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Lilli de Jong

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:40
By Janet Benton. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017. 335 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Lilli de Jong, a historical work of fiction set in late nineteenth-century Philadelphia, is the debut novel of Janet Benton. Lilli is a young Quaker and a teacher at a Friends school who loses her mother and turns to a young man in her acquaintance for comfort. The man forsakes Lilli, leaving her with no way to contact him. And Lilli is pregnant.

Lilli is cast off from her home in disgrace and finds herself at a bleak establishment for unwed mothers called the Philadelphia Haven for Women and Infants. It is understood that the women there will give up their babies for adoption shortly after they give birth. But Lilli cannot bear to let go of her infant daughter. The novel is presented as a series of entries from Lilli’s notebooks, where she records her and her baby’s struggles for survival.

Though sometimes naïve, Lilli is a perceptive narrator as she chronicles her journey from her Quaker community and the Haven to an affluent home (where she is a wet nurse) to the filthy Philadelphia streets. Virtually every opportunity that exists to support a family is unavailable to Lilli because she is not only a woman but an unwed mother. The scarce choices that she does have are all degrading, unsafe, or both. Through Lilli, Benton explores the treatment and prospects of unmarried mothers, and also elucidates topics such as the history of wet nurses, the grisly conditions in foundling hospitals, the devastation of disease and starvation, and the everyday existence of the impoverished and homeless of the time period.

Such dismal topics are assuaged by Benton’s aesthetic and judicious prose. Her picture of Lilli’s world is tightly drawn, rich, and descriptive while managing a concise presentation of Lilli’s reflections. Though she is not worldly, Lilli is intelligent, and her notebooks are imbued with a sensible eloquence.

As she faces trials and moral dilemmas throughout the novel, Lilli’s spirituality is her touchstone. On important occasions and in moments of crisis, the words of weighty Quakers come to Lilli’s mind. She recalls Lucretia Mott, John Woolman, Isaac Penington, and Caroline Fox. In her reactions to other characters, she recounts what she has been taught by her Quaker mother and other Friends. Other characters notice her plain dress and speech, and her use of “thee” and “thou.” She shares aspects of her beliefs in conversations with other figures in the novel. In the midst of her troubles, Lilli reflects on Quaker ideas, testimonies, and the “buoyant silence of meeting for worship,” which inform the decisions she makes as she pushes forward for the sake of her baby.

Since the novel is intended for a wide commercial audience of both Friends and non-Friends, though, it does not delve too deeply into the complexity of Quaker thought. The core of the narrative is the intense, heartfelt connection between a mother and her baby. This gentle love that Lilli and her daughter share and the distress they experience when separated are among the most powerful expressions of the parent-child relationship that I have encountered in contemporary literature. Friends Journal readers will no doubt feel the depth and urgency of this profound relationship, too.

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A Leisurely Introduction to How a Bible-believing Christian Can Accept Gay Marriage in the Church

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:35
By Becky Ankeny. Meetinghouse, 2017. 42 pages. $3/pamphlet; free eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Evangelical Friends in Northwest Yearly Meeting have for some time experienced schismatic turmoil over the issue of same-sex marriage—or, as Becky Ankeny puts it, “full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church.” Although it goes unmentioned in A Leisurely Introduction, it is within this context that Ankeny, general superintendent of the yearly meeting, has written this study guide, which is intended for those “on the fence.” By this, she means Christian readers who are sympathetic to gay rights but afraid they might “throw out the Bible as a source of guidance.” During her yearly meeting debates, Ankeny argued that “the central themes of the Bible support full inclusion.”

The book is essentially composed of various thematic groupings of biblical references, but the value results from the way in which Ankeny not only paraphrases these passages, but boldly extends each one through her own interpretation. It’s not clear to me how well this will play with her audience, but then, I am not a product of evangelical culture.

In addition to such thematic collections, there are some more technical appendices that discuss homophobia in the various ancient cultures that produced the Bible. And then there are general introductory sections. One offers the observation that biblical rhetoric depends largely upon analogy: “Analogy usually convinces through emotion and imagination, since it is not primarily logical or rational.” Another mentions what psychology tells us about human decision making, for example, the notion of “confirmation bias.” It’s a shortcoming of the book that insights like these are not treated at greater length. Another shortcoming is that the sections devoted to sin take up disproportionate space; are vague, wide-ranging, and ambiguous; and their pertinence to the issue at hand remains unclear.

It is noteworthy that this curious little book does not make overt references to Quakerism. For this reason, it is an interesting exercise to recognize implicitly, or between the lines, so many vital foundational principles of Quaker theology in it. To a naïve eye, they may seem like innocuous commonplaces, but I can recognize them as restatements of dramatic and powerful arguments from the Hicksite schism, which led the Orthodox to react with horror over the “licentious” implications of freedom of conscience under the guidance of the Inner Light: Elias Hicks’s Perfectionism (his proposal that the believer can progress to a sinless state, 1 John 3:4–5); the Hicksite insistence that nothing is a priori unclean (Romans 14:14); the Friendly conviction that laws are meant to serve human dignity, and not the other way around (Mark 2:27); the reminder that the greatest law is the law of Brotherly Love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36–40); and of course, that central foundation of Quakerism, “the Light of the World” in human conscience (John 10:27; John 8:12).

I find it particularly striking that when Ankeny stresses the importance of not judging others (Matthew 7:1–3), she adds, “Our neighbors are responsible to God for their own relationships to God.” Hicks insisted on this point in 1824, asking his flock: “How then shall we undertake to give a brother or a father a belief? If we do it, what wicked and presumptuous creatures we are, because we take the place of God . . . Mind thy own business.”

In conclusion, the book’s strengths are its good ideas and very powerful theology; its problem is that they receive such cursory treatment. That leads to a certain lack of framing and perspective. A prime example of this is Ankeny’s fleeting reference to the possibility that the eunuchs mentioned so frequently in the Bible were not literally castrated, but that this was period slang for “gay.”

Ankeny’s book would be more powerful if she had expanded more upon the most critical message: “Encouraging gay and lesbian humans to enter marriage invites them into a good way of life that heterosexuals ought not to withhold.” As a gay Quaker, I can affirm that this is truly the ultimate question, because conservatives believe same-sex love leads away from God, while our own testimony—to all those who have ears to hear—is that our love leads us very much toward God.

In the end, the conclusion of Ankeny’s valuable and thought-provoking contribution rings perfectly true with the values shared by every Friend: “The key is to be in personal relationship to God, where one listens to God and does what one hears God say.”

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Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:30
Written and performed by Peterson Toscano; directed by Samuel Neff. Barclay Press, 2017. 103 minutes. $20/DVD; $14.99/download; $2.99/online rental. Buy from QuakerBooks

I first saw Peterson Toscano’s play, Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible, shortly after it premiered in late 2007. A character revelation in the last scene brought me to tears at that show—and half a dozen times after that, as I showed up to just about every Transfigurations performance I could over the next few years. Though most dramatically presented in that final scene, every character in Transfigurations is revelatory. Unexpected twists and turns are brought to light in often familiar stories by Toscano’s deft and creative scholarship: like Joseph, victim of a gender-based hate crime, or the transgender woman who leads the disciples to her home for the Last Supper. Toscano makes a strong case that not only are gender-variant characters present in the Bible, they are central figures in some of the most important stories of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

Transfigurations accomplishes several fairly extraordinary things. It speaks into the fraught intersection of religion and LGBTQ issues, and, without pretending neutrality, welcomes audience members with widely divergent perspectives. It is accessible to people who have never cracked open a Bible, while offering meaningful insights to biblical scholars and other experts. It is intellectually rigorous but grounded in emotion, spirit, and body.

Toscano’s humor, creativity, and humility open up the space in which all of this is possible. But the immediacy and intimacy of a live one-person play also carries a lot of the power and magic of the piece for me. I was skeptical that a filmed version would be able to preserve that energy.

