Articles & News

Faithful Sexuality

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:28pm
By the Working Party on Spirituality and Sexual Ethics. New England Yearly Meeting, 2016. 68 pages. $10/pamphlet; free PDF available at Buy from QuakerBooks

At the end of August, a group of evangelicals published a document referred to as “The Nashville Statement,” which explicitly reaffirmed the authors’ orthodox, exclusionary sexual norms and went to the trouble of explicitly disavowing acceptance of any transgender identities. The release of such a document makes “Faithful Sexuality,” a report from New England Yearly Meeting’s Working Party on Spirituality and Sexual Ethics, all the more important in our nation’s debate around sexuality and gender.

In the twentieth century, there have been a few formal efforts to help with discernment for Friends on issues related to sexuality. The approaches have been squarely centered in the equality testimony in that recommendations tend to focus on full inclusion of Friends previously excluded in some way, such as gay and lesbian Quakers and, more recently, transgender Friends. The most widely known example of this is Towards a Quaker View of Sex, a report published by the Friends Home Service Committee of London Yearly Meeting in 1963 that focused primarily on the rising acknowledgement of homosexuality among Quakers in Britain.

In my own lifetime (b. 1980), the sexuality issue I most clearly recall being discussed among Friends is marriage of same-sex couples in meetings. While the dust has mostly settled among liberal unprogrammed Quakers, the issue is not actually dead: more conservative monthly and yearly meetings continue to grapple with homosexuality; recently, the conflict has led to several dramatic splits in yearly meetings. The Nashville Statement makes clear that in many other faith traditions, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals—as well as those who engage in any sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage—are unequal and, unless they choose a life of chastity, unwelcome.

Despite the absence of overt rules about sex and sexuality among Friends, New England Yearly Meeting’s young adult Friends community in 2005 formally asked the yearly meeting to take up the question of “What defines a positive and spiritual sexual relationship?” In 2007 NEYM formed a working party to discern answers to this question, and “Faithful Sexuality” is a report on the party’s work over a period of eight years.

Quakers in the United States represent a wide spectrum of values and beliefs about sexuality, sex, and gender. NEYM’s document reflects and will resonate most with those who are liberal. It takes as a given the equality of gender and sexual orientation; that discrimination against people for their sexual identity is not acceptable; and that a variety of forms of sexual expression can be part of normal, healthy, and spiritual relationships.

I particularly appreciated the statements from NEYM monthly meetings about their own discernment processes; these should be instructive to meetings wondering where a process of wrestling with issues related to sexuality and inclusion might take them. While many Friends meetings are havens for those who have been excluded from and wounded by religion because of their sexuality and/or gender identity, the Nashville Statement spells out the ways in which many people—heterosexual and cohabiting, LGBT and not celibate, or trans—may continue to experience exclusion, discrimination, and hurt in their faith communities.

The report demonstrates many years of discernment and work, and is an affirmation of shared liberal values on a spectrum of issues that individuals and meetings might confront related to sexuality and relationships. Given that this document was prepared by members of an unprogrammed, liberal yearly meeting who self-selected into a group to discuss sexuality, I wish that the language used throughout was fully inclusive: cis-normative terms such as “man” and “woman” appear where non-gendered terms could’ve easily been used to make the text inclusive of all who might read it.

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Categories: Articles & News

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:26pm
By Krista Tippett. Penguin Press, 2016. 288 pages. $28/hardcover; $17/paperback; $12.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

“I’m a person who listens for a living. . . . This book chronicles some of what I’ve learned.” These are a few of the introductory words written by someone who to many Friends may not need introduction. The voices she listens to are her conversation companions in her popular and award-winning radio program On Being. She is the author of the best-selling Speaking of Faith and Einstein’s God.

The narrative of this book knits together excerpts from conversations she has had with a broad variety of partners—in an appendix she lists more than 200. From Tippett’s many conversations she has selected just five “breeding grounds for wisdom” around which she structures her often personal narrative.

Words. Naming things and concepts brings their essence into being, and we are ready for fresh language to approach each other. The word “tolerance,” for instance, no longer reaches far enough; it is too small an idea for our present time. “The point of learning to speak together differently,” she says, “is learning to live together differently,” not merely tolerating. This chapter explores a variety of aspects of the art and skill of truly listening conversations, and Tippett provides excellent examples of how asking incisive and animating questions is a particularly powerful use of words. In these and five more excerpted conversations that appear in the chapter’s endnotes, she lucidly pieces together an astonishing variety of insights.

