This semiannual feature highlights the recent works of Quaker organizations* in the following categories:
- Consultation, Support, and Resources
- Environmental and Ecojustice
- Investment Management
- Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
- Service and Peace Work
*Editors’ note: We invite all explicitly Quaker-founded and/or Quaker-run groups and organizations to submit to the Quaker Works column. Most, but not all, are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The content is supplied by staff members of the organizations and edited to fit the style of Friends Journal. More details can be found on the Quaker Works submissions page.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Every day in the United States, approximately 100 people die from gun violence. From death by suicide, violence in our communities, and acts of domestic terrorism, individuals in the United States die at higher rates than in any other country in the world.
Multiple mass shootings this summer have reminded the country of this gruesome trend, though accidental deaths, violence in communities of color, and other senseless forms of gun violence are far more common. Not only has gun violence become a public health crisis, it is preventable. Inaction on the part of lawmakers only perpetuates this dangerous epidemic.
A group of young advocates has committed to addressing this challenge. This summer, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) welcomed its 2019-2020 Advocacy Corps organizers: 20 young adults from around the country dedicated to organizing their communities to move beyond thoughts and prayers and take definitive action to end gun violence in their program.
The power of love and the force of truth are at the basis of FCNL’s gun violence prevention work. This year’s group of organizers embodies these principles. Whether moved by a personal connection to gun violence or a desire to make communities more peaceful, safe, and just, Advocacy Corps members have joined in the important work of urging Congress to enact common sense gun violence reduction laws.
Quaker Council for European Affairs
Quaker Council for European Affairs’ (QCEA) innovative peacebuilding toolkit, Building Peace Together, first launched in March 2018, has continued to be successful, reaching hundreds of policymakers, civil society activists, and military staff across Europe and the world. The resource includes 80 real-world examples of civilian peacebuilding initiatives and makes the case for investment in cross-cutting conflict resolution. It has been placed in the collections of Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the national libraries of both Scotland and Wales. It’s also being used to train German diplomats in conflict resolution approaches. QCEA believes that providing evidence of workable alternatives to militarism is key to peace advocacy, and Building Peace Together has made such evidence available with great success.
In advance of the European elections in May, QCEA launched a campaign against anti-migrant hate speech on the Internet. #ChooseRespect aims to tackle xenophobic speech in a constructive way—by tackling myths about migration and encouraging people to have more civil conversations. QCEA created both a website (chooserespect.eu) and a Twitter account to share positive messages about migrants and refugees as well as call out xenophobia by Members of the European Parliament. During the election campaign QCEA reached over 1.1 million EU voters. #ChooseRespect has since been chosen as a flagship project to be showcased at the Council of Europe’s World Forum for Democracy in November.
Quaker United Nations Office
Staff from the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in New York joined Friends from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the summer sessions of New York Yearly Meeting, an annual event that brings together Quakers from local and regional meetings and their families for a week of activities focused on community and movement building.
This year, QUNO was represented at the sessions by Mireille Evagora-Campbell and Jędrzej Nowe, QUNO New York program assistants, who participated in the first three days of the gathering. Particular highlights included attending the plenary session “Being Quakers in a World That Needs Us,” connecting with young adult Friends, and joining Friends for meetings for worship. Evagora-Campbell and Nowe also held an interest group session on QUNO’s work representing Quakers at the United Nations, during which they shared about Quaker approaches to achieving change through peaceful means and answered questions regarding peacebuilding and prevention programs.
Consultation, Support, and Resources
Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts
FQA’s national project on the Arts of Peace and Justice inspired Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa., to sponsor an Interfaith Solidarity Arts Picnic in May with a potluck, open mic for music and poetry, art stations to create an interfaith mural, and cooperative intergenerational games.
Also in May, at the annual retreat of Caln Quarterly Meeting in Bethel, Pa., an overflow coffeehouse discussed art and community in relation to peace and justice.
Jeanmarie Bishop’s one-woman play, Heretic, reflects on the last day of Mary Dyer’s life, the day she was hanged. It’s been performed in Phoenix, Ariz., and at two North Carolina meetings.
In July FQA coordinated events at the Quaker Art Center at Friends General Conference’s Gathering in Grinnell, Iowa. The center featured a diverse art show with the theme “Peace in Our Heart, Justice in Our World: A Braid of Many Strands,” and a cabaret.