Of course, the movie version of Transfigurations, directed by Samuel Neff, doesn’t recreate the magic of live performance. But the elegant, sparse production allows the piece to grow into a new form, one that can be shared widely beyond the limitations of one person’s touring schedule, while retaining the integrity of the stories and characters themselves. In fact, the DVD release brings two new forms of Transfigurations into the world: a performance version, featuring Toscano in the roles of various biblical characters, and a lecture-performance hybrid, in which a selection of monologues are interspersed with Toscano’s own reflections on the stories. These two versions, either of which can be easily broken into shorter segments, offer an exciting range of possible uses for the piece in classes, discussion groups, Bible studies, and other events for both faith communities and LGBTQ people—and will hold a special place, I suspect, in the hearts of folks who live at the intersection of those two worlds.

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Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? A Quaker Zionist Rethinks Palestinian Rights

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:25
By Steve Chase. Pendle Hill Pamphlets (number 445), 2017. 30 pages. $7/pamphlet. Buy from QuakerBooks

Which side are you on? In the Israel–Palestine struggle, this is often the first, main, and only question. A fierce battle for loyalties is being waged and emotions run high. For those who would stand with the oppressed, this choice of sides can be a particularly painful one, since both Israeli Jews and Palestinians have real and tragic experience of oppression.

Steve Chase does us all a service as he traces his journey through this tangled web, with compassion for everyone who is trying to find their way, himself included. He started out with a warm and sympathetic understanding of the oppression of the Jews and the hope of Israel. It was with difficulty, and much reading of history, that he found his way to a similar understanding of the oppression of Palestinians by the state of Israel.

In the process, his understanding of Zionism became much more nuanced. His first love, the spiritual Zionism of Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, remains intact. The vision of a large and vital Jewish community in the Holy Land embodying the prophetic Jewish values of peace and social justice, and helping to create an independent, multiethnic, democratic socialist state in Palestine, is a compelling one. But he had to come face to face with the hard reality of what he calls Territorial Zionism, an active and ongoing intention to take land and rights away from Palestinians for the benefit of the state of Israel.

The journey finally arrives at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a recent nonviolent Palestinian initiative which has become a touchstone for controversy in the United States and Europe. Pro-Palestinian groups have seized upon it as a moral imperative and a tangible framework for solidarity action, while pro-Israeli forces find the implied link of the Jewish homeland to the atrocities of apartheid South Africa deeply offensive. Chase offers a framework for thinking about the BDS movement that includes historical insight, social context, and commentary on the scope and goals of the movement that should be helpful to anyone seeking to better understand it.

A pamphlet of this length, of course, has its limitations. While there is clear acknowledgement of the U.S. government’s agenda in supporting Israel as a client state so they can act as our agents in the Middle East, no detail is offered. Unmentioned is the continued role of anti-Semitism in our culture, and the ease with which a principled focus on the rights of Palestinians can slip into collusion with the dark forces of anti-Semitism that have been raising their ugly head in recent years and are always ready to scapegoat the Jews.

But what is offered is of great value. If you feel compelled to back the Israeli state as an essential protector of the Jewish people, read this pamphlet, from someone who knows and empathizes with your perspective, to probe further into the complex story of Zionism. If you have firmly thrown your lot in with the Palestinians, read to better understand the history and nuance of Zionism, and to keep from the tendency to demonize Jews. If you are deeply perplexed about the whole conflict, take this opportunity to travel with a clear-headed and compassionate Quaker who has committed to a journey through this challenging territory toward ever-greater integrity and truth.

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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:20
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. Avery, 2016. 368 pages. $26/hardcover; $13.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

I know I am not alone among f/Friends in my desire to cultivate more joy in my own life and in the lives of those around me. In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two spiritual leaders who exude joy, share their understanding of the qualities of joy and how to sustain it. Joy, they describe, is “much bigger than happiness”; joy is “a way of approaching the world.” The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu spent a week together reflecting on joy; their wisdom, along with highlights of the academic study of joy, is synthesized by their coauthor Douglas Abrams. The two leaders delight in each other’s presence, and throughout the book readers are invited into their joyful world.

After initially defining joy, the leaders discuss the obstacles to lasting happiness. They share that there is no joy without suffering and that we must embrace the shadows of life to fully appreciate the beautiful moments. They address the power of prayer and reflection to help ease fear, anxiety, and stress, and the power of empathy to help us move beyond our anger and frustration toward others. They also offer advice about how to overcome sadness, grief, despair, loneliness, envy, adversity, and illness. They discuss the importance of developing a “sense of we,” particularly in our communities of faith. They remind readers that the more we celebrate our shared humanity, the stronger we are in building our resilience to all the challenges that we will inevitably face. One of the most inspirational quotes from this section came from the archbishop: “You are made for perfection, but you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making.”

After discussing the obstacles to our enduring happiness, the Archbishop and Dalai Lama delve into the eight pillars of joy as they understand them. The four pillars of the mind are perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Abrams reminds readers that although some of these values can be viewed as passive, they are meaningful tools when we are in command of them. They also point to four pillars of the heart that we benefit from developing: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity. They often return to a theme of the significance of our choosing how we respond to the pain of the world. They invite us to become “an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that ripples out to all of those around us.”

Thankfully, these spiritual guides do not leave the readers with only theories. The final section of the book offers techniques for practicing the “mental immunity” they preach. They include suggestions on intention setting, silent retreats, gratitude journaling, fasting, prayer, and generosity practices. They share a variety of meditations, including breathing, walking, analyzing, and visioning, that empower us to develop the space between a stimulus and our response, allowing us to choose our best selves. This section functions as a toolkit from which readers are encouraged to “find what works best” for each of us. Ultimately, they advise that relationships and communities are the greatest joy of all, and they direct readers to “seek out [our] own communities of love.”

The Book of Joy is both beautiful and practical. As interesting and useful as the information would be on its own, it is all the more meaningful because of the book’s collaborative approach. The Dalai Lama often advocates for proactive mental training so that we don’t feel suffering as intensely in the first place, whereas much of Archbishop Tutu’s advice is about what to do once we experience hurt. They both stress that love is at the core of all religions, but that we must do more than “rely on religious faith”; we must put our faith into action. They speak consistently about how recognizing the humanity in all others around the world is at the foundation of our enjoying the fullness of our own humanity, a message that will resonate with Friends and those who appreciate Quaker values. Indeed, I ended up sharing quotes from this book with friends, colleagues, and students throughout the period in which I was reading it. Once I finished I sent pictures of the cover to people in my life with a simple caption: “highly recommend.” The Book of Joy truly lives up to its title.

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I Want You to Be: On the God of Love

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:15
By Tomáš Halík, translated by Gerald Turner. University of Notre Dame Press, 2016. 189 pages. $25/hardcover; $11.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Tomáš Halík, a psychoanalyst and “a hidden priest” of the Roman Catholic Church during the Communist years in Czechoslovakia, is currently a professor of sociology at the Czech Republic’s premier Charles University. In reading this fine book, I have come to see him as a theologian for Friends, especially Friends in the unprogrammed worship tradition of many of Friends Journal’s readers. I count it a blessing indeed that I was asked to review this book and thus introduced to the wisdom of Tomáš Halík.

I Want You to Be is all about love—not the love of adolescent infatuation or romantic fiction, not the love of the narcissist, nor the love of possessions or their acquisition—the deep love in which the ego is transcended and we come into the power that unites without destroying or appropriating. To put it so succinctly is to give you a puzzle, a question, in the guise of an answer because so much needs to be unpacked before the author’s position becomes clear. Halík carries the reader gently and surely through reflections and meditations toward this end, yielding no final answers (as he warns in the first chapter) but only an “interim report” of his own journey. It is well worth accompanying him.

At the outset, Halík tells us that he has come to understand that “God approaches us more as a question than as an answer.” He writes that he now reads scripture with an eye to its questions and finds them more frequently than he finds answers, noting that God’s utterances in scripture are often ambiguous and paradoxical. This last is not a complaint but reflects the ambiguity and ambivalence that are characteristic of the human condition; it also recognizes that ambiguity and paradox manifest God’s remoteness from human frameworks of understanding (God’s transcendence) combined with God’s profound immanence.