The body. Mind and spirit join physicality into one inseparable whole. One of the conversations shines an illuminating light on the Jewish concept of the soul as not preexistent but emergent, formed only through physicality and relational experience: “We need our bodies to claim our souls,” she says. Another of the conversational excerpts is an exploration of the worldwide L’Arche communities, illuminating the ways in which the creation of support networks for those with mental disabilities illustrates this spirit–body wholeness, able-bodied and handicapped striving to share each other’s lives. Still another pointed out that Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” is too cerebral, and should be “I feel, therefore I am”—we must not just think our existence but feel it.

Love. The conversations excerpted here are searches for the strength and resilience behind a word that for Tippett is the most watered-down in the language. It’s not just a feeling but a way of being—searching in “the quiet spaces of the everyday in which we live and move and have our being.” It also involves accepting the difficult task of appealing to the goodness in every human being and never giving up. The reality of this idea has been nowhere more forcefully and personally experienced than by the former civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis of Alabama. Another person interviewed claims that love is “like dark matter, this force that permeates everything.”

Faith. The subtitle of this chapter is “The Evolution.” Truly living faith evolves from a childhood fear of not measuring up, through successive stages toward a mature faith: learning to reckon with the mysteries that make life life. The origins of a deeper and sturdier mature faith are to be found in wondering, and this more or less sums up the diverse ways interviewees saw their evolving faith. Tippett sees a remarkable growth of mature faith: centering prayer, spiritual direction, retreats, and meditation are becoming mainstream as never before. There is frequent exploration—nimbly sidestepping clichés—of the ways in which the mystic and the scientist are converging in their sense of wonder and never-ending discovery.

Hope. It is not wish-based optimism, not an emotion, but a firmly reality-based process. “It is a privilege,” she says, “to hold something robust and resilient called hope.” The L’Arche movement is invoked once again as a prominent example of this deeply rooted confidence in goodness. This final chapter is in many ways the most intense and personal of the book. Tippett never limits herself to simply quoting others, but in personal reflections reminds us of all that these conversations have stirred up in her. She reflects, “I am dazzled by the great good I can discern everywhere out there. I’ve shared a sliver in these pages, just a sliver.”

Has this book shown us routes to “becoming wise”? The two words of the title neatly wrap up the book’s message: becoming—the path always rich with possibility—is wisdom, and the source of wisdom is this becoming. After journeying through all these wide-ranging conversations that she so skillfully knits together, we see that the answer has been at our fingertips all along: “We have it in us to become wise.” All of us do, and it is in opening new conversational spaces that we unlock the wisdom in each other.

The post Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914–1918

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:24pm
By Michael Kazin. Simon & Schuster, 2017. 378 pages. $28/hardcover; $17/paperback (January 2018); $14.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

This year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War, the conflict which, at the time, the world hoped and prayed would be “the war to end all wars.” However, it’s a centenary that has passed with surprisingly little attention. This may be because in the United States, World War I—unlike in Great Britain, France, or even Australia—is not a major part of our collective cultural consciousness. Beyond the occasional late-night airing of Sergeant York on cable, or the high school literature teacher who still assigns A Farewell to Arms, most Americans remain ignorant of the circumstances that drove America into the war, how and by whom it was fought, and the consequences of participating in that horrific conflict. And most of us are certainly unaware of the fact that a very vocal, very well-organized, and almost very successful antiwar movement—led largely by un-enfranchised women—fought its own “war” at home for three years to keep us out of it. This is the story told in Michael Kazin’s exhaustive history of that movement, War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914–1918.

Kazin’s chronicle of the anti-Great War movement focuses on the people and personalities at the heart of that movement. At the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century, the American people were deeply divided about exactly what their role in the world should be. While celebrating the richness of our resources and the brilliant technological advances within our society, Americans were torn as to whether to assert themselves internationally, especially when a difficult-to-explain conflict broke out 3,000 miles away in Europe in the summer of 1914. Three years and millions of battlefield deaths later—the jaunty swaggering lyrics and music of George M. Cohan’s rousing “Over There” notwithstanding—most Americans still wanted absolutely nothing to do with the charnel house that Europe had become.

