Summer Gatherings, Joyful Readers, George Fox at 400

Friends Center Tenant Newsletter
Issue 95 —- 6/2024

Shifting to Summer for Friends Center and Friends

Happy summer! For many people in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), summer is a season of gatherings. The big one is the Friends General Conference’s Gathering. For the first time in many years, the FGC Gathering will be held near Philadelphia, on the campus of Haverford College. And Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, one of our three equity partners, will have its Annual Sessions there immediately afterwards. (These Annual Sessions for business and fellowship for Quakers in eastern PA, southern NJ, DE, and the Eastern Shore of MD are what gave Philadelphia Yearly Meeting its name.)

This Saturday, Historic Arch Street Meeting House, our sibling institution, will celebrate the 400th birthday of Quakerism’s co-founder and key organizer, George Fox.

Read on for more details below!

Meanwhile, Friends Center remains open to serve your organization and the wider community. If you know of groups that need space to meet, do let us know!

Chris Mohr, Executive Director

JOYFUL READERS: Welcome to Friends Center!

Friends Center’s newest tenant is Joyful Readers, whose mission is to ensure that all students gain the literacy skills they need to become successful, confident, and yes…joyful readers! Their AmeriCorps tutors are serving full-time, supporting nearly 1,000 students with daily reading tutoring this year. Together with our school partners, they are working to make sure that our students can become successful, confident, and joyful readers.

» Learn more.

Prioritizing People over War in the US Federal Budget

AFSC recently called for elected officials to invest in health care, education, and public services that build just, sustainable communities. For a long time, the U.S. government has prioritized military spending over people. Since 9/11, there has been a more than 50% increase in military spending. The White House is requesting $895 billion for the Pentagon in FY25. In addition, President Biden approved $95 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, which could bring us to a total of $1 trillion just on military spending.

AFSC says it is time for a shift: “The 2024 federal budget presents a pivotal opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to human dignity and social justice. By prioritizing human needs over war and militarization, we can build a more equitable and prosperous society for all. Let’s urge our government to heed the voices of the people and invest in a future where compassion triumphs over conflict, and where the well-being of every individual is cherished and safeguarded.” 

» Read the full story.

Rise Up for Reparations!

A Multi-Faith Revival
6/30/2024, 2-4 pm
Friends Center

Join CPMM in proclaiming the urgent call for reparations in Philadelphia.  This festive event will be hosted by Rev. Jackie Newsome, with a welcome from Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. Speakers will include our own .O, as well as Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari, Rev. Michael Nabors, Aziz Nathoo, and others.  Songs will be provided by Pax Ressler, founder of the Rise Choir.

» Full announcement here.

Annual Sessions: Haverford College, 7/6-7/2024

PYM Annual Sessions will take place at Haverford College on Saturday, 7/6 and Sunday, 7/7. We hope all Friends will participate in a day-long program focused on attending to the Yearly Meeting’s business. There will be options to join online with Zoom, commute to Haverford College without staying overnight, or select from a range of overnight options.


The “Runway” to annual sessions includes:

On Zoom: Bible Study: June 26, 7:00 – 8:00pm | Meeting for Business: June 25, 7:00 – 8:15pm

In person: 6/29: George Fox’s Birthday Celebration at Arch Street

Bring your friends, your children, and your neighbors for a birthday party at Arch Street Meeting House! On 6/29 Friends in the Philadelphia area will celebrate and reflect on the legacy of Quakerism co-founder, George Fox. Event highlights include:

  • George Fox and Hannah Penn (historical re-enactors)
  • Outdoor and indoor games – including a dunk tank!
  • Food trucks, birthday cake and ice-cream
  • “Fox Forward” panel discussion: learning from the past, visioning a Quaker future (including speakers from AFSC and FWCC here at Friends Center).
  • Storytimes

This event is free and open to the public.

» Details:

“Quaker Connect is responding to the need of local Friends to develop a spirit of experimentation in partnership with God to support the members of their meetings and engage in issues important to their communities,” said Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary for FWCC Americas. “Quaker Connect will equip Quaker churches to be more clearly who they are meant to be: profoundly Quaker, deeply rooted, and highly visible in their local community. We are very pleased that Jade Rockwell has joined us at this pivotal point.”

Friends meetings and churches who wish to be considered for the first cohort of the Quaker Connect program should check the FWCC Americas website,, for updates. The application period is planned to open in September 2024. 

» Full announcement.

FCE Honors Deborra Sines Pancoe upon Retirement

As Associate Director of Friends Council, Deborra Sines Pancoe brought thousands of Friends school educators from numerous Friends Schools together in dynamic, engaging programming that is aligned with their needs as well as developments in the world around us. Deborra led the Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage (SPARC) program, brought SEED as an offering for Friends School educators, developed and led Educators New to Quakerism workshops, and ferried Friends Council programming through the pandemic. FCE was pleased to recognize her at their annual meeting earlier this year.

» Story here.

Building an Anti-Racist Future: A Report from CAIR’s Muslim Youth Leadership Summit

For its Muslim Youth Leadership Summit in Spring 2024, CAIR-Philadelphia partnered with MuslimARC for a dynamic one-day workshop designed to empower and equip young leaders with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to dismantle racism and Islamophobia in their communities. Through a comprehensive and interactive approach, participants delved into the complexities of anti-racist work and countering Islamophobia, exploring the systemic roots of these issues and practical ways to enact change.

