A newsletter of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation Volume 2009 Winter edition Inside This Issue Witnessing for Peace. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2009 Peace Awards . . . . . . . 1, 6-7 News from Shadowcliff. . . . . . . . . . 2 TFLAC Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Iran Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Youth & Militarism Program . . . . . . 5 Local Chapters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-9 National Council. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 In Memoriam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Calendar of Events. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 This issue marks more changes in our bi-annual newsletter. It launches the online publication of Witness. Plus, it is a return to the 8 ½” x 11” format formally used prior to 2005. Being online, along with saving some trees, provides us with the bonus of (when available) using color photos. Also, our annual report, which was included as an insert in the winter 2008 issue, will now be published separately online. Printed copies of Witness are available for mailing. Please contact email@example.com.
Witnessing for peace, resisting injustice in Colombia by Paul R. Dekar From August 15 to 29, I traveled to Colombia as a member of a FOR human rights delegation. Other delegates included Brandy Bauer who presently works in Denmark; Joe DeRaymond and Sarah Snider from Pennsylvania; Kelly Dowdell from Alberta; Ivan Kasimoff from California; William Northrup from Tennessee; and Adrian Martinez Valencia of Las Loma, El Salvador. We met national leaders from many sectors of civil society as well as representatives of the United Nations’ High Commission for Human Rights, and the U.N.’s High Commission for Refugees who estimate that over 10% of the country’s population is internally displaced. We visited several communities including San José de Apartadó. In the 1960s and 70s, farmers settled in the region and formed a Peace Community. The community suffers from political violence, mostly by paramilitary groups supported by the Colombian Army. In the face of such violence, community members affirm their human rights through collective action. In this spirit, they remain neutral in the wider conflict and resist forced displacement. They farm organically, marketing coffee, chocolate, small bananas and plantains through companies that practice fair trade. Community leaders urged our delegation to disseminate victims’ stories, to call on the Colombian government to abide by international humanitarian law and press our governments to reject the expansion of military bases and free trade agreements that
Peace on the River –
FOR’s 2009 Peace Awards Fellowship of Reconciliation 521 N. Broadway, P.O. Box 271 Nyack, NY 10960 Telephone: 845.358.4601 Fax: 845.358.4924 Web site: www.forusa.org Blog: www.FORpeace.net e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sunday, October 11, 2009, the sun and the Hudson River played host to FOR’s 2009 Peace Awards Banquet. For two hours, while cruising around the southern tip of Manhattan on the glassenclosed Bateaux New York, guests enjoyed New York City’s panoramic views, fellowship, sumptuous dining and piano serenades. Approximately 150 people came together to celebrate the work of this year’s recipients of FOR’s international, national and local peace awards. Joining fellow activists, FOR members and supporters were members of the Iraq Student Project (ISP) along with Iranian
benefit elites in Colombia and transnational companies in North America. The Canadian government has signed one such FTA but has not introduced it into Parliament due to local opposition. Joe DeRaymond first accompanied the community in 2003-04. Shortly after arriving, Joe wrote, “In this moment, our FOR accompaniment and the accompaniment of Peace Brigades International is welcomed as an important buffer against invasion or envelopment by the armed struggle which embroils Colombia. International eyes, ears and attention are crucial to the maintenance of the fragile space within which the Peace Community lives.” Joe served with an accompaniment team again in 2005 immediately after the massacre in which three children, Luis Eduardo Guerra and other community leaders were brutally killed. Since then, military and paramilitary presence in the area has grown. In August 2009, Joe De Raymond joined our human rights delegation knowing that he had little time to live after a long, valiant battle with cancer. Despite his declining health, he returned to Colombia, accompanied by his friend, Adrian Martinez, who had witnessed similar atrocities in the 80s in El Salvador. The peace community’s embrace of Joe was moving. Joe died on October 1. FOR has established the Joe DeRaymond Memorial Accompaniment Fund in his honor. Please join dozens of others who have already contributed to extend Joe’s life work, supporting the courageous volunteers who follow his example of human rights accompaniment in San José. students from Baruch College in New York City. Mark C. Johnson, FOR’s Executive Director, opened the festivities with welcoming remarks, which were then followed by an invocation from Chief Ronald Roberts of the Western Mohegan Tribe and Nation. The event’s guest speaker Father Michael Lapsley, founder and director of the Insti- tute for Healing of Memories, gave an inspiring speech that lifted up the 2009 honorees and reminded us all that there is still much work to be done and that the perspective of our hearts is critical to our work. 2009 Local Nyack Area Peace Prize recipient, Mrs. Frances Ethel Pratt, was introduced by Rev. –––––––––––––– continued on page 6––––––––––––––
NEWS FROM SHADOWCLIFF
Witness–An Instrument of Peace by Mark C. Johnson During the week when this issue of Witness was being designed, I spent a good number of hours standing and walking in witness to peace and nonviolence. I have done so with the full belief that I am both my own witness and a surrogate for the broad membership of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. You have been present with me, many physically and personally as well, but all in spirit. “Witness” is the first step in reconciliation. It requires introspection and establishing an inner peace, reflection and selfconsciousness. It then requires awareness and presence to what is being witnessed. Without grounding in core principles, without connecting to external realities, particularly injustice, there is no solidarity. Witness and solidarity are two sides of one coin, to be spent on behalf of compassion, empathy, and commitment. Witness is the posture of our volunteers and staff in Colombia, our presence in the Middle East supporting preparations for the Gaza Freedom March and delegations of civilian diplomacy to Iran, our participation in the drafting and dissemination of articulate critiques of the American empire and the protection of