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.
Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) believes young people are key to building peace because peacebuilding is a generational process that needs the inclusion of all to be sustainable. Historically, young people have been stereotyped as security risks, resulting in some governments overlooking youth’s contributions to peace, and instead targeting them as risks to law and order. Thanks to the work of youth activists the approach of policy makers is shifting.
Under the United Nation’s “Youth, Peace and Security” agenda, more opportunities for young peacebuilders are being created; however, challenges remain, and truly inclusive practices are not yet the norm. This shows the need for continued action and advocacy. To support this, QUNO launched work to strengthen youth inclusion so UN policies reflect young people’s priorities. QUNO initiated a series of listening exercises to hear directly from youth peacebuilders.
On May 31, QUNO hosted the first discussion, which engaged young people living in the United States. Participants shared experiences of building peace in their communities and discussed the obstacles they face participating in peace and development work. The conversation bolstered what has been seen in the policy space: young people want to build a peaceful and just world and are taking action even when access to formal political and peacebuilding processes does not exist.
Learn more: Quaker United Nations Office
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) selected 16 young adults as the 2022-2023 Advocacy Corps organizers. They will be advocating for the establishment of a truth and healing commission on Native American boarding schools.
The new organizers, who were trained in late August, represent 12 states. The organizers are: Jamie Canty, Aiyana Coard, China Copperstone, Julie Flores-Castillo, Dillon Grubb, Helina Kassa, Shyamaa Khan, Meril Mousoom, Kiran Nwakanma, Rachel Overstreet, Destini Amaris Perkins, Karime Rodriguez Ramirez, Anne Rants, Jessica Russell, Taylor Treviño, and Ky’Asia Washington Blanchard. As they advocate in their communities, the young organizers will be supported by FCNL staff and lobbyists.
Since the program started five years ago, more than 100 young adults have been trained as local organizers. They have advocated for such issues as environmental justice, ending police brutality, and immigration. The Advocacy Corps is a ten-month-long FCNL program where young adults between the ages of 19 and 30 get paid to organize their local community around federal legislation. The young organizers connect local activists and leaders with their local members of Congress to affect big, long-term change.
Learn more: Friends Committee on National Legislation
Consultation, Support, and Resources
The 2023 Friends’ Calendar, with the months and days numbered in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and consistent Quaker practice, will be available on October 15. An order form can be found on the website.
The Tract Association of Friends was founded in 1816 and has been publishing calendars since 1885.
Also available on the website is “Inner Peace and the Right Use of Media: Reflections on Thomas Shillitoe’s Advice,” an essay by Brian Drayton.
Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) began informally in 1983 among a group of Friends with a concern for the ministry of the written word. Consisting originally of Quaker publishers and booksellers, QUIP membership now includes authors, editors, publishers—creators of books, articles, and other media—from all over the world.
Over three days in May, nearly 50 Friends from Africa, Belgium, Canada, Russia, the UK, and the United States met online for the QUIP conference, “Celebrating Quaker Writing.” Panels and workshops covered topics including the place and purpose of book reviews, writing for children, book promotion, blogging, and manuscript editing. The virtual gathering also offered author readings from new work, QUIP business (including approval of funds to assist Quaker authors and publishers in countries less affluent than those in which most QUIP members live), and epilogues. All sessions were recorded and are available at QUIP’s website.
QUIP’s mid-year meeting is scheduled for October 22 and will include strategic planning for the future.
Learn more: Quakers Uniting in Publishing
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February, Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) has fundraised for Quaker work supporting refugees in eastern Europe; published church anti-war statements in English, Ukrainian, and Russian for use by the Christian anti-war movement; and joined with more than 140 others in cowriting an interfaith statement against nuclear arms, which was read at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria, in June.
The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has spoken in the name of FWCC at the UN, including calling for an end to the use of explosives in populated areas, for guns to be kept out of the hands of children, and for global investment in peacebuilding financed by an overall reduction in military spending.
There have also been more than 60 Quaker interventions during intergovernmental climate negotiations this year, helping ensure legally significant texts reflect important findings on the environment, climate justice, and human rights.
Dates have been set for the next World Plenary Meeting: August 5–13, 2024, in South Africa and online (FWCC’s first global hybrid event of this scale). Preceding this, celebrations are being planned in many countries for George Fox’s 400th birthday in July 2024.
World Quaker Day 2022 falls on October 2, and is supporting mass online intervisitation with Friends in other countries.
World Quaker Day this year takes place on Sunday, October 2, and Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) took a new approach by asking Quakers to take a personal step toward connecting Friends and crossing cultures by visiting another Quaker meeting or church. It’s easier now to take advantage of the growing number of hybrid options by either visiting in-person or online.
A team of Quaker pastors and leaders in Kenya offers Friends this Bible quote for World Quaker Day celebrations: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
“Becoming the Quakers the World Needs” is the theme for both World Quaker Day 2022 and the 2023 Section Meeting.
FWCC Section of the Americas is currently working on two projects to create interactive online tools. The map project will allow Friends to find a Quaker meeting or church anywhere in the world using a smartphone or computer. The Quaker Glossary project will translate Quaker words into many languages and be available to facilitate better communication among Friends via an app.