Friends have learned by experience how attentive, patient listening in the course of deep sharing can build loving connections among people with manifestly different understandings and commitments. One may initially communicate effectively through one’s silence the willingness to listen respectfully to the whole person, not just to the words uttered. Halík sees this dynamic at work in our relationship with God: “It is clear that God’s hiddenness is the first word God speaks (or more precisely, is silent, because silence is an important form of communication) to those who ask about him.” We need in turn to wait in trusting, hopeful, and loving silence upon God to hear God’s second word. Halík offers guidance for our hearing that second word. He finds his clues in scripture: in Jesus’s two great commandments and in the theology of love in 1 John 4: “We cannot see God and God is no object of our perception—or even of our love—because God is no object at all, but we are asked to love our neighbors, including our enemies, as [we should] ourselves. To really ‘hear God’ is to open ourselves to fully embrace this ‘second word.’” By so doing, Halík holds, we come to love “in God” and in so doing to know and love God. The book unpacks this claim in words that are clear and powerful, though written with humility and without minimizing God’s hiddenness nor God’s amazing closeness, both of which are cloaked in mystery.

Halík writes for a European audience and works to reconcile two European traditions that seem to have drifted into mutual antipathy: Christian and secular humanisms. He sees them as linked, like quarreling brothers, each with something valuable to offer the other, but each no longer seeking the truth the other holds. Their reconciliation, he thinks, is critical for Europe’s future.

I regard Halík as a theologian for Friends because much of what he has to say will resonate with many readers of Friends Journal: his appeal to spiritual experience, his recognition of the importance of silence and waiting upon God, the emphasis on love as the doorway to God, recognition of several varieties of atheism, the role of science as “a necessary ally” of theology, and the necessity of a socially engaged spirituality. He writes of continuing revelation, the imperative to love one’s enemies, of apprehending things in the light, and of being oneself searched by the light. The book is not written in professorial language nor does he write as a theologian addressing other theologians. The theme of each chapter is addressed by a collection of discontinuous but deeply connected reflections replete with many highly quotable sentences. It was a joy to read I Want You to Be.

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Individual Spiritual Discernment: Receiving, Testing and Implementing Leadings from a Higher Power

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:12
By Jerry Knutson. Pendle Hill Pamphlets (number 443), 2017. 31 pages. $7/pamphlet. Buy from QuakerBooks

Pendle Hill pamphlets are by nature short, and this pamphlet neatly divides up an important topic into headings that touch on important questions that Quakers ask when we feel led. Is it from ourselves, or from God? Will it require us to do things we currently think we do not want to do? How can we test a leading? Jerry Knutson offers guidance on these aspects of being led, and he does so in simple language that stays close to the topic. It is important not to be carried away by emotion during discernment; this is not to say emotion has no place, but to clarify how discernment really works. I liked the line, “I am not in agreement with the statement ‘Follow your bliss.’” Indeed, a requirement can feel heavy; Knutson’s pamphlet has many tools to work with so that the yoke becomes light.

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A Gathering in Hope

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:10
By Philip Gulley. Center Street, 2016. 258 pages. $24/hardcover; $14.99/paperback; $9.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

I had the pleasure of hearing Phil Gulley offer a plenary talk at my yearly meeting’s annual session a few years ago. And yes, he included stories! This prolific Quaker pastor and storyteller has been at work again, peopling his latest novel with the members of Hope Friends Meeting and some animal brethren. This time, Hope’s Quakers are tested in a new way: how can they carry out a goal that’s exciting and good for them, and at the same time be respectful of the needs of others? When the others are an endangered type of bat, the conundrum takes on real-life dimensions. It is a lovely treat to wrap a difficult situation in the gentle and warm humor of Phil Gulley.

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Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:08
By Wenonah Hauter. The New Press, 2016. 276 pages. $27.95/hardcover. Buy from QuakerBooks

Food & Water Watch is a national organization with state chapters; as such, it is nimble enough to organize on local issues. In this book, founder and executive director Hauter discusses fracking, which she says “looms as the environmental issue of our times,” state by state where it is going on. In order to draw the big picture, she also reveals the criss-crossing web of relationships among those who benefit from it; the web includes oil companies, but also some in finance, media, and retail as well as utilities and nonprofits. The nonprofit beneficiaries of fracking include oil trade groups, but also others like the Smithsonian. She doesn’t include elected officials and legislators in the web, but the point is clear: all the beneficiaries will protect their own stake by protecting the others. This book is Hauter’s considerable contribution to helping citizens understand the issues; it is an excellent source to learn about more than fracking. The extensive index makes it even more valuable. The local chapters of Food & Water Watch offer a place to join in activism for those so led.

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Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:06
By Traci Smith. Chalice Press, 2017. 211 pages. $19.99/paperback or eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

It’s not uncommon to be aware of the sacredness of the ordinary, such as daily life with children. As we know, children experience openings and have powerful spiritual experiences at times. Faithful Families, a new and expanded version of the 2014 title Seamless Faith, is a book that offers ways to make it easy to frame the ordinary as sacred, keeping the space open for spiritual experiences to be not only had, but talked about within the home. Smith divides the book into sections on traditions for morning, bedtime, and holidays; ceremonies for events like birth and death; and spiritual practices for all days or any day, like labyrinths. She includes things that will appeal to children, such as Listening Car Rides and Quiet Time Bags for meditation.

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What Love Can Do: Following the Way of Peace, Justice and Compassion

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:04
By Gerard Guiton. Wipf and Stock, 2016. 164 pages. $21/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

Gerard Guiton describes his calling as “spiritual counseling,” and the nature of this book is in that vein. From the belief that people have a deep need to live in ways that honor and strengthen their experiences of spirituality, Guiton has written this book to help seekers enliven their search, which can open or reveal tender spots in one’s being. At such times, a book such as this not only helps the reader to experience the gift of such vulnerability; it also provides guidance, safety, companionship, and comfort along the way.

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Dirt: Back to the land in poetry

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:02
By Errol Hess. Wetknee Books, 2016. 70 pages. $5.99/paperback; $0.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

As in his previous collection, Hunting Pennies (reviewed in FJ June/July 2016), Errol Hess explores the Appalachian way of life with all its physical demands and rough edges, farms and mines, wild beauty and stark gashes. These mostly narrative poems by a West Virginia-born poet who currently lives on a 36-acre tract are rooted in the mountains, and shine with the wonders of its landscapes:

Once when I was very alone / the moon rose huge over my window / sill and I drove seventy miles / chasing it down valley roads.

And once, as we stood on a cleared knob / partway up Clinch Mountain, the moon rose / level with us larger than a dozen suns.

In this day and age, is it still possible to live on the land? It certainly is fertile ground for poetry.

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LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Guide to Transforming Professional Practice

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 02:00
By Kimberly D. Acquaviva. Harrington Park Press, 2017. 250 pages. $60/hardcover; $25/paperback; $19.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

This manual is a must read if you are involved with efforts to help caregivers examine their ideas and feelings about seeing LGBTQ patients as simply part of the general population and not some special group. Acquaviva shares heartwarming stories of good care along with valuable suggestions for training caregivers to be more inclusive.

Given the history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, this is a valuable resource.

Acquaviva is a tenured professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing and is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.), where she teaches First-day school among other things.

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James Harold Booth

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:25
Booth—James Harold Booth, 78, on August 14, 2016, in Lansing, Mich. Jim was born on July 17, 1938, in Baldwin, Kans., to Helen Ehrhardt and Harvey Mellenbruch Booth. As a boy he began to love the prairies. He pursued his interest in agricultural economics at Kansas State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in feed technology (1960) and a master’s degree in agriculture and applied science (1962). In 1964 he married Kathy Gebhart, whom he had met when both were working in downtown Chicago, Ill. After six years they moved to Lansing, where he taught at Michigan State University (MSU) for🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Careen Marie Rizzo Mayer

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:20
Mayer—Careen Marie Rizzo Mayer, 77, on February 27, 2017, at her home in Annapolis, Md., of natural causes. Careen was born on April 28, 1939, in Summit, N.J., to Edythe Ayrault and Henrique Luis Rizzo. Growing up in New Jersey, Florida, and Brazil, she earned a bachelor’s in psychology from University of Maryland in 1975. In Baltimore she worked for American Friends Service Committee’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 1982–1990. She was married to Joseph Mayer until their divorce in 1989. After earning a master’s in mediation and conflict resolution from Antioch College in 1992, she directed the community outreach programs🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
Not an FJ member? To read this piece, please join us today! For $28, you'll get:
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Olga Zalokoski McAllister

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:15
McAllister—Olga Zalokoski McAllister, 98, on January 23, 2017, of natural causes. Olga was born on September 14, 1918, in Chester, Pa., to Rosalia Motrycz and Gregor Zalokoski, known as Harry. On a nature hike to Hawk Mountain, Pa., Olga met Bard McAllister, her future husband, who shared her adventures for nearly 60 years. She lived in Philadelphia, Pa.; Glendora, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Alpine, Tenn.; Visalia, Calif.; and for six years in Zambia (Africa), before settling permanently in Visalia in 1972. She mothered four sons and supported Bard’s community organizing. She loved🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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David A. Meirs II

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:10
Meirs—David A. Meirs II, 87, on March 27, 2017, in Cinnaminson, N.J., surrounded by love and family. David was born on April 30, 1929, in Columbus, N.J. After graduating from Rutgers University with honors and University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, he established Walnridge Equine Clinic in 1965. He served as president of the New Jersey Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Rutgers University Board for Equine Advancement (RUEA), and New Jersey Association of Equine Practitioners. Also on the board of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, he was awarded many honors for his work. He served🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Robert H. Tollefson

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:05
Tollefson—Robert H. Tollefson, 91, on January 27, 2017, in Tipp City, Ohio. Bob was born on May 17, 1925, in Parsonsfield, Maine, to Gladys Jones, a relative of Rufus Jones, and Harold N. Tollefson, a Quaker minister who served churches in Maine, Rhode Island, Ohio, Minnesota, and Indiana and was an administrator for Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Bob fulfilled conscientious objector obligations with Civilian Public Service (CPS) in New York State and Oregon doing reforestation; in Virginia; and as a hand on ships taking livestock to Poland after World War II, a program that later became Heifer International. He graduated🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Gudrun Benedicte Friis Williams

Friends Journal - Sun, 2017-10-01 01:00
Williams—Gudrun Benedicte Friis Williams, 91, on February 24, 2017, in Denton, Tex. Gudrun was born on October 1, 1925, in Geneva, Switzerland, to Danish parents Bodil and Finn Friis. Her mother was a Lutheran, and her father was a humanist. Instead of church on Sundays, the family went on nature excursions: hiking, skiing, and studying botany. Gudrun remembered living a simple but comfortable life. Her family came into contact with Quakers through a Quaker hostel. The family returned to Denmark in 1940, when she was 14. Her father worked for the🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Quaker Works October 2017

Friends Journal - Sat, 2017-09-30 23:05
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.

Advocacy Friends Committee on National Legislation fcnl.org

For nearly 75 years, FCNL has lobbied Congress on priorities set by Friends. Right now, FCNL is seeing new energy for policy change and resistance. The number of people lobbying with FCNL and building relationships with their members of Congress continues to grow.

This work is making a difference. The all-out push from FCNL and its faith partners helped convince the Senate to reject legislation cutting healthcare for more than 22 million people. FCNL advocates called, wrote, and visited Congress; wrote letters to newspapers; took part in a 24-hour vigil; and flew from as far as Alaska to lobby.

FCNL works to bring people together across differences. In the past months FCNL has helped grow the Climate Solutions Caucus, a forum for Republicans and Democrats to develop climate policies, to more than 50 members. In May, FCNL supported a bipartisan group to introduce the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act.

FCNL’s capital campaign, “The World We Seek: Now Is the Time,” successfully concluded in June. It is already strengthening FCNL’s engagement with young adults and lobbying. This fall FCNL will open a Quaker Welcome Center, also funded by the campaign. FCNL looks forward to welcoming more Friends to Washington to lobby for the world Friends seek.

Quaker Council for European Affairs qcea.org

QCEA’s human rights program, which began earlier this year following a review of QCEA’s work, has just seen the launch of its first major publication. Child Immigration Detention in Europe is the result of months of research into the detention of children because of their refugee status, and reveals the extent to which this phenomenon is under-reported across Europe. The report also explores humane alternatives to detention, and will serve as a key support to advocacy work on this issue for the rest of 2017.

QCEA also published a pamphlet on the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty which protects fundamental rights across over 40 countries in Europe. The pamphlet was created to raise awareness of the convention among non-experts, and includes a ranking of how each signatory state has historically performed in protecting human rights.

In March, QCEA hosted a screening of the film Shadow World, a documentary which reveals the shocking reality of the global arms trade. The event—organized as part of QCEA’s peace program—included a post-film discussion with author Andrew Feinstein, whose initial research inspired the film. Almost 200 people attended.

Part of QCEA’s work involves helping supporters better understand European institutions, and in June QCEA held a study tour guiding a 20 Friends around Europe’s political institutions.

Quaker United Nations Office quno.org

Since 1947, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has worked to support a UN that prioritizes peace and prevents war, and presently includes programming in the areas of peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. QUNO leads this work because it believes the UN’s work is critical in supporting those in need of humanitarian assistance and affected by conflict or natural disasters, in upholding human rights, addressing climate change, and in guiding the eradication of diseases and supporting healthcare. Since welcoming the new U.S. administration, support to the UN has been under threat following proposals to potentially decrease funding. QUNO has been active in monitoring these developments, and working to inform its constituency of support, including through developing online informational tools.

The UN’s achievements could not happen without support from donors, including from the United States, which currently provides 22 percent of the overall UN budget and 28 percent of peacekeeping funding. However, proposals, including from the House, Senate, and draft executive orders, could affect this support. Additional plans for disengagement with the UN, such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, signal growing threats to the global efforts for sustainable development and peace.

QUNO’s website provides more details about ongoing work and current updates, including ways Friends can get involved with organizations that provide avenues for action.

Consultation, Support, and Resources

 

Friends General Conference fgcquaker.org

Friends General Conference held its annual Gathering of Friends at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y., from July 2 to 8. This year’s theme was Ripples Start Where Spirit Moves. Attendees from around the world were inspired by plenary presentations from Kenneth Deer, Pamela Boyce Simms, and three speakers representing American Friends Service Committee: Sa’ed Atshan, Dalit Baum, and Sandra Tamari. Friends can view Simms’s full presentation on FGC’s YouTube channel.

FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Race will proceed this fall thanks to the $62,350 raised by 62 individual supporters, 21 monthly meetings, and 4 yearly meetings. The assessment was lifted up during last year’s annual meeting of FGC’s Central Committee in October, and it will help FGC and its affiliated yearly and monthly meetings identify areas where systemic racism exists and develop a long-term vision for faithful inclusion. Friends can learn about this important work on the FGC website, and periodic updates will be shared online.

Thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors, FGC’s Quaker Cloud was made available free of charge this summer to Quaker meetings and churches that were new to the platform. The Quaker Cloud is updated with new features and upgrades regularly, so Friends who have not had the opportunity to try it are encouraged to sign up on FGC’s website.

Friends Services for the Aging fsainfo.org

In June, 75 attendees from Friends Services for the Aging (FSA) organizations gathered for a Values Summit to work together in articulating a vision of bringing Quaker-inspired values to senior living in today’s world. The group shared concrete examples of what the values mean “in action” in order to develop a shared understanding of what distinguishes a Quaker values-inspired approach. Led by professional facilitators, attendees were led through two days of exercises including storytelling and sculpting.