The American antiwar movement that began to speak out even before the slaughter in Europe began was populated by some of the most important progressive voices in modern American history. This list includes Samuel Gompers, “Fighting Bob” La Follette, and Nobel laureate Jane Addams, who plays a prominent role in Kazin’s version of events. Lesser-known (to contemporary audiences) leaders included Crystal Eastman, an atheist, communist, and suffragist; and most fascinating to me, Claude Kitchin, a Democratic member of Congress from North Carolina, a “true white son of Dixie who mingled together racist fears with a populist resentment against the wealthy barons of the North.” Pitted against them were the leaders of the so-called “preparedness movement,” led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, who not only wanted America to be ready to fight should it find itself attacked, but who believed that America had a moral, almost holy duty to enter the war, as a way of imposing itself onto the world order and taking what they believed was its rightful place as the preeminent world power. Seemingly stuck in the middle was President Woodrow Wilson, who also believed that America was uniquely situated—indeed destined—to be the leader of the world’s nations, but who struggled mightily for three years to fulfill that role via peaceful means.

While Kazin’s level of detail is remarkable, and the overall story fascinating, as a Quaker, I was left slightly disappointed by this book: I was hoping to find more about the opposition to the war mounted by Quakers and the other traditional peace churches in the United States. Friends get a few mentions throughout the text, but they are few, superficial, and far between. Additionally, conscientious objectors (some of them Friends) get very limited attention. But this book is a political study and those concerns are for another book by another author. What Friends can take from this book is the fascinating confluence of so many disparate elements within American society around the cause of peace. The antiwar movement of 1914–1918 was made up of Southern segregationists, Northeastern industrialists, Midwestern progressives, isolationists, socialists, pacifists, communists, conservatives, suffragettes, civil rights activists, trade unionists, faith leaders, and academics. While the predictable turf battles and personality clashes did occur, what strikes me about the sometimes unified, sometimes shaky coalition Kazin portrays is its dogged determination, its willingness to collaborate, and its ability to adapt and adjust.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the First World War changed the world. Besides causing the deaths of over 18 million people, it destroyed three empires, caused the collapse of a handful of monarchies, re-drew the maps of two continents, completely upset the balance of power in the world, advanced the technology of mass killing, and, unfortunately, laid the foundation for an even greater cataclysm which would begin less than a generation later. Michael Kazin’s book tells an important part of that story, one which can give those of us who still commit ourselves to the cause of peace the hope that movements matter, that coalition building can work, and that the struggle to end war and militarism needs to continue.

The post War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914–1918 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Conscientious Objection: Is This for You? Discerning a Claim and Documenting It with Selective Service

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:22pm
By Curt Torell. Quaker House of Fayetteville, N.C., 2016. 209 pages. $15/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

This book is a niche book, but Quaker meetings and schools make up a large part of its niche.

It is a “teacher’s resource guide” to help young people create documentation for a conscientious objection application for a military draft. One concept that drives such programs is that if there is a draft, the first wave of potential inductees may have as few as nine days to provide viable documentation to support an application to be recognized as a conscientious objector (CO)

This, of course, assumes that there is actual potential for a draft. There is no real reason to believe that the likelihood of a draft has changed significantly in the past few years. The military leadership is the group least interested in a draft, since it is not cost effective to train someone for a two-year stint. Further, where one report says the military is struggling to recruit (even while noting that for decades the military has met its goals), another report says it will meet its goals (after struggling for years).

Torell, a member of the board of Quaker House of Fayetteville, N.C., fortunately includes in this book an excellent summary of the long-range benefit of confronting conscientious objection whether there is a draft or not. Torell does a good job helping youth leaders and young people both understand conscientious objection to war and why, with or without a draft, we should care. Quaker House, which has been located near a major U.S. Army training base at Fort Bragg for decades, gives a chilling but accurate glimpse of what military training is about, as well as goes through the process of creating the documentation of a conscientious objector file.

The two best parts of the book to me, as someone who has done hundreds of these trainings over the years, is the history of the draft and conscientious objection law and the summary of long-range benefits of writing a CO letter. The biggest lack in the book is there was really no discussion of the racism in the military, which, to me, is something that goes hand-in-glove with conscientious objection to war. The young people of color among Friends are likely to have a more difficult time obtaining a CO designation, even as people of color in the military have a harder time receiving a CO discharge.

