Today in the U.S. we have yet another reason for mourning. The horrific mass shooting of Asian American women in Atlanta is just the latest sign of a wave of anti-Asian violence in the US. And other forms of structural and interpersonal violence continue to occur here in Philadelphia, in the US, and in other countries (many of whom are supplied with weapons from this country).
Fortunately, many organizations at Friends Center organize communities and offer resources to counter these trends. Here are just a few samples:
CAIR: TONIGHT (3/17): Vigil for Victims of Anti-Asian Violence10th & Vine St Plaza, 7-8 PM for all those who are grieving those who have suffered. At 6 PM, we also welcome those who want to help make posters for the vigil.
Our Preferred company will be visiting Friends Center to shred sensitive documents onsite. You can leave your shredding down by the loading area on the cart that is set up. What is collected will be locked up at night until it is picked up Friday.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker Organization which includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Read more about AFSC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Quaker Traditions Series: Part I – Spiritual Practice
The Quaker Traditions Series is a set of articles on the Quaker faith. In his role as Associate Secretary for Religious Life, Zachary Dutton has listened deeply to Friends in the community. Working with the PYM staff community engagement team he has provided answers to framing questions for this four-part series. The answers are reflective as opposed to definitive.
The gift of the Quaker faith is that it is one of continuing revelation, so the article speaks to the ‘here and now’ of our faith even as it is tied to, and reflects, our history and tradition. If you have thoughts on these questions, please share them with Zachary – his email is at the end of this article. He is always looking for new ways to be in relationship with our wider Quaker community. Enjoy article here.
Biden’s changes to the immigration system explained
Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden began making big changes, including to U.S. immigration policy. These actions work to undo some of the most harmful policies passed by the Trump administration—and lay the groundwork for a more just and humane immigration system.
We welcome these much-needed changes and the Biden administration’s swift action on these issues. Now we need to keep the momentum up to ensure that the administration continues to support immigrant communities and enact policies that respect the rights and dignity of all people.
Here’s where you can find some of the positive changes that Biden has already made and what this means for immigrant communities.
What can we say? 2020 was…quite the year! We’re happy to report that ACE has come out of it perhaps stronger than ever thanks to an amazing board of directors, staff, and 4,000+ incredible volunteers around the country. Even in the face of a global pandemic, ACE’s strongest resource – our mentors – rallied to ensure that deserving students still had access to the best career guidance program in the country!
Green Building United recently spoke with Patrick Isaac—a newly elected Board Member of GBU—about his career path, experience in the industry, and interest in sustainability. This is what he had to say!
Nonprofit leaders, mayor react to executive actions that will be issued by President Biden
We reached out to seven local leaders for a quick comment….
Farrah Parkes, the executive director of the Gender Justice Fund, said that she was “heartened by the speed with which the Biden administration is moving to address the most pressing issues facing the country and reverse some of the most egregious actions of the former President — particularly those related to immigration.”
“We are well overdue for a coordinated federal response to the pandemic which has claimed over 400,000 lives in the United States,” Parkes added. “It is also gratifying to see swift action on addressing systemic racism and workplace discrimination as well as climate change.”
CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender said in a press release: “We commend President Biden for immediately moving to repeal the Muslim and African Bans, which is an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration. It is an important fulfilment of a campaign pledge to the Muslim community and its allies.”
Bayard Rustin was a black Civil Rights activist, a close associate of Martin Luther King, and an advocate of gay and lesbian rights, and a Quaker.
Rustin was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania and was brought up by his grandmother, who had been raised as a Quaker. He himself became a Quaker in 1936, shortly before moving to New York where he lived most of his adult life. He was a pacifist and a primary influence in bringing non-violent resistance into the American Civil Rights Movement, much inspired by Gandhi’s approach in India.
In 1941, he joined the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation. He protested against segregation within the armed forces, and worked with the American Friends Service Committee to protect the property of interned Japanese Americans.
Despite his membership of the Society of Friends (one of the so-called ‘Historic Peace Churches’), Rustin was jailed in 1944 for his conscientious objection to cooperating with the draft. While in jail, he organised protests against segregated seating in the dining hall. In a letter to the prison warden, he wrote:
Both morally and practically, segregation is to me a basic injustice. Since I believe it to be so, I must attempt to remove it. There are three ways in which one can deal with an injustice. (a) One can accept it without protest. (b) One can seek to avoid it. (c) One can resist the injustice non-violently. To accept it is to perpetuate it.
Is it January 13, 2021? Or more like December 44, 2020? It’s sometimes hard to tell. (Credit for this idea goes to our staff member Teneshia Washington!)
