A question that we might ask today, “How can we make our meeting a community in which each person is accepted and nurtured and strangers are welcome?,” is one that would also have resonated with Margaret Fell Fox. Known as “The Mother of Quakerism,” Margaret Askew was born in 1614 in the Lake District of northern England. She married and became Margaret Fell at the age of 17 and was the mother of eight surviving children with Judge Thomas Fell. When she died in 1702 at the age of 88, Margaret Fell Fox had outlived her second husband, George Fox, by eleven years. The Quaker movement in 17th century England survived early persecution and grew as a religious movement in part because of Margaret’s social privilege, organizing skills, care for community, and deep faith. [Read more…] about Margaret Fell: “Mother of Quakerism”
FarmerJawn Agriculture to Steward Westtown School Farm
On Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2023, Westtown School officially announced its partnership with Christa Barfield, owner, and operator of FarmerJawn Agriculture. Earlier this year, Barfield joined forces with Westtown School leasing 123 acres to create an organic farm. Westtown families and residents from the surrounding community celebrated the new partnership this past weekend on the school’s campus. Attendees witnessed a special blessing by Lenni Lenape elders and enjoyed tethered balloon rides, hayrides, and a host of family-friendly activities.
[Read more…] about FarmerJawn Agriculture to Steward Westtown School Farm
An Urgent Call to the Religious Society of Friends
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has endorsed the following Urgent Call to the Religious Society of Friends. This call to action was authored by an ad hoc group of nineteen Friends, more than half of whom are from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. In it they share that they see forces at work in our country that undermine some of our basic values: equality of all people, truth-telling, and deep listening.
Christie Duncan-Tessmer, PYM’s General Secretary says, “This call represents our Quaker faith in action: It expresses Truth as discerned in the discipline of relationship and prayer; it calls all to examine how this revelation can lead them to witness and act. It offers us all fellowship on a challenging journey.”
[Read more…] about An Urgent Call to the Religious Society of Friends
Green Street Meeting provides school supplies to children at EMIR Healing Center
Green Street Meeting’s EMIR Ministry Support Group says a heartfelt “Thank you!” to everyone at Green Street, the meetings in Philadelphia Quarter, and beyond who supported our school supplies drive in summer 2018.
The drive benefited 103 children whose families had lost a loved one to homicide, and who received services and support from the EMIR Healing Center. The center was founded by our member Victoria Greene, and named in memory of her son Emir, who was murdered. The name also makes the statement “Every Murder Is Real.” No matter who the victim was, or how much or little attention the crime received, that person’s loved ones are mourning their loss for years afterwards.
Still going strong in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, after 19 years, the EMIR Healing Center continues to help families survive and eventually heal from the pain of losing a loved one to homicide.
Friends from Green Street Meeting formed the EMIR Ministry Support Group in early 2018. We use the Quaker Social Change Ministry model, developed by American Friends Service Committee (especially Green Street member Lucy Duncan). In this model, a group of Quakers partner with a local organization led by people most impacted by a particular issue. The Quaker group follows their lead in deciding what to work on. The model also makes time for spiritual sharing, connection, and reflection, leading to deeper relationship, followership, and grounding of action.
Victoria asked our group at Green Street to organize a drive to provide backpacks with school supplies to the children EMIR serves. When a parent is mourning a murdered family member, whether it be a brother, sister, parent, or child, it can be very hard for them to keep things together for the rest of the family. They may be depressed and overwhelmed, and not as able to track things like school start dates and supply lists. They may lose income or even their job.
Our ministry support group got organized in the spring, asked the Meeting to take us under their care, and then spent the summer campaigning and publicizing the drive. An online buying service was set up so supporters could buy things and have them shipped directly to EMIR. (See this PYM news story from May 2018.)
With a couple of weeks to go before our deadline, we had 51 backpacks, toward our goal of 85. And then we found out there were 103 kids served by EMIR! With God’s abundance, people came through. We had enough to serve every child. We raised about $1,750 in donations, which enabled us to fill gaps in what was bought online or contributed in person.
The week before school started, we gave away 103 backpacks with school supplies in them at the EMIR office. The little children in particular were overjoyed. There were even a few backpacks left over, in case other children have a need.
Victoria said it was a great success and thanked our support group for doing the project and everyone who contributed supplies, funds, or time.
To everyone who purchased supplies online, dropped off supplies directly at the Meetinghouse or at the EMIR office, or made a donation, THANK YOU!
– Chris Mohr, support group convenor
Photo: Victoria Greene, member of Green Street Meeting and founder of EMIR Healing Center, with a box used to collect school supplies. Learn more about EMIR at emirphilly.org.
EMIR Healing Center ministry supported by Green Street Monthly Meeting
Green Street Meeting’s Quaker Social Change Ministry group in support of EMIR Healing Center is having a “Fill a Bookbag” drive to gather school supplies for 85 children participating in the center’s programs this year.
