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American Friends Service Committee

In this issue:

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A Quaker meeting works for criminal justice reform

This land was your land: A powerful experience to inspire work on Indigenous peoples concerns

A new resource on drones

Friend,

In April I went to a gathering of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Quakers who serve on Peace and Social Concerns committees or are focused on working for peace and justice in their day-to-day lives. At lunch I had a conversation with a number of women who identified a problem: It seemed to us that Quaker meetings often support individual leadings and peace and social justice work, but less frequently come together as a Quaker community to work on collective concerns.
 
Each of us in the group had experiences in Quaker and non-Quaker contexts working collectively on issues we care about deeply. We all had felt that such collaborative work was powerfully spiritual and grounding, and on occasion, transformative. Two of the women in the group talked about how their meetings had moved from supporting individual concerns to working together on a leading carried by the meeting. In each case the meeting had done spiritual work first; in one case the meeting had participated in a spiritual formation program and in the other the meeting had participated in Quaker Quest.

These programs had brought the meeting together and built trust among the members and attenders. In one case, the meeting had considered laying down its Peace and Social Concerns committee. When they talked about this, many thought the meeting would be losing a key aspect of their Quaker core if they did so. New people volunteered to serve on a revitalized committee and they engaged in a listening project, discerning together a focus for the whole meeting to engage in together. There were many concerns raised, but all members were willing to set aside advocating for their individual projects to participate in a collective witness.

That meeting discerned that they would focus their action on opposing the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). They have marched with banners, written letters and worked together on this concern and it has changed them, brought them together.

Supporting Quaker congregations in coming together to work collectively on a concern is the foundation of the AFSC meeting/church liaison program. Our hope is that we can support meetings in engaging on the issues we have been working on for years and, thereby, create a wider movement among Friends. What if 200 Quaker congregations were working actively to disrupt mass incarceration or to bring about real immigration reform? I think together we could have a huge impact and become more deeply spiritually connected in the process.

We will be launching the meeting/church liaison program for its second year with a number of orientation calls on September 3rd, 8th and 10th. If you’d like to participate or learn more about the program, email Madeline Schaefer. We don’t expect all Quaker meetings or churches to be ready to take up a collective concern, but we hope to establish a relationship and connect Friends working on peace and social justice with one another. We invite your Quaker congregation to join us and together “try what love can do.”

In Peace,

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Lucy Duncan
Friends Liaison


A Quaker meeting works for criminal justice reform

Merion Meeting had a leading to work together for criminal justice reform. They reached out to Madeline Schaefer, Friends Relations Fellow, for support and have a plan to study the issue and work with another non-Quaker congregation on educating their wider community.

Bob Campbell, clerk of their “Beliefs into Action” committee said, “I knew right away that there would be a network, so to speak, within the AFSC community that could help us focus on this topic with some expertise and that what we learned and found out would be credible.” Read more.

This land was your land: A powerful experience to inspire work on Indigenous peoples concerns

How is the 500-year-old “Doctrine of Discovery” still denying the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the US and around the world, and what can Friends do about it?

Through a 90-minute workshop, the Indigenous Peoples Concerns Committee of the Boulder, Colo., Meeting is engaging Friends in asking these questions and in taking steps toward answers. The workshop is called, “This Land Was Your Land: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples.” It traces the historic and ongoing impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery, the 15th-century justification for European subjugation of non-Christian peoples. The goal is to raise our level of knowledge and concern about these impacts, recognize them in ourselves and our institutions, and explore how we can begin taking actions toward right relationship with all peoples and with the land.  

Friends who experienced the workshop at the FGC Gathering are now inviting Boulder Friend, Paula Palmer, to facilitate the workshop for their meetings and communities around the country.  

Boulder Meeting has united in support of Paula’s traveling ministry, “with faith in the power of an active love to heal wounds of the past, and to create a more just future; and in recognition of Paula’s leading and capacity to act in this power of love.”  

For more information and to request a workshop presentation, write to paulaRpalmer@gmail.com and see boulderfriendsmeeting.org.

A new resource on drones

AFSC’s Wage Peace campaign recently published a resource on drones and drone warfare. It explores the three pillars of the deadly drone war: manufacturers, research institutions, and bases. You can download it for free here.


American Friends Service Committee
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Philadelphia, PA 19102
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