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Preparing for Intimacy with God

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:05
Have you ever gone to meeting for worship hoping to be embraced by God’s presence only to leave disappointed? I have. Over the years I’ve left meeting for worship in a state of discontent a number of times. And I’ve come to see that my lack of preparation for intimacy with God is often at the root of my experience. How can we prepare ourselves for intimacy with🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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News April 2017

Sat, 2017-04-01 02:00
Controversy over Palestinian speaker at Friends’ Central School Sa’ed Atshan. Photo from Facebook. In early February, administrators at Philadelphia’s Friends’ Central School canceled a talk by invited scholar Dr. Sa’ed Atshan, a Palestinian Quaker and tenure-track professor of peace and conflict studies at the Quaker-affiliated Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. Atshan had been invited to speak to the school’s Peace and Equality in Palestine club🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
  • A year of Friends Journal delivered to your mailbox (11 issues) and email
  • Full, instant access to the world’s largest online library of Quaker information: every Friends Journal ever published, going back to 1955
  • Membership in a community that believes in the power of Quaker experience
Click here to join us! Already a member? Welcome back. Please use the Login box to sign in. If you would like to order by phone or have any questions, we’re here to help. Call toll-free: (800)471-6863 or contact us by email.

The post News April 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Quaker Works April 2017

Sat, 2017-04-01 01:58
A semiannual feature to connect Friends Journal readers to the good 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.

Advocacys Friends Committee on National Legislation fcnl.org

For nearly 75 years, FCNL has lobbied Congress on priorities set by Friends. FCNL’s 16 registered lobbyists advocate on Capitol Hill, and FCNL trains and supports people across the country in advocacy rooted in listening and relationship-building.

More than 300 people came to Washington, D.C., in mid-November to lobby for criminal justice reform. Hundreds followed up with in-district meetings during a Community Lobby Day in December. While Congress adjourned without passing legislation, these actions laid groundwork for further progress in 2017.

FCNL Advocacy Teams are thriving in 34 communities across the country, with 18 more teams forming in the first half of 2017. These groups support each other in building durable connections with their members of Congress. These efforts last year led 13 members to cosponsor focus legislation. FCNL has also launched an online training program for people preparing to lobby for the first time.

In November, FCNL’s governing General Committee established legislative priorities for work with the 115th Congress, with an overarching call to address institutional racism. The committee also approved a minute on institutional sexism.

Construction of the new Quaker Welcome Center on Capitol Hill has begun. The center will house participants in the Friend in Washington program, offer hospitality for visitors, and provide a space for dialogue and off-the-record conversations. The building will open in fall 2017.

Quaker Council for European Affairs qcea.org

Following a review of activities in 2015–16, Quaker Council for European Affairs has restructured to focus on peace and human rights. QCEA has also incorporated “quiet diplomacy” into its policy work, providing a safe place for discussion for those who make or influence policy.

QCEA events encourage participants to see the value in all people, to rethink security, and to focus upon a particular policy agenda. The meetings also broaden the range of voices interacting with policymakers on peace and human rights issues, convening people that would not otherwise normally meet.

QCEA, together with the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN), has recently published a report on Friends’ efforts to respond to the influx of displaced persons in Europe. The report, “Quaker Faith in Action: Friends’ work in the area of forced migration,” builds on feedback from Quaker respondents across Europe, and explores the important work done by individuals, meetings, and organizations in response to this unprecedented humanitarian challenge.

Quaker House in Brussels, Belgium, where QCEA is based, is also increasingly acting as a community space. An asylum seeker-led project has worked with QCEA to host fundraisers in support of displaced persons. The QCEA offices also host the European Network Against Arms Trade and Nonviolent Peaceforce, providing valuable links with other peace organizations.

Quaker Initiative to End Torture quit-torture-now.org

QUIT is the spiritual work of Friends to stop the worst that humans do to one another.

QUIT recognizes that the failure of the Obama-Biden administration to end all American torture, prosecute those responsible for American torture, close Guantanamo Bay prison, and release the Senate report on CIA torture means all the structures remain in place to be fully put to use for revival of torture under the new administration.

The initiative is positioning itself to publicly oppose all forms of torture as the Trump-Pence administration continues to threaten to use all former torture policies and practices, against Pentagon admonitions. No matter that veteran intelligence and military experts insist that torture is always immoral, illegal, and ineffective.

QUIT founder John Calvi says, “It appears that more American torture is on the horizon. We must not go backward to another torture regime.” The overt use of torture of the Bush-Cheney administration brought Friends together to form the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) in June 2005.

QUIT is grateful for the support and participation of Friends over the past 12 years of work, and continues to provide education, awareness, and current news of opposing American torture. Friends stay updated through QUIT’s website, Facebook, publications, listserve, and conferences.

Quaker United Nations Office quno.org

Since 1947, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has worked with diplomats, UN officials, and civil society actors to support a UN that prioritizes peace and prevents war. QUNO New York achieves its goals through its programming on peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict.

In 2016, QUNO, as a co-facilitator, launched the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, which aims to support the UN violent conflict prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society and the UN. This diverse platform offers an innovative approach for dialogue, supporting preventive efforts across the various UN departments and agencies most directly engaged in work related to prevention with civil society organizations in New York and around the world. The platform seeks to identify practical steps for preventive work by providing a space for sharing examples and best practices, identifying areas for collaboration, and supporting UN efforts for early warning and early action.

In an ongoing partnership with the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, the platform successfully convened regular strategy and thematic discussions during the fall of 2016. These meetings brought together civil society and UN actors to explore issues related to prevention, and identify ways to strengthen the UN’s preventive work. Outputs from these meetings were then used to identify targeted recommendations that were shared with and welcomed by incoming UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Consultation, Support, and Resources Friends General Conference fgcquaker.org

Friends General Conference’s governing board, Central Committee, met in late autumn 2016. Representing 15 yearly meetings and some independent meetings, committee members have the responsibility of gathering with other Friends from across the United States and Canada to discern how FGC can faithfully serve its member yearly and monthly meetings with vitality and spiritual depth. After two years of contraction to make FGC more financially sustainable, Central Committee turned its attention to strengthening ongoing programs, and to preparing for an institutional assessment focused on addressing systemic racism and fostering faithful inclusion. The highlights of the meeting can be found on FGC’s website.

FGC’s first Spiritual Deepening eRetreat launched with over 100 participants from across the globe signing up for the initial offering. This Spiritual Deepening experience is an eight-week online retreat led by a trained facilitator.

QuakerBooks of FGC has a new volunteer opportunity: the “Bookista.” A QuakerBooks Bookista is someone who loves books and helps get them to other people who love them. There are in-store and off-site opportunities for writing book blurbs, doing social media, and helping at author talks and events; some of the tasks can be done remotely. In exchange for working two three-hour shifts each month, Bookistas receive a QuakerBooks t-shirt and a 20-percent discount on QuakerBooks purchases.

Friends United Meeting friendsunitedmeeting.org

Recently Friends United Meeting has been focusing on expanding ministry in Belize. In the Belizean educational work that FUM has sponsored since the 1990s, there is a desire for a worshipping body to ground the work of the Friends school in an awareness of God’s work and presence in the midst of the challenged Southside neighborhood of Belize City. With the purchase of a larger building in November, FUM has begun to put into place the pieces of a larger vision for work in Belize, including a greatly expanded school for both children and adults, a pastoral minister to develop a Friends community in the Southside neighborhood, and facilities in which to develop a neighborhood community center.

In the fall, FUM appointed Oscar Mmbali, of Kenya, as a pastoral minister in Belize. Mmbali is a graduate of Friends Theological College and St. Paul’s University, and has worked most recently in Thailand. The incarnational and relational ministry he is bringing to Belize is enthusiastically supported by Kenyan Friends; yearly meetings and local congregations have been offering both financial support and prayer support for his ministry in Belize.

FUM is also working toward its July Triennial in Wichita, Kans., which will be build around the themes of Thomas Kelly’s The Eternal Promise.

Friends World Committee for Consultation (Asia–West Pacific Section) fwccawps.org

In a public statement shared on January 18, Quakers in Bohol in the Philippines expressed their deep concern regarding the spate of killings and the intent to reimpose the death penalty in their country. Written by members of Bohol Worship Group, the statement expressed support for efforts of the national government to reduce the use of illegal drugs, while calling for a move toward rehabilitation rather than criminalization.

The statement also condemned the reinstitution of the death penalty, stating “Study after study proves that if you are poor, minority, or mentally disabled, you are at higher risk regardless of guilt or innocence. The right to life—broadly understood as a right to be free from deadly violence, maiming, torture, and starvation—is paramount.”

Friends World Committee for Consultation (Section of the Americas) fwccamericas.org

FWCC Section of the Americas launched its new website featuring an updated design on October 1, 2016.

World Quaker Day was celebrated on October 2, 2016, with special prayers, potlucks, sunrise meetings for worship, and other commemorations. Pictures of the many creative ways meetings across the Section marked the day are available at worldquakerday.org.

Many meetings shared the QuakerSpeak videos made in partnership with FWCC Section of the Americas. FWCC produced five videos between September and January, and Quaker Religious Education Collaborative prepared materials to accompany each one. The videos and religious ed guides can be found on the FWCC Section of the Americas news webpage.

In January the Section announced the first cohort of the Traveling Ministry Corps program. The South American members are Agustina Callejas, Estefany Vargas, and Hector Castro (National Evangelical Friends Church INELA Bolivia). The North American members are Debbie Humphries (New England YM), Emily Provance (New York YM), Chuck Schobert (Northern YM), and Julie Peyton (Northwest YM). Over the next two years, the Friends who serve in the Traveling Ministry Corps will visit Friends meetings and churches in yearly meetings other than their own to offer workshops, ministry, and facilitation of worship share sessions. Meetings can request a visit via the FWCC Section of the Americas website under “Visitation.”

