Quaker Works October 2020

This semiannual feature highlights the recent works of Quaker organizations* in the following categories:

*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.


Advocacy

  • Quaker United Nations Office

    quno.org

    As United Nations (UN) representatives of the global Quaker community, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) uses quiet diplomacy as a central working method for engaging the UN system, including bringing people together in off-the-record gatherings that allow for open sharing of perspectives and experiences.

    QUNO programming has historically taken place through in-person dialogues at Quaker House in New York City, but the COVID-19 pandemic has required the organization to consider how to cultivate these spaces virtually. It also created opportunities for including more perspectives from outside of the UN environment into the work.

    Since 2016, QUNO has co-facilitated the Civil Society–UN Prevention Platform, supporting the violent conflict prevention agenda by strengthening coordination and information sharing amongst civil society and UN actors. QUNO’s approach to the platform’s work seeks to create trust-based spaces for participants. In February through August, QUNO cohosted the platform’s discussion series, “UN Prevention Across Sectors and Institutions: Pathways for Effective Prevention,” bringing together member states, civil society, and UN experts to reflect on existing practices and remaining challenges for prevention. All six discussion events took place online. The series explored how to strengthen civil society: UN partnerships that focus on the contributions of grassroots actors, including young people, women, and community leaders. Participants also looked at strategies to address longer-term structural causes of violence such as inequalities and social grievances.

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Consultation, Support, and Resources

  • Friends Couple Enrichment

    friendscoupleenrichment.org

    In mid-January in Chicago, Ill., Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) held its annual in-person meeting for leaders. The group worked on planning for the facilitation of upcoming couples’ workshops in various communities, including at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa., and at the Friends General Conference (FGC) summer Gathering to be held in Radford, Va. (it was later announced to be an online-only event). The group also created a new training for prospective leader couples, much of which is online and self-directed to allow for greater flexibility.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in North America in March, several in-person couples’ events were canceled. The FGC Gathering workshop became shortened and virtual, with some of the participants meeting with the leader couple online multiple times after the Gathering.

    FCE has continued using video conferencing to strengthen the leader couple community and the wider community. One leader couple has introduced a monthly drop-in dialogue session open to all past participants of FCE events. FCE continues to view couple dialogue as “a transformative practice that makes love more visible.”

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  • Friends General Conference

    fgcquaker.org

    The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how Friends General Conference (FGC) is serving individual Friends, spiritual seekers, and Quaker communities throughout North America.

    In April, FGC began holding Saturday evening worship virtually and expanded web-based opportunities for Friends of Color (including Wednesday afternoon worship and a biweekly Friday open house). In response to growing demand for more virtual events, FGC plans to continue offering virtual worship opportunities for the foreseeable future, and to host more Spiritual Deepening offerings this fall.

    The pandemic also prompted a transformation of the FGC Gathering from an in-person event to a virtual conference. Over 1,000 Friends from North America and around the world participated in virtual workshops, afternoon activities, evening plenaries (including presentations from Amanda Kemp, music group City Love, and Valarie Kaur), and Carl Magruder’s Bible Half Hour. Videos of available plenary recordings and the Bible Half Hour are on the website.

    In July, staff member Ruth Reber retired from FGC. Reber became conference coordinator of the Gathering in 2015, though she previously served as the Gathering assistant for two years beginning in 2000 and was a volunteer for many years. During her tenure, the Gathering deepened its commitment to creating an actively antiracist community of Friends. Her calm, approachable demeanor made her a beloved colleague. She is succeeded by Lori Sinitzky, who has worked with Reber since March.

