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 lobbied Congress on priorities set by Friends. Right now, FCNL is seeing new energy for policy change and resistance. The number of people lobbying with FCNL and building relationships with their members of Congress continues to grow.
This work is making a difference. The all-out push from FCNL and its faith partners helped convince the Senate to reject legislation cutting healthcare for more than 22 million people. FCNL advocates called, wrote, and visited Congress; wrote letters to newspapers; took part in a 24-hour vigil; and flew from as far as Alaska to lobby.
FCNL works to bring people together across differences. In the past months FCNL has helped grow the Climate Solutions Caucus, a forum for Republicans and Democrats to develop climate policies, to more than 50 members. In May, FCNL supported a bipartisan group to introduce the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act.
FCNL’s capital campaign, “The World We Seek: Now Is the Time,” successfully concluded in June. It is already strengthening FCNL’s engagement with young adults and lobbying. This fall FCNL will open a Quaker Welcome Center, also funded by the campaign. FCNL looks forward to welcoming more Friends to Washington to lobby for the world Friends seek.
Quaker Council for European Affairs
QCEA’s human rights program, which began earlier this year following a review of QCEA’s work, has just seen the launch of its first major publication. Child Immigration Detention in Europe is the result of months of research into the detention of children because of their refugee status, and reveals the extent to which this phenomenon is under-reported across Europe. The report also explores humane alternatives to detention, and will serve as a key support to advocacy work on this issue for the rest of 2017.
QCEA also published a pamphlet on the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty which protects fundamental rights across over 40 countries in Europe. The pamphlet was created to raise awareness of the convention among non-experts, and includes a ranking of how each signatory state has historically performed in protecting human rights.
In March, QCEA hosted a screening of the film Shadow World, a documentary which reveals the shocking reality of the global arms trade. The event—organized as part of QCEA’s peace program—included a post-film discussion with author Andrew Feinstein, whose initial research inspired the film. Almost 200 people attended.
Part of QCEA’s work involves helping supporters better understand European institutions, and in June QCEA held a study tour guiding a 20 Friends around Europe’s political institutions.
Quaker United Nations Office
Since 1947, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has worked to support a UN that prioritizes peace and prevents war, and presently includes programming in the areas of peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. QUNO leads this work because it believes the UN’s work is critical in supporting those in need of humanitarian assistance and affected by conflict or natural disasters, in upholding human rights, addressing climate change, and in guiding the eradication of diseases and supporting healthcare. Since welcoming the new U.S. administration, support to the UN has been under threat following proposals to potentially decrease funding. QUNO has been active in monitoring these developments, and working to inform its constituency of support, including through developing online informational tools.
The UN’s achievements could not happen without support from donors, including from the United States, which currently provides 22 percent of the overall UN budget and 28 percent of peacekeeping funding. However, proposals, including from the House, Senate, and draft executive orders, could affect this support. Additional plans for disengagement with the UN, such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, signal growing threats to the global efforts for sustainable development and peace.
QUNO’s website provides more details about ongoing work and current updates, including ways Friends can get involved with organizations that provide avenues for action.
Consultation, Support, and Resources
Friends General Conference
Friends General Conference held its annual Gathering of Friends at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y., from July 2 to 8. This year’s theme was Ripples Start Where Spirit Moves. Attendees from around the world were inspired by plenary presentations from Kenneth Deer, Pamela Boyce Simms, and three speakers representing American Friends Service Committee: Sa’ed Atshan, Dalit Baum, and Sandra Tamari. Friends can view Simms’s full presentation on FGC’s YouTube channel.
FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Race will proceed this fall thanks to the $62,350 raised by 62 individual supporters, 21 monthly meetings, and 4 yearly meetings. The assessment was lifted up during last year’s annual meeting of FGC’s Central Committee in October, and it will help FGC and its affiliated yearly and monthly meetings identify areas where systemic racism exists and develop a long-term vision for faithful inclusion. Friends can learn about this important work on the FGC website, and periodic updates will be shared online.
Thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors, FGC’s Quaker Cloud was made available free of charge this summer to Quaker meetings and churches that were new to the platform. The Quaker Cloud is updated with new features and upgrades regularly, so Friends who have not had the opportunity to try it are encouraged to sign up on FGC’s website.
Friends Services for the Aging
In June, 75 attendees from Friends Services for the Aging (FSA) organizations gathered for a Values Summit to work together in articulating a vision of bringing Quaker-inspired values to senior living in today’s world. The group shared concrete examples of what the values mean “in action” in order to develop a shared understanding of what distinguishes a Quaker values-inspired approach. Led by professional facilitators, attendees were led through two days of exercises including storytelling and sculpting.