Development Quaker Bolivia Link qbl.org

Quaker Bolivia Link continues to organize Bolivia Study Tours for Friends from all areas of the world. The trips include time at the QBL offices in La Paz and visits to Aymara villages to see completed projects in the Altiplano, such as new clean water systems, food security through quinoa production, and llama husbandry. These tours provide a hands-on experience of small-scale development in action, with shared meals in the villages with the indigenous population and a chance to see remote areas of Bolivia that are truly beautiful.

The issue of water security (and thus food security) has become critical in Bolivia due to climate change. There are now permanent water restrictions in La Paz due to the city’s reliance on shrinking glaciers to provide water for its 300,000 inhabitants. This is likely to be the worst drought in 25 years and is predicted to last until 2018. QBL water systems, which rely upon local spring-fed sources in the Altiplano, are more important than ever in ensuring a secure water supply for the indigenous Aymara people. QBL is in Bolivia because it is the poorest nation in South America and there is great need there.

Quaker Service Australia qsa.org.au

QSA’s development work focuses on food and water security and poverty alleviation for communities in Cambodia, Tamil Nadu in South India, and Uganda, and also works with indigenous communities in Australia. During the past year QSA has also been addressing its own governance structure, and has rewritten its constitution to change from an association to a company structure.

On a recent monitoring visit to Cambodia, the monitor was able to see the extensive home food gardens people had created, using the equipment, seeds, and seedlings provided by the project. This is subsistence farming, not cash cropping, giving them a range of nutritious foods to feed the family and also enabling any surplus to be sold in the markets. With the addition of several secure wells in the area, it is possible for people to achieve year-round food security, one of the project’s goals. Climate change is altering the timing of the rains, the amount of surface water, and the depth of the water table, so additional training to make the communities more resilient has been included. Each village has devised a safe place for people and their animals in times of flood (a naturally occurring annual event), and the use of mobile phones ensures everyone in the community is aware of the timing of significant flooding. All of this makes for sustainable communities and families.

Right Sharing of World Resources rswr.org

Right Sharing of World Resources is an independent Quaker not-for-profit organization pursuing the abundance of God’s love through wealth redistribution. RSWR funds micro-enterprise projects for marginalized women in Kenya, India, and Sierra Leone.

In January, RSWR general secretary Jackie Stillwell traveled to Sierra Leone with current and former board members. She traveled with field representative Sallian Sankoh to visit projects Right Sharing is funding in the region. Right Sharing reaches the most marginalized and under-served women in Sierra Leone, providing resources and educational and economic opportunities.

2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of Right Sharing. RSWR began in 1967 as a ministry of Friends World Committee for Consultation after the Fourth World Conference of Friends in Guilford, N.C. RSWR is looking forward to the next 50 years and beyond of building relationships and sharing resources to create greater equity and wellness within the world.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary, RSWR is hosting several gatherings across the country to connect and reflect. More details are available on the website.

Education Bolivian Quaker Education Fund bqef.org

BQEF continues its steady work empowering education, service, and connection between Friends in Bolivia and Friends in the Western world.

Twelve Bolivian Quaker university students graduated in 2016, with degrees in accounting, computer sciences, dentistry, engineering, language, law, and social work, bringing the total number of graduates to over 160. BQE-Bolivia is reviewing applications and renewals for a total of 45 scholarship seats for the 2017 academic year. BQEF increased scholarship stipends for 2017, for the first time in their 15-year history.

Student Danisa Rodriguez Yujra is applying her child development studies in internships. Danisa is particularly concerned with helping parents in poverty provide intellectual stimulation for their children.

Student Juan Carlos Huallpa Mamani is studying information sciences and practicing his skills. For one course he designed a sample website for BQEF. Juan participated in a church concert and CD production, raising money for a new church building.

Graduate Magaly Quispe Yujra, instrumental in spreading AVP in Bolivia, has a new project. She and her brother are building a childcare center in sprawling El Alto, Bolivia. They are just finishing construction and expect to open very soon.

Students at the Student Residence (“Internado”) in Sorata are beginning an electronic pen-pal effort with the advanced Spanish students at George School. Norwegian Mission Alliance staff will visit the BQEF Student Residence for observation and training.

Earlham School of Religion esr.earlham.edu

In the fall, ESR welcomed a new professor of Christian spirituality, Michael Birkel, who received his MA from ESR in 1978, and has served as professor of religion at Earlham College since 1986. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a Friend with years of classroom instruction, as well as gifts in the areas of spiritual direction and as a leader of workshops and retreats.

ESR launched a student exchange program with Hanshin University Graduate School in Korea. ESR student Christopher Duff spent the fall 2016 semester in Korea, and this spring ESR hosts two of their students, Beom-heon Kim and Eun Hye Song.

Earlham School of Religion is once again part of Seminaries that Change the World, chosen by the Center for Faith and Service. ESR also announced that the school will be covering registration and lodging expenses for annual events for any student or volunteer in a program eligible for the school’s Leadership and Service Scholarship.

And finally, ESR recently launched a podcast, ESR Talks. Director of admissions Matt Hisrich and associate dean Tim Seid have interviewed several members of the faculty so far. Episodes can be access at esrtalks.esr.earlham.edu.

Friends Council on Education friendscouncil.org

Friends Council on Education and its 78 member schools are reaffirming the Quaker nature and spirit of Friends schools in these challenging times.

Through statements in the media, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the National Association of Independent Schools online blog, executive director Drew Smith continues to reaffirm what Quaker schools stand for, including reflection, respectful listening, civil dialogue, nonviolent conflict resolution and social action, and living into Quaker testimonies.

Friends Council promotes dialogue among educators as they teach in the current climate. FCE hosted “Media Literacy in the Era of Fake News” as well as a virtual peer network entitled “Navigating the Waters of Current Events in Our Classrooms, Hallways, and Meeting Rooms.”

FCE and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Committee on Friends Education cosponsored the “Friends Meeting–Friends School Care Relationship” workshop. Forty-eight attendees from 16 Friends schools gathered, bringing together Friends school trustees, school heads, and meeting clerks for dialogue and understanding about their connected work. Friends schools and Friends meetings share a mission to support learning immersed in Quaker testimonies and facilitated by Friends’ processes.

Noteworthy growth in Friends Council on Education’s National Endowment for Quaker Children (NEQC) Pilot Program includes increased tuition aid grant distribution and twice as many schools participating in 2016–2017. A matching challenge for the NEQC endowment is underway.

Quaker Religious Education Collaborative quakers4re.org

(Eds: The print version of QREC’s update incorrectly states the location of Quaker Hill Conference Center as Richmond, Va. The center is located in Richmond, Ind. We regret the error and have corrected it below.)

The work of Quaker Religious Education Collaborative currently focuses on sharing new resources, developing an online platform, and planning the annual gathering of the collaborative to take place in August at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind. The gathering brings together Friends from across traditions and branches, making space for sharing and collaborating.

QREC has republished two versions of Quaker Meeting and Me (original by Britain Yearly Meeting in 2010), a little book meetings and churches can use to welcome young children into their Friends community. Two bilingual (English and Spanish) editions, one for unprogrammed and one for programmed traditions, with updated art by Rebecca Price to include more diverse images of children, are available through yearly meetings at no cost. The project is funded through the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund, the generous gifts of Friends, and hours of in-kind donations from others of time and skills. To see a preview of the new art, go to quakers4re.org/qmandm.

The fall newsletter, Connections, announced new religious education resources and opportunities for collaboration among Friends. On the QREC website, readers can find links to the full FWCC-QuakerSpeak curriculum, written to accompany the QuakerSpeak video series, and a listing of Quaker camps for children and youth.

Sierra Friends Center woolman.org

Sierra Friends Center, which has operated the Woolman Semester and Camp Woolman, is currently in a discernment period after suspending the Woolman Semester in August 2016. Camp Woolman continues to thrive, and Sierra Friends Center will be welcoming back campers, counselors, and counselors-in-training this summer. Camp Woolman is also welcoming a new camp director, Keenan Lorenzato.

Moving forward in discernment, SFC is looking at an outdoor school model to build upon 50+ years as a Quaker educational center. A local nonprofit, Sierra Streams Institute, is interested in working with SFC to form the Woolman Outdoor School. SFC is also seeking ways to further work with youth in the areas of restorative justice and peace.

In December 2016, the board of directors worked with Irene McHenry to set benchmarks and goals as Sierra Friends Center works to strengthen as a Quaker institution.

Sierra Friends Center is grateful for the support of so many Friends as it continues to seek ways to fulfill its mission: to steward diverse learning communities and educational programs that weave together spirituality, peace, sustainability, and social action.

Environmental and Ecojustice Earth Quaker Action Team eqat.org

Earth Quaker Action Team believes action campaigns must unite Americans around a vision for justice while delivering locally felt wins. EQAT’s Power Local Green Jobs campaign continues to challenge PECO, Pennsylvania’s largest utility, to be a leader in solar energy and economic justice.

Although solar jobs are booming nationally, those jobs haven’t come to local high-unemployment areas. So EQAT is planning to walk throughout PECO’s service area during two weeks in May, from fossil infrastructure to green jobs sites, taking action with communities along the way.

After 100 runners, walkers, and wheelers did circles around the PECO building last October, PECO has responded with taking steps on small-scale solar programs, but not addressing its core energy sources. Since January, EQAT has increased the pressure on CEO Craig Adams to confront what the utility needs to undertake for climate and economic benefit to the region. EQAT has begun drawing attention to Mr. Adams at public events, encouraging him to move toward utilization of 20 percent local solar by 2025.

Considering how to lend strength to broader movements, Earth Quaker Action Team just completed a four-month series of mass nonviolent direct action trainings, organized with Training for Change and POWER. With all of this new energy, EQAT is taking on two new hires, doubling its staff size.

Quaker Earthcare Witness quakerearthcare.org

QEW is grappling with how to build a sustainable and life-enhancing future. QEW grew out of a strong leading among Friends that our future depends on a spiritual transformation in our relationships with each other and the natural world. This year QEW is marking its thirtieth anniversary. QEW has a solid network of Friends throughout North America; publishes relevant and thought-provoking articles in its newsletter, Befriending Creation, and on its website; and continues to speak out as a Quaker voice to inspire bold, Spirit-led action.