» Read more.

The Gathering is a week of Quaker worship, workshops, and community for all ages. Friends come together from across the USA and Canada (and sometimes further) to deepen our connection to one another and the Spirit. For the first time in many years, the Gathering will be held in the Philadelphia region, at Haverford College.

» Details:

Johannesburg, South Africa & online

The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary Meeting (WPM) is a meeting for representatives from all four FWCC Sections to undertake FWCC business, surrounded by worship and fellowship with Friends from around the world. The theme is, “Living the Spirit of Ubuntu: Responding with hope to God’s call to cherish creation and one another.”

» Details:

Red, White, & Blue To-Do

July 2

The Meeting House will join Philadelphia’s Historic District to celebrate the first annual Red, White, & Blue To-Do! On Tuesday, July 2nd, America’s most historic square mile will host the Red, White, & Blue To-Do Pomp & Parade, musical performances, special extended hours at neighborhood museums and historic sites, restaurant specials, and so much more.

» Details here.

Friends Center as a workplace for today and the future; end-of-school- year events, and more


Friends Center as a workplace for today and the future

This week I watched a webinar on “The Workplace of the Future.” It reviewed the changed needs and expectations for post-covid office work. Planned and spontaneous opportunities to collaborate add a lot of value to in-person work. As a result, facilities to support a variety of uses are in demand.

Fortunately, Friends Center was already configured to meet many of these needs pre-covid. Our office suites provide you access to shared, private conference rooms. You also have access to our public meeting and conference rooms in the larger facility.

We’re keeping our eyes and ears open for today’s best practices, to see how we might evolve further. If you have thoughts, please feel free to drop me a line:

If you’re new to Friends Center, or have been less present recently, you may wish to re-familiarize yourself with those shared spaces. Our website has a list of Friends Center meeting rooms with descriptions.

Meanwhile, our event rentals to outside groups are also back in full swing. Please refer your colleagues to Shakirah Holloway, our Events and Administrative Manager, who can help them find the right space for their needs: or (215) 241-7098. Thanks!

—Chris Mohr, Executive Director


Friends Center is also a go-to location for Philly nonprofit events, for today and into the future! We can accommodate in-person and hybrid events in many of our large and small conference rooms and meeting rooms. Check out our event venue options here in Center City Philadelphia:

May and June are the time for graduations and moving-up celebrations. Here some you’ll see around Friends Center in the coming weeks:

  • 5/31:    Friends Child Care Center end of year celebration
  • 6/7:       Friends Select School 8th grade moving-up ceremony
  • 6/8:       Friends Select School high school graduation
  • 6/10:    Delaware Valley Friends School high school graduation


Q&A with Eunice Ndonga, AFSC’s International Migration Director

Q: What must be done to support people displaced by climate change?

“Low-income countries and communities—particularly Indigenous communities—have made the fewest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, but they bear the brunt of climate injustices. That’s where the conversation must begin….

“Organizations such as AFSC are working on this. We are calling on governments to move money from military spending, national security, and controlling borders. Instead, governments must invest in meeting migrant needs, defending human rights, and preventing climate injustices in the long term to promote peace.”

» Full interview:


Sun., 6/23, 12:45 – 1:45 pm

Quaker Action Mid-Atlantic Region (QAMAR) will facilitate a discussion on its public policy work to address the climate crisis and reduce gun violence.  We will also introduce our new intern, Andrew Cadwallader, hired through a grant from the CPMM Friendly Fund. Come learn how YOU can help!

QAMAR is a new 501(c)(4) organization initiated by Quakers, and which welcomes participation by all who share a vision for a peaceful and sustainable world. QAMAR seeks to effect policy change in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. See

This will be a hybrid event in the Rufus Jones Room. Refreshments will be served. (Contact the Meeting office at if you’d like the link to attend by Zoom.)

Workshop with Emily Provance
June 4 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The danger of election violence in 2024/2025 is real. The United States currently exhibits many of the societal risk factors that make election violence likely. But there’s also hope. There are things we can do about it, and the team for nonviolence is much bigger than we think.

This event will be part lecture and part interactive, with follow-up resources suggested. It’ll draw on best practices for election violence prevention as developed internationally. We’ll focus on how ordinary people can take specific actions to apply these strategies in their own communities. You’ll also hear about some of the underlying mindsets that make this work possible.

Facilitator Emily Provance is a Quaker traveling minister, currently working with groups across the country on election violence prevention.



Spring 2024 Newsletter

At GJF, we are honored and inspired to work with and support organizations who don’t give up. We understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and have seen first-hand that the impact of our actions many not truly be seen until months, years, or even further into the future. We hope you’ll join us in rejecting apathy: join an organization, vote, donate, make your voice heard. Democracy hangs in the balance and our rights are being eroded; now is the time to be a part of the solution. — Farrah Parkes, Executive Director

» Read the full newsletter here.