Of course, there are always liberal military apologists (even among Friends) who claim in spite of facts to the contrary that a military draft will result in fewer wars (even though we had a draft before WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) and a fairer burden (even though disproportionately fewer poor men and people of color received a medical deferment in every war in which we had a military draft). Then the apologists usually top off that suggestion with the idea that, anyway, a military draft (which promotes other people’s children to die) will help our children think deeply about war and conscientious objection.

I recommend that any First-day program or yearly meeting youth program consider using this curriculum (or ask Quaker House, American Friends Service Committee, or the Center on Conscience & War to give a training) to help their youth grapple with these ideas that are so fundamental to so many Friends. It is our responsibility, not Congress’s, to help our young people deeply understand just why Friends keep saying, “War is not the answer.”

The post Conscientious Objection: Is This for You? Discerning a Claim and Documenting It with Selective Service appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:20pm
By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Haymarket Books, 2016. 288 pages. $17.95/paperback; $17.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor places the Black Lives Matter movement into a historical framework and explores the most immediate catalysts for the movement. This book is not a quick or easy read; rather it is a thoughtful and thorough engagement with the complexities of the present moment. Each chapter is filled with significant quotations from primary sources as well analysis from scholars. For those interested in the topic but less enthusiastic about the academic nature of the writing, there is a conclusion section at the end of each chapter that reviews the core arguments from that chapter. This book removes any excuse that one might have about not understanding the purpose or tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation answers the question of “how did we get here?” Taylor explains that “[r]acial discrimination, sanctioned by law in the South and custom and public policy in the North over much of the twentieth century, caused disparities between Blacks and whites in employment, poverty, housing quality, and access to education,” and the book provides ample evidence for each of these points. The book explores how systemic, institutional racism throughout U.S. history led to Black Americans being economically disadvantaged as well as the criminalization of poverty and the association of Black Americans with crime, all of which has led to a U.S. justice system that has “reinforced and reproduced racial inequality.” Taylor also describes that in recent history former President Obama’s inability to deliver on his promises of racial justice and the Occupy movement’s re-legitimization of public protest laid a foundation for a new social movement to emerge.

One of the gifts of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is lessons to be learned from the development of the Black Lives Matter movement. One of the key lessons highlighted in the book is about the harm the comes from colorblindness. The book features the many ways in which not acknowledging the different lived experiences of people of color lead to Americans not addressing the structural reforms that are necessary to end the racial stratification of the United States. Taylor believes that the narrative that the United States has built about its history and values makes it too hard for Americans to understand the obstacles faced by those on the margins and too easy to falsely point to exceptions as disproving the real patterns. She stresses the importance of understanding intersectionality, defined as the points of intersection between different core aspects of a person’s identity.

Much of the book is dedicated to the connection between racial and economic justice. Taylor writes, “The struggle for Black liberation . . . is not an abstract idea molded in isolation from the wider phenomenon of economic exploitation and inequality that pervades all of American society; it is intimately bound up with them.” Finally, she illustrates how both overt and subtle racism have become part of the discriminatory systems that the Black Lives Matter movement is working to dismantle, as she clarifies that “[i]t is the outcome that matters, not the intentions of the individuals involved.”

Taylor does not simply lay out the national problems that the Black Lives Matter movement is addressing. She also encourages her readers to take personal responsibility for being a part of the solution. She makes me feel proud to be a part of the movement, as she explains that “justice is not a natural part of the lifecycle of the United States, nor is it a product of evolution; it is always the outcome of struggle.” She acknowledges that allies are often slow to embrace actions that have a fast-paced or radical feel, and she shares examples of periods in American history when such fears have been an obstacle to progress. My sense from conversations with f/Friends is that many do not understand the inclusive, nonviolent platform of the Black Lives Matter movement, and many would prefer for activists to work through political means instead of engaging in direct action. Taylor makes it clear that politics and protest are mutually encouraging rather than mutually exclusive.

Overall, the book feels like a call to action, encouraging those who are uncomfortable with the movement to develop an understanding of its work and find a way to plug in. She describes the meaningful impact that the Black Lives Matter movement has on American politics, while making it clear that “Black people in America cannot ‘get free’ alone” and that “[s]olidarity is not just an option; it is crucial, . . . Success or failure are contingent on whether or not working people see themselves as brothers and sisters whose liberation is inextricably bound together.”