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  • Friends World Committee for Consultation (Europe and Middle East Section)

    fwccemes.org

    In May, FWCC Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) held its annual meeting. Originally scheduled for Paris, France, the meeting was moved entirely online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Seventy people participated in the meetings for worship for business. Clerks worked together from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Britain. The main speakers and facilitators all concentrated on issues related to sustainability and climate change. Lindsey Fielder Cook, from Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, reminded participants that they can be compassionate and courageous while living sustainably. Maud Grainger, from Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, led a guided meditation and invited participants to create art for the Living Earth Project. Faith Biddle, from FWCC World Office, presented ongoing work on sustainability and highlighted a new worldwide network of young Friends working together on climate change, peace, and justice.

    EMES created a resource document that provides guidance for clerks on holding online meetings for worship for business, and participated in a panel discussion hosted by FWCC Section of the Americas about clerking business sessions online.

    EMES is experienced in connecting with and supporting Friends and meetings geographically isolated across the section. During the coronavirus period EMES has used its Digital Equality Fund to support Quakers in the section to overcome technological isolation.

    Fond farewells were said to Marisa Johnson, former executive secretary; and Julia Ryberg, former ministry and outreach coordinator.

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  • Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)

    fwcc.world

    FWCC staff have not been traveling since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have been virtually zipping around the world, meeting and connecting via online tools with the aim to bring ”Friends of varying traditions and cultural experiences together in worship, communications, and consultation, to express our common heritage and our Quaker message to the world” (from FWCC’s mission statement).

    FWCC has begun an online webinar series called “Quaker Conversations,” working in partnership with FWCC sections and organizations such as Quaker United Nations Office.

    Through a semi-programmed online global worship on August 15, FWCC marked 100 years since the first All Friends’ Gathering was held to collectively and publicly oppose all war.

    FWCC continues to produce educational short videos, use social media channels, and share newsletters to connect with Friends, and help connect Friends around the world. These can all be found on the FWCC website.

    The Sustainability Program has continued to grow. At the first online sustainability conference in February, FWCC heard the call for Friends to support young Friends in their climate action work. The program launched a 10-week series of five online workshops to build a network of young Quakers around the world who are interested in climate action, peace, and justice.

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  • Quakers Uniting in Publications

    quakerquip.com

    Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) publishers, authors, and booksellers want their works (print, media, art) shared with a wider audience.

    The 2020 annual conference business session and title sharing were held on April 25 via Zoom. Plenary speaker talks presented on May 9 and 23 and June 6 are available on the website. Marcelle Martin spoke on “From My Heart to Yours: Sharing a Faith that Heals,” Tom Hamm on “Quaker Publishing: An Historical Overview,” and Ashley Wilcox shared “Being a Quaker for Others.” This different format and schedule had good attendance and participation, suggesting Quaker voices are still important; the ministry of the written word connects us in troubled times.

    A common concern of QUIP Quakers is the ministry of Quaker publication in areas of poverty and few resources. In 1999 QUIP minuted dedicating part of the annual dues toward assisting those from underserved countries to attend QUIP meetings, work with QUIP members, or financially assist publishing ventures. These funds helped publish Jack Wilcutt’s Why Friends Are Friends in Spanish and a revised Lighting Candles in the Dark in Russian; provide travel costs of contributors for Spirit Rising; and for Emma Condori’s time in translating and collecting religious education materials into Spanish and now online. These small Tacey Sowle grants provide seed money and encouragement. An application form is on the QUIP homepage.

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Development

  • Friendly Water for the World

    friendlywater.org

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendly Water for the World initiated a series of “Friendly Chats” on Friday afternoons to keep friends, supporters, and partners around the world connected to each other. Participants came from throughout the world, from New Zealand to Tanzania to Wales.

    The one-hour chats have covered low-cost, appropriate technologies that are part of the organization’s platform: BioSand water filters, rainwater catchment/ferro-cement tanks, interlocking soil stabilized bricks, permagardens, and rocket stoves. Other chats included the deployment of these technologies in programs and projects in Asia and Africa. Still others highlighted community engagement efforts, the causes and impacts of waterborne illnesses, and the history of Friendly Water’s efforts. There have also been COVID-19 check-ins with communities far and wide. The chats, which are open to everyone, will continue to be held on the last Friday of the month at 12 noon, Pacific Time.