DEI Book Awards
Wed., 5/29, 5 pm
Historic Arch Street Meeting House, 4th & Arch Streets

Friends Select’s Lower School presents the second-annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Book Awards ceremony at the Arch Street Meeting House. There will be book sales and games, and the ceremony begins at 6 pm. Refreshments will be served.

For this year’s DEI Book Awards, Friends Select is proud to partner with Hakim’s Bookstore, which is Philadelphia’s oldest Black-owned bookstore dating back to the late 1950s. Books will be available for purchase through this partnership.

Johannesburg, South Africa | Online

The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary Meeting is a meeting for representatives from all four FWCC Sections to undertake FWCC business, surrounded by worship and fellowship with Friends from around the world. Three interrelated strands will inform the World Plenary Meeting: ubuntu/community, healing historical injustice and care for creation.

Click for the online program.

Onsite registration is full, but online registration is still open.

Bennett Compost, Friends Center’s composting vendor, will be hosting FREE public tours of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Compost facility that they operate in Lawncrest! Tours are the 4th Thursday of every month starting this month, Thursday May, 23rd.

»  For more information or to register, please click here.

Happy Composting!

Tenant News, 4/2024: Positive Feedback, New Mural, Happy 400th B’day Geo. Fox

This week I received an email from a staff person at an organization that had an event here recently. They complimented the Friends Center staff for their care and support over multiple days. I wrote back to thank them for their kind words, and for taking time to give positive feedback. I promptly shared the note with our staff, who deserved the credit for a good experience far more than me.

What’s great is that this is not uncommon! I often get positive feedback for our staff and contractors who work here every day to care for our unique facility. So I want to take this opportunity to give positive feedback:

To Carla, Ed, Erick, Freeman, Ray, Shakirah, Takirah, and Teneshia from the Friends Center staff—

To Aida, Fajon, Kevin, Leilani, and Taleah from Team Clean—

And to John from Emcor Fluidics—

Thank you all so much for everything you do to support the facility, as well as the organizations and individuals who use our space.  You enable the Friends Center to live into its mission and values!

—Chris Mohr, Executive Director

New Walkie Talkies to be Deployed throughout the Facility Soon

Friends Center has purchased new walkie talkies to go throughout the facility. We use them to communicate during emergency evacuations, shelter-in-place situations, and other events where timely communication is of the essence.

Erick Emerick is in the process of programming and deploying the new radios. Once they are in place, tested, and fully in operation, we will refresh everyone about our emergency protocols and procedures. We will also return to having periodic trainings for new staff or those who’d like a refresher, which we used to do before the pandemic.

AFSC was delighted to host Jose Antonio Vargas as their keynote speaker for the 2024 Corporation Program on April 11. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Tony-nominated theatrical producer, and a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants. He is the founder of Define American, an organization that empowers diverse and nuanced storytelling about immigrant experiences across a variety of different media. In 2020, Fortune named him one of its “40 under 40” most influential people in government and politics. After his keynote address, Vargas will be available to sign copies of his bestselling memoir, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.

» Read more:

Join us for a time of sharing. Whether it is your 1st day or your 40th year with Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, we would love to hear from you. In small groups we will spend time with following queries (among others):

  • What personal, social, and/or spiritual needs would you like to have met as a part of our community?
  • What future programs about Quaker activism, Quaker history and beliefs, and/or Quaker spirituality would you like to see offered?

Each small group will have a facilitator to create a safe space and record responses.  You can also join by Zoom using the regular worship link.

As a LEED Platinum green building, Friends Center strives to be as sustainable as possible. Now, a tool is available for all Friends and meetings—and everyone—seeking to live out our yearly meeting-wide commitment to address climate change. The booklet Creating a Playbook for Climate Action helps Friends develop personalized plans for how to address climate change—in their meetings and in their homes.  Because frankly, great intentions sometimes need a path forward to arrive at the destination.

» Read more:

PYSC has launched a new fund to support small, community-based organizations providing sport, play, and movement programs to our city’s youth. The fund aims to increase accessibility to and improve the quality of existing programs, particularly those offering introductory or “entry-level” recreational components. The goal is to ensure that more young people can participate in localized, instructional sports opportunities. The Philly Youth Sports Fund released a call for proposals on April 1, 2024. Eligible organizations may apply for grants of up to $5,000 to support program-related needs. The deadline for applications is May 15, 2024, and grants will be awarded by June 30, 2024.

» More info:  

Singing for Climate & Social Justice
Sunday, May 5, 3:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 S. 38th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Featuring Rollo Dilworth’s Credo and Chickasaw classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s Oka’ Aya’sha’ (The Water Place). Legendary jazz vocalist and composer Ruth Naomi Floyd and jazz trio will present selections from The Frances Suite, based on the life and poetry of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Special guests include singers from Commonwealth Youth Choirs.

» Get tickets here.

400th Birthday Party for George Fox, Co-Founder of Quakerism

George Fox was a co-founder of the Quaker faith, and our sibling Quaker Meetinghouse at 4th and Arch Streets  is having a birthday party to celebrate!

Come explore Quaker history and who Quakers are today with stories, discussion, games and crafts. Food and fun for all, and a birthday cake.

» Details here.

