2021 January Newsletter – Good omens, Inauguration day, The Assault on Democracy


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


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.



PYM Community Playdates are for Children up through 5th Grade and their Family.

Our January 16 Community Playdate (10:00 am) is a “Meeting for Feelings.” Learn More Here


Year in review: How you helped us Defund Hate in 2020

On a Facebook Live event in January 2021, AFSC’s Tori Bateman, Benjamin Prado, and Fabiola Davila talked about the need to stop abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Read More Here.


The History of CPMM

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



Jacob Bender, Executive Director of C.A.I.R (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), supports IMPEACHMENT NOW!


Statement on the January 6 attacks

Learn more at https://www.genderjusticephilly.org/.


Here is FCE’s statement on the January 6 attacks.

Quaker Quote

Friends Center December Newsletter

Issue 67, December 2020


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.

»Site placement application is here.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director




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


Download and print AFSC Posters from here!


Christmas Together in New Ways

Christmas Together in New Ways

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, office@cpmm.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.”

» Read more here.

Girls INC.

Hello Friends,

We are looking to fill two positions:

Operations Manager and EUREKA! (STEM) Program Manager.  You can see the job descriptions here

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday.


Dena Herrin, Executive Director

Happy Holidays from Singing City!

Enjoy Singing City’s holiday video with choral music, since they cannot hold their traditional holiday performance this year.



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.

» Read More Here

Quakers and Christmas:
A Historical and Contemporary Retrospective

December 17, 6:30-7:30 pm

Speaking of Dan Zemaitis, he will give this talk by Zoom. Hosted by Historic Arch Street Meeting House. » Register here.

Friends Center Tenant Newsletter – November 2020

Issue 66


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.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director



We recently updated our Current Guidelines for Return to Friends Center during Modified Green Phase. Please review them.

  • The city recently changed limits for indoor gatherings, so that is updated.
  • Also, we would like to ask each organization to appoint a Pandemic Safety Officer to serve as the lead connecting point for covid-related communications.



How to create a mutual aid network

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.

Solidarity, not charity.

» Continue reading


Personal Stories: Navigating the LGBTQ+ Journey with Loved Ones

November 12 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

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.”

The group was featured in numerous news articles, including in The Guardian, The Atlantic and Waging Nonviolence.

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?

At ECS’s Forum on Justice & Opportunity, the Scattergood Foundation and Azavea presented projects on understanding needs and assets, and strengthening social programs through data and evaluation. https://generocity.org/philly/2020/11/02/what-kind-of-data-affects-social-change-and-where-does-it-come-from/

  • Eight priorities for Philly’s next behavioral health commissioner

By Scattergood Foundation’s Joe Pyle and Kate Williams

Opinion, The Philadelphia Inquirer (paywall)


October Newsletter – Quaker College Fair, Transform Not Conform & VOTE VOTE VOTE!

Issue 65, October 2020

Friends Center Newsletter


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.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director




Join AFSC New Hampshire Program for their annual event virtually!

I Will Not Conform, I Will Transform: Finding Joy in the Journey Towards Justice will feature guest speaker Eroc Arroyo-Montano.

Friday, Oct. 16 @ 7 PM ET Register here


Quaker College Fair 2020

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 24th 2020 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.



An article written by Joe Pyle, president of The Thomas Scattergood Foundation:

Systems transformation could have saved Daniel Prude’s life

“Our systems can and must be better. Centering the dignity and value of human life must guide how we create policy and build systems of care.”


Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), the world office for our own Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas, presents Quaker Conversations 4: Quaker Advocacy: Peace, People, Planet. This will be the next in a monthly webinar series with Friends around the world. Saturday October 17, 2020. 1-2:30 pm

September Newsletter: Keep up the good work, Name Change, Mental Health and a New Garden

Issue 64, September 2020

“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.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director




National days of action to #FreeThemAll

Join AFSC Sept. 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.


Click for CPMM’s September 2020 Newsletter.

Featured article:

Friends Memorial Garden:

Dear CPMM Friends,

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

August Tenant Newsletter: Black Lives Matter, Meetinghouse History and A word from Non-profit Veterans

Issue 62, July 2020

If you’ve been to Friends Center recently, or follow our social media accounts, you may have seen that we recently put up two #BlackLivesMatter banners, one on the Race Street fence and one on the 15th Street fence near the entrance.

                Sadly, someone stole the one on 15th Street soon after we put it up. So we immediately ordered two more from the Black Lives Matter organization store. We then placed one in the display window on 15th Street.

                Also, the Mary Dyer statue is wearing a face mask. As a Quaker, I do wonder how the historic Mary Dyer would feel about this symbolic gesture—or even having a statue to her at all!—but as long it’s here, the statue can help set a good example for all of us.