FWCC is the global fellowship association of the Religious Society of Friends. In the Americas, the Quaker community extends from the Arctic to the Andes, spanning a rich diversity of regional cultures, beliefs, and styles of worship.
Learn more: FWCC (Section of the Americas)
The Asia–Pacific region hosts about half the world’s population and a rich diversity of culture. The entire region faces challenges from climate disaster and biodiversity loss; superpower tensions fueled by arms traders, with militarized borders and nuclear overtones; overexploitation of resources; and the after-effects of sudden unemployment, loneliness, and jittery global supply chains due to COVID-19 and the Russo-Ukrainian War. Add urban–rural divide; pressure on human rights, especially for Indigenous groups; and the challenges of poverty and injustice, and there is much to motivate Friends.
In March, FWCC Asia–West Pacific Section (AWPS) brought together several Quaker agencies to discuss the challenges of the twenty-first century, including Quaker United Nations Office, Quaker Service Australia, Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand, Friends Peace Teams Asia–West Pacific (FPT AWP), and American Friends Service Committee.
Friends in Bohol, Philippines, cleaned up after Super Typhoon Odette (called Rai internationally), which made landfall in December 2021. Marj Angalot, assistant secretary of AWPS, and Kins Aparece, coordinator for FPT AWP, facilitated community workshops.
AWPS’s Climate Action Emerging Network meets every two months: in September, the focus was on disaster resiliency in a warming world, and in November, on the Third Pole.
Current fundraising goals include establishing programs to reach young people, supporting travel in ministry, and purchasing office equipment.
The Weekly Round enewsletter provides updates on AWPS work and webinar opportunities.
Friends Services Alliance (FSA) has added a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings to its educational offerings. Topics include unconscious bias, brave conversations, cultural dynamics, and shifting perspectives. A complete list is available at the FSA website.
Other fall and winter workshops include collaborative decision making, mindfulness for high performance, Quakerism basics, inclusive leadership, and delegation skills.
A Director of Nursing mentorship program was initiated in early summer. Participants from FSA’s aging services industry clientele can receive guidance as they acclimate to the responsibilities that come with this role, including upholding policies and federal and state regulations, staff coaching, and more.
FSA’s ninth annual Compliance and Risk Management Conference was held in-person in King of Prussia, Pa., in early October and focused on getting “Back to Basics.” The aging services sector is regularly faced with challenges related to our changing world. This sometimes means that the simple but critical basics can fall by the wayside, leaving organizations vulnerable to hazards and violations. Conference topics ranged from board oversight and cybersecurity to staffing and clinical issues.
Learn more: Friends Service Alliance
Friends General Conference (FGC) presented two separate events in July.
Virtual Gathering 2022, attended by 484 Friends, was held July 3–9 and carried the theme “. . . and follow me.” The event featured keynote addresses from Jackie Stillwell, whose topic was “A Journey of Resistance and Obedience”; Yolanda Webb, who spoke on the theme “. . . and follow me: On Being Human and Becoming Divine”; and Margaret Jacobs and Sa’ed Atshan, in a plenary conversation around the theme “Invoking Unsettling.” Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) sponsored a virtual dance party with DJ OHLA. Bible Half-Hour was facilitated by Leslie Manning of Durham (Maine) Meeting. Workshops were held throughout the week on various topics, including anti-racism, non-theism, writing, movement, and Quaker history.
During the same week, FGC also launched a smaller in-person event called YAY, a gathering for young adults, youth, and their families. This event, held July 6–10 on the campus of Radford University in Radford, Va., included intergenerational worship, recreation, workshops, and local excursions.
An in-person Gathering will return in July 2023 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore. The theme will be “Listen So That We May Live.”
Learn more: Friends General Conference
Friends Couple Enrichment (FCE) is a ministry to couples who wish to deepen intimacy and be beacons of love and intention in the world. Online and in-person workshops and retreats introduce the spiritual practice of “Couple Dialogue,” a practice grounded in the Quaker testimonies of equality, community, integrity, and peace-making. Events have supported hundreds of couples over 50-plus years and are open to any committed couple, regardless of marital states, gender identity, or religious affiliation.
FCE continues offering online events for busy schedules, such as free 90-minute introduction sessions (called “Tasters”), monthly drop-in dialogue opportunities, and multi-session retreats.
FCE has recreated its website to be mobile-friendly and more visible to online searches. It also received a Google Ads Grant for search-related advertisements.
FCE reaffirms an intention to be more present at Quaker centers, such as Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pa., and Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz County, Calif., and more available to bring workshops to yearly and monthly meetings as a tangible way for Quakers to support relationships under their care.
In May, FCE welcomed Rick and Carol Holmgren as a new leader couple. They are the first to complete the online, self-paced training program launched in 2020 for couples called to facilitate FCE events. Two more couples will complete the training this fall, bringing the current number of leader couples to 17.
Learn More: Friends Couple Enrichment
The Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts (FQA) nurtures and showcases the literary, visual, musical, and performing arts within the Religious Society of Friends and with other Quaker-friendly creatives, to promote individual and community expression, ministry, witness, and outreach. To these ends, FQA offers spiritual, practical, and financial support as way opens.