More about George Fox:

March 2024 Newsletter: Cherry Trees, Climate, and Curated by Carla

Issue 92, March 2024


The Cherry Trees on Cherry Street
Friends Center’s cherry trees—on Cherry Street, naturally—usually bloom twice a year: partially in December, and fully in late March or early April. This year they have bloomed almost continuously since November. With spring on the way, they are blooming more fully now, earlier than usual. And they never really stopped blooming since the winter. I can’t help but think it’s the result of our warming climate.

This week, Erick Emerick and I gave tours of Friends Center to students from Sandy Springs Friends School in Maryland. He pointed out Friends Center is not only a tool in itself for slowing climate change, it’s also a model of a sustainably built environment, which can inspire others to act, too. (In case you don’t already know: In 2009 we renovated Friends Center to the LEED Platinum level, with a geothermal heating and cooling system, green roof, solar panels, graywater capture system, and more. See our website for details.)

Recently I heard Princeton Professor Ruha Benjamin speak at the Parkway Central Library about her new book, Imagination: A Manifesto. She stresses that imagination isn’t a luxury. It’s a powerful tool for liberation. Whatever our organization’s mission is, may we continue to imagine a better world through our efforts every day, where every cherry tree—and every person—has a chance to blossom in all the ways they’re meant to.
— Chris Mohr, Executive Director
Cherry trees blossom in front of a red brick building with black shutters and white trim. A black metal fence is in the foreground at the bottom.


Welcome to our newest tenant:
Junior Achievement of Southeastern Pennsylvania!

Junior Achievement of SEPA moved here in January. JA SEPA equips young people for economic mobility and the pursuit of their own ambitions. In collaboration with educators, community organizations, and businesses, they ensure young people (5-25) have access to high quality financial education and career-readiness learning experiences. JE SEPA focuses on under-resourced communities and expanded programming for middle and high school students. See:

Many thanks to Stephanie Gambone and the JA SEPA team for hosting the tenant breakfast on March 5. It was a nice introduction!

♻ First Alert! 
Earth Day E-Waste and Shredding Collection Drive
Once again, in honor of Earth Day on April 24, Friends Center plans to collect electronics for recycling and papers for shredding. Most likely we will have collection bins in the lobby in mid-April, perhaps the week of April 15. Stay tuned for details!

See the end of this newsletter for two upcoming events curated and hosted by our own Carla Gamble!

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Gaza Relief Efforts

A major current focus for AFSC is emergency aid effort in Gaza. AFSC is helping to alleviate suffering in the short term and reduce inequality and oppression in the long term. AFSC has provided emergency relief to displaced people in the Khan Yunis and Rafah regions of Gaza, reaching more than 297,673 people. 

AFSC has offices and staff in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan. AFSC has been present in the Middle East since 1948 when the United Nations asked us to organize relief efforts for Palestinian refugees in Gaza. 

» Learn more:

Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (CPMM)
Community Game Nights

CPMM will have Community Game Nights on Friday April 19 and Friday May 10 in the Cherry Street Room.  We set up around 6 pm (give or take) and end by around 9:30 pm. Bring games, snacks, friends—or just yourself! Game Night policy is that if any participant wants people to mask, then all people mask. We will have masks to hand out if needed.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM)
PYM Friends Join Pilgrimage for Peace Walk

On February 14, PYM Friends gathered with neighbors of many faiths to help kick off the first day of a Pilgrimage for Peace journey, walking from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to Washington DC.  The pilgrimage included nearly 400 people who joined at various points during the 150-mile walk to advocate for a permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and an increase in humanitarian aid. The Pilgrimage took place in 92 cities around the world to call for change in Gaza. The pilgrims included a diverse coalition of faith leaders, activists, and artists from across the United States, and many faith traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.
» Learn more:


Spring concert: Earth, Wind & Fire
Saturday, March 16, 4:00 pm
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA

With Singing City, Rollo A. Dilworth, Artistic & Music Director
Northeast High School Choir, Patricia Betcher, Director
Philadelphia Creative and Performing Arts High School Choir,
B. Lauren Thomas-Moyett, Director
Teen Voices of the City Ensemble (T-VOCE), Whitney Covalle, Director
This concert explores the beauty of the natural world and invites us to examine the effects of climate change and environmental justice. Featuring The Voices of Earth, a newly commissioned work by Brandon Williams, Haydn’s The Heaven’s Are Telling and Awake the Harp from The Creation, Hark I Hear the Harp’s Eternal by Alice Parker, and much more! 

Old First House Historic House Move

As mentioned in December, Community Ventures is working with the Old First Reformed United Church of Christ to develop 34 permanent supportive housing apartments for formerly homeless individuals, as well as community, office, and commercial spaces. A historic home at 151 N 4th Street, built in 1760, will be restored to its original façade. The house was recently moved some 40 feet to make room for the new building!
» Watch the video from the project architect, OZ Collaborative:

WHYY: Delaware Valley saw first set of deadlines to pick 2024 health insurance during ACA open enrollment

During Affordable Care Act open enrollment last fall, WHYY quoted Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, who said that the most common advice she gives people is: “Don’t wait to shop.”