    Clean water and soap are critical in the fight against COVID-19, and many communities around the world lack access to one or both. Friendly Water has been training communities to manufacture their own liquid soap alongside BioSand filters, and to distribute it to orphanages and schools.

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  • Quaker Bolivia Link

    qbl.org

    Bolivia has been hit hard by COVID-19: over 33,000 confirmed cases and over 1,100 deaths. Clean water for sanitation and disease prevention has become even more vital in the Aymara villages Quaker Bolivia Link (QBL) serves.In addition to the village work in progress, QBL has just received a Rotary Global grant to provide access to clean water for two more Aymara villages in the Coro Coro region: Phina Litoral and Quinoani. The new grant also provides funding for education, healthcare, and sanitation with an emphasis on COVID-19 precautions.

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  • Quaker Service Australia

    qsa.org.au

    Cambodia is fortunate with few COVID-19 cases and no deaths to date. However, with borders closed and major industries halted (including garment manufacturing and tourism), economic and social impacts in this poor country have been severe. Quaker Service Australia (QSA) supports four local partners to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in poor agricultural communities, providing training in permaculture techniques to improve nutrition and build livelihoods.

    Cambodian partners acted quickly to deal with immediate demands caused by the epidemic, providing education and materials, particularly in isolated areas without access to information provided by authorities. Staff traveled by motorbike to isolated villages, using megaphones to spread hygiene messages. In small groups and open areas they demonstrated hand washing techniques, and distributed masks, soap, and hand sanitizer.

    Families whose food security was already precarious were severely impacted by job losses, market and border closures, and returning economic migrants. Some partners distributed emergency food, but the focus was on helping people become more food self-sufficient with seeds, seedlings, and implements to help establish home food gardens. One partner produced videos on several topics, including hand washing, promoted via Facebook. Another video aims to motivate children to continue studying and maintain attachment during school closures. QSA is now working with partners to address ongoing social issues, including the risk of increased domestic violence, child abuse, and undocumented migration.

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  • Right Sharing of World Resources

    rswr.org

    Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR), while continuing to provide business grants to women’s groups during the global economic downturn, has pivoted to respond to the changing needs caused by the pandemic. When lockdowns were instituted in partner countries, field representatives partnered with the board and donors to send emergency food aid to more than 2,500 women. Additionally, masks and sanitary supplies were sent to remote villages in response to local needs.

    In October 2019, RSWR celebrated a historic moment with its first Field Representative Consultation. Field representatives from India, Kenya, and Sierra Leone were able to attend a board meeting and meet with the board and staff in Indianapolis, Ind. They also visited several monthly meetings and individual Friends on both American coasts and in the Midwest. The consultation provided a valuable opportunity for field representatives to share best practices, challenges, and successes from each of their distinct countries, and to envision the future of RSWR programs.

    This year RSWR is visiting Friends virtually. General secretary Jacqueline Stillwell is offering a “Power of Enough” workshop, as well as sharing information about RSWR programs overseas.

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Education

  • Faith & Play Stories

    faithandplay.org

    Faith & Play Stories is an experiential storytelling resource for Quaker religious education programs and Friends schools. Faith & Play stories explore Quaker faith, practice, and witness using the Montessori-inspired Godly Play method of storytelling and building spiritual community. Faith & Play Stories Inc. develops stories for publication and offers training for Quaker meetings and churches and Friends schools interested in using Godly Play and Faith & Play.

    As Quaker communities pivoted to online spaces in March, Faith & Play Stories shifted its work. While training workshops are not offered online, 90-minute introductions to Faith & Play and Godly Play are opportunities to learn more and experience stories in community. Interest groups and introductory workshops were organized for Friends in three yearly meetings, at the FGC Gathering, and for Friends school faculty. Online sessions for support and consultation were offered to participants in training workshops scheduled for the spring and summer.

