Note: This month Madeline and I have asked several African-American Quakers to reflect on several queries and write respones. We invited each person to reflect on questions about Quaker faith, what gets in the way, and AFSC's role in his/her faith life. This piece by Paul Ricketts, who has had a long relationship with AFSC, also responds to queries posed via a social media channel. Paul offers a challenging invitation to address white supremacy and racism within Quaker circles to more fully realize our faith commitments. - Lucy
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (@FCNL) and the American Friends Service Committee (@afsc_org) partnered in live tweeting responses to the State of the Union Address on January 28th, offering a distinctly Quaker perspective on the issues President Obama raised joined by other Quaker voices who also tweeted during the speech.
At the beginning of January, I co-led a workshop with AFSC intern Tory Smith at the Philadelphia Young Adult Friends Gathering at Swarthmore College, with the title "The light after 9/11: Quaker faith and the War on Terror."
After we gathered and settled into worship, Tory and I encouraged participants to share their experience of "9/11"—the story of where they were when the planes struck the twin towers.
It was a moment when everything changed in America—our public policy, our national conversation, our identity as a nation.
Seattle area high school students gathered over the winter holidays for a Tyree Scott Freedom School, an AFSC program in Seattle, to learn about the history and structures of racism in the United States.
Madeline Schaefer, the Friends Relations Associate, went to visit that Freedom School, and witnessed a grassroots movement for social change built on the passion of a diverse network of young people in the Seattle region.
On the plane to Seattle to attend one of AFSC’s Tyree Scott Freedom Schools, I was seated across from a young white man who looked roughly my age. Toward the end of our flight, we struck up a conversation. He was from Oklahoma, he told me, the youngest of five. He was only the youngest by a very small margin, as he was one of triplets. I had never met a triplet before, I told him. He had never met a Quaker.
Before the end of the year I posted this question on Facebook and I received an amazing string of answers. To me such an exercise is powerfully expressive of Quaker faith, which is not doctrinal but expressed in the individual experiences of those who practice. I think these answers together create a lovely poem expressive of the multitude of ways that Quakers understand and experience Quaker faith.
I used to often struggle with the proper relationship between peace and justice. More specifically, I wrestled with whether or not it is ethical to ask folks who are living in deplorable, violently oppressive conditions to vie for peace when there is such a glaring absence of justice in their daily lives. In many ways, the answer to this question continues to shape my understanding of the question of peace in the modern world.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.