2 upcoming events curated and hosted by our own Carla Gamble!
Voices of Philly Soul
Mental Health Panel & Brunch (Ladies Edition)
Saturday, Mar 16, 2024, 11:00 AM

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Philly’s own Carla Gamble has curated a Mental Health Panel of our city’s most beloved and celebrated music community leaders, pioneers, and visionaries. They will share their life experiences and offer advice from an artistic musical perspective. Facilitated by Roxi Fab, panelist Dyana Williams, Lady Alma, Ursula Rucker, Frenchie Davis, and Ciara Chantelle will discuss topics including:
  • “Life be Lifeing” – Grief, Anxiety and Depression
  • Your Network, Your Networth – Community Networking and Finances
  • Work-Life Balance – Family, Friends, and Social Life
» Free, register here:

Voices of Philly Soul – Ladies Edition
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Doors: 6:30pm | Show: 8pm
Music Hall at World Cafe Live | Ages 21 and up

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Philly’s own Carla Gamble has curated a local lineup of ladies in our city’s vibrant R&B and soul scene. Enjoy performances from musicians Carla Gamble, Seraiah Nicole, Nitro Nitra, Lady Sarkazym, Chioke, Jo Rivers, Rae Dianz, and Rhythm HB, plus DJ sets from DJ Queen Yaszy B. The event will also feature guest speakers, including Philadelphia City Council leaders and the Blackwell Cultural Alliance.
» Ticket info:

SEPTA Announces Bus Revolution Community Meetings for March/April 2024

SEPTA is holding eight (8) community meetings across Philadelphia from March 12 – April 4, 2024 to share the latest Bus Revolution recommendations. We invite you to learn more about changes to your bus route and ask questions of our project team. Can’t attend, but still want to be heard? You can provide input at the Bus Revolution website or submit comments by email at or by phone 267-291-6045.
See SEPTA’s detailed listing of SEPTA Bus Revolution March/April Community Meetings here.


Welcome to two new tenants and other news, 12/23

Welcome to Womanist Working Collective & Defenders Association of Phila.

Friends Center is pleased to welcome two new tenants to our community: the Womanist Working Collective (WWC), and the Defenders Association of Philadelphia/UAW Local 5502.

WWC is a radical grassroots social action and support collective for Black folks of marginalized gender experience, specifically women (trans* and cis), femmes, and other gender expansive folx.

»      Learn more:

The Defender Association of Philadelphia is the union for attorneys of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The union is Local 5502 of the United Auto Workers.

»      Learn more:

Please introduce yourself if you happen to meet your new neighbors. In fact, I encourage you also to introduce yourself to folks who may not be so new, whether you haven’t met them before, or just haven’t seen them in a while!

A strength of Friends Center is our sense of community. Like so many communities, ours has become a bit more fragmented from the experience of the pandemic. Small opportunities to get to know one another, at least by name as well as face, can help rebuild our sense of connection.

With warm regards for the year-end holidays,

Chris Mohr, Executive Director


Friends Center will be closed on the following days:

  • Monday, 12/25
  • Tuesday, 12/26
  • Monday, 1/1

Please download and save the full list of 2024 holidays:

Covenant House Pennsylvania’s “Sleep Out” returned to Friends Center 11/16-17/2023

Friends Center was pleased to welcome Covenant House Pennsylvania back to the facility for their overnight Sleep Out event in the courtyard. As Covenant House writes, “The Sleep Out is not about pretending to be homeless. We Sleep Out to show our solidarity with those who are—and to let the world know about the ever-growing population of young people who face homelessness. And there’s more to Sleep Out than a night without a mattress. Sleep Out raises critical funds to help Covenant House provide 24/7 shelter, sanctuary, and support to youth overcoming homelessness.” Many thanks to Erick Emerick for staffing the overnight shift in support of the event.

Friends Select School & Friends Child Care Center to Collaborate on New Mural

Art students from the FSS Upper School will be painting a mural on the wall of the Lower Level hallway in a piece inspired by the Friends Child Care Center. Stay tuned for an announcement when this bright addition to our communal space is finished!


AFSC and numerous other Quaker organizations have called for a ceasefire and humanitarian protections in Gaza. Their statement reads in part:

“Quakers believe in the sacred worth of each person and stand against violence in all its forms. As Quaker organizations, we mourn all lives lost and lament with everyone who is suffering. We grieve for those in Israel and Palestine who have lost precious lives. We pray with those waiting for the return of loved ones and those living under siege and bombardment….

“Quakers have a long history of carrying out humanitarian assistance and leading efforts to build peace in situations of conflict. We hold that principles under International Humanitarian Law, including the 4th Geneva Convention, must be respected.…

“We call on international leaders of all countries to bear witness to this message and show the way of peace.”

Signers in addition to AFSC are the Canadian Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Quakers in Britain, Quakers Australia, and the Quaker United Nations Office. The full statement is here.


On Sunday Nov. 19, CPMM held an informal panel presentation about the diverse ways in which CPMM Friends experience worship. Becky Birtha and Lee Junker were presenters. In a faith tradition where there is no or minimal preplanned program, it can be helpful to hear how others approach meeting for worship.

Also of note:

  • CPMM held a book fair to display recently banned books. (Banned elsewhere, that is!)
  • Community Hymn Singing takes place most Sundays at 10:00 before meeting for worship at 11 am. Communal singing can uplift our spirits in these trying times—all are welcome!