EMIR stands for “Every Murder is Real.” The center, in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, was founded by Green Street member Victoria Greene, after her son Emir was murdered. Victoria has spoken about the work of EMIR Healing Center in keynote addresses at PYM Annual Sessions and the FGC Gathering, as well as in a QuakerSpeak video.
Murder is devastating to families. Children risk falling behind in school or being unprepared due to the traumatic emotional and financial consequences of murder. Parents and caregivers may still be struggling with grief and trauma long after the incident. The ministry support group is pulling together backpacks with school supplies for the children, so their families have one less thing to worry about.
You can help by writing a check to Green Street Friends Meeting, memo EMIR Fill a Bookbag, or shopping an Amazon wish list and having the supplies shipped directly to EMIR Healing Center. The ministry support group will assemble the backpacks in August. Learn more at http://greenstreetfriendsmeeting.org/emir.html.
Planet Philadelphia Environmental Radio Show
Kay Wood and Linda Rosenwine, members at Chestnut Hill Monthly Meeting, produced a podcast discussing issues of environmental justice in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Learn more below and check out the episode for yourself!
Did you know that PA emits 1% worldwide greenhouse gas?
- Listen to this Planet Philadelphia podcast to hear about how gas money corrupts PA politics and harms citizens from Greg Vitali, Pennsylvania State Representative for the 166th district.
- Christine Knapp, Director Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability, will discuss the draft of Powering Our Future, and how Philly is fighting back by going green.
- Also, check out Weaver’s Way Environment Committee member Marsha Low’s debut on Planet Philadelphia on this show.
Do Quaker Schools Offer Sanctuary for Undocumented Students?
In the U.S., there are 71 Friends schools affiliated with the Friends Council on Education, serving PreK through high school students. What if all of those schools were sanctuary campuses, offering protection for their undocumented students and their families? Recently, AFSC and PYM decided to find out if any Quaker schools were having these same dreams of Quaker witness in the face of injustice.
Of the roughly 30 schools I spoke with, most had no sanctuary campus statements or other official policies regarding undocumented students. A handful of schools had procedural plans in place to guide staff through interactions with ICE on campus. San Francisco Friends School has shared their written guidelines. One Friends school had knowingly gone through the process of admitted an undocumented student, while a few others said they didn’t ask for any kind of documentation but have considered that some of their students might be undocumented. Even though many schools didn’t have policies in place, there was a hunger for more information about how to implement best practices for undocumented students.
Swarthmore College is the only Quaker-affiliated college to declare itself a sanctuary campus and only did so after direct pressure from students. Bryn Mawr, Earlham, Haverford, and Whittier colleges all follow sanctuary-type policies (supporting DACA students, not participating in E-Verify and not allowing ICE on campus without a signed warrant), but none have taken the step of using sanctuary language.
Beyond creating a safe learning environment for undocumented students, there is the possibility of Quaker schools using the same model as Quaker meetings and other churches who have taken individuals into sanctuary. ICE policy is to avoiding raiding schools as well as places of worship—how powerful would it be to offer sanctuary in 71 schools across the country? How powerful would it be to include radical actions like providing sanctuary as part of a Quaker education?
It’s more complicated than simply telling Quaker schools to be better. There are very few models for this kind of resistance, and many real concerns, such as becoming a target for enforcement or how sanctuary might interfere with a school’s relationships with the government agencies that issue student visas. Some of these fears have answers, but others will require experiments and test cases.
AFSC and PYM want to help connect Quaker schools to the resources that already exist. AFSC has gathered resources used by public schools as part of the “Sanctuary Everywhere” initiative. All of these documents could be translated into Quaker language that adds the weight of our faith to a moral imperative. Once these resources exist, we can begin to encourage Quaker schools to do more in a time of crisis.
So, if you’re a student, teacher, administrator, or board member at a Quaker school, consider using the Quaker Social Change Ministry manual with a group of students to form an accompaniment team, or think about how to adapt the board policy language and classroom instructional materials on AFSC’s Sanctuary in Schools webpage for your school. There are also guides for organizing protests in support of sanctuary policies.
Whatever you do, keep in touch with AFSC and PYM! Let us know what else you need to make your school a sanctuary.
–Emily McGrew, Quaker Voluntary Service Alumni Fellow, American Friends Service Committee
Join Work on the Syrian Refugee Crisis
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 email@example.com if you want to join the Google group.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]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.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]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![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]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
U.S. Must Do its Share on Green Climate Fund
The following editorial was written by Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 1, 2015.
This week, 192 nations are meeting in Paris for the 2015 Conference on Climate Change.
Most climate scientists and policy-makers view the conference as the last chance for negotiating an agreement to reduce global carbon emissions in time to prevent unmanageable climate catastrophes during the lives of today’s children.