Personally, whenever I see a raptor, I take that as a good omen. On Jan. 11, a juvenile Cooper’s hawk paused with its lunch on the wall by the front entrance to Friends Center. So I’ve decided to take this as an auspicious sign for the year ahead! (Fun fact: One definition of “auspices” is “observation by an augur especially of the flight and feeding of birds to discover omens,” according to Merriam-Webster.)
Wishing you all the best in 2021,
– Chris Mohr, Executive Director
AROUND FRIENDS CENTER
CLOSED Mon. January 18
In celebration of MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY!
We are monitoring the anti-democracy protests being announced in the days leading up to and including Jan. 20, when President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris are sworn in. As of now, state and national capitol buildings appear to be the focus. The situation is fluid and uncertain.
If the local situation in Center City warrants it, we will reduce hours or close altogether.
We will announce any changes by email and social media.
Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting was formed in 1956 when two city meetings—12th Street Meeting and Race Street Meeting—were united. Our building, however, is 100 years older, and has served as a Quaker meetinghouse since it was built in 1856. Continue Here
Friends Center staff remains at your service weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm. It is always nice to see you in person whenever you are able to be here.
May the new year bring improved health, justice, and economic outcomes, through all our combined efforts!
P.S. If you are looking for additional help next year, consider hosting a Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) Fellow. QVS is an 11-month fellowship for young adults at the intersection of social justice, spirituality and community. In the QVS program, young adults work full-time in professional positions. Some of our tenants have benefited from QVS Fellows. Fact sheet attached.
Christmas Eve Meeting for Prayer and Healing :Dec. 24 @ 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm Free
On Christmas Eve 2020 we will have a special Meeting for Prayer and Healing. We will participate in a guided meditation/prayer in which we open up to divine healing love, and then share it with others. This will be followed by an opportunity in small groups to share our experiences with each other. We will close together as a whole group. More information here
Meetings may be seeking to create meaningful Christmas programs that keep Friends connected while also being safe about Covid-19. Two online Conversation Circles were hosted by the Youth Religious Life Coordinator to share ideas and support each other with how to plan for celebrations in this challenging time. Read more here on how to stay connected!
CPMM continues to worship via Zoom every Sunday, 11 am – noon!
If you would like the link so you can join Quaker meeting for worship, please contact CPMM Meeting Secretary Dan Zemaitis, firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 241-7260.
Where a global pandemic increases the struggle
This article from Generocity Philly features the Founding director of PHAN, Antoinette Kraus. Kraus says “After the emergency declaration is over, folks could end up losing benefits because of additional paperwork, they have to submit or things like that,” Kraus said. “It’s really a patchwork fragmented system that has a lot of hoops and barriers for folks to be able to master.”
Becoming an Anti-Racist Quaker Meeting, Part 1: Preparation
By Carolyn Lejuste and David Etheridge for Friends General Conference
The work of anti-racism can be costly in ego and in resources. It takes critical humility to look directly at the roots of racism and how we perpetuate it. It is spiritual work that Quakers are familiar with. When we examine our lives and the life of our Meetings through the lens of our testimonies, our experience of the God within us grows and the beloved community thrives.
Greetings and best wishes from 1501 Cherry Street! I hope you are doing well, staying healthy, and staying as engaged in community work as ever, even if it’s taking different forms these days. We certainly have our work cut for us at the city, state, and national levels to build a more just, peaceful, and healthy society for all.
Meanwhile, thank you for doing what you can to help stop the spread of Covid-19, through working from home as you are able, washing your hands often, wearing a mask, and staying physically distant from people outside your household. Philadelphia’s case numbers are growing, so these guidelines are as important as ever. We are glad to have you as part of our community, we miss you when you’re not here, and we are always happy to see you when you are here in person.
No matter who won the 2020 U.S. election, we will need mutual aid for our shared well-being. The multiple challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and continuing white supremacist and state violence in 2020 have been catalysts for communities to come together to help each other when the government can’t or won’t. When systems fail to protect our survival, many respond by working together to keep their communities safe and healthy through mutual aid.
In keeping with the Quaker practice of welcoming all, this event focuses on how individual people successfully navigate gender and other transitions and what we as a society can do to make that easier. Register here.
CPMM member in the news: George Lakey co-founds Choose Democracy
George Lakey is a longtime nonviolent activist who co-founded Choose Democracy. As stated on their website, https://choosedemocracy.us:
“Choose Democracy has one mission: prepare Americans in how to prevent and, if necessary, stop an undemocratic power grab or coup. Our work involves psychological preparation, lessons from history, and strategic sensibility.”