Irene McHenry, retired executive director of Friends Council on Education joined the summit, and shared that the SPICES acronym was developed to talk about how the values of presence, connection, and listening are lived. “Everyone found connections to the values, no matter what their faith or cultural background, or role in the organization, which made for a rich and engaging summit,” said FSA CEO Jane Mack.

The culminating activity of the two days was for small groups to name what they felt were the hallmarks of a Quaker values-inspired approach to senior living. Volunteers from each group then worked together to find common themes. These included Inner Light, trust, honoring the journey, gentle bravery, and being in community.

Reaction to the summit was very positive and a number of ideas for resources and programs arose. Participants were encouraged to take the spirit and conversations back to their respective organizations.

Friends United Meeting friendsunitedmeeting.org

After many years of prayer and discernment, way has opened for FUM to expand its ministries in the Southside neighborhood of Belize City, Belize. FUM has operated a small school for at-risk teens for many years, but the needs of this gang-ridden community are enormous. With the purchase and renovation of a new 8,800-square-foot building and the appointment of Kenyan Friend Oscar Mmbali as pastoral minister, FUM is now able to expand enrollment in the school, grow the small Friends meeting, offer AVP and other community-based ministries, and deepen its engagement with what God is doing to transform Belize City.

In other news, FUM recently appointed Adrian Moody to serve as the next head of school of Ramallah Friends School. The outgoing head, Joyce Ajlouny, had served in the post for 13 years and is now the new general secretary of American Friends Service Committee. Moody is an Australian with extensive experience in leadership of international schools. A deeply committed Catholic, Moody feels a strong affinity for Friends and a desire to help Ramallah Friends School grow and flourish.

The FUM Triennial, held in July 2017 at Friends University in Wichita, Kans., drew Friends from four continents. The 2020 Triennial will be held jointly with the United Society of Friends Women International and Quaker Men International, and will take place in Kenya.

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

Quakers in Australia are concerned about the proposed government poll to gain the view of Australians about marriage equality. In August, Jo Jordan, presiding clerk of Australia Yearly Meeting, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating where Australian Quakers stand on this issue: “The Religious Society of Friends . . . supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender. We also support the right of such couples to have their marriages accorded equal recognition and respect under the law of Australia.”

The letter also addressed the current law, which “prevents Quakers from facilitating the same legal recognition for same-sex marriages that we do for other marriages. This legal prohibition is fundamentally inconsistent with Quaker faith and practice.” In 2010 Australian Quakers agreed to celebrate marriages within meetings regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of the partners.

The letter ended with an opinion and a plea: “Quakers consider that a majority vote in a voluntary public poll is an inappropriate way to decide the legal rights of minorities who are subject to discrimination. . . . But if such a vote is held, we encourage everyone to open their hearts, to choose love over fear, and to support marriage equality in Australia.”

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

The 2017 Section Meeting of the Americas took place March 23–26 in Stony Point, N.Y. More than 125 Friends from 30 yearly meetings gathered to celebrate the theme Vivir La Paz—Living Peace (John 16:33). Highlights included three mornings of semi-programmed worship with spirited and challenging messages from Carl Magruder (Pacific Yearly Meeting), Kirenia Criado (Cuba Yearly Meeting), and Jonathan Vogel-Borne (New England Yearly Meeting), followed by small home-group discussions. More information, including the three plenary messages, can be found on the website.

Several years of planning, fundraising, and praying have culminated in the first cohort of the Traveling Ministry Corps. The seven ministers in the 2017 Corps—four from North America and three from South America—have begun visiting Quaker meetings and churches throughout the Americas. They are the newest weavers of the vibrant tapestry formed by the various threads of Quaker faith, crossing the boundaries created by distance, language, and belief.

The section has gathered new ideas and resources on the website for the fourth annual World Quaker Day on October 1, 2017. FWCC Section of the Americas is grateful to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, QuakerSpeak, Friends International Bilingual Center, and the Shoemaker Fund for collaborating on the videos and lesson plans for religious education programs.

Friends World Committee for Consultation (World Office) fwcc.world

FWCC supports the vitality of Quakerism around the world and amplifies the Quaker voice. The Central Executive Committee (CEC) met in Rwanda in April, alongside the Africa Section Triennial, a gathering of 400-plus Friends. The CEC affirmed FWCC is one organization in spirit, with a modular governance structure and with integrated ways of working. The committee affirmed FWCC’s intention to take up consideration of issues of privilege and historical injustice, and FWCC’s role in youth work and in building bridges within the world Quaker community. The CEC set the next World Plenary Meetings for 2023, 2030, and 2037, FWCC’s centennial.

With World Quaker Day on October 1, the World Office is distributing the new map “Finding Friends Around the World 2017” to monthly meetings and local meetings around the world. The World Quaker Day website (worldquakerday.org) has curricular resources and videos to accompany the map, and instructions for Friends who wish to share photos and videos from the day.

FWCC raised funding for a new position: On September 4, Susanna Mattingly began as the sustainability communications officer. Her work involves gathering stories of peace and sustainability based on the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice (World Conference 2012) and the Pisac Sustainability Minute (World Plenary Meeting 2016), engaging young adult Friends across the sections, and encouraging yearly meetings to report on their work.

Quakers Uniting in Publications quakerquip.com

QUIP met March 9–12 at the Penn Center on Saint Helena Island, S.C. The theme “Are Quakers Still Publishers of Truth?” inspired C. Wess Daniels’s talk “Revisioning the Nursery of Truth,” which looked to the emergent contexts of these times. Workshops included writing basics with Jennifer Kavanaugh; Becky Birtha led “How Much Belongs in a Children’s Book;” and Oskar Castro challenged writers to use social media to publish news and opinions. All enjoyed playing Quaker-created board games.

QUIP’s Tacey Sowle Fund, promoting publishing among underserved populations, is supported partly by QUIP dues. The Spanish Espiritu Se Levanta, a translation of Spirit Rising, allows Spanish-speaking Friends to discover how youth of different Quaker backgrounds express their beliefs. The grant to Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) supported an online resource of Spanish-language Quaker materials. QUIP also helped QREC publish a bilingual English–Spanish children’s book titled Quaker Meeting and Me.

QUIP membership and dues information for authors, publishers, and booksellers are on the new website.

Tract Association of Friends tractassociation.org

The Tract Association of Friends holds a sense of unity in the concern for distribution of Quaker literature, and for explaining the spiritual basis of Friends testimonies.

The Tract Association mourns the passing of office manager and Friend Christine Greenland, who died in Fourth Month 2017. The association is grateful for her work and dedication.

2018 Tract Association wall and pocket calendars will be available this fall.

A new piece, Traveling in the Ministry, a pamphlet by Marian Baker and Priscilla Makhino, a Friend from Kenya, is now available for mail order. Peace Be with You: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony, a pamphlet by Sandra Cronk, may be read online.

Development

 

Friendly Water for the World friendlywater.net

Klamath Falls (Ore.) Friends Church is a big supporter of Friendly Water for the World. Since 2015, the church has been supporting a group of 23 widows with HIV in eastern Rwanda—Tunyawamazimeza (“Use Clean Water”)—that has now produced and sold more than 2,200 BioSand water filters. Together with their sister groups—Dukundane (“Love One Another”), also women with HIV; and Amahoro (“Peace”), young people who were orphaned in the Rwandan genocide—they have ensured clean water for 60,000 people, and became entirely self-sufficient in the process. The three groups have now become among the largest philanthropists in eastern Rwanda, providing food for the hungry; sheep as Christmas presents for the poorest community members; and health insurance, shoes, and books for children entering school. The groups work four days a week on clean water efforts; on the fifth day they work in sewing and in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving.