Fall continuing sessions were held November 11 at Historic Arch Street Meeting House. Minutes are posted online.

PYM noted the recent release of “Rustin, ” a new movie about Bayard Rustin, the Quaker who was the chief planner of the 1963 March on Washington. It was released in theaters on November 3, and streaming on Netflix after November 17. The IMDB listing says, “Activist Bayard Rustin faces racism and homophobia as he helps change the course of Civil Rights history by orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington.” PYM offers additional resources about the life and work of this remarkable Friend at this link. AFSC also has a page about Rustin:

Community Ventures
Permanent shelter + affordable housing coming to 4th and Race

From Billy Penn, 11/21/23: “Officials broke ground yesterday on a new mixed-use development in Old City that’ll include 34 units of supportive housing for people facing chronic homelessness. The $20 million project, created in partnership with nonprofit developer Community Ventures, expands and makes permanent the shelter and services already offered by property owner Old First Reformed UCC, one of Philly’s oldest congregations.

Fun side note: Instead of demolishing a 1760 rowhome at the site, the whole thing is being relocated 48 feet south, per the city, and will be renovated and restored.”

Further fun side note from Friends Center: The land where our 1501 Cherry Street office building is today was once a burial ground for what is now Old First Reformed UCC!

Housing Alliance

New Report, November 2023:

“After the Pause: The Rise of Eviction Filings Post-Pandemic. A Statewide Eviction Analysis”

A new Housing Alliance study found that evictions have returned to pre-pandemic levels, after being cut in half during the pandemic by robust tenant protections and financial assistance programs. In particular, 115,000 Pennsylvania households a year, or 310/day, face eviction filings.

»     Full report:

Singing City

Holiday Concert: Singing for the Season

Sunday, 12/10/2023, 3 pm

Arch Street Presbyterian Church, 1724 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Ring in the holidays with Singing City! Featuring John Rutter’s Gloria with brass & organ, and Robert Ray’s Gospel Magnificat, with jazz/gospel soloist, piano, bass, and drum. Also featuring works by Randall Thompson, C.L. Alwes, Jennifer Lucy Cook, Andrea Ramsey, and more.

» Reserve a ticket here. Children 12 and under free.

Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative
Summit on Women in Sports

Congratulations to Beth Devine and the entire team at PYSC on their first ever PYSC Summit: Women in Sports. At the summit, held November 1, Philadelphia’s greatest female sports advocates unite to address equal opportunities for women in sports. Read more:

World Quaker Day | New Exhibit, New Staff, New Map

Tenant News, September 2023


World Quaker Day is October 1

Living the Spirit of Ubuntu

The first Sunday in October is World Quaker Day. It’s a day when Quakers—formally, the Religious Society of Friends, hence our name as Friends Center—gather across theologies and geographies with each other, the public, and seekers.

This year’s theme is “Living the Spirit of Ubuntu.” Ubuntu is a Zulu term that refers to the belief that every person is worthy of being recognized, respected and heard, and that we are all interdependent with one another and the environment.

Many Quaker groups across the globe will hold special online and in-person meetings on the theme, open to people from any country to join. See the list from the World Office of the Friends World Committee for Consultation:

Of course, Friends Center is open to everyone, and we have no “Quaker requirement.” But in case you’re interested, World Quaker Day is an excellent chance to learn more about the practices of Quakers around the world today (and not just 300 years ago).

—Chris Mohr, Executive Director, Friends Center


Covid Levels Are Rising Again

Recently covid cases have increased in the US. The US CDC & the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health recommend everyone over 6 months old get the new vaccines. You may also want to consider wearing a mask in the open areas of the facility.

New Walkie Talkies

Thanks to a donation from Wireless Electronics in Northeast Philadelphia, Friends Center has a set of 10 brand-new portable two-way radios, aka walkie talkies. These are positioned in key areas of Friends Center, including office suites and maintenance areas. They enable us to communicate with tenants in the event of evacuations, shelter-in-place events, and other emergencies. Friends Center staff are currently reviewing and refreshing our emergency procedures and protocols. Look for details about a presentation soon on our emergency procedures for tenants both new and old.


Before 5 pm, the loading zone is for PICKUP AND DROPOFF only!

  • Our contractors and delivery vehicles need access.
  • We simply don’t have room for everyone with a car to park there.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Let the staff at the front desk know if your car is in the loading zone and leave your phone number in case you have to move your vehicle.
  • ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: Do not leave the property while your car is in the loading zone!

Mark your calendar:


The Friends Center board recently approved our 2024 holiday schedule. Get an early start and mark your calendar now for 2023 year-end holidays and for 2024.



How one conscientious objector helped protect religious liberty for all

Dan Seeger is a long-time Quaker activist who has served in leadership roles for AFSC, Friends Center, among others. AFSC recently wrote: “In the 1950s, Dan Seeger refused to register for the draft because of his moral beliefs. He was tried and convicted for draft refusal and sentenced to a year and a day in prison. But Dan remained true to his beliefs, pursuing his case all the way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, his efforts would expand who qualifies for conscientious objector status in the United States—and help safeguard the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

Snippet of George Washington's 1789 letter to Quakers.

