Acting in Faith

Variance: A reflection on Quakers, Christianity and racial justice

Dance

Dance

Dance

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 Bus Comes

Old Bus

An old bus.

This month, Acting in Faith will be featuring excerpts from the book, "Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights," published in 2011 by Friends General Conference.  A collection of writings from African American Quakers throughout American history, the book is insightful, inspiring and challenging.

What does healthy masculinity look like?

Joshua and Ivan at the Masculinity Conference

AFSC staff Joshua Saleem and Ivan Monzon chatting during the Masculinity Conference, held in Dec. 2013.

At a recent conference held by the American Friends Service committee, I picked up a piece of literature titled “Principles of ‘a Noble Man.’” 

Quakers respond to the State of the Union Address

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. 

Growing up during the War on Terror

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. 

A hollow power: Reclaiming our humanity by letting go

Seattle community agreements

Community agreements created by the participants of the Dec. 27-28 Freedom School in Seattle, Washington.

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. 

What is the core of Quaker faith?

Inner Light

Inner Light

Inner Light 

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.

A prayer for the coming of the Light

Winter road

Winter road

Winter road

Note: Here is a poem, which came to me in worship, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. - Lucy

The snow is melting, the air is crisp

I sit in meeting for worship

Notice the ticking of the clock

A siren screeches

The benches creak

Bodies situate them selves

Resting their bones

Taking a breath, waiting

 

The noise revs up in my head

The ‘to do’ list, the moments I said the wrong thing, the news of a friend’s illness

More questions than answers: Struggling toward peace

Labyrinth at Baltimore YM

Labyrinth at Baltimore YM

Labyrinth at Baltimore YM

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.

People of faith: AFSC and its legacy of peace

Henry Cadbury

Henry Cadbury, co-founder of AFSC and author of "Religious pacifism: A realistic view," published in 1957.

Studying English in college, one of the things I loved most about literature of all kinds was how it connected me so deeply to the humanity of people living in other centuries and other countries. Now I love reading old publications down in the American Friends Service Committee's (ASFC) archives for the same reasons—to see to marvel at how language has changed while our core beliefs have remained the same.

Who we are

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.

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