QEW believes that in times of such turmoil, there is the likelihood of radical change—for better or for worse—and asks, what is the world we want to see and live in? QEW is calling on Friends meetings and organizations to unite in a common vision and to engage in mutually supportive actions.

In 2017 Quaker Earthcare Witness is prioritizing indigenous rights, climate justice, and youth leadership. QEW is revising its Earthcare curricula, and funding hands-on sustainability projects with its mini-grants program.

QEW’s newsletter and website highlighted these stories recently: eco-spirituality across the Quaker spectrum, water protectors at Standing Rock and other indigenous struggles to regain sovereignty and sustainability, radical witness for sustainability, and the growth of solar and other renewable energy sources.

Investment Management Friends Fiduciary Corporation friendsfiduciary.org

Friends Fiduciary believes that with ownership comes a responsibility to address specific and systemic issues with the companies it owns, reflecting Quaker values in the process. This proxy season FFC has expanded its shareholder advocacy, entering into engagements with 40 companies. Friends Fiduciary dialogues with companies across multiple sectors on various issues, including drug pricing, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emission goals.

Friends Fiduciary has taken a greater leadership role in many of its engagements, often setting the strategy. FFC filed a resolution for the third time with Comcast Corporation on their lobbying and political spending disclosures, seeking greater transparency around money spent through backchannels to influence politics. FFC is also serving as lead coordinator in dialogue with three insurance companies, asking for comprehensive annual sustainability reports and urging them to look at climate risk in their invested assets.

Friends Fiduciary actively expresses a unique perspective as Quaker investors to policymakers. FFC signed onto letters from the business community urging President Trump to honor the Paris Agreement, and expressing support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among many others.

Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers Friends Center friendscentercorp.org

Friends Center recently hosted two exhibitions that highlighted Quaker work for justice and peace that is still relevant today. In early February a banner exhibit for American Friends Service Committee’s centennial, #WagePeace100, was displayed in the main lobby.

In February and March, Friends Center hosted a photo exhibition, “Uprooted: Life in Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II.” Teresa Maebori, a member of Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., who was born in one of the internment camps, arranged for the exhibition to travel from the West Coast to Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about Maebori and the exhibition headlined “History’s Hard Lesson.” The subhead explained why this is so timely today: “Born in an internment camp for Japanese Americans, she fears Muslims face a similar fate today.” AFSC was one of the few groups to support interned Japanese Americans.

Numerous rallies, workshops, and teach-ins have been held at Friends Center recently. Topics have included the New Sanctuary Movement for immigrants; community building and support for Syrian refugees in Philadelphia; recruiting volunteer attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity; town hall meetings of the Coalition for REAL Justice, the local outgrowth of the Black Lives Matter movement; and anti-racism trainings and mass meetings by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in collaboration with Showing Up for Racial Justice Philly.

Pendle Hill pendlehill.org

In November 2016, dozens of clerks, co-clerks, and Quaker leaders from over eight different states joined Pendle Hill’s annual clerking workshop, designed and led by board member Arthur Larrabee. The participants learned the basics of serving their communities with joy and confidence, grounded in Quaker practice.

Pendle Hill hosted the Visioning and Creating a Moral Economy conference in December, co-sponsored by the New Economy Coalition, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, and Quaker Institute for the Future. Presenters included political economist Gar Alperovitz, social movement theorist George Lakey, and local alternative economy leaders including Caitlin Quigley of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance and Rahwa Ghirmatzion of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo. Organizers John Meyer, Lina Blount, and Geoffrey Garver wove the program together and supported the 65 speakers and participants in a powerful weekend.

Annual New Year’s workshops rang in the New Year at Pendle Hill with a live band and candle-lit meeting for worship after enjoying a delicious salmon dinner orchestrated by chef Henrik Ringbom and the kitchen team.

Marcelle Martin began her second offering of the online course Exploring the Quaker Way in January, welcoming 20 participants from around the country, including several groups organized within meetings seeking to learn together.

Powell House powellhouse.org

Following the beginning of the tenure of new co-executive directors Dennis Haag and Regina Baird Haag, Powell House has also hired a new full-time food service manager, Tony Barca, as well as a maintenance contractor, Joseph Olejak.

In January, the Powell House Committee approved undertaking a strategic planning process, in order to enable Powell House to meet the ongoing and future needs and desires of current, as well as potential, constituencies. This process will be ongoing throughout 2017, with a proposal completed for consideration by January 2018.

Several of Powell House’s recent program offerings have served to create, enable, and share the Light and Love that is abundantly present in the community. These include programs for youth and adults focusing on such topics as “Safety Pins and Other Symbols” for sixth through eighth graders; “Breathe; Just Breathe” for eleventh and twelfth graders and young adult Friends; and “Prophetic Listening” and “Prophetic Ministry” for adults.

Intergenerational programs included “Celebrate Friends and Family,” a Powell House New Year’s retreat that hosted over 80 energetic participants; “Winter Wonderland,” an unprogrammed event designed for families who want experience Powell House in all of its winter glory; and “Creativity and Spirituality,” offering experiences with everything from quilting, knitting, and clay sculpture, to music and beyond.

Service and Peace Work American Friends Service Committee afsc.org

At the beginning of February, AFSC co-sponsored a rally and march in Philadelphia, Pa., on the theme of #SanctuaryEverywhere, the simple idea that everyday people can come together to keep each other safe. The crowd of over 5,000 people demonstrated this idea during the march by protectively encircling the Muslim participants who were observing mid-day prayers in front of Independence Hall.

With the support of the Colorado AFSC office, Mountain View Friends Meeting of Denver brought #SanctuaryEverywhere into their meeting. Since the end of November, they have been hosting an immigrant woman in their meetinghouse as she works to remain in the country with her two children, who are U.S. citizens.

Local AFSC offices have been providing anti-Islamophobia and Know Your Rights sessions to their communities, teaching and practicing skills to put #SanctuaryEverywhere into action. These trainings have been filled to capacity in recent months.

AFSC endorsed the Vision for Black Lives policy platform in December, following the organization’s commitment to struggling alongside impacted communities reaching for justice.

AFSC is also preparing to launch aid work with Syrian refugees in Jordan, continuing the Quaker legacy of humanitarian service to those in need. This on-the-ground support will supplement the policy advocacy work in the United States and abroad that AFSC is already engaged in.

Canadian Friends Service Committee quakerservice.ca

Combining life sciences, computer science, and engineering, techniques called “synthetic biology” are taking off. They are already used in the production of food and fragrances, with applications expanding all the time. Many hope to use synthetic biology to create increasingly novel life forms. Canadian Friends Service Committee is the peace and social justice agency of Quakers in Canada. Grounded in the values of peace, integrity, equality, simplicity, and respect for all creation, CFSC is led to respond to the rapidly advancing field of synthetic biology.

Among the actions Canadian Yearly Meeting asked CFSC to take was to provide Friends with brief non-technical updates about synthetic biology. These are available on the CFSC website, and are intended to be understandable by those without a background in science. The most recent update outlines issues including the pros and cons of gene drives that aim to overcome evolution; editing of human and animal genetic material; allergies to genetically modified chemicals; bioweapons; and proposals to reshape entire ecosystems. The update asks, “What are the social, ecological, and spiritual implications of these developments?”

Friendly Water for the World friendlywater.net

Friendly Water for the World is now taking on “the long walk to water.” In January, Friendly Water held a seven-country training in Gisenyi, Rwanda, to train people to fabricate rainwater catchment systems using ferrocement tanks. These tanks—from 1,000 to 25,000 liters—cost a fraction of plastic ones, last much longer, and can be tailored to the exact size needed. Smaller ones—called “water hives”—can be built in a single day and are useful in wetter climates where nonetheless rainwater must be captured, or for hygiene stations at schools. Sizes are tailored to carry a family through the dry season. Besides the country representatives, Friendly Water trained two teams of unemployed youth in Rwanda who will travel throughout east and central Africa to provide training assistance.

Combined with BioSand water filters, Friendly Water will now be able to provide the gold standard in both water access and quality, employing hundreds of people in the process. In two years, Friendly Water’s partner group in Rwanda, Hand in Hand for Development (formerly God in Us-Africa), has trained 49 groups of unemployed youth and widows (often with HIV), totaling more than 700 people, who have fabricated and sold 18,500 BioSand filters, providing clean water to a quarter million people.

The next North American BioSand Training will take place in August at Quaker Cove in Anacortes, Wash.

Friends House Moscow friendshousemoscow.org

In May 2016, Amnesty International published the results of a survey on refugees: its un-astonishing conclusion—people are kinder than governments. Worldwide, more than 80 percent of 27,000 interviewed would welcome refugees into their countries. China, Germany, and the UK showed the highest numbers. Although Russia showed the lowest, there was still a clear majority: 61 percent of reputedly xenophobic Russians want their government to admit more refugees. Despite Russia’s involvement in Syria, there are very few Syrian refugees in Russia; it is the government’s position that Syria is a “safe” place. In the past, most of those seeking shelter in Moscow came from the Caucasus, particularly from Chechnya, but recently they are more likely to be fleeing war in Afghanistan or Congo. Russia has also taken in more than a million refugees from the war in eastern Ukraine.

In Russia, as in other countries, civil society provides refugees with practical help. With faithful support from German Friends, Friends House Moscow is helping a volunteer group provide education and adaptation services to 70 young people. One activity had students draw a map of Moscow and make the city their own, marking home, schools, music, good gathering places, and some dangerous ones where the skinheads hang out. The activities included a hundred ethnically Russian students, giving participants of all backgrounds a place at the table.

Friends Peace Teams friendspeaceteams.org

Friends Peace Teams supports peace, healing, and reconciliation in communities in conflict around the world. FPT is a mostly volunteer organization with a few staff; it is governed by a council of Friends, many appointed by their yearly meetings. The work is carried out through three initiatives.

FPT’s Asia West Pacific initiative has expanded and strengthened trainings on creating nonviolent cultures to include community leadership, teachers, young adults, and parents, and has already seen positive ripple effects.