In September several more events arising from FQA’s national project took place: an art show and workshops on the theme of “The Way to Peace and Justice: Listening and Art with Heart” at Salem Quarterly Meeting’s tri-quarter gathering in Medford, N.J.; a Peace and Justice Coffeehouse at Sandy Spring (Md.) Meeting; and a community workshop, “Listening to Each Other: A Way to Peace and Justice,” at Mount Holly (N.J.) Meeting.
FQA continues to publish its colorful journal, Types and Shadows.
Friends Couple Enrichment
Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) is a new Quaker organization, yet about to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. For many years Couple Enrichment was a program under the care of Friends General Conference (FGC). FCE became independent in 2016 and has been successful in that transition.
In the last year FCE Leader Couples offered 15 programs in nine U.S. states (including an FGC Gathering workshop that has been offered for the past nearly 50 years) and in Ottawa, Canada. While FCE responds primarily to invitations from meetings or individuals to come to their communities, it is striving to organize more regional gatherings held at retreat centers.
FCE has experimented with video conferencing to strengthen the Leader Couple community and offer opportunities for groups, such as participants from a recent Pendle Hill workshop, to meet for support and accountability.
All these efforts continue FCE’s ministry of helping couples learn and practice skills for deep listening and creative use of conflict while celebrating the joys and strengths of their relationship. FCE focuses on the community-building aspect of couples witnessing each other’s dialogues. As described in a QuakerSpeak video produced in 2018, FCE continues to view couple dialogue—the centerpiece of any FCE event—as a transformative practice that makes radiant love more visible.
Friends General Conference
The 2019 FGC Gathering took place June 30–July 6 at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and brought together nearly 830 Friends, including Friends who traveled from East Africa Yearly Meeting and Australia Yearly Meeting. Attenders nurtured their connection to the larger Quaker community through engaging workshops and listened to inspiring plenary presentations based on the theme “Peace in Our Hearts, Justice in the World.” Presentations were delivered by earthcare advocate Beverly Ward, Friends who participated in FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Racism, folksinger/songwriter John McCutcheon, and Muscogee (Creek) Nation returning citizens advocate Tony Fish. Friends Diane Randall and Hannah Graf Evans, both of Friends Council on National Legislation, offered a joint presentation with Itzel Hernandez of American Friends Service Committee. Most of the evening plenary events were recorded and are viewable on the FGC website and the FGC YouTube channel.
FGC’s QuakerPress publishing division recently released the second edition of Brian Drayton’s book On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry. Drayton appeared at the FGC Gathering to talk about the new edition, which incorporates over 15 years of new research and insights to his original work.
The updated and free Spiritual Deepening Library is available now on the FGC website with over 150 activities for meetings, organized into six topic areas. Each topic area features activities for children and adults.
Friends Services Alliance
In April, Friends Services for the Aging became Friends Services Alliance (FSA). This name change, along with a new look and feel throughout, was enacted in order to better reflect the membership of professional senior care organizations FSA serves. FSA works to advance the performance of values-aligned organizations that serve seniors through education, compliance and risk management, board and organizational development, and collaborations.
This summer marked the eighth year of the FSA internship program, a collaboration with Pennsylvania State University to introduce young adults to the possibilities of working in the senior services industry. Over the years, FSA has placed more than 50 interns in member organizations nationwide, in departments such as Human Resources, Dining Services, Resident Services, Admissions, and more.
This fall, FSA is offering many educational opportunities for values-aligned senior care professionals. Topics include management for Quaker-inspired organizations, socially responsible investing, and Friends decision making and clerking.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Asia–West Pacific Section)
Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting’s 2019 Quaker Lecture took place in February and was on “Crime and Punishment.” Terry Waite, British humanitarian and former hostage for nearly five years, talked about prison reform and rehabilitation. As a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s private staff, he worked to free hostages in Lebanon, Iran, and Libya. While in Beirut he was captured and spent almost five years in solitary confinement. He is both an Anglican and a Quaker. Waite brought his personal experiences to this lecture, which addressed the issue of penal reform both in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The full lecture is available for free download at quaker.org.nz.