    Faith & Play stories are being shared where Friends gather online, both for worship and in programs for young people. Faith & Play and Godly Play stories were told at the FGC virtual Junior Gathering and during an all-ages worship session at Australia Yearly Meeting. In addition to sharing stories live using Zoom, the creation of the Faith & Play Stories YouTube channel has expanded the possibilities for sharing stories with families and children at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • Friends Council on Education

    friendscouncil.org

    As the pandemic dramatically impacts education, Friends Council amplified its professional development for educators, keeping focus on Quaker principles and practices. Thirty gatherings were held this spring, more offerings than Friends Council usually has in an entire year. Through virtual programs, educators explored teaching students remotely in ways that remain true to Quaker pedagogy and testimonies. For example, Quaker and religious life educators shared tips for holding virtual meeting for worship, and lower school teachers discussed how to incorporate Quakerism into distance learning.

    One of Friends Council’s functions is connectivity, and the shift to online has opened new opportunities. Virtual meeting for worship is offered each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. EST for those affiliated with Quaker education to connect and reflect. The first-ever virtual Friends Council annual meeting brought together friends of Friends education from across the country.

    Friends Council also continued to offer counsel to heads of schools and trustees. Through the pandemic and calls for racial justice, Friends Council convened Friends school heads weekly for virtual conversations about how to lead with integrity and stay true to Quaker principles and practice.

    As part of its own commitment to racial justice work, FCE is offering diversity, equity, and inclusion forums and community conversations on race on a regular basis.

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  • The School of the Spirit Ministry

    schoolofthespirit.org

    The School of the Spirit offers weekend-length contemplative retreats that include guidance from experienced leaders and extended periods of time together in silence. In recent years, retreats have been held in New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and the program has been expanding to Michigan and Virginia.

    A November 2019 retreat took place at the Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian, Mich.; in January, Friends gathered for the annual Powell House retreat in New York; and a February retreat was held at Holy Cross Abbey outside Berryville, Va.

    Because of COVID-19, 2020’s contemplative retreats have been postponed. School of the Spirit began offering one-day e-retreats via Zoom. Similar to in-person retreats, they include time for individual silent practices and periods of worship sharing. A Friend observed that “virtual” is not an accurate word since they have found they bring real connection—with Spirit and with other retreatants. A weekly midday Monday meeting for worship is also offered via Zoom.

    The eleventh class of On Being a Spiritual Nurturer was able to gather for its final residency in November, “opening to the work of the inner teacher and to hearing God’s invitation to co-creation.” The course Participating in God’s Power, led by Christopher Sammond and Angela York Crane, has continued through Zoom, and will continue to identify and work with blocks to full obedience to God’s call.

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Environmental and Ecojustice

  • Earth Quaker Action Team

    eqat.org

    Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) continues to “nonviolently confront the people who benefit from the current energy system, boldly challenging them to turn away from fossil fuels.”

    The current campaign urges the utility PECO in the Delaware Valley to catch up to neighboring states in its generation of solar beyond the current less than 0.5 percent. EQAT has shown up at the utility’s offices, at shareholder meetings—and now, even as the pandemic has shifted some of its ability for direct action, EQAT continues to find ways to demonstrate concerns and push for a just future and local solar.

    Five years ago it was known that 20 percent local solar by 2025 was possible, as long as PECO did the work. This year as PECO rolled out its action plan for providing electricity for the next few years, EQAT joined others to protest at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that the plan does not measure up.

    EQAT is also lifting up the need to support ratepayers in need, making sure that ratepayers don’t leave the pandemic with utility bill debt. In keeping with its belief that investment priorities should focus on caring for the earth and those in need, EQAT continues to push PECO to shift its investment from fossil to green.

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  • Quaker Earthcare Witness

    quakerearthcare.org

    Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) works to connect Friends who are taking Spirit-led action on earthcare in North America and to inspire a Quaker response to the compounding crises of our times. QEW shares stories of Friends in action through print and online publications, like its quarterly newsletter BeFriending Creation, and it sponsors workshops and presentations in Quaker communities.