Irene McHenry, retired executive director of Friends Council on Education joined the summit, and shared that the SPICES acronym was developed to talk about how the values of presence, connection, and listening are lived. “Everyone found connections to the values, no matter what their faith or cultural background, or role in the organization, which made for a rich and engaging summit,” said FSA CEO Jane Mack.
The culminating activity of the two days was for small groups to name what they felt were the hallmarks of a Quaker values-inspired approach to senior living. Volunteers from each group then worked together to find common themes. These included Inner Light, trust, honoring the journey, gentle bravery, and being in community.
Reaction to the summit was very positive and a number of ideas for resources and programs arose. Participants were encouraged to take the spirit and conversations back to their respective organizations.
Friends United Meeting
After many years of prayer and discernment, way has opened for FUM to expand its ministries in the Southside neighborhood of Belize City, Belize. FUM has operated a small school for at-risk teens for many years, but the needs of this gang-ridden community are enormous. With the purchase and renovation of a new 8,800-square-foot building and the appointment of Kenyan Friend Oscar Mmbali as pastoral minister, FUM is now able to expand enrollment in the school, grow the small Friends meeting, offer AVP and other community-based ministries, and deepen its engagement with what God is doing to transform Belize City.
In other news, FUM recently appointed Adrian Moody to serve as the next head of school of Ramallah Friends School. The outgoing head, Joyce Ajlouny, had served in the post for 13 years and is now the new general secretary of American Friends Service Committee. Moody is an Australian with extensive experience in leadership of international schools. A deeply committed Catholic, Moody feels a strong affinity for Friends and a desire to help Ramallah Friends School grow and flourish.
The FUM Triennial, held in July 2017 at Friends University in Wichita, Kans., drew Friends from four continents. The 2020 Triennial will be held jointly with the United Society of Friends Women International and Quaker Men International, and will take place in Kenya.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Asia–West Pacific Section)
Quakers in Australia are concerned about the proposed government poll to gain the view of Australians about marriage equality. In August, Jo Jordan, presiding clerk of Australia Yearly Meeting, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating where Australian Quakers stand on this issue: “The Religious Society of Friends . . . supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender. We also support the right of such couples to have their marriages accorded equal recognition and respect under the law of Australia.”
The letter also addressed the current law, which “prevents Quakers from facilitating the same legal recognition for same-sex marriages that we do for other marriages. This legal prohibition is fundamentally inconsistent with Quaker faith and practice.” In 2010 Australian Quakers agreed to celebrate marriages within meetings regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of the partners.
The letter ended with an opinion and a plea: “Quakers consider that a majority vote in a voluntary public poll is an inappropriate way to decide the legal rights of minorities who are subject to discrimination. . . . But if such a vote is held, we encourage everyone to open their hearts, to choose love over fear, and to support marriage equality in Australia.”
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas)
The 2017 Section Meeting of the Americas took place March 23–26 in Stony Point, N.Y. More than 125 Friends from 30 yearly meetings gathered to celebrate the theme Vivir La Paz—Living Peace (John 16:33). Highlights included three mornings of semi-programmed worship with spirited and challenging messages from Carl Magruder (Pacific Yearly Meeting), Kirenia Criado (Cuba Yearly Meeting), and Jonathan Vogel-Borne (New England Yearly Meeting), followed by small home-group discussions. More information, including the three plenary messages, can be found on the website.
Several years of planning, fundraising, and praying have culminated in the first cohort of the Traveling Ministry Corps. The seven ministers in the 2017 Corps—four from North America and three from South America—have begun visiting Quaker meetings and churches throughout the Americas. They are the newest weavers of the vibrant tapestry formed by the various threads of Quaker faith, crossing the boundaries created by distance, language, and belief.
The section has gathered new ideas and resources on the website for the fourth annual World Quaker Day on October 1, 2017. FWCC Section of the Americas is grateful to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, QuakerSpeak, Friends International Bilingual Center, and the Shoemaker Fund for collaborating on the videos and lesson plans for religious education programs.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)
FWCC supports the vitality of Quakerism around the world and amplifies the Quaker voice. The Central Executive Committee (CEC) met in Rwanda in April, alongside the Africa Section Triennial, a gathering of 400-plus Friends. The CEC affirmed FWCC is one organization in spirit, with a modular governance structure and with integrated ways of working. The committee affirmed FWCC’s intention to take up consideration of issues of privilege and historical injustice, and FWCC’s role in youth work and in building bridges within the world Quaker community. The CEC set the next World Plenary Meetings for 2023, 2030, and 2037, FWCC’s centennial.