In the Australia Yearly Meeting 2019 Backhouse Lecture held in July, Jason MacLeod shared what he has learned about accompanying West Papuans in their struggle for self-determination. Through personal stories, poetry, art, music, and video, he shared his sense of this experience in ways that might speak to broader Quaker concerns. While MacLeod, a Quaker, spoke about West Papua, the lecture was not really about West Papua so much as about West Papuans. The lecture was a deeply personal reflection on what one person thinks it takes to animate freedom in the context of historical and continuing colonization. The lecture was recorded and is available to watch on the Quakers Australia YouTube channel.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas)
“How good it is to be with Friends from outside our smaller circles, and, when we are together, how the Spirit of God breaks through our human narrowness of vision again and again. And how full of joy that is,” reflected a participant in the 2019 Section Meeting held March 21–24, just outside Kansas City, Mo. The theme was “¡Come and See!” (John 1:46) with explorations of “Who is my neighbor?” and “How can we all be Friends?” The 160 participants hailed from nine countries.
FWCC Section of the Americas welcomed the North Carolina Fellowship of Friends into affiliation and recognized the many contributions of the interpreters team to the life of the Section. The team’s dedication to full inclusion of all Friends in deliberations and planning of work has changed everything FWCC does: how and where to plan events, how to make decisions, call Friends to service, write documents, and develop a vision for the future.
The Traveling Ministry Corps completed its second full year and trained the third cohort. The ten Spanish-speaking ministers and eight English-speaking ministers visited over 30 meetings in six countries in the Americas.
FWCC has two new staff members in Philadelphia, Pa.: Heather Gosse, the new bilingual operations manager, is a member of Monteverde Meeting in Costa Rica, and Nancy Martino is the new advancement manager.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)
The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of FWCC met in Canada in June to consider the fundamental activities of the organization and discern the way forward, including growing concern within the organization to explore the broad and important matter of addressing spiritual issues of privilege and historical injustice.
FWCC has published several new sustainability resources, including case studies and videos highlighting the global Quaker response to climate change, which can be found on the World Office website. Meetings and churches can use these resources to support conversations about earthcare and stewardship at the local level.
The Young Adult Friends Development Fund, launched in September 2018, has supported two projects with funding. The first was a conference and leadership training organized by the Young Quakers Christian Association–Africa which brought together 20 young adult Friends from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania to explore Quaker values, heritage and practice, and youth participation in the Quaker church. The second was a project organized by the Europe and Middle East Section of FWCC, inviting two young adult Friends from Section of the Americas to travel among Friends in Europe and attend a number of events to increase understanding and learning between Friends of different theological and geographical backgrounds. Applications to the fund are being handled on a rolling basis during the project’s first year until December.
Quakers Uniting in Publishing
Quakers Uniting in Publishing (QUIP) began in 1983 with a few Quaker publishers and booksellers. Today it includes over 50 Quaker organizations and individuals. QUIP gathers annually for periods of deep worship and creative discussion with Friends who build bridges by seeking to publish Truth—and the experience of humility that this work brings. The next annual meeting will be April 23–26, 2020, at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind. Each annual QUIP meeting is also when members share their publications (print, media, art, etc.) and the stories behind them.
The Tacey Sowle Fund (supported by the QUIP dues) promotes publishing among the underserved. An application form can be found on the website.
QUIP’s 2019 annual meeting was held March 28–31 at Canby Grove in Canby, Ore. Friends from across 11 U.S. states, Britain, and Kenya gathered below the tall pines to address the theme, “Building Bridges: Quaker writers and publishers, working to bring us together.” Panelists reminded the group that writing and speaking from individual experience and being true to the Quaker faith is an authentic way to reach others who then may be ready to join this work. Marge Abbott and Anna Baker read from letters they wrote to each other during a time when they were working to build theological and relational bridges.
Friendly Water for the World
Global climate change is impacting Friendly Water for the World’s partners abroad in a big way. In one community of Maasai pastoralists in central Tanzania, women take their daughters out of school to get up at 3:00 a.m. and walk nine hours to gather water for their households. And it is getting worse.
With matching funds provided by Johnson & Johnson’s CaringCrowd crowdfunding platform, Friendly Water is planning to train 12 groups of Maasai women to build rainwater catchment systems and microflush toilets (there is currently not a single toilet for 185,000 people). They are already trained in building BioSand water filters and have built and sold 2,100 of them, ensuring clean water for some 50,000 people. Waterborne illnesses are becoming a thing of the past. This is the next step in having the community take charge of their own water and sanitation resources in the face of climate challenges.
As Friendly Water continues and deepens its work, the intersection of water, global climate change, and public health are sharply coming into focus.
