cultures and Quaker traditions. The theme, Inspired by Faith: Witnessing Together in the World, focuses on FWCC’s mission of “Connecting Friends, Crossing Cultures and Changing Lives.” Events were being planned in meetings and churches around the world.
Among the resources available to Friends, “Listening in Tongues,” a QuakerSpeak video with accompanying study guides produced by FWCC Section of the Americas and Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, has proven particularly useful. This and other resources can be found at worldquakerday.org; there is also a Facebook event page. Both the website and event page will post reports from the events in meetings and churches around the world.
Planned events included shared lunches and discussion groups on topics such as the differences (and similarities) between unprogrammed and programmed Friends, as well as projects to connect with Friends in another part of the world, including reports on visits that have taken place and the development of sister meeting relationships. Participating meetings and churches are encouraged to share about their WQD celebrations with FWCC World Office which will collect them on the website.
Quakers Uniting in Publications
QUIP meets annually to discuss the creation, promotion, and distribution of the word, as done by Quakers. Formed in 1983, this group now consists of authors and publishers—both independent and institutional—that produce works in traditional formats (books, journals, and pamphlets) and also in digital, including social media, eBooks, and music.
QUIP established and manages the Tacey Sowle Fund to promote publishing among underserved constituencies; a portion of the QUIP dues funds this effort. At this year’s meeting, QUIP approved the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative’s request for funds to support the access to online Spanish-language materials and the continued publishing efforts of these materials.
On May 12–15, QUIP members and friends met at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind., discussing the theme “Getting the Word Out There” in the digital age, encompassing social media and connecting Friends living in remote areas. Panel discussions covered many topics: journals and their advocacy role, authors and how their writings express different themes or queries, advocacy groups that publish (in various formats), and social media use. European QUIP members held a separate meeting on May 26, preceding Britain Yearly Meeting’s annual sessions. Emphasis for future meetings will include social media, blogging, film and video, comic books, translation, and traditional books and journals. QUIP 2017 will be held in March at the Penn Center on Saint Helena Island, S.C.
Tract Association of Friends
Friends’ Calendars for 2017 are now available: a plain wall calendar and a pocket calendar. Wall calendars were first produced in 1885; smaller pocket calendars appeared in 2003 with shorter quotations from Friends and scripture. Because of the current focus to distribute tracts and other materials electronically, the 2016 wall calendar is posted on the website.
Some earlier tracts appear in the archival section of the website, and include additions of the writing of Max I. Reich (1867–1945), whose upbringing in the Orthodox Jewish tradition informed his ministry after he joined Friends in 1904. He became an active and valued member of the Tract Association of Friends after moving to Philadelphia, Pa., in 1918. “Congregational Silence” is among his essays currently in print.
A Language for the Inward Landscape by Brian Drayton and William P. Taber Jr. is now available and marks the 200th year of continual publication.
Quaker Bolivia Link
QBL is happy to report on current work as a Quaker response to poverty amongst the Aymara people in the Altiplano region.
In April, there was an historic first-time meeting in La Paz of the three QBL board clerks—from the boards of Bolivia (FQBL), the United Kingdom (QBL-UK), and the United States of America (QBL-USA)—during a board-sponsored trip to visit three recent projects with the QBL staff. The village projects encompassed three signature efforts of the organization: llama breeding in Rosapata Yaribay, quinoa production in Tupaltupa, and a potable water system in Yaribay.
In June, QBL-USA authorized the funding for 15 reinforcement projects that will provide follow-up consultation and updates for villages who have benefited from past projects. QBL takes good care to follow up on its projects for the first two years after completion, with the option (as seen here) for villages to ask for expansion, support, or repairs after the two-year period has passed.
In July, QBL-USA established a consulting relationship with an independent grant writer to facilitate in accessing greater funding for future projects. Grants will allow QBL to serve more Aymara villages in a timely fashion.
QBL is ready to serve even more villages and welcomes Friends’ support through board service, invitations to speak at meetings, and financial contributions.
Right Sharing of World Resources
RSWR, founded in 1967, is an independent Quaker nonprofit organization pursuing the abundance of God’s love through wealth redistribution. RSWR funds micro-enterprise projects for marginalized women in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and India, making grants of about $5,000 to women’s groups that then lend the money to their members to start small businesses. The repaid money is passed on to new women to open additional businesses.
In April, new grantees were selected. One of the beneficiaries in India was a 28-year-old woman with two young children. Her husband previously supported the family, but then became ill and could no longer work. They struggled with poverty and hunger until connecting with one of RSWR’s partners. With a grant of $123, this woman is now able to run a petty shop out of her home, delivering goods to neighbors from orders she receives on her cell phone, purchased with the grant money. Her consistent income enables her to provide for and take care of her children and husband.
Genevieve Beck-Roe joined RSWR in August as the communications and development associate. After graduating from Earlham College in 2014 with a degree in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, she completed two years of service with Quaker Voluntary Service, working with a human and civil rights law firm in Atlanta, Ga., and American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, Pa.
Bolivian Quaker Education Fund
The Student Residence in rural Sorata, Bolivia, celebrated its tenth anniversary in August. Students, families, staff, and local dignitaries all commemorated ten years of providing safe, supervised weekday housing in town.
Local dignitaries included village council members, the mayor (sister of one of the graduates), and longtime BQEF enthusiast Dr. Stanley Blanco of the Norwegian Mission Alliance.
Municipal officials gifted a computer and peripherals for the students’ study room. The mayor and the director of the local parochial school lauded the residence as a model which needs to be expanded so that more students can succeed in school. The school director said she sleeps better knowing the internado (“boarding”) students aren’t on the streets at night, and that they’re always prepared for class.
Students gave polished performances to mark the occasion: several played traditional instruments, half a dozen did a comedy skit that had the audience howling with laughter, and one student gave an impassioned poetry performance. The whole event was smoothly emceed by Maria, a junior who will graduate next year.
In the United States, BQEF board members met in July to labor over strengthening governance practices and to review its mission and strategic plan, in order to better serve stakeholders. One deep joy was how Friends representing a broad theological spectrum, from nontheists to former FUM missionaries, worked together with great tenderness and respect.
Earlham School of Religion
Earlham School of Religion recently hosted its seventh annual leadership conference. This year’s topic focused on entrepreneurial ministry, and attracted interested individuals from across the nation. Samir Selmanović and Christina Repoley were effective plenary speakers; Stephen Pete Sebert and Paulette Meier contributed story and song, giving witness to their own creative gifts. A variety of workshops added to the experience.
This year, ESR launched a certificate in spirituality. The newly created “New Frontiers of Spirituality” is a core component of this program. This opportunity joins a similar six-course educational experience available in Quaker studies and the ministry of writing, each of which were launched a year earlier.
In May, ESR collaborated with Tucson-based organization BorderLinks to offer students an experiential opportunity to encounter and wrestle with immigration and border issues. In November, award-winning author Patricia Raybon will anchor the ministry of writing colloquium as it focuses upon writing about issues of race and justice.
Several ESR faculty members have been active in publication. Stephen Angell co-edited and contributed to a new book, Early Quakers and Their Theological Thought. Grace Ji-Sun Kim released Embracing the Other. Michael Birkel joins the seminary as professor of Christian spirituality. Birkel is a frequent speaker in Quaker circles, particularly with his recent book Qur’an in Conversation.
Friends Council on Education
Friends Council on Education continues its steady work supporting Quaker schools across the country. In April, Friends Council celebrated the 85th anniversary of its founding by Morris and Hadassah Leeds. Staff also played an important role on the host team for the national White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia, Pa.
Friends Council provides vital services to Friends schools, heads, and trustees. In 2015–2016 executive director Drew Smith made 67 visits to 34 schools, sharing wisdom and expertise in school administration and governance. Consultations included supporting several schools in leadership transition; serving as a resource for a potential new Friends school in Seattle, Wash.; guiding the head of a new Friends school in Chicago, Ill.; working with an elementary school to deepen its Quaker decision-making process; and providing ongoing governance and business model support to parents and Quakers working to revitalize Friends School in Detroit.
The National Endowment for Quaker Children Pilot Program is growing. The number of tuition-aid grants to Quaker students in Friends schools in six regions of the country outside of Philadelphia will more than double in 2016–2017.
Smith attended the Friends General Conference Gathering in July, and co-led the workshop “Exploring Quakers in Education,” connecting with many f/Friends, old and new.
Friends Council continues to be a leader in the conversation about online blended learning and possibilities for Friends school collaboration in that space.
Quaker Religious Education Collaborative
As QREC begins its third year, the Quaker religious education community of practice continues to expand, and new projects highlight the growing network of collaboration.