In fall of 2016 the African Great Lakes Initiative’s longtime coordinator David Zarembka stepped down and transitioned leadership to David Bucara. Bucara, from Rwanda, previously served as Central Africa coordinator. He is trained as a pastor and teacher, and is finishing his term as legal representative of Rwanda Yearly Meeting. AGLI’s work includes the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities program, scholarships for orphans and vulnerable children, mediation, Children’s Peace Libraries, and the Alternatives to Violence Project in prisons.

Peacebuilding en las Américas also has a new coordinator, Monica Maher. Maher, who lives in Ecuador, has experience in human rights, solidarity work, and education with a PhD in Christian social ethics. PLA continues to make a difference in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, countries marked by some of the highest homicide rates in the world, as well as in Colombia’s historic peace process after 52 years of war.

Quaker House quakerhouse.org

Calls to the Quaker House hotline have increased as volunteer armed forces continue fighting further wars. The callers often share difficulties that are indicative of moral injury, PTSD, TBI, domestic violence, and sexual assault. The GI Rights Hotline counselors work with a therapist to counsel people feeling suicidal. They also provide resources to help them prove to the military that they deserve a medical discharge rather than a less than honorable discharge. Frequently, a compassionate chaplain or fellow soldier refers these victims to Quaker House. That Quakers, who are pacifists, are providing such important help to service members and veterans has finally convinced the community and military that these Friends are truly here to support troops while opposing wars.

Quaker House hosts community dialogues that encourage conversations among diverse racial groups, and these are growing in attendance. Quaker House’s Alternatives to Violence Project training was attended by officials from two different Wounded Warrior organizations; this led to a greater understanding of the work Quaker House does for service members and veterans who need help reintegrating into society.

In October 2016, Quaker House published Conscientious Objection: Is This for You? a teacher’s resource guide. The guide provides lesson plans and discussion points for teachers to address Selective Service registration and conscientious objection in the classroom.

Quaker Voluntary Service quakervoluntaryservice.org

In January, Quaker Voluntary Service launched a new website, to further connect QVS work with other Quaker partners and young adults interested in QVS. The website features new content each week, including interviews with older Friends in the “Quaker Service Testimonies” section, and blog posts by current Fellows.

QVS also recently wrapped up a busy recruiting season for the 2017–2018 service year. Accepted applicants will be matched with a city and a site placement by May, and the national orientation will take place in September.

Beginning in 2018, QVS will be adding a new location in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minn. The Twin Cities will be the fifth QVS location.

William Penn House williampennhouse.org

Amid challenging times for Quaker witness, William Penn House has been blessed with many visitors and program participants who are committed to building a world of peace, justice, and inclusive community. In November 2016, WPH hosted a group of activists with Citizens’ Climate Lobby who had bicycled from Minnesota to lobby their congressional representatives for action on climate change.

In January, WPH was again full with participants in the Women’s March. In addition to overnight guests, WPH opened its doors to the public on the day of the march as a comfort station. All day, the house was filled with visitors seeking a bathroom, cup of coffee, or a place to rest. All told, an estimated more than 1,400 people came through the doors. The power of radical Quaker hospitality was evident; in the words of one visitor, WPH provided “a port in the storm” for marchers young and old.

William Penn House recently hosted several public events lifting up Quaker witness for peace and justice, including an interfaith discussion on Spirit-led peacebuilding, a dialogue with racial justice activist and author David Billings, a presentation on mental health issues for veterans, and a discussion on sanctuary and asylum. These events helped bring the community together and focus on efforts to promote Quaker social testimonies.

Youth Service Opportunities Project ysop.org

YSOP is a Quaker organization, grounded in Quaker values, that engages students in hands-on service experiences working with homeless and hungry people in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The D.C. office welcomed 222 students who served over 60,000 individuals in need. Three of the eleven groups were brand new and had such a great time they are already excited to return. The Dartmouth Alumni Club celebrated their annual MLK Day lunch, bringing together volunteers and community members in need from diverse backgrounds. Local families who loved participating in the 2016 MLK Day lunch brought their friends and their children in the fall for a family workcamp, and entertained guests with creative cupcakes and fun games. A nearby Quaker school honored YSOP by putting on a talent show fundraiser and donating the proceeds. The same school sent a group of students to volunteer at the end of February.

In New York, fall started big with 142 participants from Massachusetts serving over 3,750 homeless and hungry New Yorkers during the weeklong program. Other highlights include two grant-funded service days for low-income public school students, and a group from Drake University who returned for their fifth year, incorporating a YSOP weeklong program into their course on urban poverty. Friends Academy, which has been coming to YSOP for over 20 years, returned for two fall programs.

The post Quaker Works April 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Peace Works: A Century of Action

Sat, 2017-04-01 01:56

The American Friends Service Committee can be most vividly seen through the experiences and memories of the many people who have made up its ranks of participants, supporters, and staff over the last ten decades. The website Peace Works: Century of Action was created to gather and share stories from the past and present. Here is a small sampling of the more than 200 stories that have been contributed to date.

Please note that in some cases these stories have been abbreviated for display here. The full versions of these stories and many more can be found at peaceworks.afsc.org. You are also invited to share your own AFSC story on the site.

Floyd Schmoe. Volunteer, 1910s

I remember when we got to Berlin, before daylight on Easter morning in 1919. We were parked at the side of a railroad yard only a few feet from a high woven wire fence. … A little girl came up to the fence and was hanging on the wire with her two hands looking up at me eating. I saw she was hungry and I looked around for something to eat. And I found the French Red Cross who had outfitted us had put a wooden pail of hard candy. So I got a handful of this and I passed it through the wire to the little girl and she did a little curtsy and a “danke shoen” and ran. In about 15 minutes she came back with a dozen other kids and we passed out the entire pail of candy that morning.

The interesting thing is that 70 years later, in Seattle, I was talking at a Fellowship for Reconciliation meeting and I told the story as I’ve told you. A young man got up, a student from the University of Hamburg, and said, “That girl was my grandmother! She was in Berlin at that time and she has told me that same story.” After 70 years! This is bread upon the water coming back, definitely.

From an AFSC oral history.

Read more of Floyd Schmoe’s story

Renate Justin. Supporter, 1930s

In 1934, in Germany, my tranquil childhood was invaded by fear. My teacher donned the Nazi uniform and stopped greeting me or calling on me in class. I was the target of stone throwing and name calling every day on the way to school. My mother and father wanted their nine-year old daughter to be safe and to receive an education. In 1936 they decided to send me to the Quaker School Eerde, on the train, alone, trusting that Friends would meet me once I arrived in Holland. I was absorbed into this remarkable community, which was grounded in the silent meeting.

At Eerde I met Peter and Dody Elkinton, students at the school and son and daughter of Howard and Catherine. Howard and Catherine were working as representatives for American Friends Service Committee in Germany, a dangerous and courageous undertaking. Their effort was directed at helping both persecuted Jews and non-Aryans to leave Germany. After Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, and time in Buchenwald concentration camp, my father arrived in Holland: gaunt, his head shaved, but alive.

My parents, as many Jews, had bought tickets to the farthest point on the globe when they were in Germany and still had some money. These tickets, our escape route, were confiscated and canceled by the Nazis, and my parents had no money to buy new tickets. The American Friends Service Committee paid the Hamburg America Line for our canceled tickets, as well as for those of other refugees who faced the same dilemma. If it were not for this generous act, we never could have boarded the Rotterdam, a cargo ship overcrowded with refugees, in November of 1939. My family never would have been able to sail to the United States.

Read more of Renate Justin’s story.

Toshi Salzberg, 1940s, volunteer

The American Friends Service Committee found me at the Manzanar Internment Camp during World War II. We were being held simply because my family was of Japanese ancestry.

The AFSC placed me with a family in Pennsylvania so that I could complete my nursing degree. They also offered me some of the most exciting experiences of my young life.

In 1948, once I had completed my training as a nurse, I volunteered with AFSC for a two year service position in Gaza. I was part of a team helping to resettle Palestinian Arab refugees in the Gaza Strip. The work was hard but I was young and could handle it. The Palestinians were planning on returning to their homes. They assumed that what they were going through was temporary. The people were so warm and so friendly. But it was not only the Palestinians who made an impression on me. I formed lasting friendships with the other volunteers. My friend Sirka Hilke was a nurse from northern Finland. We remained lifelong friends after our experience.

My time in Gaza was perhaps more meaningful to me because just a few years earlier I had been a prisoner in a camp myself—and now I found myself in another camp where people had been taken from their homes. I understood a little bit of their experience.

Read more of Toshi Salzberg’s story

Patricia Dunham Hunt. Staff member, 1940s – 1970s

I learned of AFSC through my sister’s husband who was a Philadelphia Quaker. He encouraged me to come east to Swarthmore College where I got involved in AFSC’s youth programs. I went on to the Columbia School of Social Work and volunteered with AFSC’s New Americans program for Jewish refugees, and as assistant director of a summer Mexican work camp.

In June 1947, I went to Finland to help build houses for war widows. Our work camp was located north of the Arctic Circle in an area which had been destroyed by the German army as it retreated. Of the 22 volunteers, half were Finnish and the rest from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and three from the United States. Although only three of us were Quaker, we held quiet meetings for worship on Sundays and discussions about reconciliation and peace. Having respect for each other and making decisions by consensus were basic to Quaker practice. Before each meal, we joined hands to sing international folk songs.

At the end of 1949, I returned to Philadelphia to direct the international work camp program. There I met Frank Hunt and we were married in 1951 and I joined him in Israel. For the next three years we worked together in Israel and Korea. After years of working on issues of poverty and civil rights in my own neighborhood, I returned to AFSC in 1973 as coordinator of the Africa programs for fourteen years. Our goal was to enable people, especially women, to gain skills and resources to improve their lives. The international and peace divisions also sponsored a southern Africa education program about the liberation movements and the struggle for majority rule.

Looking back, I am humbled by the capacity, indeed the faith and compassion whatever one’s religion, that people have. Even under extreme stress, our humanity holds us together. I trust that Power which is striving toward good. I have been privileged to be part of AFSC’s century of service.