With World Quaker Day on October 1, the World Office is distributing the new map “Finding Friends Around the World 2017” to monthly meetings and local meetings around the world. The World Quaker Day website (worldquakerday.org) has curricular resources and videos to accompany the map, and instructions for Friends who wish to share photos and videos from the day.
FWCC raised funding for a new position: On September 4, Susanna Mattingly began as the sustainability communications officer. Her work involves gathering stories of peace and sustainability based on the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice (World Conference 2012) and the Pisac Sustainability Minute (World Plenary Meeting 2016), engaging young adult Friends across the sections, and encouraging yearly meetings to report on their work.
Quakers Uniting in Publications
QUIP met March 9–12 at the Penn Center on Saint Helena Island, S.C. The theme “Are Quakers Still Publishers of Truth?” inspired C. Wess Daniels’s talk “Revisioning the Nursery of Truth,” which looked to the emergent contexts of these times. Workshops included writing basics with Jennifer Kavanaugh; Becky Birtha led “How Much Belongs in a Children’s Book;” and Oskar Castro challenged writers to use social media to publish news and opinions. All enjoyed playing Quaker-created board games.
QUIP’s Tacey Sowle Fund, promoting publishing among underserved populations, is supported partly by QUIP dues. The Spanish Espiritu Se Levanta, a translation of Spirit Rising, allows Spanish-speaking Friends to discover how youth of different Quaker backgrounds express their beliefs. The grant to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) supported an online resource of Spanish-language Quaker materials. QUIP also helped QREC publish a bilingual English–Spanish children’s book titled Quaker Meeting and Me.
QUIP membership and dues information for authors, publishers, and booksellers are on the new website.
Tract Association of Friends
The Tract Association of Friends holds a sense of unity in the concern for distribution of Quaker literature, and for explaining the spiritual basis of Friends testimonies.
The Tract Association mourns the passing of office manager and Friend Christine Greenland, who died in Fourth Month 2017. The association is grateful for her work and dedication.
2018 Tract Association wall and pocket calendars will be available this fall.
A new piece, Traveling in the Ministry, a pamphlet by Marian Baker and Priscilla Makhino, a Friend from Kenya, is now available for mail order. Peace Be with You: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony, a pamphlet by Sandra Cronk, may be read online.
Friendly Water for the World
Klamath Falls (Ore.) Friends Church is a big supporter of Friendly Water for the World. Since 2015, the church has been supporting a group of 23 widows with HIV in eastern Rwanda—Tunyawamazimeza (“Use Clean Water”)—that has now produced and sold more than 2,200 BioSand water filters. Together with their sister groups—Dukundane (“Love One Another”), also women with HIV; and Amahoro (“Peace”), young people who were orphaned in the Rwandan genocide—they have ensured clean water for 60,000 people, and became entirely self-sufficient in the process. The three groups have now become among the largest philanthropists in eastern Rwanda, providing food for the hungry; sheep as Christmas presents for the poorest community members; and health insurance, shoes, and books for children entering school. The groups work four days a week on clean water efforts; on the fifth day they work in sewing and in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving.
Klamath Falls is a small Friends church with approximately 20 attendees on a typical Sunday. They correspond with the women in Rwanda, teach about clean water in First-day school, and celebrate Hope Sunday (the second Sunday in Advent) with a commitment to redouble their efforts. They would love to hear from other Friends meetings and churches interested in joining their efforts to ensure clean water to poor communities around the globe (contact at nwfriends.org/klamath-falls).
Quaker Service Australia
QSA works with communities in India, Cambodia, and Uganda as well as to support Aboriginal communities and organizations in Australia. One such community is Kornar Winmil Yunti (KWY) in South Australia, a name which means “men working together” in the local language of Ngarrindjeri.
KWY is a nonprofit organization that supports Aboriginal men to build and strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. Operating since May 2011, it holds healing camps and support groups, addressing significant issues such as identity and family roles, relationships, elders roles, Indigenous history, family violence, and grief and loss. An extension to these groups was implemented as they began to hold awareness-raising seminars for male youth to address depression, suicide, and domestic and family violence. Called “Club Connect,” the project provides information and encouragement for youth to make positive changes in their lives, and supports them in making informed choices. KWY staff delivered seminars to members of already existing football clubs and were very honest in sharing their own stories, creating a helpful atmosphere of trust and support. More information about this and other projects is on the website.
Australia Yearly Meeting acknowledges that Quaker testimonies call Friends to be in right relationship with all peoples. Australia Friends are all learning how to uphold First Nations people and their descendants in Australia in a joint and ongoing journey toward justice.
Bolivian Quaker Education Fund
BQEF continues its steady work empowering education, service, and connection between Friends in Bolivia and Friends in North America and Europe.
There are now more than 170 graduates of the BQEF scholarship program. Forty-six university and technical school scholarships were awarded this year, across diverse fields of study. Thirty-six of these students have sponsors, including one sponsor who is a former recipient. This marks the first time that a scholarship program graduate has fully sponsored another student in the program, an exciting milestone in sustainability.
This spring and summer, BQEF staff and volunteers attended several yearly meetings and Quaker gatherings. They had a well-attended interest group at the FGC Gathering, inspiring new enthusiasts, advocates, and travelers to Bolivia.
BQEF is partnering on joint activities with Quaker Bolivia Link, combining efforts to more effectively introduce Friends to the Quaker-led work in Bolivia.
The Student Residence in Sorata is also partnering with other organizations, to deepen and enrich the 22 student residents’ learning and opportunities. Two orphaned brothers, one of whom had been acting out and struggling in school, have settled in nicely and are now thriving. Loving care and support from staff and other students have made this uplifting turnaround possible.
Earlham School of Religion
Earlham School of Religion recently began the fall 2017 semester with an exciting new group of residential and online students. Incoming students represent denominations including Quaker, UU, MCC, Catholic, and Episcopal, and come to Indiana from as far away as California. August saw the launch of ESR’s first Entrepreneurial Ministry certificate program, with a cohort of students who began the program with a two-week intensive course.
ESR recently received an Association of Theological Schools-sponsored innovation grant to help motivate and fund faculty and student projects that connect curricular interests with the realities of ministry. ESR is also seeing great benefits to the implementation of blended classes through the use of videoconferencing to bring distance students into the classroom.
ESR continues to offer the services of the Quaker Information Center and the Quaker Career Center to answer questions about Quakerism and to offer job listings to those seeking a position in many different forms of ministry.
In August ESR welcomed Earlham’s new president, Alan Price, and FCNL executive secretary Diane Randall as the plenary speakers for the annual Quaker Leadership Conference. ESR will host pastor Mandy Smith as the keynote speaker for the Pastors Conference on October 2, and author Barbara Brown Taylor as the keynote speaker for its Ministry of Writing Colloquium November 3–4.
Friends Association for Higher Education
In May, FAHE published Quakers, Business, and Industry, the fourth in a book series examining Friends’ contributions to the academic disciplines, past and present.
FAHE’s 2017 conference was held in June at Guilford College. With the theme “Global Education, Global Quakerism,” the conference celebrated the global diversity of Quakerism, discussed the world’s changing educational landscape, and looked at how Friends’ testimonies might inform those changes in a positive way. In sessions ranging from physics to leadership to Quaker theology and history, Friends noticed that the words change, and adaptation and transformation arose often.
Highlights included the plenary speakers: Diya Abdo of Every Campus a Refuge urged attendees to consider how their institutions might aid refugees. David Niyonzima, vice chancellor of the International Leadership University in Burundi, described his work in trauma healing, leadership development through education, and transformation through the practice of Quaker faith. Gwen Gosney Erickson, Guilford College archivist, spoke about the first World Gathering of Quakers at Guilford 50 years ago; the prospect of hosting the event leveraged the integration of the college five years earlier, in 1962. Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s president, expressed faith in the future of Quaker institutions in the face of great change, because the Quaker commitment to listening into and out of the silence takes us to a deeper place and builds stronger relationships.
Friends Council on Education
Friends Council on Education remains nimble in supporting schools during turbulent times in our nation and seeks to provide responsive programming for educators as they navigate a challenging climate. “Teaching in Uncertain Times” provides a dynamic online platform for conversation and resource sharing. “UnColumbus Day” provides an opportunity for teachers to consider and rethink teaching about myths in U.S. history. A special speaker will focus attention on “Immigration/Sanctuary,” exploring how Friends school communities can support those who come to the United States in search of freedom and safety.
Friends Council strives to be a voice for the values Friends schools stand for. Statements responding to an increased climate of hate, violence, and bigotry are available to member schools. One Friends Council statement on a national event was particularly resonant, reaching over 11,000 people on Facebook.