One essential aspect of committing to effective change is support for the Green Climate Fund.
The fund was established by the United Nations in 2010 as an outcome of past climate negotiations. It receives financial contributions from industrialized nations, corporations, and foundations and distributes the money to help poor nations limit or reduce their carbon emissions and adapt to climate disruption. Developing nations will insist on commitments to the fund, especially from the United States, before they will agree to reduce their carbon emissions. Twenty-nine nations have already committed to almost $6 billion to this fund, with the United States pledging $3 billion by 2020. However, Congress has yet to approve any money toward fulfilling this pledge.
Our nation’s response to this moral imperative now lies with the Senate, which soon must act on the Obama administration’s request of $500 million in the 2016 federal budget for our initial contribution to the Green Climate Fund. How the Senate responds will have a very significant effect on facilitating or impeding negotiations.
We believe that, with divine guidance, the Earth can become a safe home for all its people. But that will require major changes in regional, national, and global policies and relationships. The Religious Society of Friends holds this conviction with humility and a clear understanding of the limits to what we can do, but also knowing that our efforts are required if we are to serve the future well-being of life on Earth.
Through worship, Friends seek to understand the continuing revelation of divine truth. This has long led us to honor the truths that scientists discover. The simple truth climate science has determined, beyond any reasonable doubt, is that increased carbon emissions, largely due to human activities, have already destabilized regional climates on a global scale.
Recent events at home and abroad highlight Friends’ continuing concerns about racial and ethnic discrimination in our own communities. We often lose sight of the reality that climate disruption is an instigator of violent conflict and a stark example of institutional racism. Millions of the world’s disadvantaged people of color, who are least responsible for carbon pollution, are most severely harmed by its effects.
This reality is inextricably linked to all of our Quaker testimonies: on peace, justice, integrity, simplicity, and environmental stewardship. Thus Friends respond to climate change as a profound moral and spiritual issue we must confront. This moral and spiritual imperative has been recognized by the leadership of virtually all of the world’s major religious denominations, and most powerfully underscored by the recent encyclical of Pope Francis.
This past summer Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (the regional Quaker organization covering eastern and central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore) joined with many other faith-based organizations — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim — in asking Congress to approve the requested appropriation of $500 million for the Green Climate Fund.
We urge everyone who believes in justice for all, and who wants our children to have a climate they can live with, to contact their senators about sustaining the administration’s request for our nation’s initial contribution to the Green Climate Fund.
Clerk’s Response to Friends Journal Story
As the presiding clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, I am writing to clarify the yearly meeting’s role and actions related to the concerns raised in the October 2014 Friends Journal article, “My Experience as an African American Quaker” written by Friend Avis Wanda McClinton, a member of Upper Dublin (Pa.) Meeting. While recognizing the article represents Avis’s experiences in her voice, there are aspects of the article that directly impact the yearly meeting that need to be addressed.
As the article states, the issues within the meeting have been several years in the making and have become compounded over time. In February 2014 the clerks of Upper Dublin Meeting, in part by Friend Avis’s request, contacted the yearly meeting asking for assistance. Since then Philadelphia Yearly Meeting senior leadership has been actively engaged with the concerns. The general secretary at the time and I consulted with Friends with minuted healing ministries and professional licenses to discern how best the yearly meeting could be of assistance. In addition, we had conversations with the clerks of the monthly and quarterly meetings, Friend Avis, and others. As clerk I asked two Friends gifted in healing to assist Upper Dublin Meeting. The meeting was open to their ministry and they have been working together.
Many Friends of Upper Dublin Meeting have been hurt and are hurting, including Friend Avis. I was and remain grateful for their willingness to engage in the hard, long personal and communal work of addressing the concerns to gain healing. It is often difficult to open ourselves up when we are hurt and these Friends are in the beginnings stages of that process. If there is no room on our benches for those who hurt to sit with those who have been hurt in the face of God to seek healing, then where is there room for such work in this world?
As clerk, I am concerned with the spiritual state of the entire meeting. When we become members of Religious Society of Friends we commit ourselves not just to our monthly meetings but to a communion of Friends seeking that of God in everyone. This community, as the individuals within it, is imperfect. Yet we obligate ourselves to love each other. We promise to be open with each other, to receive and offer each other help. We also commit ourselves to remaining open to being transformed. It is easy in time of difficulty to just walk away. Work toward healing is an act of communion. An act of love. It is our sacrament. It requires ample time and effort. I remain committed to supporting the work of healing. The yearly meeting senior leadership is committed. I pray that the members of Upper Dublin Meeting, including Friend Avis, remain committed. I ask that this tender work already underway be respected and allowed to continue.
I ask Friends to join us in praying for the facilitators, the spiritual supporters, all of the Friends of Upper Dublin Meeting and our wider Quaker community, for which the work of welcoming all God’s children is mighty.
Jada S. Jackson
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends