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Learn and Connect

Take Action

Recent posts at Acting in Faith

Eyes Wide Open

I recently read an article on the Alongsiders website entitled, “Movement vs. Monument, which one are you building?”  It made me think quite a bit about Quakers, and AFSC’s organizational culture and purpose.

The juxtaposition is expressed this way in the article (a paraphrase of key points):
  • A monument is about more people hearing OUR message, a movement is about more people being heard
  • A monument selects a few to lead, a movement is about building power with ordinary people
  • A monument seeks order and to control outcomes, a movement delegates authority out toward the margins
  • The end result of a monument is dependence, the end result of a movement is distributed power
  • The goal of a monument is to exert influence over, the goal of a movement is to train and educate ordinary people, so that they can transform their own circumstances
This post reminded me of the Roots for Peace program I visited in Los Angeles in February. Roots for Peace is a food justice program that works in a housing project, Mar Vista, and in two high schools. They teach the students they work with how to garden and about good nutrition, but they also teach them about the food system and how to work together to shift that system.

Carlos “Elmo” Gomez, an intern who lives in Mar Vista and who has worked with the program for a couple of years, said, “Planting seeds and the garden are instruments to organize the community. We figure out how to use what we have to shape our community. Once a garden is planted we the people have experienced shifting something, doing something in the hood. Food justice is about sharing food with our brothers and sisters.”

As AFSC approaches its 100th anniversary, it could be tempting to become a monument organizationally. Working to balance unity with distributed authority and effectiveness is always a challenge in our work. But for me it was powerful to talk with “Elmo” in Mar Vista and to see the program, which seems so much about AFSC supporting the development of power, rather than being the source of power. It reminded me of Quaker faith which, for me, is all about igniting the spiritual fire in ourselves and others to make a just and peaceful world.

In Peace,

Lucy Duncan, Director of Friends Relations

Learn and Connect

Calls for Spirited Action – Immigrant Justice

Join us on May 12th at 7:30 pm EDT for a call with Chia-Chia Wang, AFSC's Civic Participation Coordinator of the Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, New Jersey, and Quaker Judy Goldberger of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting in Massachusets, for a conversation on what the AFSC and Quakers around the country are doing to support immigrants' struggle for human rights.  Learn how to be an effective ally, supporting movements in your local community with power and humility.

To join the call dial the toll free number 1-866-740-1260 and enter access code 2419995#.  Click here to learn about future calls.

Acting in Faith with AFSC at the FGC Gathering

AFSC staff are offering five in-depth workshops at the FGC Gathering this year as well as a full schedule of afternoon events. Confirmed afternoon events include
  • Building power for change: Organizing your meeting for action
  • The spiritual basis for anti-racism work: A panel discussion
  • The Doctrine of Discovery: How repudiation plants seeds for peace
  • Tea and worship sharing on the question, “What will get us ready?”

The FGC Gathering is a yearly, week-long conference of liberal Quakers, being held this year from June 29th to July 5th.  AFSC’s activities offer a time for those longing to stoke spirit-led action to gather together, share and learn. Find out more here.

Continuing Revolution: Young Adult Friends Conference

Invite and support young Quakers in attending Continuing Revolution: A conference for young adult Quakers from June 6th-11th at Pendle Hill. AFSC staff members will be presenting at the conference, which will focus on community.

Take Action

Suggest nominees for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize

Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, and as laureates, have the opportunity to make a nomination each year. AFSC & Britain's Quaker Peace & Social Witness engage in a careful discernment process each year, and we welcome your input. Please spread the word! Learn more or nominate people here.

Stop the slush fund for Pentagon war spending

Urge Congress to end the use of budget gimmicks—such as the massive $80 billion Pentagon slush fund contained within the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. Contact Congress here.

Recent posts at Acting in Faith

Any of these posts can be republished in your meeting or church newsletter or other publications (online or in print). Please give us credit and direct people to the Acting in Faith website. Please promote posts you like on Facebook and Twitter.

An intrinsic part of the whole: On undoing racism among Friends

Read a guest post by Quaker Clark Reddy on the legacy of racism among Friends, and how we might move forward together, building communities that are grounded in an anti-racist perspective. “Why are our communities mostly white? What steps are we failing to take? To be truly anti-oppressive and inclusive, we must transform our culture.” Read more.

Quaker practice unbound from belief

I reflect on the popularization of yoga and what it would mean to identify the core Quaker practices and figure out how to teach them well. “What would it mean to unbind Quaker practice from belief? Could we say that those who practice the core Quaker poses – worship, meeting for business, clearness, living the testimonies, queries - are all a part of the Quaker body, are Quaker practitioners?” Read more.

The dissapearance of Sombath Somphone: An interview with Ng Shui Meng

On December 15, 2012, Sombath Somphone, a civil society leader and peace advocate, went missing.  Despite video footage showing his abduction by military forces, no information has surfaced as to his whereabouts.  Last month, Sombath's wife, Ng Shui Meng, visited the United States to advocate for his release.  Read this interview with Shui Meng to find out more about Sombath, his disappearance and what you can do.

Breaking bread with North Koreans: An interview with Linda Lewis

Linda Lewis, AFSC's Country Representative for China and North Korea, visited the Philadelphia office last month and shared stories of her work with farmers in North Korea.  Friends Relations Associate Madeline Schaefer had a chance to sit down with her and discuss how AFSC's underlying Quaker values influence her work in such a secular culture: "A lot of organizations throw these words around, 'we treat people as partners.'  But what does it really look like if you treat people as partners?"  Watch this video of Linda on finding the common humanity with AFSC's North Korean partners.


American Friends Service Committee
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Philadelphia, PA 19102

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More about AFSC

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

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AFSC Nobel Model

In 1947, AFSC was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for our work “…from the nameless to the nameless….” on behalf of all Quakers.

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