Connection and outreach to Friends Council global affiliates included a visit to Ramallah Friends School by executive director Drew Smith, along with students and faculty from Westtown School.
Friends Council engaged Quakers, meeting clerks, heads of schools, donors, board members, educators,and individuals in a year-long comprehensive strategic planning process in 2016–2017.
Friends Council facilitates collaboration of Friends schools. This past spring the Friends Environmental Education Network hosted Friends Initiative to Reach Sustainability Together (FIRST) whose goals include bringing together Friends schools to collaborate on renewable energy initiatives.
Friends Historical Association
Friends Historical Association publishes two issues of the journal Quaker History each year and also holds two events focusing on aspects of Quaker history: a fall annual meeting with a speaker or panel, and a spring tour or trip to a location of significance in Quaker history.
This spring on May 6, inspired by last November’s conference “Quakers, First Nations and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st century,” FHA members traveled to southern New Jersey to learn about past and present Quaker–Indian relationships, share stories, and renew friendships.
At Salem Oak and Friends Burial Ground (also the site of the first Quaker meeting in West Jersey) tour members received a warm welcome from a member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. The group continued on to Lower Alloways Creek Meetinghouse, which was named for Aloes or Alowas, a Lenape sachem. There were opportunities to see Greenwich (N.J.) Meeting, Bacons Neck, Ambury Hill Cemetery, the Cumberland County Prehistorical Museum, and the 1870 monument erected by Quaker George Bacon Wood to a native chief whose name is lost.
A highlight for many was the visit to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Grounds, where a delicious meal was shared, greetings and gifts exchanged, and friendships renewed. The final destination was Gouldtown, which was established in 1690 and may be the oldest African American community in the United States.
Quaker Religious Education Collaborative
QREC has grown into the vision of a cross-branch, international collaborative network of Friends supporting lifelong spiritual formation. Now beginning its fourth year, the collaborative is focused on recognition of religious education as vital ministry within the Society of Friends and on support for this work in local meetings and Friends churches.
Current projects include the addition of Spanish-language curriculum resources on QREC’s website, continued development of an interactive web resource platform, and production of short videos on religious education topics. Copies of Quaker Meeting and Me, a little book meetings and churches can use to welcome young children into their Friends community, have been distributed through several yearly meetings, and requested copies have been shared with Friends in Bolivia, Mexico, and Ramallah, Palestine. Copies can be requested on the website (quakers4re.org/qmandm).
On August 18–20, QREC hosted an annual retreat, gathering 40 Friends from 14 states across the United States, Mexico, and Bolivia at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind. The program included a panel on the role of the Bible in Quaker religious education, workshops, sharing of new resources and favorites from Friends’ religious education libraries, and music led by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood of Rise Up Singing. The next QREC retreat will be held at Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y., on August 17–19, 2018.
Sierra Friends Center
Camp Woolman and Teen Leadership Camp welcomed campers on June 25. The vibrant and talented camp counselors created a camp based on the Baltimore Yearly Meeting model filled with safety, authenticity, fun, and challenge. The camps had over 200 campers this summer, including nine campers from China.
The center’s year of discernment into future programs to carry out the mission of “peace and justice through learning and service” led to piloting the Woolman Outdoor School May 17–19, with over 70 Oakland, Calif., students coming to the site. Sierra Friends Center collaborated with the Sierra Streams Institute on the curriculum, which included studying macro-invertebrates at the pond, sitting in silence in the meadows, cooking, astronomy, and removal of scotch broom. A short video on the pilot can be viewed on YouTube by searching for “Woolman Outdoor School.”
Sierra Friends Center is also celebrating their recent AmeriCorps team at Woolman. Their spirit infused the campus with energy. SFC hosted the annual Family Work Camp and a new Alumni Work Camp. The summer was a whirlwind of projects, play, conversations, and—most of all—love for Woolman.
Woolman and Sierra Friends Center welcome visits, calls, letters, and emails, and are grateful for the support of the community as they seek ever more relevant ways to bring Quaker educational experiences to the West Coast.
Environmental and Ecojustice
Earth Quaker Action Team
In May EQAT completed the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice. The 100-mile walk through southeastern Pennsylvania connected 30 communities to EQAT’s campaign for the utility PECO to Power Local Green Jobs by purchasing solar power generated in areas hungry for jobs.