Quaker Bolivia Link
Since 1995 Quaker Bolivia Link (QBL) has provided “a Quaker response to poverty” for the Aymara people of the Altiplano of Bolivia. Efforts have focused on safe water supplies, food security, llama ranching, and economic independence, especially for women.
QBL’s board in the United States (QBL-USA) recently highlighted the work of Las Gregorias, a women’s association in La Paz that promotes greater economic freedom through weaving high-quality Alpaca products. This cooperative was funded by QBL in 1998 and continues to provide a livelihood for ten Bolivian women and their families. Current fundraising efforts will focus on helping Las Gregorias find better housing for their looms.
QBL-USA is also seeking funding through Rotary International for four village water projects to be completed over the next four years. These four villages are isolated and in desperate need of access to safe drinking water, especially during the dry season from May to October.
Quaker Service Australia
Along with other international development agencies in Australia, Quaker Service Australia (QSA) submitted a funding application to the Australian government under the Australian NGO Cooperation Program. For QSA this additional funding would supplement public donations and enable increases in size and scope of projects in Tamil Nadu, Cambodia, and Uganda. Each project has a strong emphasis on food and water security and poverty alleviation, while also addressing gender equality, child safeguarding, and environmental sustainability.
Within Australia, smaller funded projects foster strong relationships between Quakers and refugee and asylum-seeker groups. Feedback has been enthusiastic: “All the women are very thankful for the freedom to be with other women. . . . it is so lovely to see some of our older women stepping into grandmotherly roles so that these children have a sense of an extended family.” “Their performance was incredibly touching and inspiring, knowing the students were sharing their stories with over 300 strangers. The students performed with confidence and the audience was engaged throughout.”
Other projects work to increase participation of young women in the youth programs, building trust in the community and providing reassurance to parents by offering a safe space for their teenagers. Other groups have an advocacy role for refugee families, helping with navigation of government services and supporting participation at multicultural festivals and events.
Right Sharing of World Resources
In April, the Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) Board of Trustees met in Chicago, Ill. There they approved funding for 20 new projects: ten in India, five in Kenya, and five in Sierra Leone. With these grants, 515 women will each receive a small loan to start or grow a business in their communities. Among the groups funded was one in Kenya where older and younger women will partner together in their businesses; the older women will provide guidance while the younger women will provide labor. When the women pay back their loans, the funds stay within the group and are revolved to other women, sustaining the momentum of support and transformation in community.
This summer, RSWR general secretary Jackie Stillwell attended the Friends General Conference Gathering in Grinnell, Iowa, as well as Southern Appalachian, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New England Yearly Meeting annual sessions. Stillwell also led workshops on “The Power of Enough” and held interest groups to spread the word about Right Sharing.
In July, Right Sharing launched the public phase of a match challenge.
Bolivian Quaker Education Fund
Bolivian Quaker Education Fund (BQEF) sponsored scholarship graduate Vanessa Ely Maldonado as a visiting apprentice teacher at Carolina Friends School (CFS) in Durham, N.C., for the 2019 winter-spring semester. CFS was a rich immersion learning environment for Vanessa, particularly considering the teaching day for many Bolivian children is only four hours twice a week due to a shortage of classrooms.
Vanessa’s experiences helped her increase her English capacity and teaching skills, which she’s looking forward to sharing at home in Bolivia. During her stay in the United States, she wrote copious notes and took many photos, intent on helping other teachers in Bolivia. One of her new techniques is incorporating the outdoors in teaching.
Over the summer, Vanessa also visited several yearly meetings and the Friends General Conference Gathering in Grinnell, Iowa, experiencing a diversity of Friends’ approaches to conducting business and holding each other in the Light.
BQEF board member Hal Thomas brought greetings to Evangelical Friends in Bolivia as they celebrated their centennial. BQEF works with both Evangelical and unprogrammed Friends; BQEF’s board and staff are theologically diverse, from nontheist to evangelical, and the students are selected from across the three largest Bolivian yearly meetings.
BQEF is currently making preparations for the July 2020 BQEF Quaker Study Tour to Bolivia, focused on Bolivian Friends living with and responding to climate change.
Friends Association for Higher Education
Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) published Quakers, Creation Care, and Sustainability, the sixth volume in its book series Quakers and the Disciplines. Its 24 essays examine Friends’ work in the field, past and present, with considerations for future action.
