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

    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.

    Learn More: Quakers United Nations Office

    Continue reading →


Consultation, Support, and Resources

  • Friends Couple Enrichment

    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.”

    friendscoupleenrichment.org

    Continue reading →

  • Friends General Conference

    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.

    fgcquaker.org

    Continue reading →

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

    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.

    fwccemes.org

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  • Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office)

    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.

    fwcc.world

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  • Quakers Uniting in Publications

    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.

    More: Quakers United in Publications

    Continue reading →


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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →


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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →


Environmental and Ecojustice

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →


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.

    Continue reading →


Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →


Service and Peace Work

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

  • 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.

    Continue reading →

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