Read more of Patricia Dunham Hunt’s story

Reverend Samuel Slie. Staff member, 1950s

I grew up in a neighborhood where racial identity meant nothing and it took me a long time to realize how important racial identity was to other people. After a semester in college I was drafted into the 92nd Infantry Division in World War II. In the army, I started to see the complexity of prejudice and discovered my attitude about different people was not typical. After serving in the U.S. infantry in Italy, I came back with many questions about the value of human life. “Why did some people have the power to not send their sons but send me instead? Why was I one of the easily draftable people?”

I went back to college where I met many people who had been conscientious objectors (COs), some of them Quakers. The COs and I spent many hours talking about the meaning of life, which influenced me to go to seminary. I finished seminary in 1952 and then returned to Italy to do post-war reconstruction work with AFSC. I spent a number of subsequent summers leading AFSC workcamps throughout Italy, rebuilding roads, sewers, schools, and bell towers.

What I loved about AFSC is we did not go in with a preconceived plan—which suited my personality just fine. Part of my job was to form, and then listen to, a local committee to see what it was that they were interested in doing.

Read more of Samuel Slie’s story

Anne Thomas Moore. Volunteer, 1950s

The American Friends Service Committee has provided me with so much learning from 1951 to the present. From my first door-to-door collection of used clothes when a college student to clerking board meetings, each taught me something. My only staff position was as co-director of the International Student House in Washington, D.C., from 1957-60.

What examples of exceptional, strong, down-to-earth women and men, were present for me in those years! It is a joy to think of them today. For me, having the Religious Society of Friends as our common denominator was what enabled the work to move forward. Admittedly, I was not conversant with world affairs, nor an avid reader, but I did read all the materials presented in preparation for meetings. I did not speak up during meetings, but admired those who did. I could see that information got to the people for whom it was intended and donating came naturally. When I moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, in 2013, it was a pleasant surprise to find the Western Massachusetts office of AFSC three blocks from where I live. So much has changed in the 30 years since I was actively involved with AFSC. I find several constants: the quality of the staff, the loyalty of donors and volunteers, and the inevitable tension between and interdependence of meetings/churches and the AFSC. It is a challenge to “try what love can do,” but with the devotion of so many people, expressed in well-based ways, it is one that is eagerly faced.

Read more of Anne Thomas Moore’s story

Mae Bertha Carter. Participant, 1960s

My name is Mae Bertha Carter and I was born in Sunflower County, Mississippi. I had to pick cotton when I was about six years old. So I didn’t get an education. When my first little baby was born I looked at it and I said I want you to have an education. I don’t want you out in the hot sun at 103 degrees, picking cotton for 14 hours a day.

So the children was motivated when [the law said] they could go to any school they wanted to.

They wanted to go to the all-white school because they felt they could get a better education there. When I walked into the superintendent’s office and handed him the papers I noticed that he turned red. They weren’t expecting anyone to do this. A couple of nights after that, about 3:00 in the morning—and we live way back on a dusty, gravel road—my husband looked out the window and said, “What is all those cars doing coming in here?” About then the shots came into the house.

My husband had to go up the next day to ask for some credit. The man at the store said, “You withdraw your children out of the school and then you can have credit.” That was the way it was—all the credit was cut off. We didn’t know how we was going to live. About five or six days after that two ladies came to our house. They’d heard we had enrolled the kids. You need to have someone help you all along, and the next thing I knew I got a letter from the American Friends Service and they told me they had heard all about it so they sent some help. My family and AFSC worked together for ten years and we’re still in touch.

Read more of Mae Bertha Carter’s story

Desire Louis Peterson. Participant, 2010s

My name is Desire Louis Peterson; I’ve been a Local Peace Network facilitator of SAKALA (Sant kominote Altenatif ak lape) since December 2013. My first participation in the meetings of AFSC Local Peace Networks was for me a miracle, because I used think that violence was something you could not avoid—considering that in my neighborhood if you want to survive you must seem hard, as a protection mechanism.

When I got involved with AFSC I learned that there are tools to transform conflicts and that it’s also important to understand the causes of conflict. During my participation I have realized that violence doesn’t make you a strong person. I have changed at a personal level. I have learned to be calmer and more respectful and now and I train other youth on mediation and conflict transformation. I want to thank AFSC for the implementation of this project in Cite Soleil, Haiti, and in other areas with a high intensity of violence. This project helps many young people in my neighborhood to improve their view of the future.

Read more of Desire Louis Peterson’s story

Veneeta D. Participant, 2010s

Attending AFSC’s Freedom School was the first time I had ever been exposed to a space encompassed in such racial consciousness and empowerment. I learned a lot about what racism really means and why it’s important to speak out about it, even if you’re not always in an environment where it’s encouraged. Freedom School provided everyone the rare occasion of having the conversation society mostly avoids like the plague.

At my high school, the challenges that people of color face are countless microaggressions and the achievement gap. For instance, there are regular classes and there are honors classes, where the coursework is accelerated. Many of the kids of color stay in the regular classes, and we’re given the impression that “regular” is the most that we can handle. I did honors classes from sixth to eighth grade. But when I tried to go from regular to honors classes in the beginning of high school, my white counselor asked me repeatedly if I believed I could handle it and reminded me numerous times that the rigor would probably be too much for me, even though my grades didn’t indicate that I was struggling.

In Freedom School, after two days of learning where racism comes from and how deeply embedded it is in society, I came to the conclusion that even if racism will never be eradicated, oppressed people will never stop speaking up and having these conversations, and fighting to build from what racism has destroyed. For me, Freedom School fostered a sense of validation, comfort, knowledge, and resilience.

Read more of Veneeta D.’s story

Naomi Madaras. Intern, 2010s

It was my second time attending a city council meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. As an intern in the Peace and Economic Justice task force, I was representing AFSC with my supervisor and coworker. I had never seen the council chambers this crowded. We were here to address the recent passing of House Bill 2, also known as Hate Bill 2, which requires that all people use the bathroom that coordinates with the sex they were assigned at birth.

When finally the time arose for people to deliver testimonies, many individuals, mainly LGBTQ people of color, spoke on how this bill would jeopardize their privacy, their safety, and, ultimately, their lives. After each testimony, cheering and applause filled the room, though the council and HB2 supporters attempted to quiet the noise. Security guards even forcefully escorted one brave woman out the door. Many of us silently held signs advocating to repeal HB2, and I was one of them. During one particularly moving testimony, I let out a shout of encouragement, after which a gentleman behind me leaned forward and whispered, “Shut up.” The tension of the room was turned way, way up.

Had I not been an intern with AFSC, I likely would not have been at the city council meeting. I would not have known what it looks like when those in power use the rhetoric of “the safety of women and children” to marginalize the LGBTQ community. As a woman, I felt it was my duty to stand up to those in power and firmly declare: “You will not use my safety to hurt others. I refuse to be your political pawn. I do not need saving.”

Read more of Naomi Madaras’s story

 

Check out more stories on the AFSC Peace Works website: http://peaceworks.afsc.org/

The post Peace Works: A Century of Action appeared first on Friends Journal.

The Art of Gratitude

Sat, 2017-04-01 01:56

A boy’s watercolor depicts a heartwarming scene created amid the misery and starvation of post-World War I Germany. The painting, part of a new exhibit entitled “Giving Voices to Ghosts,” shows three women busy preparing food. Steam and presumably pleasant aromas arise from large kettles. Small containers of salz (salt) and zucker (sugar) sit nearby. The lower half of the painting, an apparent self-portrait, is of the boy with neatly parted blond hair sitting at a desk drawing.

“I wonder what became of this talented artist,” asked Nichole Mathews, an Indianapolis-area high school German teacher who helped create the exhibit. “Did he survive the coming war?”

The question, like the exhibit, is haunting yet hopeful. “Giving Voices to Ghosts” is made up artwork and poems created in the 1920s by children (all over Germany including an orphanage in Kopenick, Germany, as well as schools in Trier) who were among the millions in Europe—primarily in Germany and Austria—fed by Quaker-led relief efforts after World War I. The children’s artwork was given to Friends more than 90 years ago as a show of gratitude for the food—sometimes just 600 calories a day—that kept them hopeful and alive in their time of need.

The exhibit debuted last year at Marian University in Indianapolis, Ind., and later was displayed at Indianapolis First Friends Meeting, where it originated. Now Mathews is hoping others will be interested in these generations-old drawings, poems, and documents. The goal is to examine how the love and gratitude of children can provide guidance and courage in today’s divided world.

“Sometimes we get stuck in a holding pattern with our faith or lives. This has helped shake me out of it and has made me a better Quaker,” Mathews said. “I got to learn about these amazing Friends and what they had to overcome to do what God had put them there to do: Facing public shame and censor for helping an enemy and putting themselves in harm’s way to help strangers. That is very powerful and a daunting legacy to fill to be the best Friend you can be in this day and age.”

The post-World War I relief effort was Quakerspeisung, or Quaker feeding, overseen by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and its British counterpart. In 1919, Herbert Hoover asked AFSC to lead a massive feeding program in Germany. Within four years, the program was feeding about 500,000 children per day, ultimately impacting one million. History tells us devastation would soon come again with World War II, yet the bond of service and gratitude between the German children and the Quaker and non-Quaker relief workers was real.

The children sent materials as “thank-yous” to various Quaker meetings. Mathews said the portfolio came to Indianapolis First Friends with a group about 20 years ago that did a presentation about AFSC. The art portfolio was largely forgotten for years.

Mathews, a German teacher attending First Friends, was given the artwork more than a decade ago by Jennie Banker, wife of Stan Banker, then pastor of Indianapolis First Friends Meeting. Mathews was not raised a Quaker. She started church hopping after moving to Indianapolis from Ohio in 2002, eventually drawn to the Quakers because of the group’s history of strong female leaders and emphasis on seeing the Divine (the Inner Light) in all people.

Several years after receiving the artwork, Mathews attempted to photograph the roughly 70 drawings, poems, letters, telegrams, and other documents in the folder.

