Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Peace and Justice Concerns of California Quakers

As the incoming clerk of the Peace and Social Order Committee (PSO) of Pacific Yearly Meeting, I am posting the minutes of our summer gathering so that Friends and others will have a sense of what Quakers in California are doing to promote justice and peace.

The Peace and Social Order Committee (PSO) encourages and assists Monthly and Quarterly Meeting in undertaking peace and service activities. With the approval of Yearly Meeting, it coordinates activities that express Friends’ testimonies on unity, equality, simplicity, peace, and community. The committee seeks to balance its efforts between peace and social order concerns. It may provide programs during a plenary session or sponsor interest groups to heighten awareness of issues and concerns, share activities, and encourage corporate action on proposed minutes.

The current clerk of PSO is Anthony Manousos, Santa Monica Monthly Meeting. He can be reached at
interfaithquaker@aol.com. PSO plans to have monthly conference calls and a blog with weekly postings on Quaker peace activities. All are invited to take part.
In recent years, PSO has presented several minutes (statements) that were approved by the Yearly Meeting. These minutes included:

· A call for affordable, universal health care,
· An end to torture, and of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2010 the Yearly Meeting approved the following minute regarding interfaith peacemaking:
“Pacific Yearly Meeting encourages Friends to take part in interfaith efforts to foster peace and understanding both locally and internationally. Friends are encouraged to send representatives to local interreligious councils, to reach out to those in other faith traditions in the spirit of friendship, and to engage in interfaith peace and justice efforts.

“Pacific Yearly Meeting also authorizes the clerk of PYM to write a minute of support for the interfaith work of Anthony Manousos, who has traveled in the ministry with this concern both in the United States and internationally.”

Other concerns raised during the 2010 annual session included:

Friends Peace Teams (FPT) - The purpose of FPT is to invite, challenge, and empower individual Friends and Friends churches and meetings to participate in Spirit-led peace team work locally and internationally. African Great Lakes Initiative of FPT - Strengthens, supports, and promotes peace activities at the grassroots level in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). Rachel Fretz (Santa Monica MM) and Cassilde Ntamamiro spoke about these concerns and recommended that Meetings include Friends Peace Teams as budget line item donations. Invite FPT to present about their work at monthly meetings.

2) Friends Committee on Legislation of California (
http://www.fclca.org ). Laurel Gord (Santa Monica MM) spoke about FGC, noting that this Quaker lobbying group is the leader in Sacramento on criminal justice issues. Their legislative advocate, Jim Lindberg, is the single key advocate in Sacramento on these issues. She recommended letter writing to California state legislators.

3) Single payer health care. Sally Seven and Betsey Coffman for the League of Women Voters outlined the current single- payer health care bill in the California Legislature – SB 810 (Leno, S.F.). They noted that the United States is ranked 37th in the world in health care delivery, and that adoption of a single payer plan would provide health care for all, and save billions of dollars. They recommended that Friends write and lobby members of the Appropriations Committee, and all California legislators for this bill.4) Nonviolent Peace Force. Michael and Linda Dunn (Inland Valley MM) spoke of this innovative, nonviolent approach to conflict resolution. Their organization has 2- year paid positions. Outlined their activities in Civilian Peacekeepingand Civilians Protecting Civilians. Further information at:
http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/, or contact David Grant, Strategic Relations Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce at: +1 202 577 3145 or DGrant@NVPF.org

5. War Tax Resistance Bob Runyan (Chico MM) said that Quake war tax resisters are asking monthly meetings to approve their supporting minute. They would like to see 200 Pacific Yearly Meeting Friends “pay under protest” their federal tax.

6) American Friends Service Committee (
afsc.org/) and Friends Committee on National Legislation (fcnl.org). Stephen McNeil, AFSC staff person from San Francisco MM, spoke on behalf of AFSC and FCNL, mentioning that FCNL features the Indian Report, and it is one of the few Friends groups active in Native American issues. He recommended that Friends contact U.S. legislators in Congress to oppose the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (2) read their report, “Never Again” on genocide, authored by Madeleine Allbright and William Cohen. (3) personally visit a Senator or Congressperson to discuss with them one of AFSC’s and FCNL’s issues.

7) Interfaith Peacemaking. Anthony Manousos (Santa Monica MM) is willing to travel give presentations at quarterly and monthly meetings (as he did in May 2010 at the San Jose Monthly Meeting in May 2010). Contact:

8. Homelessness. Lucia van Diepen (Live Oak MM, Monterey County) urged Friends to undertake activities supporting the homeless. She quoted Gandhi: “poverty is the worst form of violence.” She recommended cooking meals for the homeless in your area on a regular basis.

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