Recently, FQA’s new website was established. On the website, f/Friends can share their creative work on their profile, explore and post opportunities and events, and make connections with each other.
FQA’s quarterly journal, Types and Shadows, is available on both paper and the website. The spring 2022 issue celebrated FQA’s thirtieth anniversary with a special 16-page edition.
In July, FQA hosted art, music, photography, and writing events at the Friends General Conference Gathering, which was held virtually.
Lastly, many FQA members were featured in the September issue of Friends Journal, which focused on Quaker arts.
Right Sharing of World Resources (RWSR) offers microgrants to women’s groups in Sierra Leone; Kenya; and Tamil Nadu, India. The women’s groups offer training on small businesses before each woman receives a loan. As the women pay back their loans, with a low rate of interest, the money is kept by the group to loan out to other women.
Following discernment, RSWR has decided to expand into Guatemala as a new partner country. According to the World Bank, the level of poverty in Guatemala is great, at 59.3 percent. There is a strong Quaker presence in Guatemala with some 20,000 Friends. The three yearly meetings and the FWCC coordinator for Latin America (Karen Gregoria) are centered in Chiquimula. Local Quaker women are forming women’s groups and wanting to organize for social action much in the same way when RSWR began partnering with women in Kenya.
General Secretary Jackie Stillwell has been visiting with yearly meetings both in person and online. This summer she gave the plenary online at the Friends General Conference Gathering and attended Ireland Yearly Meeting in person. This fall she will lead “The Power of Enough” workshop online. This workshop asks: How is my use of time, energy, and things in right balance to free me to do God’s work and to contribute to right relationships in our world?
Learn more: Right Sharing of World Resources
Quaker Service Australia (QSA) works with the Department of Women’s Affairs in Pursat province, Cambodia, to enhance women’s economic and social empowerment and address the impact of climate change through permaculture agriculture. Training enables poor rural women to establish home fruit and vegetable gardens for year-round food security, and education increases awareness of human rights, equity and inclusiveness, and environmental and child protection.
QSA conducted an evaluation to see if the program had changed these women’s lives by assessing the following indicators: their economic power/independence, family health, involvement in family decision-making, community participation, and domestic violence incidents. The results revealed significant impacts. Evidence gathered in focus groups shows women feel more confident, have more skills, feel they are contributing, and feel more valued.
Quotes from project participants show the benefits of participation: “It changed as after this training, men started to take care of women and the household. Women are now more involved in decision-making and are braver in terms of their rights.” “I am satisfied with life now as people in my family have the same equal rights, so they all get on better now—expect life to be better and better in the future.”
Learn more: Quaker Service Australia
Progresa’s mission is to provide access to in-country educational and community development opportunities in order to bring choice into the lives of poor Guatemalans and enable them to participate in their country’s growth and development. Although Guatemala has the highest GDP in Central America, it also has the highest rate of poverty in Central America.
This year, Progresa is providing scholarships to 90 university students, 76 of whom speak one of Guatemala’s 22 indigenous Mayan languages. There is one secondary student as well. This year, 67 recipients are women. Mayan-language-speaking students graduate in careers such as law, medicine, nursing, engineering, agronomy, and education, and work in their respective communities. They empower not only themselves and their families, but the community and the country as well.
Over the 49 years Progresa has been active, many networks of cooperation and access to opportunity have formed. Progresa encourages the students by providing emotional, social, and material support. The community service portion of the scholarships helps each student build an impressive resume. Progresa students have many leadership opportunities in which they share their expertise with the Progresa community and in their communities at large. Scholarship recipients are able to build a future for themselves and their families within their communities, and avoid the dangers of emigration.
Friendly Water for the World has identified the seven most sought-after essential resources missing in struggling and impoverished African communities: large volume water security, clean water access, improved sanitation, water conserving gardening, hygiene products, safer cooking, and better building materials.
In response to these challenges, Friendly Water provides a 25,000-liter built-on-site rainwater catchment tank; renewable and affordable water filtration systems; composting latrines; permagardens; liquid soap; resource-conserving rocket stoves; and interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSB), a revolutionary product that can be used in place of a fired brick or concrete block (in fact, the rainwater catchment tank and composting latrine are built with ISSB bricks).
All these environmentally friendly technologies are taught by local staff and produced by members of the partner community. This partnership works because everyone has a role and the opportunity to work and make a living. The program is rigorous, lasts a minimum of five years, and is only initiated after a months-long process of community engagement where a series of open meetings are held with the village(s). Consensus is then reached on what can be done, plus how and when it will be done.
This year Friendly Water is on target to complete 1,000,000 liters of water storage in rural communities in Africa.
Learn more: Friendly Water for the World
The Faithful Meetings program provides Quaker meetings, churches, and worship groups with opportunities to explore the question of what it means to be a community of Friends today.