Klamath Falls is a small Friends church with approximately 20 attendees on a typical Sunday. They correspond with the women in Rwanda, teach about clean water in First-day school, and celebrate Hope Sunday (the second Sunday in Advent) with a commitment to redouble their efforts. They would love to hear from other Friends meetings and churches interested in joining their efforts to ensure clean water to poor communities around the globe (contact at nwfriends.org/klamath-falls).

Quaker Service Australia qsa.org.au

QSA works with communities in India, Cambodia, and Uganda as well as to support Aboriginal communities and organizations in Australia. One such community is Kornar Winmil Yunti (KWY) in South Australia, a name which means “men working together” in the local language of Ngarrindjeri.

KWY is a nonprofit organization that supports Aboriginal men to build and strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing. Operating since May 2011, it holds healing camps and support groups, addressing significant issues such as identity and family roles, relationships, elders roles, Indigenous history, family violence, and grief and loss. An extension to these groups was implemented as they began to hold awareness-raising seminars for male youth to address depression, suicide, and domestic and family violence. Called “Club Connect,” the project provides information and encouragement for youth to make positive changes in their lives, and supports them in making informed choices. KWY staff delivered seminars to members of already existing football clubs and were very honest in sharing their own stories, creating a helpful atmosphere of trust and support. More information about this and other projects is on the website.

Australia Yearly Meeting acknowledges that Quaker testimonies call Friends to be in right relationship with all peoples. Australia Friends are all learning how to uphold First Nations people and their descendants in Australia in a joint and ongoing journey toward justice.

Education

 

Bolivian Quaker Education Fund bqef.org

BQEF continues its steady work empowering education, service, and connection between Friends in Bolivia and Friends in North America and Europe.

There are now more than 170 graduates of the BQEF scholarship program. Forty-six university and technical school scholarships were awarded this year, across diverse fields of study. Thirty-six of these students have sponsors, including one sponsor who is a former recipient. This marks the first time that a scholarship program graduate has fully sponsored another student in the program, an exciting milestone in sustainability.

This spring and summer, BQEF staff and volunteers attended several yearly meetings and Quaker gatherings. They had a well-attended interest group at the FGC Gathering, inspiring new enthusiasts, advocates, and travelers to Bolivia.

BQEF is partnering on joint activities with Quaker Bolivia Link, combining efforts to more effectively introduce Friends to the Quaker-led work in Bolivia.

The Student Residence in Sorata is also partnering with other organizations, to deepen and enrich the 22 student residents’ learning and opportunities. Two orphaned brothers, one of whom had been acting out and struggling in school, have settled in nicely and are now thriving. Loving care and support from staff and other students have made this uplifting turnaround possible.

Earlham School of Religion esr.earlham.edu

Earlham School of Religion recently began the fall 2017 semester with an exciting new group of residential and online students. Incoming students represent denominations including Quaker, UU, MCC, Catholic, and Episcopal, and come to Indiana from as far away as California. August saw the launch of ESR’s first Entrepreneurial Ministry certificate program, with a cohort of students who began the program with a two-week intensive course.

ESR recently received an Association of Theological Schools-sponsored innovation grant to help motivate and fund faculty and student projects that connect curricular interests with the realities of ministry. ESR is also seeing great benefits to the implementation of blended classes through the use of videoconferencing to bring distance students into the classroom.

ESR continues to offer the services of the Quaker Information Center and the Quaker Career Center to answer questions about Quakerism and to offer job listings to those seeking a position in many different forms of ministry.

In August ESR welcomed Earlham’s new president, Alan Price, and FCNL executive secretary Diane Randall as the plenary speakers for the annual Quaker Leadership Conference. ESR will host pastor Mandy Smith as the keynote speaker for the Pastors Conference on October 2, and author Barbara Brown Taylor as the keynote speaker for its Ministry of Writing Colloquium November 3–4.

Friends Association for Higher Education quakerfahe.com

In May, FAHE published Quakers, Business, and Industry, the fourth in a book series examining Friends’ contributions to the academic disciplines, past and present.

FAHE’s 2017 conference was held in June at Guilford College. With the theme “Global Education, Global Quakerism,” the conference celebrated the global diversity of Quakerism, discussed the world’s changing educational landscape, and looked at how Friends’ testimonies might inform those changes in a positive way. In sessions ranging from physics to leadership to Quaker theology and history, Friends noticed that the words change, and adaptation and transformation arose often.

Highlights included the plenary speakers: Diya Abdo of Every Campus a Refuge urged attendees to consider how their institutions might aid refugees. David Niyonzima, vice chancellor of the International Leadership University in Burundi, described his work in trauma healing, leadership development through education, and transformation through the practice of Quaker faith. Gwen Gosney Erickson, Guilford College archivist, spoke about the first World Gathering of Quakers at Guilford 50 years ago; the prospect of hosting the event leveraged the integration of the college five years earlier, in 1962. Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s president, expressed faith in the future of Quaker institutions in the face of great change, because the Quaker commitment to listening into and out of the silence takes us to a deeper place and builds stronger relationships.

Friends Council on Education friendscouncil.org

Friends Council on Education remains nimble in supporting schools during turbulent times in our nation and seeks to provide responsive programming for educators as they navigate a challenging climate. “Teaching in Uncertain Times” provides a dynamic online platform for conversation and resource sharing. “UnColumbus Day” provides an opportunity for teachers to consider and rethink teaching about myths in U.S. history. A special speaker will focus attention on “Immigration/Sanctuary,” exploring how Friends school communities can support those who come to the United States in search of freedom and safety.

Friends Council strives to be a voice for the values Friends schools stand for. Statements responding to an increased climate of hate, violence, and bigotry are available to member schools. One Friends Council statement on a national event was particularly resonant, reaching over 11,000 people on Facebook.

Connection and outreach to Friends Council global affiliates included a visit to Ramallah Friends School by executive director Drew Smith, along with students and faculty from Westtown School.

Friends Council engaged Quakers, meeting clerks, heads of schools, donors, board members, educators,and individuals in a year-long comprehensive strategic planning process in 2016–2017.

Friends Council facilitates collaboration of Friends schools. This past spring the Friends Environmental Education Network hosted Friends Initiative to Reach Sustainability Together (FIRST) whose goals include bringing together Friends schools to collaborate on renewable energy initiatives.

Friends Historical Association quakerhistory.org

Friends Historical Association publishes two issues of the journal Quaker History each year and also holds two events focusing on aspects of Quaker history: a fall annual meeting with a speaker or panel, and a spring tour or trip to a location of significance in Quaker history.

This spring on May 6, inspired by last November’s conference “Quakers, First Nations and American Indians from the 1650s to the 21st century,” FHA members traveled to southern New Jersey to learn about past and present Quaker–Indian relationships, share stories, and renew friendships.

At Salem Oak and Friends Burial Ground (also the site of the first Quaker meeting in West Jersey) tour members received a warm welcome from a member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. The group continued on to Lower Alloways Creek Meetinghouse, which was named for Aloes or Alowas, a Lenape sachem. There were opportunities to see Greenwich (N.J.) Meeting, Bacons Neck, Ambury Hill Cemetery, the Cumberland County Prehistorical Museum, and the 1870 monument erected by Quaker George Bacon Wood to a native chief whose name is lost.

A highlight for many was the visit to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Grounds, where a delicious meal was shared, greetings and gifts exchanged, and friendships renewed. The final destination was Gouldtown, which was established in 1690 and may be the oldest African American community in the United States.

Quaker Religious Education Collaborative quakers4re.org

QREC has grown into the vision of a cross-branch, international collaborative network of Friends supporting lifelong spiritual formation. Now beginning its fourth year, the collaborative is focused on recognition of religious education as vital ministry within the Society of Friends and on support for this work in local meetings and Friends churches.

Current projects include the addition of Spanish-language curriculum resources on QREC’s website, continued development of an interactive web resource platform, and production of short videos on religious education topics. Copies of Quaker Meeting and Me, a little book meetings and churches can use to welcome young children into their Friends community, have been distributed through several yearly meetings, and requested copies have been shared with Friends in Bolivia, Mexico, and Ramallah, Palestine. Copies can be requested on the website (quakers4re.org/qmandm).