The assembling of the exhibit became a team effort as Mathews connected with those outside of her Quaker community who wanted to contribute to the project.

She met Jenny Ambroise, director of the Marian University art gallery through a mutual friend. Mathews felt a kinship between the peace testimony of Quakers and Marian’s Catholic Franciscan emphasis on peace and justice. Ambroise put her in touch with Bill Foley, a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalism and assistant professor at Marian. His students took high-quality photographs of the collection. Mathews’s German students at Hamilton Southeastern High School near Indianapolis along with Marian students worked on the translations. A grant from the Talbot Street Art Fair in Indianapolis provided funds to frame 33 documents and drawings. Crystal Vicars-Pugh, assistant professor of art and gallery director at Marian, helped set up the final exhibit at the school’s art gallery.

That exhibit allows these once waif-like victims of war to speak their message to our generation—thus the title.

“‘Giving Voices to Ghosts’ was an educational experience for those involved in creating the exhibition and for those who visited the gallery to view the ‘thank you’ paintings and drawings created so many years ago,” Vicars-Pugh said. “The images are filled with kind words and visual acts of thankfulness for food.”

One drawing shows a pot boiling with nourishment. The translated poem below reads:

Quaker Food is still quite warm!!
In warmer love Offered
Received with warmer gratitude . . .

For our nation and world today, Mathews sees the translation as this: “There is hope even in the darkest places. We have the ability to make a difference far more than we ever can imagine. There is still hunger and a need for Friends to be a nonjudgmental bridge between groups and peoples.”

The post The Art of Gratitude appeared first on Friends Journal.

Friends, Peace, and Justice in Baltimore

Sat, 2017-04-01 01:00

Picture via Homewood Friends

Throughout its history, Homewood Meeting in Baltimore, Md., has held a vigil against war and for peace in times of war. Since September 11, 2001, the meeting has held a vigil every Friday evening in front of the meetinghouse to protest the entry of the United States into Iraq and later to protest the use of drones and torture.

Holding vigils to protest the violence of war and torture continued until the unrest in Baltimore in April 2015 when the city rose up to protest the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the police. At this time, the Peace and Justice Committee felt moved to address the issues of racial and economic inequality, injustice, and violence in our own community of Baltimore. The committee changed placards which focused on war in the Middle East to demonstrate solidarity with our neighbors of color in the city.

The new placards and banners initially read: “When Black Lives Matter / Then All Lives Matter.” There was concern by a member of the committee that our message didn’t address brown, Asian, and LGBTQ groups, but members of the committee decided to keep this message simple as blacks are the largest and most obviously discriminated against group in our city. At the outset, we grappled with the clarity of our concern, as some in the meeting and some passers-by urged “All lives matter,” and others remonstrated with us that saying “All lives matter” diminished the “Black lives matter” message. After a time, we changed some of the banners to read “Black Lives Matter / We Are All One People.” And most recently we also began to use the FCNL banner “Love Thy Neighbor, (No Exceptions).”

Our meetinghouse stands at the juncture of Charles Street and Art Museum Drive, a heavily trafficked location. We usually have 4–8 people an evening from Homewood and Stony Run Meetings, but have had as many as 25–30. Periodically students and teachers from Friends School of Baltimore attend. From the start of our local anti-violence focus, the vigil has received overwhelming support from motorists on their way home from work. As people in cars, buses, panel trucks, and bicyclers pass, they wave, honk and give a thumbs-up. Many call out, “Thank you” and black passersby often call, “All lives matter.” People take pictures of the vigil on their cell phones from their vehicles as they pass; others get out to ask permission, then stay to talk. More and more frequently people cross busy Charles Street to talk.

On rare occasions, some people, usually white men, will yell, “All lives matter,” “Blue lives matter,” or most recently “There’s a new sheriff in town.” We agree and ask people to look at the signs again. One man used to drive by in a large white pickup truck, blow his horn, which sounded like a train whistle, and yell, “White lives matter.” But these folks are rare.

We have had many rewarding conversations with people who park their cars to talk with us. Many blacks ask us why we are holding these signs. One woman who works at a nearby hospital came out one evening and said, “I see you people out here every week. Why are you doing this?” A mother came one night with her children, hugged each of us, and thanked us as did her children. The woman said she had just explained racism to her children. On another bitterly cold night a woman stopped, got out of her car, and brought each of the members of the vigil a cup of hot coffee, along with the words “Thanks for all that you do.” A young man recently said they have a Black Lives Matter group in Buffalo, N.Y., where he lives and that he would come to meeting on Sunday. Hopkins students come to enquire. Some stay to vigil.

Early on in this Baltimore-focused vigil, we prepared a brochure to present to people who came by to talk. When the Peace and Justice Committee asked meeting for business to approve the brochure, several people present raised questions and concerns. Our discernment over the wording of the brochure encouraged many people to consider their own white privilege, to attend to the structural racism in Baltimore, to observe the patterns of policing and the racially disproportionate arrests and incarceration of blacks in Baltimore. As a result of this early and discomforting discussion, the meeting decided to hold a threshing session on race.

Members of our meeting have asked why we hold this vigil in a very white area just south of Johns Hopkins University. Maybe we should consider moving it to another part of the city? Shouldn’t we hold placards for all groups? One 90-year-old African American member asked us to get out of our white enclave and get to know African Americans in the city. Others asked us to reconsider changing the vigil to another theme since we have been holding the Black Lives Matter concern for almost two years. Our vigil is important for both our black and white neighbors. Whites need to be reminded that they are part of a city with many problems and that they can be part of the solution. Blacks need to know that there are whites who see their plight and are willing to join in creating solutions. From this vigil we are branching out to work at other areas—court watch, bail reform in our state, and anti-violence study and program expansion as we seek a faithful grounding for our peacemaking efforts in Baltimore.

 

The post Friends, Peace, and Justice in Baltimore appeared first on Friends Journal.

A Centennial History of the American Friends Service Committee

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:55
By Gregory A. Barnes. Friends Press, 2016. 498 pages. $24.95/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

At the Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists in 1994, Quaker historian J. William Frost argued that the historical significance of Friends in the twentieth century lay primarily in social, political, and humanitarian activism. Of that activism, the best-known manifestation is unquestionably the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). It has been a source of at least mild dismay for many of us that, despite its massive archives, AFSC lacked a comprehensive published history. Now, to mark the centennial of AFSC’s founding in 1917, Gregory A. Barnes has provided one.

Barnes argues that the history of AFSC can be divided into three periods. In the first, from 1917 to 1950, AFSC was “ahead of its time” in its humanitarian interventions, focused largely on feeding programs. Between 1950 and 1990, Barnes notes, AFSC was “catching up with the times,” shifting work out of Europe and increasingly focused on problems of racism, poverty, and injustice in the United States. It was in this period that AFSC became increasingly assertive, and public, in its criticism of U.S. government policies. And it was also in these years, Barnes finds, that AFSC discovered the virtues of diversity. Finally, since 1990, he finds AFSC increasingly “data-driven” in its work, still grounded in Quaker practices and processes but focused as much on reconciliation and building effective communities as relief work.

AFSC was the product of war. When the United States adopted conscription after entering World War I in 1917, Quaker leader Rufus M. Jones of Haverford College proposed the creation of a service group for American Friends who could not conscientiously render military service, perhaps modeled on the Friends Ambulance Unit that British Friends had created. Representatives from Friends General Conference, the Five Years Meeting, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting agreed to oversee the creation of a “Reconstruction Unit” that would undertake rebuilding of homes and communities in France and relief work in Russia. After the war, the emphasis shifted increasingly toward feeding the hungry, especially in France, Russia, and, more controversially, Germany. In the 1930s, AFSC also developed domestic programs, winning the esteem of Eleanor Roosevelt for its attempts to create communities for displaced Appalachian coal miners. During the Spanish Civil War, relief work was the focus. While shut out of war zones during World War II, AFSC focused on aid to displaced people, including Japanese Americans. It also provided alternative service for conscientious objectors through Civilian Public Service, a subject that deserves more attention, I think, than Barnes gives it. Perhaps the high point of AFSC’s existence came in 1947 when it and the British Friends Service Council received the Nobel Prize for Peace on behalf of Friends everywhere.

After 1950, AFSC continued relief work, but increasingly focused on opposition to war and racial injustice. Perhaps the most provocative expressions of the former impulse came with a call for unilateral disarmament in 1955’s Speak Truth to Power and opposition to the Vietnam War that, in the minds of critics, verged on calls for a communist victory. AFSC adamantly supported civil rights, providing early support to Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1970s, a new emphasis on women’s and gay rights developed, and, in the 1980s, increased attention was given to immigrant rights.

It is impossible to summarize in a few hundred words everything that AFSC has attempted, and accomplished, or the criticisms that it has faced, often from Friends. They have ranged from charges that AFSC was insufficiently Christian in its aims, to worries over what was seen as a steadily declining Quaker presence within the organization. Today, less than one percent of its staff are Friends, and ties with many yearly meetings range from chilly to nonexistent.

Barnes is clearly an AFSC supporter, but he also acknowledges and addresses such criticisms. He has succeeded in providing a readable overview of the most important Quaker organization of the past century. He does, however, leave some important questions unanswered. For me, two are central. It is never clear where power resides within the organization, with the executive secretary, the staff, the board, or the corporation. Thus, when “the AFSC decided” to undertake some program, just what was the process?

The other question—since AFSC consciously decided to try to reflect the diversity of American society in its staff—is about the persistence of accusations of racism, sexism, and other oppressive behaviors. AFSC responses have usually conceded justice in the charges. As late as 2015, the organization was undertaking an examination of “structural and institutional racism.”

Even a work as long as this can provide only limited treatment of many important subjects. It is not the definitive history of AFSC. That will come only after other scholars have mined the archives to explore aspects of AFSC in greater depth. But this is a good start.

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We Answered with Love: Pacifist Service in World War I

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:50
Edited by Nancy Learned Haines. Pleasant Green Books, 2016. 412 pages. $19.95/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

In 1917 Mary Peabody and Leslie Hotson were students at Radcliffe and Harvard. They met through their shared interests in music and drama, poetry and philosophy, and quickly became soul mates as they discussed the war that had turned the campus into a military school.

