Peace & Social Concerns
Newtown Friends Meeting played a pivotal role in supporting Heeding God’s Call and other faith communities in putting on a Gun Violence Awareness Day. Read more about it here. If you’re interested in organizing something similar or other work around gun violence prevention, contact Heeding God’s Call Executive Director Bryan Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A faith-based organization called Heeding God’s Call can help Quaker meetings across Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with reducing and eliminating gun violence. If your meeting is looking for an avenue to make a difference in this public health crisis, we hope you’ll be in touch. There are several ways to do so:
- Attend a conference call on Wednesday September 23 at 7 PM.
- Attend and Spread the word about Newtown Meeting’s Gun Violence Awareness Day.
- Talk to Brad Sheeks of Newtown Meeting about how to organize your own Gun Violence Awareness Day in your Quaker community. email@example.com
- Contact Bryan Miller, Heeding God’s Call Executive Director, about other information and other ways to help. firstname.lastname@example.org
We interviewed Brad Sheeks about his experience organizing the Gun Violence Awareness Day in Newtown, and this is what he said:
I got started with planning a Gun Violence Awareness Day event as a result of a talk last May by Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call to End Violence at Newtown Friends Meeting. Bryan suggested the idea of having such an event in Newtown. It seemed that this was a good thing to do, and I had the time and energy to do it.
I made phone calls to about fifty faith communities and organizations in Bucks County, telling them about the idea and inviting them to attend an informational meeting. Twenty people, representing thirteen organizations came to the meeting. Bryan Miller explained the basic idea of a Gun Violence Awareness Day. He offered to be the primary sponsor. We agreed to start discussions in our home faith communities about co-sponsorship as a way of witnessing to the community about our concerns for reducing gun violence.
We agreed to set the November 10th as the date for the Gun Violence Awareness Day event itself.
So far eight faith communities and organizations have approved co-sponsorship of the Gun Violence Awareness Day, set for November 10th.
The service Awareness Day will feature survivors of gun violence, music, responsive readings, and prayers. Informational tables will display opportunities for taking further action about reducing gun violence. There will be a witness walk on and around State Street, leading to the church were a service will be held.
If you have questions or concerns about how this event fits into the wider question of reducing gun violence, contact Bryan Miller directly by phone at 856-371-3038 or by email at email@example.com as well as visiting the Heeding God’s Call website https://www.heedinggodscall.org/
I am available to others who might like to consult on how to organize a Gun Violence Awareness Day event.
Church World Service (CWS) is launching a new Ration Challenge Campaign at rationchallengeusa.org.
Ration Challenge is a fundraising and awareness building campaign that invites participants to commit to live for one week (the week of World Refugee Day) on the same rations that Syrian refugees receive in a camp in Jordan. Leading up to the challenge, participants ask family, friends and colleagues to sponsor them by donating to their campaign. Participants earn rewards as they raise money to help supplement their rations (fruit, veg, tea, spices etc.). The money raised goes to provide food, medical care, and education to Syrian refugees in Jordan via Act for Peace (30%) and to support CWS programs for refugees and displaced families around the world (70%).
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Share a post about the Ration Challenge on Facebook or Twitter
- Invite your networks to join/sign up via email
- Do you know any “influencers?” pro-refugee contacts with more than 20,000 followers on social media—Let us know if you’d be willing to reach out them to get them involved in the challenge. We will help with outreach and follow up.
- Take a short version of the Challenge (one or two days) and write about your experience
- Sign up the take the challenge yourself the week of June 16-23
- Work with CWS to write an opinion piece highlighting the challenges facing refugee families and support for the Ration Challenge
We hope to hear from some of you about getting involved as the Ration Challenge gets underway. Please let us know if you decide to sign up yourself. Thanks for your support!
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is a member of Church World Service, and we occasionally post announcements and invitations from CWS on our website.
What’s going on in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania may not be at the southern border of the United States, but family detention is taking place here. The Berks County Detention Center, officially the Berks County Residential Center (BCRC), holds families in custody for extended periods. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked the facility’s license to operate more than two years ago, in February 2016, due to their failure to comply with regulations. Nevertheless, the state has not yet closed BCRC definitively.
For more information on the situation, refer to the website of the Shut Down Berks Coalition/Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition.
How has PYM been involved?
In the summer of 2018, the Young Adult Friends community was led to take up the concern of family detention in our region. Their epistle laid out a call to action to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the yearly meeting minuted its support. The f/Friends involved in organizing the resulting action, set for the morning program in spring 2019 Continuing Sessions, have sought support from many partners in the community.
What do I need to know?
The action at Berks will take the form of extended, multi-generational, semi-programmed worship
- Young adults, and others with need, can register for no-cost bus transport from Philadelphia to BCRC, plus lunch for the day of the action.
- Let us know you’re coming by filling out the Registration for Continuing Sessions and clicking “Going” to RSVP on Facebook.
- English/Spanish interpretation will be provided throughout the morning.
- If you own a folding chair, or several, bring them along! Friends who might need to take a seat for part of our time at Berks will appreciate this, as PYM will not be able to provide chairs at the action.
- There is an alternative multigenerational program located at Reading Meeting led by Melinda Wenner Bradley (Youth Engagement Coordinator) and Amy Connelly (Children and Families program Assistant). The program at Reading Meeting 10am-12pm will focus on “Love Thy Neighbor” and how we welcome one another in our homes, schools and work, meeting communities, and PYM. There will be stories, sharing, and worship for all ages together.
The Quaker Life Council has recently approved an updated set of Threads, which are ways of organizing the work and witness that all of the communities in PYM face on a regular basis. The new list is:
- Peace & Social Justice
- Ministry & Care
- Religious Education
- Outreach & Communications
- Governance & Stewardship