Over the course of nine months, through in-person and online engagements, Friends will be given openings to examine many aspects of Quaker faith and practices together. Through worship, worship sharing, activities, and discussions, Friends will ponder their spiritual experiences, struggles, and beliefs with one another. Each meeting community will be invited to co-create a space where spiritual and emotional intimacy can thrive, where differences are welcome as a broader spectrum of Light, and where unity is experienced not as conformity but as a communal connection with the “more.” It is in this space that Friends may learn to trust themselves, trust one another, and most importantly, trust the Divine to know and guide them.
Learn more: The School of the Spirit Ministry
The Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) celebrates 17 years as an educational nonprofit sharing information on the history, policy, and practice of U.S. torture.
A website offers background resources, and a Facebook page shares news of the past, present, and future on this very difficult topic. Torture continues to be one of the most reviled political and social issues, capturing very little public interest. According to the New York Times, the prison at Guantánamo Bay costs an estimated $13 million a year per prisoner—over $500 million a year total. QUIT will continue to post news from worldwide sources to keep Friends informed and aware of the worst humans do to one another.
In April, Friends Council on Education’s ninetieth anniversary celebration brought those in Friends education together for conversation and connection at Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia, Pa. A tribute to Friends Council’s founders, Morris E. and Hadassah M. Leeds, preceded the graduation of the ninth cohort of the Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools.
Friends Council continues to work toward racial and social justice. Going into its fifth year, Community Conversations on Race brings together people to share tools to combat racism in their communities. The new heads of color affinity group meets monthly. In August, the Educators New to Quakerism workshop at Friends School of Atlanta in Georgia incorporated equity and justice—a newly added pillar to Principles of Good Practice in Friends Schools.
Peer Networks bring educators working in different Friends schools together. In the spring, learning specialists explored using the context of Quaker school missions to frame their work, including using the testimonies of equity and equality in learning support. Quaker Life educators focused on re-centering Quaker practices and ideas that have been interrupted during the past two years of the pandemic. School counselors and psychologists shared trends in meeting the needs of students and faculty given the current climate of our world and emphasized the importance of staying attuned to the many ways young people are experiencing challenges.
Learn more: Friends Council on Education
On May 27, visitors from across the Greater Philadelphia, Pa. region were welcomed to Arch Street Meeting House (ASMH) to celebrate the installation of new outdoor exhibits and wayfinding. The exhibit installation is the culmination of a successful fundraising campaign and design process, and its completion will help visitors to ASMH learn more about Quaker history and Quakerism today.
The new exhibits have already made a huge impact on visitation at ASMH, and tourism levels have begun to return to pre-pandemic levels. ASMH staff and Board of Trustees are pleased that these new outdoor exhibits can be offered to thousands of Philadelphia tourists and hope that Quakers around the world will also stop by the meetinghouse to see this exciting milestone.
ASMH is operated by Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust on behalf of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Staff provide historic museum site tours and field trips, and facilitate hundreds of Quaker and non-Quaker rentals, meetings, and gatherings every year. ASMH is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited Quaker tourist destinations in the United States.
Environmental and Ecojustice
Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) is a network of Friends taking Spirit-led action toward ecological integrity and environmental justice.
QEW organizes a range of events to connect, educate, and support Friends. This past spring and summer, these events included: (1) kicking off a workshop series on ecological grief—what it is and how to engage with it. Engaging in the grief process in a spiritual community supports resiliency and helps people discover the actions they are called to take; (2) collaborating with Earth Quaker Action Team to promote divestment from fossil fuels (and re-investment in renewables) with a focus on Vanguard; (3) hosting monthly online worship sharing in partnership with Friends General Conference (FGC); (4) a week of afternoon presentations at the virtual FGC Gathering; and (5) a racial wealth gap simulation, led by QEW co-clerk Beverly Ward, which helped participants understand the connections among racial inequity, hunger, poverty, and wealth.
QEW publishes a quarterly newsletter, BeFriending Creation, highlighting Friends’ actions and reflections on earthcare. Recent articles focused on land reparations to Indigenous Peoples, action on divestment from fossil fuels, living in right relationship with the living world, climate justice and militarism, local Friends climate action, the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, and sustainable economics.
Learn more: Quaker Earthcare Witness
One of the biggest asset managers in the world, Vanguard’s business strategy makes it a major driver of climate change and environmental injustice. It is one of the largest global investors in coal, oil, and gas, as well as companies violating Indigenous rights. This is why Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) is part of the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign, calling on Vanguard to invest for a livable future.
For five days in April, EQAT and its partners walked 40 miles, starting at the industrial banks of the Delaware River and ending at Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern, Pa. Along the way, the group passed sites of environmental injustice and climate destruction, offered training in nonviolent direct action, and engaged with Vanguard customers. Over the course of the walk, 300 people—youth, elders, Vanguard customers, residents of frontline communities, and people of diverse faiths—joined together in action.
After some rest and discernment, EQAT decided that, for the next year, stewardship—and Vanguard’s lack of it—will be the theme that unites its actions. The campaign continues with EQAT inviting those near southeastern Pennsylvania to join in-person actions. Another strategy involves encouraging customers to keep their money invested with Vanguard, and to contact the company and share their interest in climate-safe investments. EQAT is planning additional opportunities to take collective action in the future as a large group of customers.