    QEW has responded to the global pandemic and the racial justice uprising by asking big questions about its role in creating a more just world, the possibility of rapid change during a crisis, how it can better partner with the environmental justice movement and with frontline communities, and its role in institutionalized racism as a Friends organization.

    In April, QEW hosted a successful online Steering Committee meeting of more than 60 Friends from across the United States and Canada. It also hosted a series of monthly online worship sharing opportunities in partnership with Friends General Conference.

    This summer and fall, eight members of QEW are virtually visiting meetings around the United States to offer workshops on a range of topics: COVID-19 and climate change; regenerative agriculture; water; climate justice; the Work That Reconnects; the financial and economic roots of the climate emergency; and more. Workshop and presentation descriptions are available on the website.

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  • Quaker Institute for the Future

    quakerinstitute.org

    Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) held its Summer Research Seminar via Zoom from August 3–7 with 28 participants. The seminar functions on three levels: (1) the presentation of research, (2) collective discernment and feedback through worship sharing (Quaker dialogue), and (3) open discussion. Research reports included: regenerative agriculture; ecological vulnerability in the Gambia; monoculture and ecological law; the monetary system and social crisis; the threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence; a visual tour of quarantine, riots, and monuments. Themed discussion sessions were also held on communities of security, Black Lives Matter, seeking truth amid falsity, and the post-COVID-19 future.

    Holding the seminar via Zoom was prompted by the pandemic, but QIF had already been experimenting with a virtual mode of networking. Seminar participants agreed the week was a success and points to a potential expansion of QIF programming. The Zoom format doubled the number of participants and allowed people to attend who could not otherwise have made the trip in person.

    Three QIF Focus Books are in process, all of which were represented in research presentations: regenerative agriculture, ecological law, and artificial intelligence. QIF Focus Books are designed to present the key aspects of the ecological, economic, and social realities of our time and analyze how they are affecting the future.

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Investment Management

  • Friends Fiduciary Corporation

    friendsfiduciary.org

    As the COVID-19 pandemic and deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others at the hands of police have laid bare the inequality and racism endemic to U.S. society and the economy, Friends Fiduciary has been working across its operations for a more just, equitable, and inclusive world.

    Friends Fiduciary joined other investors in asking companies to provide paid leave, maintain employment, and prioritize health and safety in the pandemic. It asked pharmaceutical companies to think carefully about how their actions will affect vulnerable communities, particularly when pricing products. And it continued working for racial justice, using its leverage to catalyze changes in corporate policies and practices that have particularly impacted people of color, including urging banks to sever ties with the private prison industry and voting against all directors of company boards without a woman and a person of color.

    Giving from established donor-advised funds at Friends Fiduciary has increased dramatically. Over the past several months, Friends Fiduciary has worked with donors to get funds to nonprofits addressing food insecurity, homelessness, and racial justice.

    After careful consideration of long-term sustainability, shareholder value, and care for creation, Friends Fiduciary recently announced that it is eliminating all fossil fuel stocks across its funds. More information about this decision, shareholder engagement work, and the planned giving program is available at the website.

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Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers

  • Powell House

    powellhouse.org

    On March 12, Elsie K. Powell House was closed to any in-person visits due to COVID-19 precautions. Since then, it has re-oriented its programming toward providing pay-as-led, mainly two-hour virtual workshops on Saturdays. Thus far Powell House has offered over 25 workshops that have attracted approximately 250 individuals from all over the world. The youth program has also focused on virtual events for the past six months, as well as welcomed new youth directors: Sarah and Martin Glazer.

    The management of the house’s closure has been well supported by the governance of the Powell House Committee. Staff have been paid throughout the closure. Most have returned to onsite work utilizing social distancing protocols. Additionally, plans for a capital campaign have gone forward, focusing on updating and renovating outdated electric, heating, and water systems, as well as creating endowment resources for future programming that is based on the strategic plan. The financial contributions of constituents and other supporters have been integral for enabling Powell House to survive throughout this pandemic.

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  • Beacon Hill Friends House

    bhfh.org

    Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) is an independent Quaker nonprofit organization and a 20-person residential community (of Friends and others) in a large historic house in downtown Boston, Mass. The Friends house works to provide opportunities for personal growth, spiritual deepening, and collective action—drawing inspiration and guidance from the values, principles, and practices of the Religious Society of Friends.

    The center of BHFH’s work (since 1957) continues to be its residency program where people can live for up to four years in intentional community centered around Quaker values.

    Additionally, over the past couple of years, the BHFH staff, Board of Managers, committees, and residents have been expanding BHFH’s public program offerings to nurture and support individual reflection and collective action—for Friends and others beyond the current residents. 

    “How do we share the Light of Quakerism even during this time?” This is one question Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) has been sitting with throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has spurred BHFH into moving programs online and developing new programming. The Friends house’s newest online event series is “Midweek: Experiments in Faithfulness”—a free, weekly, facilitated spiritual practice with “a Quaker flavor and an experimental ethos.” Each Wednesday evening a guest facilitator engages attendees in a spiritual practice. Short recordings of these practices are available on the BHFH website.

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  • Friends Center

    friendscentercorp.org

    Since mid-March, Friends Center has operated with reduced hours and staffing as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The equity partner and tenant organizations with offices on site have largely been working from home during that time. Building operations continued as an essential service, stewarding the property and receiving mail and shipments for tenants.

    In July the Friends Child Care Center on site was able to reopen when Philadelphia moved to the “yellow” phase of Pennsyvlvania’s reopening plan, and thus to provide this much-needed service to parents.

    Also in July, in the wake of the protests following George Floyd’s murder which included a period when the National Guard was deployed just two blocks away at City Hall, Friends Center placed two official “Black Lives Matter” banners on its east and north exterior fences. Unfortunately, one was removed within a day or two of being mounted. In response, a replacement was purchased and placed in Friends Center’s display window on North Fifteenth Street, where it remains.

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  • Friends Wilderness Center

    friendswilderness.org

    Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) shares stewardship of the 1,400-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use.” Since 1974 FWC has served as “a place of peace and tranquility” in troubled times of war, systemic racism, environmental crisis, and now a global pandemic.

    The China Folk House Retreat (CFHR) partnership offers an inspiring example of collaboration. Volunteers from the Sidwell Friends School community in Washington, D.C., saved the traditional Tibetan farmhouse from inundation by a dam and formed a nonprofit to rebuild it at FWC. In 2019, student volunteers joined local builders to raise the house’s timber frame, and this summer built its enclosing walls. CFHR now links FWC to a culturally and spiritually diverse, agrarian, riverside community half-way around the world.

    Rebuilding demands flexibility and perseverance. When the original rammed-earth walls didn’t meet local building codes, hempcrete provided an innovative, environmentally sustainable alternative. And, when the pandemic jeopardized plans for experiential learning this summer, teens opted to voluntarily isolate for 14 days before joining quarantined work crews who built the largest hempcrete wall in North America. The project is infused with their energy, enthusiasm, and spirit. More information about CFHR is available at chinafolkhouse.org.

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  • Woodbrooke

    woodbrooke.org.uk

    The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Woodbrooke, an international Quaker learning and research organization based in Britain, to provide more online offerings. Having offered online worship for some years, Woodbrooke suddenly found it was essential to many Friends who joined from all over the world and have shared how valued the virtual worship is. Online worship is offered 12 times a week at a variety of times of day.

    Online learning has increased from around 10 percent of the learning program to 100 percent, while keeping a similar number of courses available. Woodbrooke reports learning a lot in this process and staying open as it experimented with different formats to be as relevant and accessible as possible.

    The annual Swarthmore Lecture, usually held during Britain Yearly Meeting, was live streamed. Tom Shakespeare’s lecture “Openings to the Infinite Ocean: A Friendly Offering of Hope” was watched by over 1,000 people live and by many more afterward on the Woodbrooke YouTube channel.

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Service and Peace Work

  • American Friends Service Committee

    afsc.org

    In solidarity with the upswing of Black Lives Matter activism following the murder of George Floyd, AFSC has responded locally in Minneapolis, Minn., and across the country to support the call to defund the police and promote healing justice. Quakers and community members from around the world have joined AFSC’s call. Resources for starting and extending the conversation in local Quaker communities are available at the website.

    In addition, responding to the request of Black program staff in Minneapolis to invite White people of faith deeper into the work of racial justice, AFSC and volunteers have hosted a four-session e-course, “Radical Acting in Faith for White People,” which has engaged more than 500 people in learning about antiracist practices. Most of the participants are Friends. Recordings and resources from the e-course can be accessed on AFSC’s website along with a self-study version of the course.

    AFSC has supported communities globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. AFSC staff and partnerships have helped Georgians keep their homes; connect organic farmers and empty food banks in New Mexico; deliver hygienic supplies in Gaza, Zimbabwe, and Guatemala; and monitor and resist governments worldwide who are using the pandemic to restrict civic space.

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  • Canadian Friends Service Committee

    quakerservice.ca

    Canadian Friends Service Committee’s (CFSC) work has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, for the first time in two decades CFSC wasn’t at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was scheduled for April—because it was canceled. Although the CFSC office is closed, staff are able to do most of the same work virtually, and in some cases moving to Zoom has even allowed for a broader geographic diversity of participants.

    Staff have started offering a free six-week-long peace skills workshop series allowing group members to learn from each other using several chapters of CFSC’s award-winning 2019 book Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division as a basis for conversation. There are also facilitated group activities and one-on-one discussions in breakout rooms. The series is scheduled based on each group’s availability; registration information is available on the website.

    In response to the killing of unarmed Black and Indigenous people in the United States and Canada, CFSC created another free series of workshops that help participants study and learn about systemic racism, particularly as it relates to the criminal justice system. This series started in September and includes a number of external experts helping to advise and shape the discussions.

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  • Friends House Moscow

    friendshousemoscow.org

    The COVID-19 pandemic has driven Friends House Moscow, and the Russian projects it supports, to find new ways to cope with an unprecedented situation.

    Stay-at-home measures were in force in Russia from March 25 to late June. Moscow Friends were therefore unable to meet in person, and instead began holding virtual meetings via Skype and Zoom. The “Meditation of Friends” group (modeled on Experiments with Light) did the same. For the first time, Friends living outside Moscow and in other countries were able to join for worship.

    Projects also moved online. This enabled the Integration Center for Refugee and Migrant Children to start providing lessons to the children on a one-to-one basis. The center has seen an influx of new volunteers to help with the children as many people now have more time. Another project, the English Club (which helps young people from orphanages or with difficulties to practice speaking English), designed new games that can be played online, with the aim of keeping young people engaged and occupied while confined to home.

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  • Friends Peace Teams

    friendspeaceteams.org

    Drawing on extensive Quaker experience, Friends Peace Teams (FPT) is a Spirit-led organization working around the world to develop long-term relationships with communities in conflict, building programs for justice and healing, and creating enduring cultures of peace.

    The African Great Lakes initiative hosted the Fifteenth International Training for Healing and Rebuilding Our Community (HROC) in February with participants from six east African countries. HROC began in 2003 responding to the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi.

    The Asia West Pacific initiative hosted a “Cultures of Peace” training in January for 46 participants from ten countries in six languages.

    The Peacebuilding en las Américas initiative provides tools in nonviolence and community building, partnering with Indigenous communities, women human rights defenders, men in prison, and youth at high-risk of gang recruitment in Latin America.