The collaboration was grateful to receive a grant from the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund, which will support three projects: website development and an online resources library, additional short religious education videos for the QREC website, and the republication of Quaker Meeting and Me, a book welcoming children into unprogrammed worship. The book’s revisions include illustrations with children of color and text in both English and Spanish. QREC will distribute the books free of cost through yearly meetings in 2017.
In June, Friends from 15 yearly meetings and associations attended QREC’s third annual collaborative gathering at Quaker Hill in Richmond, Ind. Highlights include workshops and interest groups representing a broad range of adult and children’s religious education issues, and time for worship and fellowship together. The group looks forward to returning to Quaker Hill next August and hopes these gatherings will continue to broaden the community of Friends involved in QREC.
Through the work of individual members, the QREC network is also creating collaborative spaces with other organizations. It has partnered with FWCC Section of the Americas to create curriculum resources to accompany a series of QuakerSpeak videos released this fall.
Environmental and Ecojustice
Earth Quaker Action Team
EQAT’s campaign to Power Local Green Jobs is growing by leaps and bounds. For a year EQAT has been asking southeastern Pennsylvania’s public utility, PECO, to create green jobs by installing rooftop solar in the region, starting in low-income areas with high unemployment like North Philadelphia. In early May, over 150 people came together for the campaign’s largest action yet. Because PECO had still not made a commitment to solar, EQAT delivered a specific goal for them: that the utility generate 20 percent of its electricity from rooftop solar power by the year 2025. EQAT also announced that it would be expanding its campaign throughout PECO’s service area.
Since then, EQAT has been growing its organization to better push PECO into action. The group is going to new places: holding actions in three nearby counties led by members of those communities. EQAT hired its first ever full-time campaign director this summer. To support this expansion, it also launched Ignite the Light, the most ambitious fundraising drive in EQAT’s history. Dozens of volunteers have been working since June to meet the goal of raising $100,000 by this October. All this is building up to a fundraising action on October 1 that will bring new EQAT members together with old and help reach the $100,000 goal. Donations are also accepted on the website.
Quaker Earthcare Witness
QEW seeks ecological sustainability and environmental justice, and is dedicated to spiritual transformation within the Society of Friends regarding Quakers’ connection with nature. Resources recently available on the website (or on request in print) include population, native landscaping, and divestment from fossil fuels.
QEW supports youth and young adults confronting climate change and ecojustice by highlighting stories in recent issues of its newsletter and on its website. QEW has heard and learned from these groups: youth waging a lawsuit claiming government action is woefully inadequate in confronting climate change; students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who are raising up issues of ecojustice at the Paris negotiations and on their campuses; and young adults training to be climate activists in New Orleans, La., where the sea is noticeably rising daily.
To support and inspire attendees at the Friends General Conference Gathering, QEW showcased Friends and Earthcare, sharing resources and stories about organic farming, ecojustice, direct action, population, and climate change. A QEW interview on Northern Spirit Radio describes Friends’ concerns on climate.
QEW’s Steering Committee meets at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa., on October 6–9. All are welcome to join.
Quaker Institute for the Future
Quaker Institute for the Future held its 2016 Summer Research Seminar on July 18–23 at Regis University in Denver, Colo., with between 15 to 25 attending each session. Research presentations were made on the following topics: growing a life-centered economy, ethical use of artificial intelligence, eco-spirituality and the Doctrine of Discovery, nuclear power and security, climate change and socioeconomic collapse, Friends testimonies from an ecological perspective, contemporary response to Friends’ Indian boarding schools. Full details on the Summer Research Seminar are available on QIF’s website.
Quaker Institute for the Future holds Summer Research Seminars on a yearly basis. The location varies each year, but the purpose is always to encourage Spirit-led research using Quaker methods of discernment and reflection. Daily activities include silent worship, project presentations, collaborative response, solo research time, and convivial dinners and discussions.
QIF Pamphlets has changed its name to QIF Focus Books. Two new books have been published in 2016: Toward a Right Relationship with Finance: Debt, Interest, Growth, and Security by Pamela Haines, Ed Dreby, David Kane, and Charles Blanchard; Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith by Ruah Swennerfelt. (Rising to the Challenge was among the ten best selling books at the 2016 Friends General Conference Gathering bookstore.) More information on QIF Focus Books is on the website.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Many issues that concern Quakers are systemic, and Friends Fiduciary works to address some of these issues with the corporate sector through policy advocacy. Friends Fiduciary’s perspective is often counter to traditional business positions. Recent policy advocacy has focused on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s disclosure requirements and enforcement. The SEC is responsible for rulemaking and regulating the securities industry and exchanges.