The post From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation

Friends Journal - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:18pm
Edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. HarperCollins, 2017. 434 pages. $16.99/paperback; $9.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

This is a book I came to with an open (or should I say blank) mind. As a nonobservant Jew mystified by—but not well-versed in—the intractable rhetoric and endless turmoil of the Middle East, I wondered if it wasn’t time for me to be “woke” about the Palestinian situation. I hoped to gain a better sense of how life has been lived in the occupied territories on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War and the occupation.

Also, as an essayist myself and a fan of many of the authors represented, the book’s concept interested me. What happens when you invite a variety of talented authors to pay a quick visit to a beleaguered part of the world and write about their impressions in whatever fashion they choose? Would the execution live up to the promise? Could 26 different writers from different countries each find something new to say about the same situation?

It’s also a book I wanted to love. The premise behind this enterprise is not only politically correct but dear to any writer’s heart: that the best way to evoke interest and compassion for the unknown “other” is to reveal the lives of individuals that transcend their particularity to resonate as universal. Or, as Colum McCann puts it in his essay “Two Stories, So Many Stories,” in which he writes of time spent with two families—one Palestinian, one Israeli—who had both lost children to violence: “stories can pry open our rib cages and twist our hearts backwards a notch.” He adds, “In telling our stories we oppose the awful cruelties of the ties and present to the world the profoundest evidence of being alive.”

There is nothing in this book that is not well-written, and each of the 26 pieces engaged my interest. Observing life in the occupied territories, people such as Geraldine Brooks, Anita Desai, Hari Kunzru, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jacqueline Woodson, along with coeditors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, write convincingly and passionately about the daily lives of men, women, and children who are barraged by seemingly senseless and endless obstacles to domestic life, shopping, education, jobs, and travel. I learned about families locked in their homes and forbidden from walking down their own streets; of shepherds arrested for grazing their flocks; of midnight tunneling by Israeli soldiers through apartments in which Palestinians live; of limited water supplies, electricity shortages, endless red tape around work and building permits; of relationships thwarted, travel restricted, and families losing land they had cultivated and lived on for generations.

The essayists joined Palestinians as they awoke at 4:00 a.m to wait in lines for hours to get to their (mostly menial) jobs in Israel or as they dealt with two-hour car rides that should have taken 20 minutes without roadblocks and checkpoints. They heard of young children detained and mistreated in Israeli holding centers, intellects dying for lack of education, olive trees dying for lack of water, and people dying for lack of medical attention.

I learned much that horrified and infuriated me, also much that inspired me. The heroes of the book are survivors, truth-tellers, resisters, and idealists. They are parents of murdered children, both Israeli and Arab, forming grassroots groups to prevent future violence; former Israeli soldiers uniting to speak out, against the grain, about the injustices they were called upon to perpetuate in the line of duty; Israeli activists risking arrest to bear witness to their neighbors’ suffering; artists and musicians who fight against all odds to have their voices heard.

The stories are heartbreakingly realistic and politically acute, and, although I’ve never visited Israel, they began to feel strangely familiar to me. In “Bloated Time and the Death of Meaning” Ala Hlehel, one of the few Palestinians represented in the book, spoke of the occupation as a machine, calling it “a complex, octopus-like regime that functions to exhaust those who are subject to it. It is a regime based on repression under the cover of administrative legitimacy, the courts, and legal authority.” Why did it all sound so familiar?

Then I read in Dave Eggers’s piece, “Prison Visit” about “the countless ways the Occupation makes life less than human for millions of Palestinians and, it’s worth noting, for the Israelis who have to enforce the occupation.” Residents of Gaza, he said, referred to their home as an “open-air prison”—and things began to fall into place in my mind. It occurred to me that, as a member of the Quaker worship group at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County, N.Y., I too am exposed to the struggle of people to survive—physically, emotionally, spiritually—under the most degrading of circumstances.

This “foreign” Israeli–Palestinian story reminded me of the U.S. prison system. Both confine and restrict the movements of their subjects, while giving them continual awareness of the pleasures and rewards of life outside their boundaries. Both are punitive, treating the “other” as sub-human. Both justify their behemoth-like structures with highfalutin political and religious rhetoric. Both disempower people by subjecting them to innumerable rules and regulations that are haphazardly enforced. Both are framed in ways to make them palatable to the average citizen. And neither stand up well to careful, thoughtful consideration.