    FPT continues to offer workshops using Power of Goodness, a collection of short stories on peacemaking collected over the past 70 years, to help guide people on their own paths to service.

    The Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program offers presentations and workshops for faith communities, schools, colleges, and civic organizations in the United States to build relationships with native peoples based on truth, respect, justice, and shared humanity.

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  • Prisoner Visitation and Support

    prisonervisitation.org

    Cofounded by Quaker activist Fay Honey Knopp over 50 years ago, Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS) continues to provide a supportive presence to those in prison despite the challenge presented by the pandemic.

    Each month 400 PVS volunteers visit prisoners in over 100 federal and military prisons throughout the United States. With the onset of the pandemic, all prison visits were suspended indefinitely as of March. Prisoners are locked inside their cells for 23 hours a day as the virus spreads within many of the institutions. The Federal Bureau of Prisons, in recognition of years of PVS involvement, has granted PVS visitors special permission to correspond with prisoners during this period. Some of these prisoners are on death row at FCI Terre Haute and are scheduled to be executed. Prisoners are responding to their PVS visitors expressing deep appreciation for their letters, often the only contact they have with the outside world. Prisoners say that PVS is a lifeline for them, a connection that provides hope in a time of fear and desperation.

    During this interim period, PVS staff are using technology to keep in touch remotely with visitors, providing support and resources. Staff are also developing new training resources for visitors to prepare them for returning to face-to-face visits with prisoners who have experienced the effects of trauma resulting from months of isolation.

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  • Quaker House

    quakerhouse.org

    During this pandemic, Quaker House of Fayetteville, N.C., has been able to continue with its mission to work for peace and to support individuals who have been harmed by military service.

    One of its main programs is with the GI Rights Hotline—counselors who assist active-duty personnel who call in from across the world. Due to the nature of that work, it has always been mainly over the phone and Internet, which turned out to be critical. National Guard units were activated to help in COVID-19 hot spots, and then also with the upswing in energy surrounding race and policing following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. The nature of the calls and the quickly changing military policies prompted the network to increase the frequency of counselor collaboration calls from once a month to twice a month.

    Another major program at Quaker House is its free counseling program addressing issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, moral injury, and post-traumatic stress. A licensed clinical social worker is available for active-duty and veteran service members and their families. Quaker House’s therapist easily transitioned clients to a HIPAA-compliant teletherapy platform. Currently, North Carolina clients can choose to continue teletherapy or to come in person (with infection control precautions in place).

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  • Quaker Social Action

    quakersocialaction.uk.org

    British charities Quaker Social Action (QSA) and Quaker Homeless Action (QHA) are merging. QHA becomes part of QSA in autumn of this year.

    QHA brings to QSA a track record of innovative projects and services that provide fellowship, practical assistance to, and a voice for homeless and marginalized people in Britain. QSA is a long-established charity that provides distinctive social justice projects in Britain, including work on funeral poverty and financial well-being.

    The two organizations share core Quaker values, and over the last few years have been working closely together through project work and shared financial administration and office space. Coming together helps to ensure financial sustainability for QHA’s area of work, and strengthens QSA by adding resources and experience, enabling it to help more people. QSA is in the process of carrying out a thorough research and listening exercise in order to understand the changing landscape of homelessness in Britain, including the impacts of COVID-19, and to identify areas of unmet need and develop effective new services.

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  • Quaker Voluntary Service

    quakervoluntaryservice.org

    This year Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) has 35 young adults serving as Fellows in the five QVS cities. The Fellows are working at nonprofits, living in community together, and considering how their spirituality is integrally connected with community and justice. The QVS blog gives the most up-to-date news about the Fellows’ work and spiritual engagement.

    QVS alumni continue to be transformed by their year with QVS. A recent survey of alums found that 90 percent say they have been influenced by their experience of the Quaker way through QVS, and 46 percent currently attend a Friends meeting, church, or worship group.

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