In July, Friends Fiduciary sent comments directly to the SEC on potential disclosure requirements for sustainability and climate change issues. Corporate disclosure of material climate risks, financial impacts, and opportunities remains limited and generally unhelpful to investors seeking to understand how these issues affect companies. FFC believes this information is important to making good investment decisions.
In a separate communication FFC also asked the SEC to enforce existing climate disclosure guidelines and to consider requiring greater transparency related to purported climate “benefits” reported by some companies. A prime example is the wood pellet industry’s claim that burning biomass, like wood pellets, reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants; this is disputed by some experts. Friends Fiduciary’s shareholder and policy advocacy are two important ways its Quaker values are working to influence corporate America to do better.
In September, Kate Monahan began a year-long fellowship with Friends Fiduciary through Quaker Voluntary Service’s second-year Alumni Fellows program.
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Friends Center was the locus for issue-based organizing before and after the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., this past July.
On Saturday, July 23, Friends Center tenant Food and Water Watch’s Summit for a Clean Energy Revolution brought 400 people to its LEED Platinum facility. On Sunday, Food and Water Watch staged its 10,000-strong March for a Climate Energy Revolution from Friends Center.
The Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) organized a town hall on Islamophobia. Speakers included U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress.
AFSC hosted a “revival” by Repairers of the Breach. Led by William Barber, founder of Moral Mondays in North Carolina, and other clergy, some 200 people joined in a call to reinject moral values that reflect the Sermon on the Mount into U.S. politics.
The next morning, the Breach Repairers held a press conference in Friends Center’s courtyard, then marched to present their statement to DNC staff. A nonpartisan group, they made a similar delivery to the Republican National Committee in Cleveland previously.
Among other groups renting space that week, democratic socialists sponsored evening panel discussions. A group called Facing Addiction held a public forum calling for federal policy changes; afterward, the Thomas Scattergood Foundation (another tenant) led a rally at City Hall on those policies.
Pendle Hill’s first fully online course, Exploring the Quaker Way, taught by Steve Chase and Marcelle Martin, ran from early June to mid-July. This pilot program received positive feedback and has inspired an expansion of online course offerings.
In early June, the fourth annual Continuing Revolution conference for young adult Friends was a great success thanks in large part to the work of coordinator Katrina McQuail and assistant coordinator Amy Greulich. Participants explored the theme of integrity through workshops, personal reflection, accountability groups, and hula-hooping.
In mid-June, a conference on Powerful Faith-Based Organizing for Climate Justice welcomed about 40 participants and presenters to explore how faith can empower moral advocacy, community resilience, and strategic nonviolent direct action campaigns to realize climate justice. Organizers Paula Kline, Eileen Flanagan, Pamela Boyce Simms, John Meyer, and others deftly wove the many skills tracks together into a packed and powerful weekend.
Between May and July about 1,500 people stayed at Pendle Hill, including Rev. Dr. William Barber who was in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. Barber agreed to be a guest presenter for the September 2016 to May 2017 cohort of Pendle Hill’s Radical Faithfulness program.
The executive board approved a balanced 2017 budget in July. It is with deep gratitude to staff, volunteers, and all who come and visit that Pendle Hill takes this budget forward.
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
Woodbrooke has provided Quaker-inspired learning since 1903, with a continuing mission of “fostering of a vital Friends ministry.” Today, Woodbrooke runs a mixed program of short and longer study courses, online and in meetings. One of Woodbrooke’s goals for the future is to increase accessibility to learning for Britain Yearly Meeting and beyond, and so Woodbrooke’s new online learning program is a mixture of live and interactive courses and on-demand/anytime courses.
Woodbrooke is currently working hard to finalize a MOOC (massive open online course) on the early history of Quakers. Woodbrooke has partnered with Lancaster University and FutureLearn (futurelearn.com) for this project, and so far almost 4,500 people from around the world have signed up for this free three-week course. The course starts on October 3 and is open to all.
Woodbrooke is home to the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies which is the world’s leading center for research in Quakers and Quakerism. Woodbrooke was delighted to welcome Friends Association for Higher Education in June for their annual conference, which saw over 50 participants working and learning around the theme of Educating for Action. Woodbrooke would like to say a huge “thank you” to everyone for their patience and help at the conference, during which flash flooding turned the cellar into a swimming pool.