The message resonated with many neighbors; people shared their needs for clean air, community jobs, and a safe future for the next generation. About 200 people joined the two-week walk, which was covered in news articles and on local TV. Over 200 also came out for the final mile, despite pouring rain, to march to PECO’s headquarters. Author Bill McKibben, Bishop Dwayne Royster, and other speakers called for PECO to recognize the connections between deep unemployment and the devastating impacts of climate change by ending its reliance on fossil fuels and embracing a solar future.
Those connections were reaffirmed in July when campaign partner POWER released a report on green jobs and poverty in Philadelphia. They estimate that green jobs could lift as many as one in five Philadelphians out of poverty, and recommend PECO begin immediately working toward 20 percent local solar by 2025.
Longtime members and new organizers trained during the walk are now planning a day of action for late fall. The day will amplify pressure on PECO by coordinating simultaneous actions for local green jobs.
Quaker Earthcare Witness
This year marks QEW’s 30th anniversary. The October Steering Committee meeting at Pendle Hill will focus on where Spirit is leading as QEW celebrates a history of inspiring Friends to act on spiritual connection with the natural world. QEW will seek way forward to build a sustainable, life-enhancing future in these challenging times. All Friends are welcome to attend. There will be multiple ways to connect, worship, celebrate, hear about current projects, and plan for the future.
Recognizing the need for food sovereignty, QEW sponsored an international event at the United Nations on re-localization of food production in the African diaspora. The coalition includes Black urban and rural farmers, agro-ecology activists, and defenders of small landholders and water rights in many parts of the world. The coalition is supporting people of African descent in the United States and elsewhere who have been disfranchised, displaced, and denied access to water. The coalition supports regional and international alternatives to energy- and chemical-intensive monoculture and corporate “agribiz” land grabs. Next year the coalition plans to sponsor a program on accessible and clean water.
The Earthcare for Children curriculum has been updated and is available from the website as downloadable lesson plans or in book format. Topics include “Earth Is Our Home,” “Soil, Seeds, and Climate,” and more. The lessons provided accommodate varying ages and interests in First-day schools.
Quaker Institute for the Future
Three Quake Institute for the Future research and writing projects are currently in process using the institute’s Circles of Discernment (CoD) method of collaboration.
QIF’s first CoD in 2007–2009 focused on the ethics of energy choices, and produced the Focus Book Fueling Our Future. In view of major changes, a current Circle of Discernment is revisiting this theme under the leadership of Robert Bruninga. A Focus Book is close to completion. A second CoD, led by John Lodenkamper, is working on a compilation and analysis of what is required to create a “life-centered economy” in which health and wellbeing are the primary indicators of prosperity, rather than the accumulation of wealth. A third CoD, led by Jim Grant, is working with the science-based “New Story” of the human-Earth relationship as presented by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, with a view to its role in advancing ecologically coherent cultural and spiritual development.
Due to planning circumstances, the QIF Summer Research Seminar was not held in 2017. It will resume in 2018.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
This year Friends Fiduciary has engaged with 40 companies across multiple sectors on various issues including drug pricing, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emission goals.
One leadership area for this season was asking companies to disclose their state and federal lobbying and trade association memberships. Friends Fiduciary sees lobbying transparency as both an issue of integrity and responsible management of business risks, as these expenditures are often significant and made with little board oversight. Lead resolutions asking Comcast Corporation and Vertex Pharmaceuticals to disclose their state and federal lobbying were voted on by all company shareholders in June, and received votes in line with votes received at other companies for similar resolutions, sending the message to company management that their shareholders are concerned about this issue.
Friends Fiduciary successfully withdrew resolutions at two insurance companies after they agreed to produce annual sustainability reports. Friends Fiduciary looks forward to continuing and deepening witness on Wall Street in the upcoming proxy season.
In July, Mimi Blackwell was hired as planned giving program manager to support a new initiative to more proactively support the vitality and growth of Quaker organizations and meetings through effective fundraising and stewardship.
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Friends Center serves as the Quaker hub for peace and justice in Philadelphia, with 37 organizations housed in the building. Recently Friends Center tenant Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) was a leading local voice to prevent damaging changes to the federal healthcare law. They worked closely with U.S. Senator Bob Casey, advocates, and health providers to mobilize ordinary Pennsylvanians to speak out.
Meanwhile, Friends Center’s paid event business keeps the complex busy seven days a week. Recent conferences include the International Theosophists Conference and the Kinks, Locks & Twists conference of New Voices, a human rights and reproductive justice organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women of color, especially Black women and girls.