In June, FAHE convened its fortieth annual conference at Swarthmore College and Pendle Hill near Philadelphia, Pa. Plenary speakers, workshops, and panel discussions considered the theme “Truth and Inspiration” and other topics reflecting Friends’ concerns and testimonies in education.
Friends Council on Education
Friends Council on Education offers programs that nurture the Quaker character of Friends schools.
In Educators New to Quakerism workshops, Friends school educators learn about Quaker history, beliefs, testimonies, and meeting for worship, and explore the Quaker identity of their schools. Leading in the Manner of Friends, for Friends school administrative teams, explores the unique characteristics of Quaker school leadership.
Friends Council serves as a thought leader by expressing commitment to social justice through statements affirming what Quaker schools stand for. This summer, the statement “Quaker Schools Stand for Peace, Justice, Respect and Social Action” was issued in response to the escalation in violence and expressions of hatred, including the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border; the increase in xenophobic, racist language from the current administration; and mass shootings in early August.
In addition to cohosting Community Conversations on Race, Friends Council collaborated with Friends school faculty to present “Current Events and Starbucks Moments: Connecting Our School with its Neighbors to Build Inclusive Communities” at the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools.
This spring, executive director Drew Smith led a panel discussion on the care relationship between Friends schools and Friends meetings. The panel was planned by Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Meeting members who are engaged in conversation about the role of Friends in education.
The School of the Spirit Ministry
The School of the Spirit Ministry offers contemplative retreats that include both guidance from experienced facilitators and extended periods of dwelling together in restorative silence. The Ministry is working to expand this program. Annual three-day retreats have taken place for a number of years at Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y.; Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wis.; and Avila Retreat Center in Durham, N.C. Two new locations include Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian, Mich., and Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va. The Michigan retreat was full less than a month after registration opened. Four new contemplative retreat leaders have been mentored this year, with a goal to increase the number of retreat locations offered.
The Ministry’s current Spiritual Nurturer program has completed five out of six residencies, and this summer more than a dozen participants entered a new one-year course, “Participating in God’s Power” (PiGP), led by Christopher Sammond and Angela York Crane. PiGP will explore courageous faithfulness, working to identify and heal the barriers that keep people from full participation in God’s power.
Environmental and Ecojustice
Quaker Earthcare Witness
Recent developments make it clear that the world is facing ecological collapse unprecedented in human history. Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) works to overcome despair by connecting Friends who are taking Spirit-led action; by inspiring and educating through sharing stories; and by visiting Quaker groups across North America.
This spring and summer, QEW brought together diverse Quakers lifting up the common cause of earthcare. QEW participated in a forum at Friends World Committee on Consultation’s (FWCC) March meetings, contributed to a video on Friends from across the branches, and was part of a webinar series in collaboration with FWCC and the Quaker United Nations Office.
In July, QEW hosted the Earthcare Center at the Friends General Conference Gathering in Grinnell, Iowa. Friends were invited to share their witness on issues like climate change and hope, permaculture and organic farming, historic Quaker radical ecologists, the language of plants, decolonization, and land restoration.
QEW also released a short documentary “Quaker Earthcare Witness: A Panorama,” available on the website.
QEW sponsored the Diasporas and Displaced Populations Project at the United Nations, bringing together members of diasporas to support populations displaced by climate change.
This fall, QEW joined the global youth climate strike on September 20.
QEW offers a community of support through like-minded peers, educational resources, action items, and expertise on how to make a difference.
Quaker Institute for the Future
A QIF Denver-area Circle of Discernment, led by John Lodenkamper, has completed its two-year study of alternatives to the ecological and socially destructive money-centered economy. The results of this research team’s work have now been published as QIF Focus Book #12, Toward a Life-Centered Economy: From the Rule of Money to the Rewards of Stewardship.
QIF Focus Books continue to attract the attention of activists and educators working for human betterment and ecojustice. How Does Societal Transformation Happen? Values Development, Collective Wisdom, and Decision Making for the Common Good (FB #4) by Leonard Joy was recently adopted as a course book by a college professor in California. A university professor in Nova Scotia recently discovered A Quaker Approach to Research: Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment (FB #7) by Gray Cox. She told QIF this book was a revelation for her; it details exactly the kind of methodology she has been trying to develop with her students and in her own research.
QIF Circles of Discernment and Focus Book projects are currently addressing ecological law, the ethics of artificial intelligence, and the importance of worldwide smallholder agriculture.