Service and Peace Work
American Friends Service Committee
In May, AFSC published “Mixed Messages: How the Media Covers ‘Violent Extremism’ and What You Can Do About It,” written by Beth Hallowell, AFSC’s communications research director. The product of extensive research into how the media portrays violent extremism and feeds Islamophobia, the report offers suggestions to journalists on how to change this dangerous narrative. It is available for download at afsc.org/mixedmessages.
In June, AFSC launched its Peace Works website (peaceworks.afsc.org) in celebration of its upcoming centennial in 2017. Tonya Histand, AFSC’s centennial director, commented: “Peace Works is an online space where anyone can share their experiences with AFSC, whether it was 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or today. People are also welcome to add stories for their parents, grandparents, or others who played a role in AFSC’s history. Through this site, we’re recognizing the contributions of the many people who have made our work possible.” More than 100 stories have been collected so far.
AFSC had a large presence at this year’s Friends General Conference Gathering held in St. Joseph, Minn., July 3–9. AFSC program staff offered workshops on immigration rights, economic activism, narrative change, and racial justice. A series of afternoon events featured a panel discussion on dismantling racism among Friends, a workshop on Quaker social change ministry, and a presentation on the Quaker Network to End Mass Incarceration.
Canadian Friends Service Committee
At Canadian Yearly Meeting session in August, Friends passed a new minute on reconciliation between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples. In the minute Friends acknowledge “that part of our journey is to decolonize our own thinking and sit in the discomfort and pain of confronting where we need to deepen our understanding, bear witness, and transform our behaviour.”
Participating Friends meetings agreed to the following: (1) continue to educate members, including children and youth, about the Doctrine of Discovery, the ongoing effects of colonialism, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, residential schools and their legacy, the history of the land on which they live, and reconciliation efforts; (2) formally acknowledge the traditional territories where meetings are located and engage in processes of reflection on the meaning of this; (3) find out about current concerns of Indigenous Peoples from those territories, including land appropriation or resource development, with which the meeting could be engaged; (4) investigate projects of cultural revitalization that Indigenous Peoples are involved in and discern if there is an appropriate role (including funding) that Friends can play; (5) uphold and support individual Friends involved with grassroots Indigenous rights and provide spiritual support to Friends led to this work, which might include offering committees of care and approving minutes of support; and (6) report back annually through CFSC.
The full text is available at CFSC’s website.
Friendly Water for the World
During National Volunteer Week, April 10–16, Friendly Water for the World was named “Outstanding Volunteer Organization” as part of the first annual Vollie Awards, organized by International Volunteer Card, an agency that provides travel services and insurance for mission and humanitarian organizations working around the world.
In western Rwanda, in only 20 months, there are now 36 groups affiliated with Friendly Water for the World who, by the end of the year, will have built, sold, and installed some 18,000 BioSand water filters. These include two groups of widows with HIV, a Quaker HIV group, and 33 groups of formerly unemployed youth. All of the groups are self-sustaining, even as they work to make waterborne illnesses a thing of the past. Irish Quaker Faith in Action recently provided a generous grant to train four more youth groups, and Friendly Water is grateful for a grant from Quaker Peace and Service in Aotearoa/New Zealand, which is being used to fight a cholera epidemic in Kibumba, Democratic Republic of Congo.
In August, Friendly Water started work on a new training center in Tamil Nadu, South India, and trainees recently traveled to inaugurate a program in Sierra Leone, the first Friendly Water project in West Africa.
Friends House Moscow
Life for children with disabilities had not changed since the Soviet policies of denial and exclusion. In 2012, “laws of inclusion” brought hope, but the reality remains much the same. Children, once forbidden any public services, are now ordered to be included in public schools, but neither the children—years behind their peers in academic and social skills—nor their teachers are prepared. This frequently leads to children being expelled for behaviors the teachers cannot handle, and the children are again denied education. The Center for Children with Special Needs opens its doors and hearts to these children, providing the perfect blend of academic and emotional support that will eventually lead to successful integration.
This crucial program is one example of the work of Friends House Moscow, supporting local activists to develop and implement solutions to social problems.
Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is still active in Ukraine, addressing the tensions between ethnic groups (see avp.org.ua). Workshops focused on displaced persons, especially in Kharkov. Six were with children in refugee camps and two were for mothers with many children.