A photo of the Race Street Meetinghouse—the heart of the Friends Center campus—is included in an exhibition at Philadelphia International Airport from July 2017 through mid-2018. The exhibition celebrates the city recently becoming the nation’s first World Heritage City.
In September Friends Center participated for the second time in Park(ing) Day, the international day to reclaim parking spaces for people, not cars. Friends Center built a temporary “parklet” on North 15th Street, with the help of Friends Council on Education, Friends Association for Higher Education, Friends World Committee, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia.
The Elsie K. Powell House Committee continues to work on the strategic planning process, aiming to finalize it in January 2018. Specifically, Powell House surveyed constituencies and completed a facility assessment. Powell House continues to seek input and suggestions for this work from yearly meeting attenders and other clients.
Leila Archibald of Fifteenth Street Meeting in New York City served as a summer intern and worked in many areas, including youth and adult programing, food service, maintenance, and administrative tasks.
This spring, Powell House hosted both Friends Seminary and Oakwood Friends School twelfth graders as they prepared for their graduations. Additionally, the Powell House youth program recognized its graduating seniors during the EarthSong retreat for seventh through twelfth graders.
Powell House also hosted a number of non-Quaker events that reflect its impact on the wider communities of which it is a part, including the Downtown Meditation Community’s weeklong silent retreat, several memorial services, a community tea for a local women’s group, and a Law Enforcement Conference focusing on sharing the intervention techniques for abused animals (hosted by nearby Little Brook Farm).
Shorter retreats—half a weekend in length—were tested and found to be successful for both a Junior Yearly Meeting planning event and a “Membership in the Religious Society of Friends” conference.
Woolman Hill Retreat Center
Woolman Hill, in collaboration with New England Yearly Meeting and Marcelle Martin, launched a new nine-month program, “Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness,” with a five-day residency in September. Many thanks go to Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund, NEYM Legacy Funds, and the Bogert Fund for scholarship and other support for the program. Woolman Hill is also grateful for Legacy funding that enabled it to offer the racial justice weekend workshop “Say the Wrong Thing” with Amanda Kemp earlier this year.
Woolman Hill has lost a number of f/Friends over the past two years, including Dirk Spruyt, Ann and George Levinger, Georgana Foster, Bill Upholt, Connie Sattler, Connie Comfort, Rick Keller, and Judith Shea, among others. Their wisdom, encouragement, elbow grease, financial support, and friendships are missed.
Woolman Hill also lost an arboreal friend: the majestic maple just south of the main building. In recognition of the many trees that are aging or have already fallen, seven trees (an American linden, three swamp white oak, and three shad) were planted this spring. A beautiful lawn area under a triple sycamore was created to replace the shady sanctuary previously offered by the old maple.
Attention has been given to indoor facilities as well. The conference center’s kitchen bathroom was entirely renovated. Staff and board members are working to assess how best to provide more accessible and private accommodations.
Service and Peace Work
Canadian Friends Service Committee
2017 is being heavily promoted in Canada as a year of celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadian Friends Service Committee invites people to consider the following:
Firstly, Indigenous Peoples have lived and exercised sovereignty over the territory of what is now Canada for far longer than 150 years and this past must be acknowledged. Secondly, the confederation of what we call Canada is founded on fraud and the theft and plunder of Indigenous territories, and many ongoing violations of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have yet to be resolved.
In the spirit of “renewed courage” and the desire to live in a good way, CFSC offers an adapted version of Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Advices and Queries #11: “Be honest with this nation state called Canada. What unpalatable truths might we be evading? When we recognize shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of the Creator’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage toward a future where the rights and dignity of all peoples are respected.”
In 2016 Canadian Friends found unity with a proposal to take their work of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples “to the next level.” This commitment involves grassroots actions across Canada based on the local opportunities. Reports about this action are available on the CFSC website.
Friends House Moscow
On April 18, Evening Kazan (Russia) reported, with amazement and sympathy, on the story of a tenth-grade pacifist. Since 2010, Russian high school boys have been required to take a course in military preparedness, culminating in a week’s weapons training. But Kamil Sh., a boy from a village school in Tatarstan, refused. “I’m a pacifist. I think it’s just not right for me to assemble and disassemble automatic weapons. I don’t want to spend beautiful days in May playing war.” School administrators threatened to lower Kamil’s grades, and a regional education official frightened his parents, warning that their son was jeopardizing his future.
There have been other such cases. Conscientious objection counselors are developing a strategy: high schools could prepare students for AGS (alternative government service, available to Russian pacifists) by allowing curricular options like medical training.