Here’s their most recent update: “None of the [post-election tactics] shows the potential to overturn the election result. There’s a deteriorating democracy, but there’s no coup. Choose Democracy is watching events carefully, but believe the coup attempt is behind us. Meanwhile, we’re pausing our rigorous training schedule unless we see evidence otherwise.” Stay tuned and check back to see what they say as the situation continues to evolve!
10 Philadelphia-area leaders on what’s next for philanthropy, including Farrah Parkes, Gender Justice Fund:
3 from Scattergood Foundation:
Tia Burroughs, consultant to Rise Partnership (Scattergood Foundation): It’s time to start calling out the systems that lead to need for nonprofit programs
“Failing to discuss the reasons why we need equity is not helpful,” says Tia Burroughs, guest columnist from the RISE Partnership (Scattergood Foundation is a member of RISE)
What kind of data affects social change and where does it come from?
I hope you are enjoying the turn to fall weather and colors, and that you and yours are staying healthy and doing well. Thank you for continuing your good work even in the face of continued uncertainty. It’s as important as ever!
Also, I would once again like to express gratitude to our dedicated Friends Center staff and contractors for continuing to provide essential facility management services during the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you!
With prayers for peace, justice, and health for all.
A free event designed for students engaged in the college search process, the 2020 Quaker College Panel (aka the Quaker College Fair) will be held 11:00 am – 1:30 pm on Saturday, October 17th over Zoom. After the panel discussion, representatives from several college admissions will be available to speak with interested attendees via breakout groups.
Quakerism 101: Quaker Spirituality, Theology, and the Bible
Saturday, October 24th2020 from10:00am – 12:00pm
Description: Session 2 of our Quakerism 101 course. George Schaefer from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting staff and Helene Pollock will present on Quaker Spirituality, Theology, and the Bible, and lead a discussion. Lunch break: 12–1 pm.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S NOTE: “I Hope This Newsletter Finds You Well”
Recently Tim Herrera wrote in the NY Times of the line, “I hope this email finds you well”:
“How many times have you seen that line in an email this year and thought, ‘Well, no, this email does not find me well — I’m terrible, thanks.’ None of us are well!”
The coronavirus pandemic continues (Philly is apparently doing a good job of masking up, though—keep it up!), unemployment is increasing, and mass evictions are looming (though there may be a federal moratorium!). Black and Brown people continue to suffer disproportionately from state-sanctioned violence, while white supremacists are openly out in the streets. It’s all too much….
And yet, at the same time, millions of people are speaking out for justice, for equality, for new priorities that lift people over profits and raw power. With passion, creativity, anger, sorrow, humor, and the full range of human expression, ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds are saying, “Enough!”
That is inspiring!
And so too is the work you are doing, to adapt to the times and deliver programs that bring your organization’s mission to life. Together, you are helping lead our city and country in the direction we need to go. Thank you!
Meanwhile, I hope that you are finding time and space for self-care that you need, whether mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, or creative. It’s vital.
Speaking of mental health and well-being, Joe Pyle of The Scattergood Foundation was recently interviewed by QuakerSpeak to talk about the influence of Quakers in mental healthcare. See below; another inspiring moment.
Finally, we hope to be in touch later this month with some updated guidance for being at Friends Center during the pandemic, and to solicit your input for the future.
Join AFSCSept. 9-13 to demand the release of all people from incarceration.
Everyone deserves dignity and justice. But in the United States, 2.3 million people are locked away in prisons, jails, and detention centers, where they are subject to civil and human rights violations and a lack of access to adequate health care.
With the pandemic, the dangers of imprisonment have multiplied exponentially, making every sentence a potential death sentence.
Join AFSC and communities across the U.S. for our National Days of Action to #FreeThemAll on Sept. 9 to 13.
The dates mark the 49th anniversary of the Attica uprising, when more than 2,000 people incarcerated in upstate New York took over the yard of Attica Correctional Facility, demanding freedom, wages, education access, medical care, and more.
Overall, 386 people attended PYM’s six days of annual sessions’ virtual programming. Thank you to all who worked so very hard to make Annual Sessions a success. Click the links below to get a peek at some of the fun we had.
On behalf of the many people who helped make possible the new Friends Memorial Garden at our meeting’s burial ground, I am pleased to write that, after a slow scheduling start due to the pandemic, the garden is now complete! With Covid-19 still around us, we will have to wait until a future time to have a possible formal opening. In the meantime, all are welcome to visit and experience the peaceful beauty of the garden. Take a picnic and come on out. I am assured by our new burial ground manager, Jim Krull, that staff and visitors are usually around, and there is no need to call ahead. It might also be a good opportunity to meet Jim and wish him well with his new duties.
Special thanks to those who contributed their time and money to the project.
Stay safe, and enjoy the remainder of our summer blessings.
-Tony Junker For the garden fundraising and construction committees