On August 18–20, QREC hosted an annual retreat, gathering 40 Friends from 14 states across the United States, Mexico, and Bolivia at Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Ind. The program included a panel on the role of the Bible in Quaker religious education, workshops, sharing of new resources and favorites from Friends’ religious education libraries, and music led by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood of Rise Up Singing. The next QREC retreat will be held at Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y., on August 17–19, 2018.

Sierra Friends Center woolman.org

Camp Woolman and Teen Leadership Camp welcomed campers on June 25. The vibrant and talented camp counselors created a camp based on the Baltimore Yearly Meeting model filled with safety, authenticity, fun, and challenge. The camps had over 200 campers this summer, including nine campers from China.

The center’s year of discernment into future programs to carry out the mission of “peace and justice through learning and service” led to piloting the Woolman Outdoor School May 17–19, with over 70 Oakland, Calif., students coming to the site. Sierra Friends Center collaborated with the Sierra Streams Institute on the curriculum, which included studying macro-invertebrates at the pond, sitting in silence in the meadows, cooking, astronomy, and removal of scotch broom. A short video on the pilot can be viewed on YouTube by searching for “Woolman Outdoor School.”

Sierra Friends Center is also celebrating their recent AmeriCorps team at Woolman. Their spirit infused the campus with energy. SFC hosted the annual Family Work Camp and a new Alumni Work Camp. The summer was a whirlwind of projects, play, conversations, and—most of all—love for Woolman.

Woolman and Sierra Friends Center welcome visits, calls, letters, and emails, and are grateful for the support of the community as they seek ever more relevant ways to bring Quaker educational experiences to the West Coast.

Environmental and Ecojustice

 

Earth Quaker Action Team eqat.org

In May EQAT completed the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice. The 100-mile walk through southeastern Pennsylvania connected 30 communities to EQAT’s campaign for the utility PECO to Power Local Green Jobs by purchasing solar power generated in areas hungry for jobs.

The message resonated with many neighbors; people shared their needs for clean air, community jobs, and a safe future for the next generation. About 200 people joined the two-week walk, which was covered in news articles and on local TV. Over 200 also came out for the final mile, despite pouring rain, to march to PECO’s headquarters. Author Bill McKibben, Bishop Dwayne Royster, and other speakers called for PECO to recognize the connections between deep unemployment and the devastating impacts of climate change by ending its reliance on fossil fuels and embracing a solar future.

Those connections were reaffirmed in July when campaign partner POWER released a report on green jobs and poverty in Philadelphia. They estimate that green jobs could lift as many as one in five Philadelphians out of poverty, and recommend PECO begin immediately working toward 20 percent local solar by 2025.

Longtime members and new organizers trained during the walk are now planning a day of action for late fall. The day will amplify pressure on PECO by coordinating simultaneous actions for local green jobs.

Quaker Earthcare Witness quakerearthcare.org

This year marks QEW’s 30th anniversary. The October Steering Committee meeting at Pendle Hill will focus on where Spirit is leading as QEW celebrates a history of inspiring Friends to act on spiritual connection with the natural world. QEW will seek way forward to build a sustainable, life-enhancing future in these challenging times. All Friends are welcome to attend. There will be multiple ways to connect, worship, celebrate, hear about current projects, and plan for the future.

Recognizing the need for food sovereignty, QEW sponsored an international event at the United Nations on re-localization of food production in the African diaspora. The coalition includes Black urban and rural farmers, agro-ecology activists, and defenders of small landholders and water rights in many parts of the world. The coalition is supporting people of African descent in the United States and elsewhere who have been disfranchised, displaced, and denied access to water. The coalition supports regional and international alternatives to energy- and chemical-intensive monoculture and corporate “agribiz” land grabs. Next year the coalition plans to sponsor a program on accessible and clean water.

The Earthcare for Children curriculum has been updated and is available from the website as downloadable lesson plans or in book format. Topics include “Earth Is Our Home,” “Soil, Seeds, and Climate,” and more. The lessons provided accommodate varying ages and interests in First-day schools.

Quaker Institute for the Future quakerinstitute.org

Three Quake Institute for the Future research and writing projects are currently in process using the institute’s Circles of Discernment (CoD) method of collaboration.

QIF’s first CoD in 2007–2009 focused on the ethics of energy choices, and produced the Focus Book Fueling Our Future. In view of major changes, a current Circle of Discernment is revisiting this theme under the leadership of Robert Bruninga. A Focus Book is close to completion. A second CoD, led by John Lodenkamper, is working on a compilation and analysis of what is required to create a “life-centered economy” in which health and wellbeing are the primary indicators of prosperity, rather than the accumulation of wealth. A third CoD, led by Jim Grant, is working with the science-based “New Story” of the human-Earth relationship as presented by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, with a view to its role in advancing ecologically coherent cultural and spiritual development.

Due to planning circumstances, the QIF Summer Research Seminar was not held in 2017. It will resume in 2018.

Investment Management Friends Fiduciary Corporation friendsfiduciary.org

This year Friends Fiduciary has engaged with 40 companies across multiple sectors on various issues including drug pricing, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emission goals.

One leadership area for this season was asking companies to disclose their state and federal lobbying and trade association memberships. Friends Fiduciary sees lobbying transparency as both an issue of integrity and responsible management of business risks, as these expenditures are often significant and made with little board oversight. Lead resolutions asking Comcast Corporation and Vertex Pharmaceuticals to disclose their state and federal lobbying were voted on by all company shareholders in June, and received votes in line with votes received at other companies for similar resolutions, sending the message to company management that their shareholders are concerned about this issue.

Friends Fiduciary successfully withdrew resolutions at two insurance companies after they agreed to produce annual sustainability reports. Friends Fiduciary looks forward to continuing and deepening witness on Wall Street in the upcoming proxy season.

In July, Mimi Blackwell was hired as planned giving program manager to support a new initiative to more proactively support the vitality and growth of Quaker organizations and meetings through effective fundraising and stewardship.

Retreat, Conference, and Study Centers

 

Friends Center friendscentercorp.org

Friends Center serves as the Quaker hub for peace and justice in Philadelphia, with 37 organizations housed in the building. Recently Friends Center tenant Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) was a leading local voice to prevent damaging changes to the federal healthcare law. They worked closely with U.S. Senator Bob Casey, advocates, and health providers to mobilize ordinary Pennsylvanians to speak out.

Meanwhile, Friends Center’s paid event business keeps the complex busy seven days a week. Recent conferences include the International Theosophists Conference and the Kinks, Locks & Twists conference of New Voices, a human rights and reproductive justice organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women of color, especially Black women and girls.

A photo of the Race Street Meetinghouse—the heart of the Friends Center campus—is included in an exhibition at Philadelphia International Airport from July 2017 through mid-2018. The exhibition celebrates the city recently becoming the nation’s first World Heritage City.

In September Friends Center participated for the second time in Park(ing) Day, the international day to reclaim parking spaces for people, not cars. Friends Center built a temporary “parklet” on North 15th Street, with the help of Friends Council on Education, Friends Association for Higher Education, Friends World Committee, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia.

Powell House powellhouse.org

The Elsie K. Powell House Committee continues to work on the strategic planning process, aiming to finalize it in January 2018. Specifically, Powell House surveyed constituencies and completed a facility assessment. Powell House continues to seek input and suggestions for this work from yearly meeting attenders and other clients.

Leila Archibald of Fifteenth Street Meeting in New York City served as a summer intern and worked in many areas, including youth and adult programing, food service, maintenance, and administrative tasks.

This spring, Powell House hosted both Friends Seminary and Oakwood Friends School twelfth graders as they prepared for their graduations. Additionally, the Powell House youth program recognized its graduating seniors during the EarthSong retreat for seventh through twelfth graders.