Learn more: Earth Quaker Action Team
In the proxy season just ended in June, Friends Fiduciary Corporation engaged over 40 companies on a variety of environmental, social, and governance issues. Several new issues were engaged: anticompetitive practices by pharmaceutical companies, hydrofluorocarbons in grocery refrigeration systems, and racial equity audits.
Work continued on corporate lobbying, political contribution transparency, and alignment with company values. Ensuring company assets are expended consistent with a company’s stated public positions and values is an important business concern, particularly with recent political efforts to infringe on voting rights and undermine democratic processes. Misalignment in such spending can expose companies to significant reputational risk, which can negatively affect long-term shareholder value.
Friends Fiduciary’s philanthropic services support Quaker meetings and organizations. Nine groups are currently taking advantage of the newly launched online giving initiative, which is open to meetings, churches, and Quaker nonprofits. During the past year Friends Fiduciary processed over $30,000 in contributions benefiting participating organizations.
This fall, the 2022 Quaker Fundraisers Gathering will offer in-person and virtual opportunities for volunteer and professional fundraisers to learn and connect on fundraising for Quaker organizations. The event will be held November 3–4 in Philadelphia, Pa., and on the web. This year’s theme is “Rejuvenate, Reframe, Rejoice!”
Learn more: Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers
Woolman at Sierra Friends Center, located in Nevada City, Calif., seeks to inspire and prepare individuals to work for peace, justice, and environmental sustainability, and to deepen their personal and spiritual growth. For six decades, youth have come to Woolman to experience belonging and radical acceptance, connect with nature, and learn how to use their power to address the issues they care about. Today Woolman offers educational programming for youth and adults, and retreat spaces for groups and individuals. The 240-acre rural camp setting of forest, trails, streams, and an organic farm provides the backdrop for programs. In addition to fostering connection with nature, the land tells a rich and complex history, including the near genocide of the Nisenan people and gold mining operations whose environmental impacts are still evident today. Exploring these issues builds awareness and capacity for activism.
This year, Camp Woolman served 93 campers with residential sessions that included backpacking excursions. Woolman Outdoor School hosted 56 seventh graders from San Francisco Friends School, facilitating environmental awareness and activism through hands-on learning. Woolman Arts offered workshops for adults and youth, including an afterschool arts program.
Initiatives in development include specialty camp sessions; a year-long activist fellowship intensive; artists’ residencies; and Conversations for Change, through which dialogue to foster understanding and justice will be facilitated.
Woodbrooke, based in Britain, has continued to welcome more Friends from around the world onto their courses and research programs, and into their online worship spaces.
In July, Martin Ford began as the new interim co-CEO. Woodbrooke has progressed through significant change in the last few years. The majority of learning is now delivered online for both individuals and Quaker communities. In-person day and residential learning opportunities are offered in locations around the UK alongside a small number of courses running from the Woodbrooke Centre in Birmingham.
Deeper connections have been made with Friends World Committee for Consultation, particularly the Europe and Middle East Section and the Asia–West Pacific Section, to better support Friends globally.
The Equipping for Ministry program is being reimagined for a global Quaker audience in a challenging world.
In May, the 2022 Swarthmore Lecture, “Perceiving the Temperature of the Water” by Helen Minnis, challenged and inspired Britain Yearly Meeting, contributing to their reparations pledge—work Woodbrooke is focused on supporting by partnering with many others, including Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania and those that came to the first of two “Discomforting Quaker History” research conferences.
Silver Wattle Quaker Centre, located in Bungendore, Australia, has returned to operations as un-usual, re-opening doors to courses, venue hires, and personal retreats, but still with some changes to keep everyone safe. For example, only people who are from the same household are allowed to share a room, and masks are required for the first two days of any visit to Silver Wattle to allow a safe incubation period buffer. This has kept Silver Wattle COVID-19 free.
Recently new carpets and curtains were installed, pipes were dug up to repair the aged drainage system, and hundreds of trees were planted to supplement ongoing re-vegetation efforts. Exceptional rainfall means the trees are doing well, and the lake is full. Some black swans have made a nest over the place where the labyrinth was built on the dry lake bed, so it’s time to find a new location for it.
There has been increased interest in being a resident volunteer at Silver Wattle, including international seekers. Courses are now offered both in-person and online. A new year-long course called Food for the Soul, combining residential and online methods, began in July.
Learn more: Silver Wattle Quaker Centre
Quaker House is located on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution (CI) in western New York, which was the home (in 1900) to the formation of Friends General Conference.
August 28 marked the end of the 2022 season. For the first time in two years, Quaker House had a full schedule, and the Chautauqua Assembly, the digital expression of CI, provided another option of access to almost all offerings, as did live streaming in various locations on the grounds.
The 2022 Friends-in-residence team was Gary and Kriss Miller, who provided hospitality and programming throughout the summer, including Kriss’s weekly “Mindfulness and Mending” gathering to teach and promote mending as both a social and spiritual practice. Friends-of-the-week included Sussie Ingosi Ndanyi, Stephen W. Angell, Max and Jane Carter, and David Wakeley, who each wrote a blog post on a designated theme such as the future of history, the natural world, new perspectives, and democracy.