Each was drawn to pacifism and service, though by different routes. Mary was the daughter of Sarah Peabody, the manager of a boarding house and a Unitarian suffragette raising two daughters on her own after her ex-husband spent most of her family money and left her in debt. Leslie grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Swedenborgian parents who had emigrated from Canada and were avowed pacifists in this war.

At Radcliffe, Mary was a day student, immersed in literary and musical clubs and street campaigns for suffrage, socialism, and workers’ rights. Leslie sang, acted, and studied English, wanting to be a writer. They both earned extra money tutoring fellow students in French.

Leslie’s brother Ronald had already declared his refusal to do alternative service and had been imprisoned along with other “absolutists,” men who absolutely refuse to serve the military in any way. At Fort Dix Ronald was beaten and starved. As Leslie watched his brother’s suffering from afar, he decided he had to respond to the horror of the war in a physical and positive way. He took a leave of absence from Harvard and headed for France to help the French Reconstruction Unit. Started by Quakers at Haverford College and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the FRU was the first initiative overseen by the new American Friends Service Committee.

Over the next year, Mary and Leslie wrote letters back and forth to each other, articulating their faith, their idealism that love would conquer evil in the world, their longing for each other’s companionship and cheer, and their plans for an activist future.

The French Reconstruction Unit helped rebuild villages destroyed in the war. It constructed homes from pre-fabricated materials, set up and managed medical clinics, organized stores to be run as co-ops, and taught in schools for refugee children. Leslie helped build houses, repair bombed water and sewage systems, and tutor children. He also wrote articles for Lewis Gannett’s newsletter, reporting on the work of pacifists so the disparate units working in France (and the world) could know the protocols and networks for responding to the war through alternative service.

In his letters, Leslie reported on his construction work, his views as he bicycled through the devastated countryside, the inspiration of his Friendly compatriots, the villagers who endured, and how he longed to be with Mary. He quoted the wisdom of Quaker leaders like Rufus Jones, who came to boost the morale of the Quaker service workers.

In her letters, Mary reported on her studies, helping her mother to run the boarding house, her work for the rights of women and laborers, and how much she missed Leslie. She, along with her mother and sister, came down with the Spanish flu, which would eventually kill 650,000 Americans, but which she and her family miraculously survived. She returned to school and activism, selling suffragette pamphlets on the streets of Cambridge, and supporting the factory strikes in Lowell and Lawrence, Mass., despite raids on dorm rooms looking for subversive materials.

The letters of their courtship offer a poignant study of young pacifists in war; even though WWI was thought to be the war to end all wars, the words of Leslie and Mary could have been the words of AFSC workers in WWII or Vietnam. Their words of sorrow at what they see, of determination to relieve individuals’ suffering, of belief in a true right and a corrupted wrong, and hope in a future no matter how grim the statistics of the present, are timeless.

In their letters, Leslie and Mary conversed about faith and pacifism and how, really, they were already, and should formally become, Quakers. When Leslie returned home after the war, despite Mary’s doubts about the institution of marriage, they wed and became an academic couple, Mary joining Leslie in his literary archival research. Eventually he became an English professor, teaching at Yale, NYU, and then Haverford College, where he lived next door to Rufus Jones and retired in 1942.

When Nancy Learned Haines found these letters, she knew they evoked a story larger than a young couple in love. An antiquarian bookseller specializing in Quaker historical books, Haines also knew these letters were of particular interest to Quaker historians. She transcribed and edited the letters so they move chronologically through the crucial year of 1918 in France. And she breaks them up into sections so, in introductions to each section, she can report on the family backstories for Mary and Leslie, the history of the war, the Religious Society of Friends’ organized responses, the treatment of conscientious objectors, and the formation of activist groups in Cambridge, Mass.; London; and Paris.

This April we celebrate the 100th birthday of American Friends Service Committee, and this book is an excellent tribute to the sacrifice, courage, inventiveness, and resourcefulness that has characterized every AFSC worker in every war or workcamp over the past century. It is Haines’ gift to essential Quaker history.

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The Anti-War: Peace Finds the Purpose of a Peculiar People

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:45
By Douglas Gwyn. Inner Light Books, 2016. 208 pages. $30/hardcover; $17.50/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

Doug Gwyn may have given more thought to the environment that incubated the earliest Friends than any other Quaker. In The Anti-War’s two interrelated essays, he digs down to the roots of our peace testimony and lays bare the ways in which it has evolved over the past 350 years. Each section is built on a section of scripture. The first essay, “Peace Finds the Purpose of a Peculiar People,” examines 1 Peter 2:4–17—one of the sources of early Friends’ claim to be a “peculiar people”—the second, “Militant Peacemaking in the Manner of Friends,” explores the significance of the Book of Revelation for the Children of Light. Don’t let yourself be put off by his use of the Bible; it illuminates the unique calling we have to model a society that is more than merely against war. Gwyn demonstrates that Friends are—or could be—the Anti-War.

First, a couple of definitions. In the King James Version, I Peter 2:9 is translated, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people . . .” In contemporary versions, instead of “a peculiar people” you will find “a people belonging to God.” The first Friends believed this verse referred to them. They belonged to God. They were called by God to fulfill a peculiar (i.e., God-chosen) role in this world—to live in peaceful relationships with each other and the rest of creation. This meant not merely forswearing violence; it was a life of total covenant faithfulness with Creator and all creatures—a model of interaction that is by its nature completely devoid of force and coercion. Violence does not have to be weeded out. It cannot grow in this soil.

Today, pacifism is frequently propounded as an ethical imperative—a superior philosophy that would yield practical benefits if only everyone would adopt it. This is very different from the situation of both the first Christians and the first Quakers. They embraced the consequences of covenant faithfulness. The surrounding cultures knew implicitly that this utterly rejected the bases of their civilization. Both peoples were rejected and persecuted, becoming internal exiles in their homes. “Their plea was no naïve plea to ‘give peace a chance.’ It was an apocalyptic unmasking of the machinations of worldly power, corruption, injustice, and violence . . . and advanced through revolutionary patience and suffering.”

The Anti-War is not something unseen to wish for. It is not practical or an effective plan to achieve a realizable goal. It is an alternative template for living in a society that is blind to alternatives. It will puzzle and offend others. It does not react to each new provocation with thoughtful and relevant answers. It dares us to stand still in the Inward Light until we can see clearly.

I read this book in September 2016 and again after the November elections. Seeing the reactions of my Friends to those elections made it clear the degree to which many Quakers identify building the kingdom of heaven with the platform of one American political party. This book can be an inoculation against that condition. It reveals the spiritual and religious bases of our testimony against war. It can help you find your purpose as one member of a peculiar people.

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The Beautiful Not Yet

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:40
By Carrie Newcomer. Available Light, 2016. 108 pages. $11.99/paperback. 12 tracks. $11.99/CD; $9.49/MP3 album. Buy from QuakerBooks

I once heard Carrie Newcomer recalling a conversation between herself and a friend about whether or not she should go back to grad school to get more credentials. This wise friend said that every album she had recorded and released was a credential, and that she has a PhD in her life’s work. The Beautiful Not Yet is Newcomer’s sixteenth solo album in a musical career that has spanned over 35 years. In it, you can hear a level of ease and mastery that comes with that experience.

Newcomer is a solo artist who is also, fundamentally, a collaborator and community builder. The songs in this album and the poems and essays in the accompanying book arise from solitude, silence, community, and collaboration. Several were written as a part of a spoken word and musical collaboration with fellow Friend Parker J. Palmer and musician Gary Walters called “What We Need Is Here: Hope, Hard Times and Human Possibility,” which is scheduled to premiere this spring. These include “You Can Do This Hard Thing,” “Help In Hard Times,” and “Three Feet Or So.” Others were inspired by the poetry of others or began as poems themselves in the accompanying volume.

Often compared to poet Mary Oliver, Newcomer’s work has a similar down-to-earth poetic sensibility, turning everyday interactions with others and experiences of the natural world into the sacred ordinary. This album and book have a prescient quality, showing up right on schedule as balm for politically divided times full of personal and communal suffering. The songs and writings are not simplistic, innocent, or blithe. They are instruction manuals and lunchboxes full of nourishment to help us put one foot in front of the other, find small hope and light, and enjoy love in the midst of hard times.

Musically, The Beautiful Not Yet is also a collaboration, featuring a symphony of Americana instrumentation—banjo, fiddle, mandolin, accordion—as well as standards for Newcomer—guitar, piano, bass, percussion, cello. The instrumentation lifts up the words, rather than detracting or overpowering them. In addition, incredible vocalists Moira Smiley (VOCO) and Krista Detor, among others, join Newcomer on this album. The first song, “Lean in Toward the Light,” is an anthem that gets to the heart of Quaker practice with a touch of gospel choir action on the chorus.

After listening to and reading The Beautiful Not Yet, I want to live in Newcomer’s world. It is a world that calls me to my best self, but in a way that seems possible, manageable, and desirable rather than overwhelming. As she writes in the poem “Kindness,” “Kindness is human size, / Honest and doable, / Softening even the hardest of days, / The country cousin to love.” It inspires me to read more poetry and to write more. Her ease, mastery, and devotion to her own purpose will likely inspire the same in those who read and listen to this album and book.

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Everyday Prophets

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:35
By Margery Post Abbott. James Backhouse Lecture, 2016. 52 pages. $14/pamphlet; $8/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

The two words in this title seem so antithetical—one so ordinary, one so formidable. Yet it is just this perceived incompatibility that provides both the space and the energy for Abbott to explore what prophetic ministry has meant and might continue to mean within Quaker history and tradition.

According to Abbott, the task of prophetic ministry, what she calls “the Big Picture,” is to nurture and evoke a consciousness or a perception that provides an alternative to those of the dominant culture around us. When, through our own experience, we come to see violence, suffering, or injustice with new eyes, we may find ourselves called to share and act on this revelation. But how do we find the courage and the humility to follow the guidance of our spirit? And what role, Abbot asks, can our meetings play in nurturing an individual’s “calling” when, within both the member and the meeting, “fear rises or when the comfort of what one once was lures us to inaction”? How do we listen each other into fuller life and trust that the Spirit is at work?