This is why the book is successful, yet it also points to a few flaws. There is a bit too much repetition here: too many of the stories begin to sound alike; too many of the brief journeys of the authors cover the same ground; many of the fresh impressions start feeling stale. I’m convinced the book would have been just as impactful—and probably more cogent—at 250 or 300 pages as it did at 400 pages. I agree with other critics who have pointed to the superficiality implicit in a point-and-click first impression exercise that does not require in-depth understanding.

Still I admire and applaud this effort, and I hope to see more like it. The world needs these stories and stories like them; but most of all, it needs people willing to read them.

The post Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

World Quaker Day in Nairobi, Highgate, and Belize City

Friends United Meeting - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 6:59pm

Every year, Friends World Committee for Consultation hosts World Quaker Day! This year, it was held on 01 October, with the theme of “Gathering in Worship Around the World.”

Quakers throughout the beloved community of Friends United Meeting joined together with our fellow Friends around the world in celebrating this day. Here are a few examples:

The Nairobi Young Adults of Friends Program (NYAFP) Missioners is a group of young adults under the Nairobi Yearly Meeting of Friends Church Quakers who are determined to carry on the great commission as enshrined in Mathew 28:19.

This year, they decided to celebrate World Quaker Day  by visiting the Children’s Garden Home in the Kawangware area of Nairobi, which falls under the Kawangware Monthly Meeting jurisdiction. The home was started in 2001, and at present they serve over 200 children ranging from 0 months to 25 years.

The home has its own school, and a high school that caters to children in need. Students from the school who qualify for college after their O level education usually come back to teach at the school as a form of assisting their brothers and sisters, and also as a way of giving back to the community.

Our World Quaker Day at the Children’s Garden Home was very successful. We prepared food for the children, cleaned their stuff, and had a church service with them which was led by our Pastor Jane Mutoro, who shared on “The Lord being our shepherd,” drawn from Psalm 23:1.

After the sermon and meals, we had a talent show where the children showcased their talent in modeling, rapping, dancing, poetry, and plaiting.

At the end of the day, we gave items donated by our youth to the Children’s Home which included sanitary towels, a bundle of wheat flour, a bundle of corn flour, clothes, tissue papers, shoes, washing soap, and juice.

The management thanked the team for visiting and promised us that any other time we would be free to visit them.

We agreed that we will plan to buy them plates and paint the residential areas where they live.

We give God all the glory for the well-spent Quaker World Day.

From Highgate Monthly Meeting in Jamaica:

Today in our gathering for worship we focused on those whom God has prepared ahead of time to be receptive to Friends as messengers bringing the Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ—to their communities. Many individuals identify by us, welcome us as messengers that God sends their way, and they try to serve and assist us in our outreach efforts as we spread the message to children in particular. Some are not yet believers, young people amongst them, but they all have great potential to be used in furthering the mission of Quakers and ultimately God’s kingdom on earth. We thank God for the good qualities we see in them. They are well-known people in their communities, they are willing to connect us to others and they are receptive to us as messengers.  We likened these individuals to Bible characters like: 1. The woman at the well 2. Cornelius 3. Rahab 4. The Philippian Jailer, etc.

As we look around us in the world today such a community of Persons of Peace seems far distant from actual realization. However, here in Highgate, Jamaica, we are determined to try everything possible within our means, to make such community a reality. Pictures showing Persons of Peace working with us in community outreach projects such as Vocational Bible School and school holiday youth camps were displayed on this day.

We thank God for prayers and donations from Friends as we continue to search for Persons of Peace to strengthen our mission here. We seek resources and guidance to teach others about Persons of Peace. We seek help to train the young Persons of Peace we are now working with, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with friends, family, and neighbours.

Edwin (Bobby) Coleman
Presiding Clerk
Highgate Monthly Meeting

From Belize:

Last Sunday was World Quaker Day, but here in Belize we don’t mind being a little late to things so we celebrated it today.

We have begun an inter-generational Sunday (First Day) School. Miriam Loh, on the right, led the class in an art activity centered on Psalm 119:89-90:

Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.