The website will see less activity over the next few months, while the house will see activity of a different kind: installation of insulation for the colder months, a new bathroom for the Friends-in-residence, and other minor repairs and additions. Updates about the house, registration information for 2023, and a monthly blog by various members of the Steering Committee can be found on the website during the fall, winter, and spring.
Learn More: Quaker House at Chautauqua
Elsie K. Powell House, located in Old Chatham, N.Y., continues to move slowly toward a more regular in-person event calendar. Both youth and adult programs are offering retreats at a reduced capacity, with COVID-19 protocols in place. The schedule, protocols, and registration portals are accessible on the website.
Programs this year have included a work weekend; retreats for all the youth age/grade cohorts, including EarthSong (the annual graduation/launching celebration); with several online events, including a discussion about how to help the people of Ukraine, a workshop on vocal ministry, and a two-part workshop on mediating trauma through creative expression.
Since March, many traditional rental groups have been hosted: the Dharma Group, Oakwood Friends School, Alliance of Families for Justice, family reunions, and sojourner groups. A new “Testimonies to Mercy” seven-part traveling series that blends in-person and online events runs from this September to June 2023 under the leadership of Quaker practical theologian and public minister Windy Cooler.
The capital campaign also continues, focusing on improving the physical plant with green energy and accessible accommodations, as well as establishing an endowment to support excellent programming.
Learn more: Powell House
Over the past six months, Pendle Hill, located in Wallingford, Pa., has continued to welcome groups and sojourners on campus, while serving thousands worldwide online, including through a daily hybrid meeting for worship.
Pendle Hill welcomed back residential students to campus with a ten-week spring term centered around learning, working, and worshiping in community. A number of on-campus retreats have been hosted, featuring teachers including Mary Grace Orr, Cynthia Bourgeault, Paulette Meier, and Marcelle Martin. Francisco Burgos facilitated a spiritual retreat based on monastic practices; and Frances Kreimer led a weekend workshop honoring the late bell hooks.
Pendle Hill partnered with Woodbrooke in a series on how Quaker communities are called to prophetic witness and social action; worked with Barclay Press on the Illuminate speaker series focusing on the Gospel of John; and hosted a two-part webinar on how to prepare a land acknowledgment as a first step toward right relationship with the land and its native peoples. Continuing Revolution, the annual young adult conference, experimented with new technologies for a hybrid gathering, in collaboration with Beacon Hill Friends House.
Vanessa Julye’s 2021 Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture, “Radical Transformation: Long Overdue for the Religious Society of Friends,” was published as a pamphlet. Two other pamphlets were released: Walking with the Bible (Carl Magruder, Adria Gulizia, and Colin Saxton), and Hillbilly Quaker (Jennifer Elam).
Learn more: Pendle Hill
Preserved by Quakers for “perpetual spiritual use,” Friends Wilderness Center (FWC) offers restorative peace and tranquility. Since 1974, FWC has provided access to the 1,500-acre Rolling Ridge wilderness area in West Virginia.
FWC hosts the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR): a project to promote empathy, cross-cultural understanding, and experiential learning by rebuilding a Tibetan-style farmhouse saved from inundation in the village of Cizhong in Yunnan Province, China. The project is building an ADA compliant bathroom to expand access to restoration in nature.
Work to update and expand the center’s facilities is ongoing; recent projects include restoring the treehouse, improving accommodations in the geodesic dome, furnishing and heating a 16-foot-diameter glamping tent for four-season use, and renovating Niles Cabin with the intention of hosting overnight guests.
FWC offers monthly programs and guided hikes exploring the miles of trails that meander around mountain streams and waterfalls between the Appalachian Trail and the Shenandoah River. This year, FWC has offered monthly yoga hikes (Hike-Asana) and drop-in viewing for meteor showers throughout the year.
Learn more: Friends Wilderness Center
Friends Center welcomed back Friends Publishing Corporation, publisher of Friends Journal magazine, the QuakerSpeak video series, and the outreach site Quaker.org, as a tenant, after more than two decades elsewhere. Providing office space to Friends Publishing is squarely in line with Friends Center’s mission to provide a strong Quaker presence in Center City Philadelphia, Pa., and to be a place of communal support for Friends organizations.
In addition, Friends Center’s work to build a new facility for Friends Child Care Center—founded on site over 40 years ago by staff of American Friends Service Committee and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as well as members of Central Philadelphia Meeting—was scheduled to be complete by October. The new facility will enable the center to serve even more children with quality childcare in a convenient location with access to outdoor play space in the courtyard.
Learn more: Friends Center
Over the past two years, Ben Lomond Quaker Center, located in Ben Lomond, Calif., has faced the challenges of the COVID pandemic and forest fires. The engagement of Friends who have given generously their prayers, time, talent, and financial contributions has allowed Quaker Center to remain open, continuing to provide both online and in-person opportunities for spiritual development, fellowship, and Quaker education.