Powell House also hosted a number of non-Quaker events that reflect its impact on the wider communities of which it is a part, including the Downtown Meditation Community’s weeklong silent retreat, several memorial services, a community tea for a local women’s group, and a Law Enforcement Conference focusing on sharing the intervention techniques for abused animals (hosted by nearby Little Brook Farm).

Shorter retreats—half a weekend in length—were tested and found to be successful for both a Junior Yearly Meeting planning event and a “Membership in the Religious Society of Friends” conference.

Woolman Hill Retreat Center woolmanhill.org

Woolman Hill, in collaboration with New England Yearly Meeting and Marcelle Martin, launched a new nine-month program, “Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness,” with a five-day residency in September. Many thanks go to Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund, NEYM Legacy Funds, and the Bogert Fund for scholarship and other support for the program. Woolman Hill is also grateful for Legacy funding that enabled it to offer the racial justice weekend workshop “Say the Wrong Thing” with Amanda Kemp earlier this year.

Woolman Hill has lost a number of f/Friends over the past two years, including Dirk Spruyt, Ann and George Levinger, Georgana Foster, Bill Upholt, Connie Sattler, Connie Comfort, Rick Keller, and Judith Shea, among others. Their wisdom, encouragement, elbow grease, financial support, and friendships are missed.

Woolman Hill also lost an arboreal friend: the majestic maple just south of the main building. In recognition of the many trees that are aging or have already fallen, seven trees (an American linden, three swamp white oak, and three shad) were planted this spring. A beautiful lawn area under a triple sycamore was created to replace the shady sanctuary previously offered by the old maple.

Attention has been given to indoor facilities as well. The conference center’s kitchen bathroom was entirely renovated. Staff and board members are working to assess how best to provide more accessible and private accommodations.

Service and Peace Work Canadian Friends Service Committee quakerservice.ca

2017 is being heavily promoted in Canada as a year of celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadian Friends Service Committee invites people to consider the following:

Firstly, Indigenous Peoples have lived and exercised sovereignty over the territory of what is now Canada for far longer than 150 years and this past must be acknowledged. Secondly, the confederation of what we call Canada is founded on fraud and the theft and plunder of Indigenous territories, and many ongoing violations of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have yet to be resolved.

In the spirit of “renewed courage” and the desire to live in a good way, CFSC offers an adapted version of Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Advices and Queries #11: “Be honest with this nation state called Canada. What unpalatable truths might we be evading? When we recognize shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of the Creator’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage toward a future where the rights and dignity of all peoples are respected.”

In 2016 Canadian Friends found unity with a proposal to take their work of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples “to the next level.” This commitment involves grassroots actions across Canada based on the local opportunities. Reports about this action are available on the CFSC website.

Friends House Moscow friendshousemoscow.org

On April 18, Evening Kazan (Russia) reported, with amazement and sympathy, on the story of a tenth-grade pacifist. Since 2010, Russian high school boys have been required to take a course in military preparedness, culminating in a week’s weapons training. But Kamil Sh., a boy from a village school in Tatarstan, refused. “I’m a pacifist. I think it’s just not right for me to assemble and disassemble automatic weapons. I don’t want to spend beautiful days in May playing war.” School administrators threatened to lower Kamil’s grades, and a regional education official frightened his parents, warning that their son was jeopardizing his future.

There have been other such cases. Conscientious objection counselors are developing a strategy: high schools could prepare students for AGS (alternative government service, available to Russian pacifists) by allowing curricular options like medical training.

Kamil turned for help to one of Friends House Moscow’s most trusted partners: For Our Sons, a Kazan organization protecting the rights of conscientious objectors, army conscripts and their families. The organization went into action; they helped Kamil file appeals; they contacted multiple authorities on his behalf, including the regional ombudsman for children’s rights. In the end, Kamil attended his regular classes, school authorities did not press the issue, and, this fall, Kamil expects to begin his alternative government service.

Quaker House quakerhouse.org

Quaker House directors were on the move this summer visiting many yearly meetings and other conferences. They gave presentations on the history and witness of Quaker House, moral injury, and conscientious objection. Kindra Bradley, the new Quaker House director, was able to go to most of these with Lynn and Steve Newsom, former directors, in order to meet Friends and learn more about Quaker House’s work. She also attended the GI Rights Hotline conference for additional training.

Quaker House GI Rights Hotline counselors were busier than ever, with so many service members struggling with the consequences of being at war for 16 years. The domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury therapist saw a rise in clients, along with an increase in the number of children who have been sexually assaulted by an active duty family member. In spite of strong evidence, one stepfather was found innocent and returned to active duty.

Family members contact Quaker House asking for help with their inability to get the support they need from Veterans Affairs. Quaker House is able to connect them with VA officials who see to it that they get the attention they deserve.

So many victims of wars desperately need help. Quaker House is grateful to its supporters who enable them to provide that help.

Quaker Voluntary Service quakervoluntaryservice.org

Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) is an experiment at the intersection of transformational spirituality and activism. In the QVS program, young adults work full-time in professional positions at community-based organizations addressing a wide range of issues, while living in a cooperative house in partnership with local Quakers.

The strategy of QVS is two-fold: it seeks to address immediate issues of justice and inequity by expanding the capacity of the service site placement organizations where Fellows work, while simultaneously preparing the next generation of leaders working to build a society in which the symptoms of injustice no longer exist.

By centering this experience in intentional Quaker community, and inviting young adult participants into a deeper relationship with themselves and their own understanding of spirituality, participants are better able to integrate their values, practices, motivations, and identities in such a way that their work can be grounded in love and joy, rather than the fear and aggression that plague many people. QVS is a year of reflection and training to prepare the participant for a whole life committed to peace, justice, and equality.

QVS now has a strong community of over 100 alumni working in the world, and has just entered its sixth program year.

William Penn House williampennhouse.org

WPH continues to be inspired by the outpouring of witness and activism for peace and justice in recent months. WPH hosted activists from across the United States and supported their faithful witness during the March for Science, the People’s Climate March, and Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Vigil to Save Medicaid. The house has been blessed with guests from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and the Center for Popular Democracy as well as individuals coming to Washington, D.C., to advocate for justice. As in years past, participants in FCNL’s Spring Lobby Weekend and Advocacy Corps filled the house with joyful energy and commitment.

WPH has seen increased interest and energy in social justice education programs. WPH led its eleventh annual workcamp in Louisiana, working with community-based activists in New Orleans and the Isle de Jean Charles Indigenous community in efforts to respond to climate change and political marginalization. WPH also returned to Caretta, W.V., for the seventeenth year, supporting local activists and building bridges across cultural and political divides.

WPH led seven educational programs in Washington, including a seminar on foreign policy held by a class from Earlham College, and a service-learning program focused on food justice attended by middle school classes from Richmond Friends School in Indiana and Cambridge Friends School in Massachusetts.

Youth Service Opportunities Project ysop.org

YSOP has had a busy, rewarding summer with groups and schools from all over the country serving the homeless and hungry in New York City and Washington, D.C. YSOP offers service-learning programs for students from seventh grade through graduate school. It also has programs from time to time for groups of adults. All programs offer hands-on service to homeless and hungry folks framed by an orientation and reflection facilitated by YSOP staff.

The D.C. program featured an interfaith dinner with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youth groups preparing, serving, and sharing a dinner party with homeless guests. The evening was a lot of fun, and the groups that participated indicated interest in doing more together. YSOP’s New York program saw a renewed interest in summer Overnight Workcamps, a popular three-season program not typically offered in the summer. YSOP is thrilled with the enthusiasm and dedication of student volunteers wanting to serve people in need for a 24-hour period, when some might decline that opportunity because of the summer heat.

YSOP has added a New York program coordinator to increase outreach to new schools, religious and community youth groups, and the service agencies it partners with to provide meaningful experiences for volunteers, including soup kitchens, food pantries, urban gardens and farms, and transitional housing.

 

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

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