>> read more


Categories: Articles & News

Q+A Gregory Corbin

American Friends Service Committee - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 11:55am
Gregory Corbin

Gregory Corbin, director, AFSC's Philadelphia Social Justice Leadership Institute

Photo: AFSC/Tony Heriza
Categories: Articles & News

Vietnam Summer 50th Anniversary

American Friends Service Committee - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 11:25am
Vietnam Summer Protest

Photo courtesy of of Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Categories: Articles & News

Quaker Action: Inspiring Communities (Fall 2017)

American Friends Service Committee - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 8:12am

How do you successfully counter a growing wave of hate and fear driving policies that deny our civil and human rights? 

In this issue of Quaker Action, we share stories that show some innovative efforts to keep communities together as well as a few resources to spark your ideas and activism. Plus, we talk to activists on the 50th anniversary of Vietnam Summer and look at what's in store for our new program working with youth in Philadelphia, the Social Justice Leadership Institute. 

Categories: Articles & News

Spiceland Friends Meeting Seeks Youth Minister

Friends United Meeting - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 8:12pm

Director of Student Ministry (Youth Minister) Opening

Spiceland Friends Meeting is searching for a part-time Director of Student Ministry (Youth Minister).  Anyone interested in the position that would like a copy of the job description or more information, please contact Cathy Harris, and send a resume to Cathy (see below). The salary will be commensurate with experience ($10,000-12,000 annually). Cathy Harris Spiceland Friends Meeting/Church P.O. Box 27 Spiceland, IN 47385 Phone:  765-465-0994 Email:
Categories: Articles & News

FUM Board to Meet In October

Friends United Meeting - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 6:48pm
Members of the FUM General Board—Africa meeting in February, 2016.

Every three years, the 34 member Yearly Meetings and Associations of Friends United Meeting name representatives to serve on the General Board. Together, these Friends work in partnership to provide essential governance for our global fellowship. Like every good board, they help set direction, make policies, and provide accountability for the staff, as FUM ministers in many places and in varied ways.

With the new 2017 – 2020 Triennium now underway, new members of the General Board have been receiving past minutes, finance reports, and other orientation materials to prepare them to serve effectively and faithfully. A first meeting of the North American-Caribbean Region of the Board will be held in Richmond in late October. The Africa Region will meet in early February in Kenya. An Executive Board, comprised of 14 members who represent the entire global community, meet regularly with the FUM General Secretary by conference call.

At the 2017 Triennial gathering in Wichita, Kansas, new officers were approved for the next three years. Ron Bryan (Iowa Yearly Meeting) is the new Presiding Clerk. Sara Lookabill (Western Yearly Meeting) and Richard Sitari (Nairobi Yearly Meeting) are Assistant Presiding Clerks. Hellen Kulundi (Chebuyusi Yearly Meeting) and Rosemary Zimmerman (New England Yearly Meeting) are Recording Clerks. Jim Crew (Western Yearly Meeting) continues to serve as Treasurer for FUM.

The new Board will continue exploring how to expand the work of FUM in a sustainable way. Colin Saxton, outgoing General Secretary, states that “a more robust North American ministry remains a very high priority.” He also celebrates potential areas of expansion among Friends in East Africa, and says that FUM “continues to recieve requests from Quakers in other parts of the world to join FUM.”

Part of the Board’s work in this Triennium will be figuring how, with God’s guidance, to build healthy, mutually-supportive connections across our beloved community and out into a world in need of love.

On a more short-term basis, the Board is focused on finding a new General Secretary, helping to sharpen the focus and direction of our relaunched Friends United Press, and discerning how to support Yearly Meetings that are in conflict, as well as how best to collaborate with and assist Yearly Meetings that may be struggling.

From his own experience, Colin writes: “It has been a great joy to work with the FUM General Board the past six years. The members are thoughtful and discerning. Their willingness to stay engaged with one another—even around controversial or difficult issues—is tremendously helpful for FUM, the organization, and a great example for FUM, the community. It has been especially gratifying to see the Board make huge strides toward becoming and functioning as a global partnership. I think one of the great gifts of FUM is connecting Quakers around this world in fellowship, service, and mutual support—and it begins by having a Board that embraces this vision.”

Categories: Articles & News

Student Voices 2017-18

Friends Journal - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 7:00am

2017-2018 SVP Theme: Testimony Stories. The fifth annual Student Voices Project is underway! We welcome submissions from all middle school and high school students (Quaker and non-Quaker) at Friends schools and also Quaker students in other educational venues, such as public schools and homeschooling.

The post Student Voices 2017-18 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News
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