Other projects support conscientious objectors, a school peer mediation program, a prison oversight program, and a refugee school. Translations for FHM’s Russian-language website included Rethinking War and Peace by Diana Francis and introductory materials from Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women’s Writings.
Friends Peace Teams
Friends Peace Teams (FPT) works around the world to develop long-term relationships with communities in conflict to create programs for peacebuilding and healing. FPT currently holds three initiatives under its care: the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI), Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA), and the Asia West Pacific initiative (FPT-AWP).
In the past year, the AGLI has responded vigorously to the conflict in Burundi. AGLI has also responded to violence in Kenya on Mount Elgon, working to reintegrate former rebels, conducting trauma healing with birth companions (traditional birth attendants), and planning for violence prevention work for the upcoming August 2017 Kenyan election.
PLA supports Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) work in Central America and Colombia. In Honduras, there are programs in three prisons, two schools, and among women in poor communities. In El Salvador, a group of new facilitators from the group CoMadres were trained; work with a group of handicapped people and work with children and adolescents at risk is beginning to bear fruit.
In early 2016 FPT-AWP held the third annual International Training for Peace at Peace Place in Indonesia. This past summer traveling Quakers stayed at the Friends Guesthouse at Peace Place and spent time visiting and working with Joglo Preschool at Peace Place. In Nepal, several AVP trainings and workshops were held with a focus on recovery from the devastating 2015 earthquake.
Friends Rehabilitation Program
Friends Rehabilitation Program exists to serve vulnerable populations of Philadelphia, Pa., in the manner of Friends. Under the guidance of a new executive director and director of sustainability, FRP is growing toward a vibrant future at the intersection of affordable housing and social services.
FRP’s strategy to mitigate the devastating impact of mass incarceration in Philadelphia involves a creative combination of affordable housing, employment, community, and trauma-informed care.
FRP views supporting citizens returning home from imprisonment in the region of Greater Philadelphia as an act of peacebuilding and community healing.
In 2015 and 2016 FRP co-created Revive and Restore, an on-the-job training and employment program for returning citizens in partnership with a federal reentry court; employed nine returning citizens to renovate 10 historic homes and 47 apartment units; arranged and managed housing and workshops for 34 individuals in a Federal Second Chance Act Grant program through the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services (RISE); and supported two community-based, grassroots nonprofit organizations involved with reentry with technical support and office space (the Public Safety Initiative, a program started behind the walls by prisoners serving life sentences in Graterford Prison, and the Center for Returning Citizens, an initiative run by Friend Jondhi Harell).
FRP continues to provide housing and social services to low-income seniors, veterans, and families as well as individuals struggling with homelessness, disabilities, and chronic diseases.
Prisoner Visitation and Support
Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS) was founded in 1968, carrying forward a Quaker tradition of caring for prisoners. Its primary mission was to provide visits and support to imprisoned conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War. However it soon became apparent that other prisoners could benefit from this ministry.
PVS is the only nationwide interfaith, volunteer visitation program in the United States authorized by both the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense to visit all federal and military prisons. Based at Friends Center in Philadelphia, Pa., PVS has 400 volunteers who visit thousands of prisoners a year at 100 prisons, seeing prisoners no one else gets to see.
PVS recently held its annual visitor training conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., and did a group visit to the Federal Correctional Complex in Lompoc, Calif., visiting 35 prisoners.
ProNica project partner Los Quinchos, one of nine projects that ProNica partners with in Nicaragua, recently celebrated its twenty-sixth anniversary. Los Quinchos houses and supports abandoned and mistreated children.
The children of Los Quinchos managed to survive poverty, violence, and abuse. This unique program understands and respects that although only children, they have been faced with decisions and choices that most adults can never imagine. With ProNica’s support, Los Quinchos offers children a chance to leave the streets, but rather than forcing children into the program, ProNica recognizes that success relies on children willingly entering. Los Quinchos allows children to make the decision to leave the streets and offers several programs as stepping stones that provide a meal and a shower for children who are not ready to fully enter into the structured program. This empowers them and gives them a choice to make a decision for their own lives, something that many have never had before.
Those that enter the program are enrolled in school, receive daily meals, and have a loving and supporting community that understands their unique needs and stands behind them to claim their rights to live peaceful and violent-free lives. The anniversary celebration was about each child, their recovery, and success.
ProNica stands in solidarity with Los Quinchos and their 26 years of success working with street children.