                Please stay safe and healthy, we miss you, and we look forward to seeing you more often in the future—gradually and when it is safe to do so.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director



Is an arrest holding you back? Start the process for erasing conviction information from your record. Speak directly with a lawyer from Philadelphia Lawyers For Social Equity for free!

Date: Tuesday, August 11, 3 PM On Zoom: https://buff.ly/2WpxM5X

Meeting ID: 819 2198 3503

The Scattergood Foundation
celebrates its 15th Anniversary!

CASA Philadelphia is now taking applications for our October 2020 virtual training class. If you are looking for a significant volunteer opportunity, consider joining us! Read more about it: http://casaphiladelphia.org



Note to self: White people taking part in #BlackLivesMatter protests

“I am a white person who recently participated in #millionsmarchnyc as part of #BlackLivesMatter. As a queer, gender-queer person, I know about some forms of oppression, but I didn’t want my own unconscious racism, entitlement, and unexamined privilege to perpetuate the pathology and systems we were there to protest. So I came up with some guidelines for myself while participating in public demonstrations against racism and police violence.
            One thing I’m figuring out is that it is important for me as a white person showing up in support to engage in anti-racism work with other white people. Racism is a white person problem, not a Black person problem. We as white people need to be talking to each other about it.  So with that in mind, I feel led to share my personal guidelines and am open to any feedback.”

Vonn New, Author and a member of
Bulls Head-Oswego Friends Meeting
in New York Yearly Meeting


Congratulations to PYM on recently completing their 340th Annual Sessions—their first-ever online Sessions!


History of CPMM:

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. Learn more here.


Two recent articles from Generocity.org:

Uprising in Philadelphia: A to-do list for the next six months:

18 of Philadelphia’s best and brightest tell us what they think needs to happen next—individually and collectively—to address the longstanding structural inequities in the city.

Looking for a nonprofit job? Looking to hire? 5 tips from Omar Woodard and Farrah Parkes

Farrah Parkes is executive director of New Century Trust, a Friends Center tenant organization. Omar Woodard, executive director of GreenLight Fund Philadelphia, is a former tenant.

July Newsletter – New additions, Farewells, Annual Sessions and much more!

Issue 62, July 2020

Some Notes on Moving from Yellow to Green

Philadelphia’s move to the “green” phase of the governor’s reopening process has been delayed at least a month. During the yellow phase, organizations that can telework are supposed to continue doing so. One of the main differences for the green phase is that teleworking will be “encouraged,” but not required.

                Meanwhile, Friends Center has adapted its facilities and its cleaning and operational practices to address the Covid-19 pandemic. (See guidelines, linked to the right.) Signage is up throughout the facility to assist you with keeping the appropriate distances. Fortunately, our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems generally follow best practices, such as having air flow from ceiling to floor. We are introducing more fresh air than usual into the main office building through the air handler unit on the roof. And anyone in an office or suite with operable windows can just open the window!

Food for Thought on Statues…
In other news, author Diana Butler Bass recently wrote a thread on Twitter about the statue of Mary Dyer in Boston. Friends Center has a casting of that statue, too, of course.

                The thread is very thoughtful, especially in light of the efforts to remove offensive statues here and in cities across the country. Notably, Butler Bass reflects, “The state put up a statue to one of its most innocent victims. Not the theocratic overlords who murdered Mary Dyer.”

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director


Friends Center will be closed on 7/3/2020 in recognition of Independence day. We will reopen on Monday 7/6/2020.


In doing our best to consider the guests and tenants of our facility, we’ve decided to install a changing table in our handi-capable gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor of the 1501 Cherry Street building. Thank you to Friends Center’s own Jennifer Williams and CPMM’s Dan Zemaitis for the suggestion!

Saying a Fond Farewell

This month we say farewell to three longtime tenants of Friends Center, who are making other arrangements for work in the current times:

  • Center for the Study of Economics
  • Food and Water Watch Pennsylvania Office
  • Friends Association for Higher Education

We wish them all the best in their new working arrangements, and appreciate having had them as part of our Friends Center community.



The Poor People’s Campaign: Worthy of Quaker support then and now;

Just days before his assassination in 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent a letter soliciting funds for the Poor People’s Campaign that read, in part, “[The Southern Christian Leadership Conference] SCLC cannot wait; it cannot watch as the only systematic response to riots are feverish military preparations for repression. It cannot sit in appalled silence and then deplore the holocaust when tragedy strikes. We cannot condone either violence or the equivalent evil of passivity.”

More than five decades later, it is chilling how applicable those words still are.

  • Read the full article by Joyce Ajlouny, AFSC’s General Secretary.