The US Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling in the case of Quaker Dan Seeger vs. The United States is remembered in a new National Constitution Center exhibit on the First Amendment. The exhibit also includes a 1789 letter from President George Washington to “the Quakers” (shown).


Service Day at the Friends Southwestern Burial Ground

236 Powell Lane, Upper Darby 19082

This burial ground in Upper Darby is under CPMM’s care. On Saturday, September 30th, from 9 am to noon, please join CPMM in an opportunity to show love and care in tangible ways to our burial ground. We will mulch trees, weed, prune and improve the appearance of the grounds and community garden spaces.

» RSVP is helpful to ensure we have enough tools:


PYM Welcomes New Deputy General Secretary, Salvador Orellana

Salvador will provide direct support to the PYM General Secretary in this new operations leadership role. Salvador served in various roles over his 14-year tenure at American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) including Director of Intercultural Ministries, Director of Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico and as a National Coordinator for Latino Ministries. He also served in congregational ministry for 19 years. Salvador is also Friends Center’s newest board member. Welcome, Salvador!

» Full story

PYM Webinar Series: Energy Stewardship for Friends Institutions

» Starting with Solar Schools and Nonprofits, 10/10/23, 3:30 pm: Learn more and register.

» Overview and future sessions: Click here.


Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas

Find Friends: New Quaker Map!

FWCC has launched a new “Find Friends” map of Quaker meetings and Friends churches in the Americas, which will eventually include Friends around the world.


Please send an email to with comments, errors, or other feedback you have. If you notice an error in the data for your meeting or church, there is a link at the bottom of each entry to send corrections.


Muslim Youth Summit

CAIR held a summit for Muslim here in August 2023.  Young leaders from the greater Philadelphia area joined CAIR-Philadelphia over a Saturday and Sunday, learning from local leaders, community organizers, and politicians.

» Full story.

Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative (PYSC)

PYSC Summit: Women in Sports

The Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative proudly announces our first PSYC Summit: Women in Sports. Join us at the Loews Hotel (1200 Market St) on November 1, 2023! Registration will open, and we’ll announce our fantastic speaker lineup very soon! Special thanks to TeamSnap, NBC10, NBC Sports Philadelphia, and Telemundo for supporting this event, which we expect to be a huge day for the sports community in Philadelphia. For more information, please visit

Community Ventures

Old First House will offer 34 permanent supportive homes for formerly homeless individuals

The development is a collaboration among Community Ventures, Depaul USA, and the Old First Reformed United Church of Christ. The Church, founded in 1727, donated a portion of its property historic Old City campus for the development and partnered with Community Ventures, because of their expertise in building low-income housing and working with community groups. Construction is estimated to take about 14 months.  The development is in Old City at the corner of 4th and Race Streets.

» Read more.

» Note: Friends Center’s property was once a burial ground for Old First Reformed Church!

Singing City

Fall Concert: Singing for the City

Sunday, October 29, 3 pm

Temple Performing Arts Center

1837 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

A concert celebrating the colorful tapestry of Philadelphia choral composers past and present, including Melissa Dunphy, Suzzette Ortiz, Donald Dumpson, Robert Lowry, Ke-Chia Chen, Charles Albert Tindley, Andrea Clearfield, Andrew Bleckner, Jennifer Higdon, and more.

» Tickets: Online Box Office


Our own CARLA GAMBLE Sings In Dilworth Park!!

Wed., October 4, Noon – 1 pm

Take a lunch break away from your desk and join the Friends Center community in support of our Receptionist, the one and only Carla Gamble!

» Details:

» Can’t make it? Check out Carla’s website:

July 2023 News: Welcome, Carla! Plus available space, PYM annual sessions, Quaker podcasts


Meet our Next Receptionist: Carla Gamble!

Friends Center has hired Carla Gamble as our new Receptionist! She starts on July 24. Carla is an educator and singer who has a great way with people. She also is a familiar face around Friends Center, as she is often here to accompany her wife, Teneshia Washington, who is one of our part-time evening/weekend desk clerks. Please introduce yourself and welcome Carla when you see her!

—Chris Mohr, Executive Director


Spread the news:


Several workstations are currently available for lease in the open office suites, with just a handful on the 1st floor and several contiguous desks on the 2nd floor.

Please spread the word to like-minded and like-spirited nonprofit organizations!

»    More info:



PYM Launches New Quaker Info Line

Do you have a question about Quaker weddings or marriage certificates?
Does your religious education committee need resources for September?
Are you curious about how other meetings maintain their burial ground records?
Would your meeting like guidance on a new website?
Is your meeting hoping to grow and your outreach committee is looking for ideas and resources?

PYM can connect you with the resources to support many of your questions and curious minds. PYM staff help to weave together an inter-connected network of knowledgeable, vibrant, and spiritual Friends who share information, ideas, and inspiration.

Please email us at or call the Info Line at (215) 241-7238. It is our pleasure to help and connect you with the information that you seek!


AFSC participates in signing of document on human fraternity by Pope Francis and Nobel Peace Laureates

Deputy General Secretary (and Friends Center board member) Héctor Cortez represented AFSC and Friends.

