A Conversation Regarding Two Dormant Committees: Peace and Social Action, and Community Service

February 13, 2010 – Meeting for Worship for Business – Nominating Meeting Worship Sharing

Regarding our two dormant committees – Peace and Social Action (PSAC), and Community Service:

  • Quakers have to do with worship and service. We’ve moved away from that. It’s understandable with recent focus on the Meetinghouse. I would like to consider moving towards more service.
  • I work with immigration issues. At a recent event represented by various spiritual communities, I wish I could have said that I represented TCFM, rather than just coming as an individual.
  • From the perspective of First Day School, and Family Meeting, I wonder if there could be an intergenerational social action experience.
  • Having been on PSAC in the past, it was time to lay it down at the time. But as I attend peace and social action events, I wish there were official Quaker representation.
  • We’re in a time when social action is sometimes considered anti-American. Perhaps there could be a called Meeting, such as what M&C is doing, to consider how we are called with respect to social action in the world.
  • I helped Mary Ann with meeting and talking with newcomers, and was asked how they could “help others out”. It was hard when I didn’t have a good answer except “We serve dinner and cookies to the poor on 5th Mondays.” We need Community Service.
  • If we reform these committees, we need to be clear what the purpose is. Energy for one community means less energy for another.
  • When the committees were laid down, I still kept collecting food for Department of Indian Works, and still do. I don’t know how long I can do this.
  • How do we structure these committees such that they serve the larger community.
  • When Community Service was laid down, we looked at internal energy, and could not continue doing what we were doing. Regarding Project Home, our renovated Meetinghouse may offer opportunity to relook at participation. Could there be a feasibility study done?
  • There is pain in this world, and I’m glad we’re asking the question how we might respond. I am part of an ad hoc committee – Activism from the Heart – and we sponsored several discussions. When I ask, “Where is the activism in this Meeting?”, I think of the work on global climate change, and our renovated Meetinghouse speaks to that.
  • I have been touched by the reaching out to needs in our community. I also want to hold up issues of justice related to LGBTQ issues.

For the Meeting:

  1. What does your meeting do to bring our peace witness to the wider community and the world?
  2. How does your meeting live out the peace testimony within its own practice?
  3. How does your meeting teach and practice the peace testimony with your youth?
  4. How is our peace testimony grounded in right relationship with all creation?
  5. How does your meeting learn ways of peace from other groups and communities?

Summary comments from the Adult Education meeting on Sunday, May 9

The Queries from the NYM chapter on the Peace Testimony (above and below) were read.

These were the questions presented:

(1) Is this the time to move toward reactivating one or both of the dormant committees (Peace & Social Action and Community Service)?

(2) If no, how will we, as a Meeting, best live up to the Peace Testimony represented in the NYM queries?

(3) If yes, how shall we best move forward?

Responses:

(1) In general, yes – some movement forward seems to be a good idea.

(3)