Kamil turned for help to one of Friends House Moscow’s most trusted partners: For Our Sons, a Kazan organization protecting the rights of conscientious objectors, army conscripts and their families. The organization went into action; they helped Kamil file appeals; they contacted multiple authorities on his behalf, including the regional ombudsman for children’s rights. In the end, Kamil attended his regular classes, school authorities did not press the issue, and, this fall, Kamil expects to begin his alternative government service.
Quaker House directors were on the move this summer visiting many yearly meetings and other conferences. They gave presentations on the history and witness of Quaker House, moral injury, and conscientious objection. Kindra Bradley, the new Quaker House director, was able to go to most of these with Lynn and Steve Newsom, former directors, in order to meet Friends and learn more about Quaker House’s work. She also attended the GI Rights Hotline conference for additional training.
Quaker House GI Rights Hotline counselors were busier than ever, with so many service members struggling with the consequences of being at war for 16 years. The domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury therapist saw a rise in clients, along with an increase in the number of children who have been sexually assaulted by an active duty family member. In spite of strong evidence, one stepfather was found innocent and returned to active duty.
Family members contact Quaker House asking for help with their inability to get the support they need from Veterans Affairs. Quaker House is able to connect them with VA officials who see to it that they get the attention they deserve.
So many victims of wars desperately need help. Quaker House is grateful to its supporters who enable them to provide that help.
Quaker Voluntary Service
Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) is an experiment at the intersection of transformational spirituality and activism. In the QVS program, young adults work full-time in professional positions at community-based organizations addressing a wide range of issues, while living in a cooperative house in partnership with local Quakers.
The strategy of QVS is two-fold: it seeks to address immediate issues of justice and inequity by expanding the capacity of the service site placement organizations where Fellows work, while simultaneously preparing the next generation of leaders working to build a society in which the symptoms of injustice no longer exist.
By centering this experience in intentional Quaker community, and inviting young adult participants into a deeper relationship with themselves and their own understanding of spirituality, participants are better able to integrate their values, practices, motivations, and identities in such a way that their work can be grounded in love and joy, rather than the fear and aggression that plague many people. QVS is a year of reflection and training to prepare the participant for a whole life committed to peace, justice, and equality.
QVS now has a strong community of over 100 alumni working in the world, and has just entered its sixth program year.
William Penn House
WPH continues to be inspired by the outpouring of witness and activism for peace and justice in recent months. WPH hosted activists from across the United States and supported their faithful witness during the March for Science, the People’s Climate March, and Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Vigil to Save Medicaid. The house has been blessed with guests from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and the Center for Popular Democracy as well as individuals coming to Washington, D.C., to advocate for justice. As in years past, participants in FCNL’s Spring Lobby Weekend and Advocacy Corps filled the house with joyful energy and commitment.
WPH has seen increased interest and energy in social justice education programs. WPH led its eleventh annual workcamp in Louisiana, working with community-based activists in New Orleans and the Isle de Jean Charles Indigenous community in efforts to respond to climate change and political marginalization. WPH also returned to Caretta, W.V., for the seventeenth year, supporting local activists and building bridges across cultural and political divides.
WPH led seven educational programs in Washington, including a seminar on foreign policy held by a class from Earlham College, and a service-learning program focused on food justice attended by middle school classes from Richmond Friends School in Indiana and Cambridge Friends School in Massachusetts.
Youth Service Opportunities Project
YSOP has had a busy, rewarding summer with groups and schools from all over the country serving the homeless and hungry in New York City and Washington, D.C. YSOP offers service-learning programs for students from seventh grade through graduate school. It also has programs from time to time for groups of adults. All programs offer hands-on service to homeless and hungry folks framed by an orientation and reflection facilitated by YSOP staff.
The D.C. program featured an interfaith dinner with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youth groups preparing, serving, and sharing a dinner party with homeless guests. The evening was a lot of fun, and the groups that participated indicated interest in doing more together. YSOP’s New York program saw a renewed interest in summer Overnight Workcamps, a popular three-season program not typically offered in the summer. YSOP is thrilled with the enthusiasm and dedication of student volunteers wanting to serve people in need for a 24-hour period, when some might decline that opportunity because of the summer heat.
YSOP has added a New York program coordinator to increase outreach to new schools, religious and community youth groups, and the service agencies it partners with to provide meaningful experiences for volunteers, including soup kitchens, food pantries, urban gardens and farms, and transitional housing.