Quaker House held a vigil advocating for better mental healthcare for incarcerated veterans; it drew the most diverse group the organizers have ever seen: Vietnam and other war veterans; members of the NAACP, VA, and Department of Defense employees; the North Carolina Human Relations Commission; and peace activists. The Fayetteville Observer published a headline article about it along with three full-colored photographs. This advocacy resulted in the formation of a committee made up of VA officials, the military liaison for former Senator Hagan, and prison officials. Quaker House plans to present a legislative proposal to the North Carolina General Assembly. In the meantime, the veteran this advocacy was for shared that the prison he’s in suddenly began offering mental health classes, and he’s getting improved care.
Quaker House’s counseling programs for GI rights, domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury keep staff very busy. Staff continue to facilitate public dialogues about racial inequity. Human Rights Watch published a report called “Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged U.S. Military Rape Survivors” and credited Quaker House for its help. Quaker House published Help for Moral Injury: Strategies and Interventions by Dr. Cecilia Yokum, who volunteered to write the book.
Lynn and Steve Newsom are retiring in September 2017. The search for new directors has begun; more information is on the website.
Quaker Voluntary Service
QVS is at a critical moment as an organization, a moment in which it is stepping forward and taking things to the next level of effectiveness, impact, and long-term sustainability. With nearly 70 alumni, the organization currently provides this transformational experience to more than 30 young adults annually, and partners directly with 13 monthly meetings in four cities. QVS expects to expand to a fifth city soon.
As hoped and predicted, many QVS participants who did not identify as Quaker when they began the program leave the year with a commitment to the Quaker faith community. Additionally, many who grew up Quaker but had stopped attending meeting for worship or used to be active in the wider Quaker world have renewed their participation in and commitment to the Religious Society of Friends. QVS alumni are in leadership positions throughout the Quaker world (in meetings, yearly meetings, and Quaker organizations). They bring organizational savvy, skills in conflict transformation and community building, and a deep commitment and passion for the Quaker way. These young adults are already envisioning and creating a more dynamic and vital Religious Society of Friends, and QVS believes its programs will continue to empower and support many more such dynamic young people, calling forth the best of the Quaker tradition.
William Penn House
William Penn House is celebrating 50 years of Quaker service and witness in Washington, D.C. In 1966, Friends Meeting of Washington, working with Friends Committee on National Legislation and American Friends Service Committee, purchased 515 East Capitol Street as a base for Quaker education, activism, and service. Founding directors Bob and Sally Cory and family moved in and developed the programs that have inspired generations of Friends.
The faith and vision of these founders continues to drive WPH’s work today. In recent months, WPH hosted members from two groups—Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Alliance for Appalachia—both visiting Washington to lobby for environmental justice. WPH also hosted RAHMA, a program that supports HIV/AIDS outreach in the Muslim community. In September, WPH led its thirty-third annual seminar on global human rights for students from the University of Washington Bothell.
WPH Quaker workcamps have had another active and successful season. The partnership with the Isle de Jean Charles American Indian community was strengthened through a spring workcamp in Louisiana, and in May a delegation from that community stayed at WPH as they lobbied for federal support in addressing the devastating effects of climate change on their community.
WPH’s urban gardening projects have produced rich partnerships with two grassroots nonprofits, DC UrbanGreens and Everybody Grows. Through these partnerships, workcamp participants contribute to powerful ongoing food justice work in D.C. neighborhoods.
Youth Service Opportunities Project
YSOP is a Quaker organization, grounded in Quaker values, that engages students in hands-on service experiences working with homeless and hungry people in New York City and Washington, D.C.
This spring and summer YSOP’s New York program worked with a very diverse array of volunteer groups. Programs included a grant-funded overnight program for low-income public school students; a dinner for homeless guests staffed by summer associates from a prestigious law firm; and religious and school groups from Michigan, North Carolina, Vermont, and Ohio. The groups came from different backgrounds, but they all participated in vital hands-on service, helping over 7,000 people in need at service sites throughout NYC.
In Washington, YSOP welcomed many new and returning groups every week. Sandy Spring Friends School brought groups of international students to cook and share dinner with homeless and hungry guests. The students brought with them ten pounds of kale from a local farm, and served a very healthy and unique dish of kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and rice. The dinner guests had so much fun learning about different countries and cultures during the meal.
In August YSOP welcomed groups of students from a local organization that came to volunteer and discuss leadership in service. These groups were part of a summer of many students coming from all over every week to serve and learn with YSOP.