  • There was a general sense that two rather than one committee is called for, as they tend to be two arms of the Meeting – but not everyone agreed with this.
  • There were several statements connected to a desire to do intergenerational activities, and to tie TCFM action to national / Friends initiatives (FCNL, AFSC)
  • The committee could be a matchmaker: matching a peace and justice cause to people who are passionate about it. – perhaps the role of the group could be to nurture Meeting members in discerning leadings in this area.
  • There was a sense that issues to be addressed might come easier with community service than with peace and justice issues.
  • Ideally, an expression of the Peace Testimony from the Meeting would be something that the children could relate to – that an important part of what goes on when Quakers do this well, is that the youth in the community get a chance to see and participate in this core Quaker value. An example of that – underlying that peace is not just “anti-war” – might be doing something to create dialogue with a Muslim community, which would be a broadening of the general testimony and something that we could do at a number of different ages and levels.
  • We had a recent action as a community around the marriage equality minute – we have a group of people interested in carrying forward that mission. There’s no reason that group couldn’t continue to go forward on that issue, while other groups act on different issues.
  • One friend would like to see an avenue for our meeting to do these New Testament activities: shelter the homeless, visit the sick, feed the hungry, visit those in prison – and would like a corporate, organized way of doing these activities. There are two issues here, if not two committees.
  • One role of the committee(s) is that organizing around peace or service issues can bring people into action or understanding in ways they need to be informed.
  • If we move to activating one or the other or something new, and it starts with someone saying, “I feel some energy in this area, and I’d like to talk with some people,” then maybe something could be developed from that.
  • I do worry that sometimes the Nominating Committee has to work very hard to get people on committees – but the old saw applies: if you want something done, ask busy people. Which is me saying, “I want to get involved with this.”
  • For me, we should look for what is the thing that binds our community together that is fun, which is connected, that I can bring my kids into – activity has that kind of energy. It’s wonderful to come together to celebrate our birthdays together – but couldn’t we, from smallest to largest, do some project together that’s service-based, informing us-based – like pairing up with a Muslim mosque – and learn about each other, respond to each others’ needs? I’m looking for a project that our whole community could do that’s fun, that’s energizing, that’s an adventure –m that’s about peace-making in a time of war with the Middle East. What’s the project? Where do we shine the light?
  • There’s an example of North Seattle Friends Church, where a few individuals pulled the whole community together to do a quilting ministry. They do a lot of quilts – some that go to cancer patients, and they have also broadened the project to bring sewing projects to train women in Rwanda/Burudi area, to use sewing machines. They brought fabric and stuff to these women, and the whole community got behind this, and made connections. There should be more of those projects.
  • Maybe community gardening with another church?
  • I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Peace Testimony. We don’t have to all be on a committee, but we need some sense that there are enough people committed to this major feature of friends to make something possible. There have been many activities and programs that relate to peace. We need some focus as a community, and there are so many issues, such as increasing militarism, recruitment in the schools – there’s no reason we couldn’t have a core group that could take leadership in this area.
  • I think it would be wonderful if Nominating could bring together a preliminary sprout of a committee and give a nudge to an embryonic committee – not saying this would turn into an oak tree – but it would be good to get a sprout going.
  • Perhaps a blurb in the newsletter – that gets read by more people.

Click here to send your comment to Nominating Committee, or post your comment below to be part of the public, online conversation.

,

3 Responses to A Conversation Regarding Two Dormant Committees: Peace and Social Action, and Community Service

  1. Liz Opp(enheimer) June 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    I appreciate these notes, since my schedule has prevented me from attending these sessions.

    It seems that one of the elements of Quakerism that TCFM is reaching for is the **corporate sense of leading**–an opportunity for service that calls us together to walk a growing edge, into our measure of Light. It may be that not all of us can physically participate but it would mean that there’d be a sense of the meeting for us to move forward with some new undertaking. The marriage equality work is an example of that sort of corporate engagement.

    It’s true that any number of us as individuals in the meeting have our own personal favorite service project we hope others will support–but that doesn’t knit us together in the Spirit. What I have seen as being successful is when we as a faith community hold the question “Where are we called?”; then pay attention to what opportunities come our way, and what actions have been “seeded” that seem to be bearing good fruit?

    We may be called to address a specific concern–housing the homeless; feeding the hungry–or we may be called to explore the *causes* of homelessness, hunger, poverty.

    The last question I have been considering for a number of months now is this: many of us–but not all–have a certain amount of privilege in our life. How willing are we to give up certain privileges in order to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of a Spirit-led act of corporate or personal witness?

    I hope we will find the right balance between asking questions and setting into action.

    Blessings,
    Liz

  2. Mark Jacobson June 28, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    If you want to “inconvenience ourselves for the sake of Spirit-led witness” we need to act as a whole.

    My thought is that we all get arrested – as a group – protesting US military, global interventionism in general and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This action will get into the papers and let people know that Quakers are against all wars. The billions of dollars being used for the military could solve most of our other national problems.

  3. phill lindsay July 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    i’m encouraged by the impulse to reform these committees. one of the most important actions we can take is to ‘let each other know we’re here.’

    that commitment is helpful – sometimes a life-line in a time of despair – not only to those in our area and throughout the world suffering through natural and social calamities but also to those of us within our tcfm community.

    peace, homelessness, poverty, health care, ‘sustainability’ – these and some other, perhaps more abstract causes, are among the urgent issues i would like to take up with like-minded friends.

    i’ll join a ‘peace and service visioning group.’

    phill lindsay

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes