Dear Friend,

Since August when I started  working for AFSC, I’ve been struck by how much I’ve been noticing light. When I leave at the end of the day to walk to the train, the light shining on City Hall and on the other tall buildings in Philadelphia has been deep blue and translucent most days. The way the moon often slices the sky next to William Penn’s hat has made its reflected light feel close. When the plaza was filled with Occupy Philly tents, the evening radiance seemed like an inquiry: what would shining light on our common civic life reveal? How might such light change us?

Shining light on both injustice and the hidden possibility of real connection and healing is at the center of AFSC’s work. There is attentiveness to getting to the root of the matter and to seeing with the heart.

I’ve been inspired by the wisdom, dedication, skill, persistence, and willingness to be vulnerable and make mistakes that I’ve seen in AFSC staff and the constituents with whom AFSC partners. The light of inquiry and of the Spirit undergirds all of this work, as does faith in the unseen. It appears in small encounters – men incarcerated in a prison talking about love, a woman accompanied to a deportation hearing by members of the faith community, men and women on opposite sides of a violent conflict coming together to heal. In ways large and small, AFSC staff and partners make a difference by lovingly walking side-by-side with the people with whom we work.

This letter is the first issue of the AFSC eNewsletter for Quakers, Monthly Meetings, Yearly Meetings, newsletter editors, Peace and Social Concerns Committees, AFSC Corporation members, and other interested F/friends. The purpose of this eNewsletter and the associated blog, Acting in Faith: Connecting Friends to the Work of AFSC, is to keep Friends and meetings in touch and connected to the work of AFSC. Each month, it will highlight Friends’ efforts in support of AFSC’s mission and include listings for Quaker newsletters. I’d love to hear about what’s helpful and what information you might like to see in this monthly email and the Acting in Faith blog.

Please be in touch, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me anytime at lduncan@afsc.org.

Please pass this along to members of your Monthly or Yearly meeting whom you think might benefit from the content. It’s easy to subscribe.

In Friendship and Peace,
Lucy Duncan Signature
Lucy Duncan
Friends Liaison

Highlights from Acting in Faith

Here are some recent entries on Acting in Faith. Please join the conversation by posting a comment, if you feel led.

Friend of a Friend: “What do we mean by Love?”

AFSC staff Dominque Stevenson runs the Friend of a Friend program in four Maryland prisons. Friend of a Friend is a mentoring project. The goal is to reduce institutional violence by providing tools that build healthy relationships, create support structures, and develop effective communication skills. I accompanied Dominque into one prison on a day she asked, “What do we mean by love.” The ensuing conversation was rich and powerful. Read more.

Immigrants and Immigrant Allies: Making Justice Visible

AFSC staff in Denver help support immigrants through accompaniment at deportation hearings, through ally work, and through a monthly vigil at a private Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. I accompanied Jenn Piper, AFSC’s Colorado Interfaith Organizing Director, to a deportation hearing and then went to the monthly vigil in November.  Both were discouraging and, at the same time, deeply hopeful experiences. Read more.

What makes a Quaker organization Quaker?

Periodically I ask a question on Acting in Faith, inviting dialogue and reflection. Recently I asked what meetings had developed minutes on the Occupy movement. This month I asked, “What makes a Quaker organization Quaker?” There were many fascinating reflections on this question by Friends including Kathy Hyzy, Niyonu Spann, Doug Bennett, and Chuck Fager. Take a look and join in the conversation.

Post for Monthly Meeting and Yearly Meeting Newsletters

AFSC is creating a new Friends Liaison Program for monthly meetings/churches. We want to make a connection with every Monthly Meeting and Quaker church to enable regular two-way communication. The role of the liaison will include

  • Inviting the meeting to help AFSC meet its program goals by participating in very specific activities with support and materials provided.
  • Offering a First Day School service project related to AFSC’s work each year.
  • Regularly submitting AFSC notices to the meeting newsletter, as well as making announcements about AFSC activities to the meeting.
  • Sending questions, concerns, successes and other comments from the Meeting to the AFSC Friends Liaison.
  • Participating in quarterly phone calls to offer mutual support for Meeting Liaisons and to hear and offer feedback about AFSC’s work.

If you are interested in learning more or volunteering to serve as a Friends Liaison in the coming year, please contact Lucy Duncan at lduncan@afsc.org.

AFSC recently published a booklet about the principles which undergird AFSC’s work, the Friends Testimonies, and how they inform the work of AFSC. You can view the full booklet online or order physical copies at QuakerBooks.org. Every meeting will receive two copies of the booklet in March, along with a survey to gather your ideas in developing the Friends Liaison program.

Invitation from Ann Arbor Friends Meeting in calling for Friends Fiduciary to divest

Ann Arbor Friends Meeting invite other meetings to consider whether they might join with Ann Arbor in inviting Friends Fiduciary to adopt a divestment screen which would exclude investment in companies that are perpetuating the conflict in Israel/Palestine. Ann Arbor Friends Meeting writes:

“Ann Arbor Friends Meeting has recently discovered that some of the investments we hold with Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) are with companies that are helping to sustain the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land and repression of the Palestinian people. Though FFC promotes Socially Responsible Investing and “works to ensure that our investments are in unity with Friends distinctive views on peace and social justice,” we find some of their holdings are not consistent with that aim. We have therefore asked FFC to develop an expanded investment screen, similar to the one used by AFSC, to assure Friends that their funds are not helping to sustain the occupation.”

Read the full letter and invitation. Read Ann Arbor’s minute on this issue.