QIF’s 2019 Summer Research Seminar took place September 9–13 and was hosted by West Falmouth Meeting in Cape Cod, Mass.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
In reflecting Quaker values in the investment process, Friends Fiduciary believes ownership of a company’s stock brings a responsibility to address specific and systemic issues with that company. This year Friends Fiduciary engaged 55 companies on 20 areas of concern for Friends, including drug pricing, deforestation, and renewable energy.
Friends Fiduciary took on the leadership of 22 companies by leading the conversation and gathering other interested investors. Resolutions were filed with several electronics companies regarding ethical recruitment of migrant workers and prevention of forced labor in their supply chains. Following Friends Fiduciary’s engagement, Western Digital Corporation agreed to adopt a comprehensive, global human rights policy by the end of 2020.
Friends Fiduciary also led engagements on lobbying transparency and disclosure. It believes the Quaker value of integrity makes good long-term business sense, and companies can face damage to their reputations and bottom lines if their private lobbying doesn’t match their public statements. This year, patient persistence paid off with Comcast. The company agreed to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial nonprofit that writes and endorses model legislation at the state level, and cited Friend Fiduciary’s constructive, multi-year engagement as a factor in their decision.
Friends Fiduciary published its first semiannual shareholder engagement newsletter in June, which shares about work done on behalf of its constituents—and all Quakers—on Wall Street.
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Ben Lomond Quaker Center
In mid-August Susan Wilson and Bob Fisher began as the directors of Ben Lomond Quaker Center in Ben Lomond, Calif. Coming from Plainfield (Vt.) Meeting, they will replace Kathy and Bob Runyan, who had served as directors of Quaker Center since 2011.
The Runyans overlapped their service with Wilson and Fisher during the latter part of August, and the transition went relatively smoothly. They have returned to Chico (Calif.) Meeting and plan to remain active in the Quaker community.
Wilson and Fisher have rich, varied, and complementary skills and experiences. Wilson has a strong history of program development, and Fisher is knowledgeable about Quaker process and outreach. They also have a deep interest in early Quakers and a commitment to peace and social justice.
Quaker Center continues to offer annual passes to its programs for purchase by meetings and individuals as well as complimentary childcare while parents are in session during Quaker Center programs. Daily worship will continue onsite from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and those who are at a distance can join in worship online.
Friends Center received city agency approval for two new exterior signs. The signs were installed in June and have already increased the site’s visibility for passersby and visitors to the facility at Fifteenth and Cherry Streets in Center City Philadelphia, Pa.
Following Philadelphia’s designation as a World Heritage City, Global Philadelphia published a new Heritage Map spotlighting registered historic landmarks in the city, including the Race Street Meetinghouse on site.
In June, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania became Friends Center’s fortieth office tenant. Their mission is to ensure all Pennsylvanians have access to safe, decent, affordable homes.
Notable recent events included the national convening of Common Field, a national network of independent visual arts organizations and organizers; the Energy Co-op’s annual meeting; a presentation on lessons learned from the Living Building Challlenge’s Affordable Housing Demonstration Project; and the graduations for Friends Select School, Delaware Valley Friends School, and a local charter school.
Friends Center was also the final destination of the sixteenth annual Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation. The walk concluded in the meetinghouse with Quaker expectant waiting worship, Sikh prayers sung to music, and a Muslim call to prayer, followed by a communal meal. Participants came together peacefully across faith traditions as an act of witness in these times.
This summer Pendle Hill said a fond farewell to departing executive director Jen Karsten and welcomed Traci Hjelt Sullivan as interim executive director.
In March, Pendle Hill hosted programs on couples enrichment, mindfulness, and Joanna Macy’s the Work That Reconnects. In April, Diane Randall of Friends Council on National Legislation delivered the Cary Memorial Lecture on vital Quaker witness today. May brought the close of the year-long Journey Toward Wholeness program, a course on John’s Gospel, the hybrid program Radical Faithfulness in Action, and 82 participants in the Quaker Wisdom School. July saw the yearly Kairos retreat and a program on the spiritual practice of letting go. In August, Pendle Hill hosted programs on altered book-making and “The Challenge of Paul.”
Pendle Hill sponsored the Quaker Institute on Deepening Our Quaker Practice; and the young adult Friends conference, Continuing Revolution: Experimenting Beyond Capitalism.
