This article was composed by Zachary T. Dutton.
Since August 2015, Friends had begun reaching out to me.
“What is the yearly meeting doing about the Syrian Refugee Crisis!?!”
“How can we get involved?”
“Quakers need to make a strong statement in support of refugees!”
The Syrian Refugee Crisis is the latest in a series of grave events that have rocked the region, and this tragedy has disturbed us all. Given Friends’ commitments to sowing the conditions of peace in our backyards and around the world, it felt right to proceed with connecting the many people who had reached out.
When we work together, we can move mountains! These were words in a letter we sent to Clerks of monthly meetings and to monthly meeting Peace & Social Justice contacts. We organized a conference call held on Monday, December 14, during which Friends shared what they’re doing to alleviate the Crisis, and we began a process of identifying points of collaboration. We invited representatives from FCNL, AFSC, and the Narenj Tree Foundation. You can access a report from the conference call on the PYM website. We have also set up a Google group to support Friends’ continued collaboration. Zap an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to join the Google group.
Read the full report!
- A coats and blankets exchange was brokered with Narenj Tree Foundation during the call.
- A group of meetings who’ve already come together spoke to their collaboration with the Lutheran Children and Family Services.
- Joseph Hohenstein, of Frankford Meeting and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, offered himself as a resource on legal questions.
When Friends ask me, “What is the yearly meeting doing about the Syrian Refugee Crisis?,” I might include in my response: “You are the yearly meeting, so what are you doing about the Syrian Refugee Crisis?” However, it’s not quite this simple. I know that I am the yearly meeting, too. In our community, it’s my role to create the containers for Friends to converge so that we may be grounded in Spirit and move those mountains!
There has been a great deal of structural transition in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting due to the implementation of our Five Year Plan, all so that we can organize around urgent issues like the Syrian Refugee Crisis more expediently, effectively and often. We have a powerful impact when we collaborate across monthly meetings, and when the statements we make in support of the causes we care for point to the work the whole community is doing together!
71 people got back to me after I sent the invitation to join the conference call, 35 people RSVP’d for the call, 27 people participated, and 20 monthly meetings were represented. You can become part of it, too.
This is what the New Five Year Plan is all about! Join us!
Zachary T. Dutton
Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life