Bob Fisher and Susan Wilson stepped down as directors in early September. Quaker Center’s new director is Nico Wright, who returned to California after 20 years in Mexico City, Mexico. Wright is the former director of Casa de los Amigos and a member of Mexico City Meeting. Joining him is Emily Carroll as associate director, and Ben Hofvendahl as maintenance technician. They are responsible for guiding the care of 83 acres of redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, and for managing a full schedule of visitors and programs.
Quaker Center is a self-service conference and retreat center an hour and a half south of San Francisco. Quaker Center was operated by American Friends Service Committee from 1949 to 1982. Since then the Ben Lomond Quaker Center Association—an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt religious corporation—has carried forward Friends witness and stewardship.
Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) is a Quaker center and residential community in downtown Boston, Mass., that provides opportunities for personal growth, spiritual deepening, and collective action.
As of this fall, BHFH has a full house of 21 residents ages 20 through 60—students, professionals, retirees, and in-between. Most are not Quaker; one is a former resident from the 1990s, back for a “re-residency.”
This fall starts BHFH’s second year of hosting Program Fellows, who spend a year supporting BHFH programs and their own personal development while living in intentional community.
BHFH has developed deeper expertise in running hybrid gatherings—both for its own events and increasingly in support of other Quaker institutions, including Pendle Hill study center, Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC), and New England Yearly Meeting’s annual sessions. After a break from weekly public programming over the summer, BHFH has ramped back up its cadence of events since September.
This spring, the first edition of a workbook for the Vocational Discernment Project was produced, grounded in Quaker practices but meant for a broader audience. Several workshops have been held based on this curriculum—at BHFH; on the road at Earlham and Guilford Colleges and Friends Camp in Maine; and online for QuEST fellows, QREC, and Friends Association for Higher Education. The curriculum and workbook are available on the BHFH website.
Learn more: Beacon Hill Friends House
Service and Peace Work
To adapt to the post-pandemic world, Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) launched a new program called YSOP Connex that facilitates virtual meetings between young people and senior citizens from anywhere in the country. Connex brings students and seniors together in small groups to connect, converse, and learn through virtual conversations and in-person service projects.
Connex ran virtual programs non-stop through the spring. Small groups of youth and seniors connected in conversation using video calls to talk about their lives, dreams, and hopes. Participants built relationships during their multi-week programs as they learned from each other. Because of the use of virtual tools like Zoom, people were able to join from all over, unrestricted by geography and broadening everyone’s sense of community.
During the summer months, volunteers came together in person in Pelham, N.Y., to make blankets for children living in temporary shelters. The projects allowed youth and senior volunteers to meet in person and forge connections with their local community members. This type of project was new to YSOP Connex, and met with great success.
Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) is proud to be entering its second decade. In late August, the eleventh cohort of young adult Fellows began their in-person orientation at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pa., followed by a year-long commitment to Spirit-centered living, community, and service as a source of loving transformation in the world.
QVS’s second decade comes with unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic, current economic and employment trends, and changing generational demographics of young adults. The traditional methods of recruitment (person-to-person) combined with a challenging economy resulted in lower enrollment this year. QVS responded in three ways: (1) pausing the program in Atlanta, Ga., this year, while maintaining programs in Boston, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Portland, Ore.; (2) boosting capacity for recruitment and communications to reach more young adults and raise awareness of QVS; and (3) launching a strategic planning process for the coming decade.
Learn more: Quaker Voluntary Service
UK anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action (QSA) has undertaken research on how it can continue supporting financially vulnerable funeral customers, after one of its key aims—better transparency in funeral pricing—became a legal requirement for funeral directors.
The requirement for funeral directors to clearly display all of their prices in their premises and online has been in force since late 2021, through an order from the Competition and Markets Authority. Since then QSA has stopped inviting new applications to its “Fair Funerals pledge”—a voluntary commitment to price transparency which over a third of the UK funeral industry had previously signed.
QSA is reviewing what to do next, while continuing to run its “Down to Earth” UK-wide helpline for people struggling with funeral costs; it supports over 600 clients per year. As part of its review, QSA has been researching financial vulnerability among funeral customers and circumstances where someone may struggle to pay (the average cost of a funeral stood at over £4,000, or about $4,360, in 2021 according to research by SunLife). QSA received over 400 responses to its survey for recently bereaved people and funeral professionals about financial issues affecting funeral customers, and is currently analyzing the results. Around 20 percent of bereaved respondents indicated that they were not offered any information about potential financial support options in case they were struggling.
Learn more: Quaker Social Action
On March 1, Quaker House of Fayetteville, N.C., welcomed Wayne Finegar as executive director. Finegar has been attending annual gatherings with Southeastern Yearly Meeting, Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting and Fellowship, Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA), North Carolina Yearly Meeting–Conservative, Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Palmetto Friends Fellowship, and North Carolina Fellowship of Friends.
The conflict in Ukraine has been the genesis of recent efforts, including sponsorship of rallies in Fayetteville in opposition to the war and in support of all victims of the conflict. Additionally, Quaker House has hosted online discussions and led a workshop at SAYMA for Friends who are discerning their understanding of the peace testimony in light of the conflict.
The GI Rights Hotline connects counselors with active-duty personnel calling from across the world. The number of calls has increased as active-duty members of the military re-consider their service with the Ukraine war. There continue to be conversations about how some might use COVID-19 vaccination refusal as a means of obtaining discharge.