Three new pamphlets were published: On the Spirituality of Lightheartedness, A Natural Unfolding, and Building Bridges: Four Stories from the Bible.
Pendle Hill welcomed artist-in-residence Anna McCormally, Friend-in-residence Anne Nash, and Cadbury scholar Hal Weaver. Pendle Hill hosted three art exhibits featuring work by Asake Denise Foye Jones, Bronwen Mayer Henry, and Diane Gordon; and offered First Monday Lectures, the Poetry Coffeehouse, and one-day arts and spirituality workshops.
Elsie K. Powell House has a new tagline: “Grow, Stretch, Connect in our simple, authentic setting,” and a new database.
Powell House’s youth directors, Chris DeRoller and Mike Clark, gave notice that they will be leaving after 20 years next summer.
Powell House recently hosted many groups and facilitators, including Wild Edibles with Jo Clayson, Pastoral Ministry in New England Yearly Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting, the Downtown Meditation group, New York State Dispute Resolution Association, EarthSong youth retreat, Nonviolent Communication with Dian Killian, Yad B’Yad Israel trip participants, a fifth–seventh grade camping retreat, the Alliance of Families for Justice, and Quaker Religious Education Collaborative.
The strategic planning process continues with a new job description for Powell House Committee members, the setting of activity benchmarks, capital campaign preparation, and work with a marketing consultant.
Silver Wattle Quaker Centre
Silver Wattle Quaker Centre in Bungendore, New South Wales, has established itself as a place of spiritual renewal and learning in Australia. International Friends also visit as Friends-in-residence and to attend courses.
Courses offered this year aimed to nurture elders and deepen Friends’ understandings of being Quaker. Other faith traditions were also explored—Asian faiths, Celtic spirituality, and Aboriginal spiritual ceremony—and contemplative retreats were held. The 2020 program aims to edify the Australian Quaker community with courses for young adults, families, and meeting clerks, as well as contemplative writing, healing grief, and responding to climate crisis. An annual Indigenous spirituality course and end-of-year retreat also occur.
The Silver Wattle landscape is shared with birds, wombats, kangaroos, and Aussie snakes. Work is being done to eradicate weeds, plant trees, and restore biodiversity. A bountiful garden supplies much of the food eaten at Silver Wattle and is tended to by visiting gardeners.
A large network of Australian and international volunteers come as Friends-in-residence and help with gardening and property maintenance. The community that supports Silver Wattle is held together by love rather than proximity and sustained by an annual gathering and a weekly online meeting for worship. Visits from traveling Friends are welcome.
Woolman Hill Retreat Center
Woolman Hill had a busy summer hosting Quaker Spring, monthly meeting retreats, other faith and education groups, day camps focused on peace, and a variety of individual retreatants, as well as weddings and family reunions. Wildlife kept busy too, with sightings of porcupines, bears, coyotes, a wide array of birds, and a few mosquitoes and ticks.
Volunteer crews finished renovation work on the former home of Juanita and Wally Nelson, peace activists and war tax resisters who lived at Woolman Hill for over three decades. The space will be available for prayer, day-time individual or small group meditation, meetings and similar uses, and for those who wish to get a taste for how the Nelsons manifested their powerful witness in their day-to-day lives.
Janna Walters-Gidseg joined the staff as conference center coordinator in August. She participated in youth programs while growing up in New York Yearly Meeting, received her bachelor’s from Earlham College, and has extensive nonprofit experience.
Service and Peace Work
American Friends Service Committee
AFSC helped shut down the Homestead detention center in Homestead, Fla. The last migrant children in the center left at the beginning of August. AFSC led a campaign along with other social justice organizations in Florida and across the country to shut down the center and work to end the practice of detaining migrant children.
AFSC partnered with the Quaker Palestine Israel Network to invite meetings in the United States to work for the passage of the No Way to Treat a Child bill, HR 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” Meetings can help by hosting a film screening, writing editorials for local media, and lobbying Congress.
Last spring, AFSC’s Sanctuary Everywhere initiative, in collaboration with the Unitarian Universalist Love Resists campaign and partners Church World Service and Freedom for Immigrants, began offering a new self-study e-course called “Changing Systems, Changing Ourselves: Anti-racist Practice for Sanctuary, Accompaniment, and Resistance.” Over four webinar sessions, participants work together in small groups locally to learn skills of accompaniment to support migrants in their work for justice and changed policy. Past webinars are available on AFSC’s website; the next live version begins this fall.