»   Read more here.


CPMM is Hiring a Youth Program Leader

The Monthly Meeting seeks to contract with a Quaker to serve as Youth Program Leader, specifically for youth ages 5 to 12. The job announcement is here:



Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Section of the Americas, and AFSC:

Quaker UN Office Celebrates 75 Years

The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with a reception and talk at Scandinavia House in New York City. QUNO is a joint effort of the Friends World Committee for Consultation and AFSC in New York and a joint effort of FWCC and Britain Yearly Meeting in Geneva.


From Friends Journal

Mid-Atlantic Quakers Form Regional Lobbying Organization
by Friends Journal
Friends from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting have formed a new lobbying organization to advocate for tackling climate change at the state and regional levels. Quaker Action in the Mid-Atlantic Region (QAMAR) is a 501(c) (4) group that will draw on its founders’ decades of organizing work to pressure elected officials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fund conversion to clean energy.


Curious about Quakers? Enjoy podcasts? Here are a few sources!

Friends Journal

“Quakers Today: A Quaker Podcast Exploring Faith in Contemporary Life”

With host Peterson Toscano


Pendle Hill Retreat & Study Center

“The Seed: Conversations for Radical Hope”

With host Dwight Dunston


Thee Quaker

Thee Quaker podcast brings stories of spiritual courage to your ears.

With co-hosts Jon Watts and Georgia Sparling


May 2023 Newsletter: Farewell, Hiring, Beloved Community, and News


Friends Center is hugely grateful to Jennifer Williams for her 10 years of service at the front desk. Among her duties, she prepared this newsletter to keep our tenant community informed. Congratulations and best wishes, Jennifer! —Chris Mohr, Executive Director  


Friends Center is hiring! With Jennifer Williams’s departure, we need a new Front Desk Receptionist.   Click here for the Job Announcement.   PDF version.   Please share with your networks! Thank you.  



“Living with our neighbors. Growing into beloved community” Annual Sessions is one of the oldest Quaker traditions! Today, all over the world, yearly meetings gather once a year to bring together members and attenders from their local meetings. We call them “Sessions” because meeting for worship with attention to the business of the Yearly Meeting is central to these times together. During Sessions we ask: What is God’s big idea for PYM Friends?   But there’s so much more! The days are an opportunity to greet returning Friends and welcome Friends new to this gathering. It’s a time for learning — from keynote speakers, at the Quaker Witness Fair, and in conversations under tents and over meals. For children and youth, it’s a time to meet other Quakers their age and have fun together! For all ages, it is a time of spiritual renewal, community connection, and intergenerational worship and fellowship. Register here.


Strategic Goals The interconnectedness of our world has never been so apparent—nor the urgency to resist the many forces that fuel inequality, oppression, and violence. In our work for a better future, AFSC focuses on three strategic program goals and uses four core methodologies.    » Read more in our 2020-2030 Strategic Plan.


The Testimonial Life and the “Testimonies,” from CPMM’s peace & social concerns committee:

The heart of the Quaker approach to social change is to follow the leadings of the Spirit, which seeks always to lead us into right word and action. Our goal is to live our outward lives in accordance with the inward guidance of the Spirit. Over the centuries, this guidance has manifested in some ways so consistently and broadly among us that certain “testimonies” have become settled elements of our faith. They have evolved and matured as new truths are revealed to us. For instance, we once addressed all people as equals, regardless of whether we were below or above them in social station, using thee and thou; now we have a “testimony” of equality. Lists of such testimonies vary, but they commonly include the following: Peace and nonviolenceEquality and social justiceCriminal justice reformCare for the earthSimplicityHonesty and integrity Learn more about each testimony here.  

Becky Birtha, CPMM Member and Author, featured in The Inquirer, 5/30/2023:   New exhibit at Philly’s Historic Germantown looks at race and class through the groundbreaking 1946 children’s book Bright April “Becky Birtha, a poet and author who has written three children’s books herself, has a lot in common with the young girl who is the main character in the book Bright April.”  

Full Article:


Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
Home Matters Day 2023

When: Tuesday, June 6, 2023 8 AM – 3 PM

Where: Pennsylvania State Capitol Commonwealth Ave., Harrisburg, PA  17120  

The Housing Alliance is excited to announce the return of Home Matters Day in Harrisburg! For the first time since the pandemic, Housing Alliance members from across the Commonwealth will join together for a day of in-person meetings to ask their state legislators to raise the cap on PHARE!   Also known as the state housing trust fund, PHARE expands opportunities for people in need and revitalizes communities. The program creates, rehabs, and supports local housing, blight remediation, supportive services, homeownership counseling, and home purchase.  

Singing City

Songbook Community Sing  

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, Singing City commissioned 27 composers to write short works to create the Singing City Songbook.  This compilation is intended for community singing everywhere—its themes echo the human experience, with messages of unity, hope, love, and the ties that bind. We invite you to come and sing through all of the works at two community events.

Composers will be joining us in person and on Zoom. Come and learn new music!  Part 2 – Tuesday, May 307:30-9:00 pm at Friends Center   Tickets are $20 each and attendees will
receive a copy of the Songbook.