With more and more people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, Quaker House’s free Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Moral Injury, and Post-Traumatic Stress Counseling Program has been able to return to in-person sessions for those who want it. The continued use of teletherapy that began with the pandemic shut down allows Quaker House’s licensed clinical social worker to have increased flexibility in scheduling.
Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS) has been busy preparing volunteers to return to visiting people incarcerated in federal and military prisons across the country.
During the pandemic, very little in-person visiting was allowed, but volunteers were able to write letters to the people they formerly visited. While federal prisons have been slow to re-open, about a third are back to permitting visits and volunteers are adjusting to the new post-COVID requirements.
PVS has also started recruiting new volunteer visitors, particularly for prisons where there are long waiting lists, or in remote areas where there are no visitors at all. It is estimated that nearly half of people incarcerated in federal prisons never receive a single visit, and it is known that people who have contact with the outside world do better both during their time inside and upon returning to their communities.
Finally, PVS is working on a virtual event scheduled for October 26 featuring Susan Burton, the activist, founder of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, and coauthor of the award-winning book Becoming Ms. Burton. Burton will be in conversation with David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez, PVS board member and creator of the Death by Incarceration and Suave podcasts.
Learn more: Prisoner Visitation and Support
Friends Peace Teams (FPT) is a Spirit-led organization that supports the justice and healing work of local partners in 20 countries where there has been war, colonization, violence, and oppression. FPT creates cultures of peace through developing relationships and holding workshops in the following areas: Alternatives to Violence Project, healing and rebuilding communities, toward right relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and trauma resiliency.
FPT’s efforts to become an antiracist group continue. FPT is discerning ways to empower regional program groups, decentralize power, and deconstruct colonial mindsets. Its council is reidentifying as a North American program group in order to empower regional groups to coordinate as co-equals.
FPT programs uncover the effects of multigenerational trauma, and staff members are beginning a more focused effort to heal themselves and those they serve. The PeaceWays newsletter in November will be dedicated to this subject, highlighting stories from various programs.
Learn more: Friends Peace Teams
Friends House Moscow (FHM) has had a challenging six months due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Western countries have imposed wide-ranging financial sanctions on Russia, making it very difficult to transfer funds to Russia to support FHM’s work and forcing creativity to find alternative solutions. Fortunately, FHM’s donor organizations moved quickly to transfer sufficient funds to cover the needs for this year so FHM can continue supporting projects in Russia. Two of these—the Integration Center for Migrant Children and Equally Diverse—have taken on a special relevance at this time because they work with refugees and migrants. A little-known fact is that a large number of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia. Therefore, these two projects will be playing an important role in helping them to adapt to life in a new country, as well as helping them find shelter and support.
In addition, FHM has committed to supporting a new Alternatives to Violence Project program in Estonia aimed at ameliorating tensions that could potentially arise between newly arrived Ukrainian refugees and Russian residents in that country.
Lastly, FHM has been holding a daily international meeting for worship for peace where everyone affected by, and connected with, this conflict is held in the Light. More information can be found at friendshousemoscow.org/news-about-ukraine.
Learn more: Friends House Moscow
After decades of work, Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) was thrilled when, in June 2021, Canada passed an act to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). CFSC, together with Indigenous partners and other human rights groups, was deeply involved in this success.
UNDRIP affirms Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to self-determination, including the right of Indigenous peoples to make their own decisions about how their lands will be used and protected and how their cultures and traditions will be maintained. Canada’s implementation act affirms that UNDRIP already has legal effect. However, instead of leaving interpretation to Canada’s courts, the act requires the federal government to take active measures, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to reform its laws to be consistent with the provisions of the declaration.
The act requires that a National Action Plan to implement UNDRIP through law, policy, and programs be developed and adopted. The implementation measures required must all be taken “in consultation and cooperation” with Indigenous peoples. The act also requires regular public reporting on the progress, as well as accountability measures developed in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
At recent UN meetings in Geneva it was discovered that several countries are studying this act and may use it as a model for promoting Indigenous peoples’ human rights.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is celebrating several new achievements made this past summer.
In June, General Mills responded to AFSC’s No Dough for the Occupation campaign to stop making Pillsbury products on stolen Palestinian land. The company divested from business in Israel altogether. This follows two years of campaigning by AFSC, many Friends, and several local and global groups, as well as members of the Pillsbury family.
In August, AFSC’s 67 Sueños program received the Youth Power Partner Award from the California Endowment Fund. Founded in 2010, 67 Sueños is a youth organizing and leadership development program for undocumented youth and youth from mixed-status families living in Oakland, Calif.
Also, the first cohort of Emerging Leaders from Liberation met in Philadelphia, Pa., at Friends Center this spring to launch their work throughout the year. The new activist leadership program brings together young adults involved with Quaker colleges and meetings and AFSC’s programs.
AFSC has also continued revitalizing its Quaker liaison program with monthly meetings and churches, surpassing 200 liaisons and still growing the communications and social change engagement program for Quakers.
Learn more: AFSC