Annual Sessions Coming Soon

Plus: Runway to Annual Sessions

As we approach our 340th Annual Sessions, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting will be hosting virtual workshops, Mindfulness Meditation classes, and Plenary Sessions as a part of our Runway to Annual Sessions series. 

Featured Online Workshop:

Accompaniment as Anti-Racist Practice for Social Change
Lucy Duncan, AFSC


Free of charge

Accompaniment as spiritual practice offers a way for deep relational shifting and for showing up for the long haul while learning deeply how to be present for both the momentary and longer term needs of the community you are hoping to support.

For a full list of scheduled offerings (June 15 – July 25), and registration follow the link.


CPMM Virtual Meeting for Worship Sunday’s at 11 am

We will be using the Zoom computer application (app) to host this meeting, which you can download here: https://zoom.us/support/download. Once you have the app loaded on your digital device, you simply will need to click on the given link at meeting time, and you automatically will be in the virtual meeting space. The login information for joining this meeting is below. We have recently moved to a password-protected meeting. If you have not received the password in the email from the meeting secretary, please contact the meeting office at office@cpmm.org


  • Friends Journal Article; Who’s the Proper Quaker Now?

Friends Center June Newsletter – Time For Change, FC Reopening, Meditation and Response to Unrest

Issue 61, June 2020


The recent unrest in Philadelphia and around the country is a cry for change: Black lives matter! Yet the grinding reality of structural and interpersonal racism and violence in the US continues to roll on—even when there are cameras are rolling nearby. Far, far too often, black and brown lives don’t matter in the U.S. It’s upsetting, saddening, and infuriating.

                There is so much work still to do, from stopping systemic violence, to reducing economic and social inequality; from repairing relationships to repairing physical structures; and fostering healing, health and wellness, especially in the communities most impacted by illness, including but not limited to Covid-19.

                As you know, Friends Center strives to be a hub for justice and peace in our city and world, through the work of our partners and tenants. Below are a few samples, so you can hear a little of what each other is saying.

                Generocity.org has been covering the local situation, and these stood out for me in addressing the Philadelphia nonprofit sector in particular:

                Finally, I find some comfort in the willingness of the vast majority of people in the US to stay home in order to create better health outcomes for their families, their neighbors, and even complete strangers. May we build upon that shared sense of connection to create a truly NEW normal that is better than the old one.

– Chris Mohr, Executive Director



Gov. Wolf is expected to announce on Friday, June 5, that Philadelphia is moving from the “red” to the “yellow” phase of his reopening process for Pennsylvania. During this phase, organizations that can work remotely are encouraged to continue doing so.

                Meanwhile, Friends Center is preparing the facility for gradual return of organizations here. We are placing signage to show appropriate distances in common spaces, capacities of shared conference rooms with distancing, and other guidelines. Our janitorial contractor, Team Clean, is also conducting a deep cleaning of the entire facility. We have updated our protocols to clean high-touch surfaces frequently, in keeping with CDC guidelines.

                Directors of each partner and tenant organization have already received Friends Center’s guidelines for reopening. They are now posted online here.


AFSC condemns police killing of George Floyd and police violence against protesters.

“The brutal murder of George Floyd is the consequence of a racist system that disproportionately targets people of color for violence, imprisonment, and premature death,” said Shanene Herbert, director of AFSC’s Healing Justice program in Saint Paul. “Firing these police officers is not enough. We need resources directed away from the police forces that occupy our communities. We need investment in our young people, in our schools, in our health care, and in transformative forms of justice that address the root causes of harm.” Full article here


10-Minute Mindfulness Meditation Session with Deborah Cooper.

In this period of uncertainty, there are powerful benefits to meditation. It is an incredible tool to build attentiveness to what is happening in our bodies and to our selves. To help you tap into Deborah’s teaching, we have shared an audio file of a ten-minute meditation.


A Message  from Friends Council on Education Regarding Racial Justice

Friends Council will continue to seek ways to engage all educators and Friends school communities to step up and take action for social justice.

A few selected tenant tweets:

Art-Reach (@artreachphilly)

Art-Reach supports the broken silence. We stand with Minneapolis and black communities here in Philadelphia. #blacklivesmatter

PLSE (@plsephilly)

PLSE stands in solidarity with the black community amidst the ongoing victimization by the criminal justice system. We stand with the protesters and we look forward to a time where justice exists and riots are unnecessary.

CASA of Philadelphia (@casaphilly)

As advocates for children/youth in foster care, we at CASA of Philadelphia have a front row seat to the far reaching effects of inequity and injustice.  As we do every day, we pledge to continue to advocate for systemic improvements to address racial injustice.

New Century Trust (@newcenturytrust)

“Like our societies, budgets are neither gender-neutral or race-neutral. Budgets tell us whose lives matter and whose do not.” #genderjustice