Abbott fears that for Friends, the willingness to be visible may be slipping away. We have grown fearful to share within our meetings callings that at first seem incomplete or unformed. And, while recognizing the value of Quakers’ “cherished list” of informants for ethical decision making—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality—Abbott finds these insufficient in themselves to embrace fully either the source or the power of an individual’s call to “prophetic action.” We can be opened more deeply and with greater vulnerability to the voice of the spirit within, she writes, when we feel ourselves part of a community that is “carrying a vision of the New Creation, the Kingdom of God, that is being formed on earth.”

Interspersed throughout Everyday Prophets are stories taken from interviews Abbott conducted with individual Friends about their experiences listening for and trying to faithfully follow the voice of “deep spiritual guidance.” One Australian woman is called to persuade those of Anglo heritage to “pay rent” to Aboriginal people for use of their land; a lesbian couple from an evangelical yearly meeting whose Faith and Practice condemned such a commitment, remain present in their community; an older man arrives at an understanding that, under divine guidance, every aspect of our lives has the potential to be ministry and each act, however small, can be prophetic. There is no hierarchy of prophetic action, only a measure of faithfulness to the call.

Abbott is an experienced sailor and finds in the skills required to sail her small boat through rough seas apt metaphor for those embarking on a prophetic journey. While our boat may be small, the sea so large, and our journey unmapped, we do not have to fear being lost at sea. Many of our Quaker practices and beliefs, such as our direct relationship with the god or Spirit, a comfort with expectant silence, trust in continuing revelation, and practice in waiting on “way to open,” are available to help us “right ourselves and find the course that is ours to follow.” Each of us who chooses to raise the sails and ride the “voice of the wind” that calls us across the vast openness of the sea can, according to Abbott, provide witness to another way of being that is grounded in “beauty not fear.”

I plan to recommend that our meeting read Everyday Prophets, and I believe that we will be enriched and emboldened by reflecting together on the life of the Spirit in our community. How are members inhibited from or encouraged to share what we experience as a call from the Spirit? Is the Spirit alive in our meeting and are we willing to step out of our comfort zones to explore its movement among us? What are the ways we resist seeing the world around us with new eyes? How do we respond to an individual’s struggle to understand what the Light is revealing to her?

Margery Post Abbott is a member of the Religious Society of Friends and has served as clerk of Friends Committee on National Legislation. Her monthly meeting has formally minuted its support of her ministry as a writer and teacher on Quaker spirituality and history. Everyday Prophets was delivered as a lecture at the 2016 national gathering of Quakers in Australia. Order online from quakersaustralia.info or ipoz.biz/quaker-publications.

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The Distressed Body: Rethinking Illness, Imprisonment, and Healing

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:30
By Drew Leder. University of Chicago Press, 2016. 304 pages. $30/paperback or eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

To be human means to lead both a cerebral and a corporeal existence. The latter is easily forgotten by those of us whose pursuits are primarily intellectual and whose pastimes are electronic. Adults in particular may feel like walking, talking heads most of the time. Drew Leder invites us to take a long and paradoxically intellectual look at the other half of the equation: our animal bodies.

Leder approaches the subject as a philosopher and professor. His academic writing style is demanding. If you are not in the mood for words like hermeneutics and phenomenology, or for references to Kant and Descartes, this would not be the time to pick up this book. But if you are ready for serious study of the interaction between our physical existence and our mental and social constructs, The Distressed Body will challenge assumptions you never even knew you had.

The first few chapters are concerned with our relationship to our bodies in the face of disease. As a rheumatologist, I found his exploration of the experience of pain to be highly illuminating. Patients often accuse their doctors and families of not understanding what they are going through, while they themselves are confused by what they are feeling. With Leder’s guidance, informed by his own perspective as a physician but also as someone who has experienced neuropathic pain, the reader comes to appreciate the manifold nature of physical distress and what it does to our brains as we are confronted by the reality of our embodiment. There is comfort in making sense of the pain and coming to see that it can be borne.

The health story continues with a general analysis of our medical system and the tension between reveling in its contributions to our happiness and decrying its objectification of the human body. Our culture often regards the body as more akin to a machine than to an animal, made up of cogs and itself a cog in the economic system of healthcare. Leder suggests that rethinking the body and the entire material world as wondrous gifts could align our consumption and production of healthcare with our values.

The objectification of the human body is carried a step further by our penal system, which removes all control of their own bodies from the prisoners and treats them “like animals.” Although earlier in the book Leder had described his own medical experiences in dispassionate terms, when it comes to the tragedy of incarceration, passion must break through. Leder taught philosophy in a Maryland penitentiary and invited the participants to represent their experiences in their own words, which they do to great effect. We learn of the many ways that imprisonment distorts one’s self image and sense of space and time. We also hear their conclusions about the elements that would be needed to transform prison into a healing environment: hope, growth, recognition of merit, individuality, and community.

In factory farms, Leder finds the ultimate expression of being divorced from our bodies. Animals themselves are treated not as animals but as machines, inanimate slaves to human economics. By allowing ourselves to become oblivious to their distress, we inflict untold suffering on billions of beings in ways that would be considered criminal if applied to a pet dog or cat. This has profound implications for our treatment of the rest of the living world as well.

The book ends “on a positive note, examining how a reclaiming of a close corporeal bond with the natural world can help us revitalize the human world. Along the way, we discover that these are not two different worlds.” It is in the intersection between animals and humans that we catch glimpses of our own complete nature. Leder refers to the transformative experience of shape-shifting, which others would refer to as the spiritual experience of our connectedness to others. By feeling those connections and rethinking our assumptions, we may open ourselves up to possibilities for a society that makes room for all the inhabitants of our rapidly shrinking planet.

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Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality (Second Edition)

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:25
By J. Brent Bill. Eerdmans, 2016. 159 pages. $15.99/paperback or eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Brent Bill’s writing style gets right to the point in Holy Silence, using language that Quaker meeting members and attenders will recognize. But Bill makes a point of addressing this book to all, as in anyone and everyone. As in our shared belief in the presence and accessibility of God, immanent but also beyond, pouring into us and allowing us to drop into silence that is deep and sacred.

Also in the manner of Friends is the use of queries. When Quaker ministry finds words (and this slim book is a lovely ministry), queries are often also present; they appear within the text from chapter 2 on. Queries also appear in a short section at the end. Because each of us is in a different condition, queries rather than directives help us internalize the ministry.

In this second edition, in addition to queries there is a new appendix called, “Silence Practices: Practical Steps to Experience Silence.” There are also a short glossary of Quaker terms and a list of suggestions for further reading.

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Sally Winton Bryan

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:25
Bryan—Sally Winton Bryan, 95, on October 25, 2015, in San Juan Island, Wash. Sally was born on July 15, 1920, in New Orleans, La., to Beatrice Stricker and David Knox Winton. Later her family lived in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Illinois before Sally left to attend Mount Holyoke College. She married James Bryan while he was studying engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and moved with him to his first position in Chattanooga, Tenn. They were unhappy in the South, and he accepted a position at Boeing that brought them to Seattle, Wash., in 1954🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Margaret L. Fogg

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:20
Fogg—Margaret L. Fogg, 90, on January 7, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla., after a brief illness. Margaret was born on November 4, 1926, in Salem, N.J. She graduated from George School in 1944 and from Earlham College in 1948. The loving mother of seven children and grandmother of eleven, she nourished her family with her skills as a cook and baker. She loved travel and the outdoors and took her family on many adventures both in the United States and overseas. While living in the D.C. suburbs, she volunteered with🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Hero’s Journey: John Ritter, the Chip Hilton of Goshen, Indiana

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:20
By Jeff Rasley. Midsummer Books, 2016. 216 pages. $12.95/paperback; $4.95/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

What happens when heroes make mistakes or don’t live up to their outsized image? What makes a person a hero? Like many other terms that confer ultimate achievement, “hero” deserves a compassionate examination. Friend Jeff Rasley tells the story of a hero of his own and looks at how heroes appear in literature and history. Not everything can be “awesome” or “epic.” What happens when we give ordinary things the words we once reserved for the stuff of legends?

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Ellis Oliver Jones

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:18
Jones—Ellis Oliver Jones, 88, on October 25, 2016, in Foxdale Village in State College, Pa. Ollie was born on January 19, 1928, in Pontiac, Mich., the only child of Sybil Ellisa Ray and Ellis O. Jones. In 1949, in New Haven, Conn., he married Anna Mary Miles, a lifelong Quaker and niece of Anna Shipley Cox Brinton, his marriage bringing him a life of happiness. He studied at Yale University, University of Oxford, Columbia University, American University, and the Law School of Suffolk University. An economist, teacher, diplomat, international banker, and🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Joanne Marie Magruder

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:15
Magruder—Joanne Marie Magruder, 73, on October 25, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif., following a stroke. Joanne was born on February 25, 1943, in Long Beach, Calif., the oldest of five children of Lillian Ann Jensen and Gene Alvah Condra. Growing up on a small Anaheim, Calif., farm in an area with many Latinos, she was interested in cultures other than her own early in life. During her college years she spent a summer in Guatemala with American Friends Service Committee. She attended Whittier College on a music scholarship, earning a bachelor’s in🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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William Boyce Upholt

Sat, 2017-04-01 00:10
Upholt—William Boyce Upholt, 72, on July 30, 2016, at home in West Hartford, Conn. Bill was born on September 14, 1943, in Orlando, Fla. He earned a bachelor’s from Pomona College in 1965 and a doctorate from California Institute of Technology in 1971, both degrees in chemistry. In 1975, after postdoctoral fellowships at University of Amsterdam and Carnegie Institution of Washington, he began research at University of Chicago in pediatrics and biochemistry, meeting and in 1980 marrying Mary Lee Morrison. He moved in 1985 to West Hartford, Conn., to work at🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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