Canadian Friends Service Committee
In April Canadian Friends Service Committee’s (CFSC) delegation to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York was accompanied by 15-year-old Haana Edenshaw, a youth from Haida Gwaii First Nation. Haana had attended a presentation by CFSC staff member Jennifer Preston, who was doing a speaking tour on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Northern British Columbia. Haana showed a particular interest in CFSC’s work at the United Nations and asked if there was any way for her to become involved. CFSC invited Haana to join its delegation and funded Haana’s trip by offering her a grant from CFSC’s Reconciliation Fund.
Haana was part of an incredibly busy week. She gave a speech, made an intervention, and spoke on a panel while at the United Nations. Given that 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, she made her speech in her Haida language. She also met with members of the Saami delegation, the Canadian delegation, and youth from Hawaii.
When asked about what it was like returning home after her visit to the UN she said, “I felt changed when I came back from New York. They also inspired me to become an Indigenous lawyer someday.”
Friends House Moscow
Through BEARR Trust, Friends House Moscow was able to launch the 2018 project, “My Route to an Occupation.” The project helps young people with disabilities seeking jobs in Dzerzhinsk, a city 245 miles east of Moscow.
Fifty-one participants aged 16–30 received help with social adaptation, psychological and emotional issues, and employment preparation. Participants’ diagnoses include autism, kidney pathology, сerebral palsy, epilepsy, schizophrenia, congenital malformations, and hearing and vision problems, including post-oncology consequences.
Psychologists from the Centre for Psychological, Pedagogical, Medical and Social Assistance provided individual and group sessions enabling participants to increase work motivation, reduce dependence feelings, and develop employment skills.
Examples include: An 18-year-old participant on the autism spectrum received tuition for better education, and his mother received help with her anxiety. Sand art lowered his emotional tension and negative feelings. He will do remote online work.
A 30-year-old participant with a hearing disability experienced a big breakthrough, and she plans to write a blog sharing books she has read that have helped her.
An 18-year-old participant born with clubfoot had lost interest in activities and contact with friends and had experienced fatigue, weakness, and outbursts of anger. She learned more acceptable ways to express negative feelings, hopes, and fears in group sessions. She resumed education with her peers and at one school social evening even joined in a musical performance.
Quaker House of Fayetteville, N.C., is a nonprofit peace and service organization established by Friends 50 years ago at the urging of a Fort Bragg soldier. Quaker House commemorated this landmark by hosting a luncheon on September 21 with special guests, including former directors and people who had been helped by Quaker House in the past. These guests traveled to Fayetteville from as far away as Washington State.
Quaker House has continued its work. Steve Woolford and Lenore Yarger, the organization’s two GI Rights counselors, answered an average of 260 unique calls per month to the hotline from service members stationed throughout the world. Joanna Nunez, the licensed clinical social worker at Quaker House, continued once-a-week counseling for veteran and active duty service members and their families for issues arising from domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury, often staying late into the evening to ensure all individuals were seen.
On April 24 and 25, executive director Kindra Bradley attended the hearings in Washington, D.C., held by the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service on updating the Selective Service System. She gave public comment on the need to believe conscientious objectors and the likely relationship between the high military suicide rate and moral injury.
Youth Service Opportunities Project
Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) observed a strong Quaker presence among the groups and schools that served homeless and hungry people in New York City and Washington, D.C., this spring and summer.
In March, a group from George School in Newtown, Pa., spent two dedicated weeks of service learning with YSOP in Washington, D.C. Students served at local soup kitchens and food pantries and attended YSOP Service Dinner Parties with homeless and hungry neighbors. Students from Friends Academy in Locust Valley, N.Y., completed the fourth of the school’s annual four YSOP Overnight Workcamps in New York City; Poplar Ridge (N.Y.) Meeting brought a small and spirited contingent for its annual YSOP Overnight Workcamp; and Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I., completed a service program with YSOP NYC for the first time.
YSOP welcomes groups from all different backgrounds and faith communities to serve people in need but felt particularly enriched by having so many Quaker groups in the past few months. YSOP’s commitment to serving people in need is grounded in guiding students to build bridges between communities by providing service to homeless and hungry people, putting a human face on the social problems of homelessness and hunger, and affirming the intrinsic value of every person.