human rights, our contributions to redefinitions of just peace making, our stewardship in soliciting contributions and directing their benefit to the causes of truth and love in service to reconciliation. Recently the Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice began its eighth year of vigils every Saturday afternoon at a highly trafficked intersection in Rockland County where our national headquarters are located. Anita Fee, former director of development, and Richard Deats, retired editor of Fellowship Magazine and former co-executive director, were among those present in the first days of the coalition’s witness. Richard was there with me and 75 others to begin the eighth year. And many of those same 75 were among the 300 at the gates of West Point on the night that President Obama, deeply disappointing many of us, announced a further increase in commitment of troops, and thus violence, to meet the needs of peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire Middle East. We witness continually to the insanity of such logic and the profound tragedy of its results. On November 30th more than 750 gath-
ered in front of Borough Hall in Brooklyn and walked to City Hall in Manhattan to commemorate the North American segment of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, a witness in the middle of a 90 day trek from New Zealand to Chile. Tens of thousands around the world have been a part of this witness – 12,000 Philippino students in one stop alone. My FOR buttons elicited welcomes of recognition as we crossed the Brooklyn bridge in the wind and rain, the Statute of Liberty giving us a high sign of encouragement in the harbor. The next morning, with September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, FOR and World March witnesses stood facing the World Trade Center site and shared a public litany for peace and nonviolence. In full expectation of the President’s announcement of the Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy, more than 34 organizations, including FOR, a number of allies and Peace Fellowships alerted by our participation, issued a statement of opposition over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and urged citizens to call the White House with their concerns. Telephone lines were clogged to impenetrable fullness. A renewed commitment to on- going and collective resistance is emerging. We need to feed it with our witness. As you view this issue I will be just return-
ing, with Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Fathers John Dear and Louis Vitale, activist David Hartsough, five members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and 30 other faith-based delegates from the Gaza Freedom March. More than 1100 registered delegates from 42 different nations will have gathered in Cairo on December 27th and marched in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza on December 31st. This is a witness to end a siege-like blockade of Gaza, now in its third year and with unacceptable humanitarian costs to over 1.5 million people, the vast majority women and children, trapped in a cycle of war. Perhaps the most inspiring witness recently is that offered by an Afghan group of young people whose vigil “Our Journey to Smile” has produced a series of messages to President Obama and his family as video postcards offering love as their answer to war. For more information, please visit our blog: www.forpeace.net and click on “Youth.” As an act of solidarity with these young and passionate voices perhaps you will send them a note of encouragement and bring their message to all you know. And continue to stand in solidarity as well with all the Fellowship of Reconciliation does to support the wisdom of truth and love to transform conflict to peace and justice.
SUPPORT FOR Your contributions to FOR are more needed during these challenging times. We understand, and appreciate your giving to be a personal expression of your desire for world peace. As a means of that expression, please consider providing a legacy of your beliefs by including FOR in your Will or Living Trust. For more information on making a bequest to FOR and other options in planned giving, please contact Bill Winston, Director of Organizational Advancement and Communications, email@example.com, 845.358.4601, or Jonette O’Kelley Miller, Director of Development, firstname.lastname@example.org.
TASK FORCE ON LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Again, War Here Is NOT the Answer by William R. Northrup Article reprinted from www.forpeace.net, October 2, 2009
This is the tenth day of my immersion into the Colombian society as part of the FOR twoweek delegation. I’m sure you would find the work of those here for this organization, advocating for peace and justice, impressive. Colombia, while exceptionally impressive in many ways, is a complex, difficult society with a multifaceted, tragic configuration to its struggles that takes time to understand, to appreciate, and to love. Clearly the staff here and the volunteers have arrived at this valuable place and are effecting modest, peaceful changes. Many people are thankful for the FOR presence and depend on the FOR staff to accompany them when they feel threatened by the military, which continually harasses, threatens, apprehends, and worse in a seemingly willy-nilly fashion. Today we are in a tiny town of about 150160 people, high in the hills of the Andes Mountains. The place reminds me a bit of an old church camp in its simplicity. Chickens, ducks, pigs, horses, cows, and dogs mingle on the paths with loving responsive children and courteous adults. There is electricity for radios, a few televisions, cell phones, and one computer of the FOR staff to connect those here to the outside world. The trip here was by mule (some walking) taking about two hours through three rapid streams, up and down steep slopes, through stony, mud-filled puddles in the driving rain. Clearly it will be into the un-
foreseen future before a car ever arrives. Colombia, however, is a powerful, luxurious country driven by urban, cosmopolitan values much as are we in the United States. We have spent a week between Bogotá and Medellín, both of which are bustling, beautiful cities, thoroughly enjoyable and compelling for visitors. At first glance, millions of people are living in what we at home are coming to realize may be ultimately unsustainable. The economy here too is running on deficits. And that seems to be the main source of the war against the mountain people, which is causing death, disappearance, and displacement in a relentless way. “…about four million have been displaced from their land and homes.” We have sat in high and low places from the United Nations headquarters for human rights to the community leaders of this most humble community established strictly on principles of peace and nonviolence. (As such, they have set themselves apart from the state government, which they describe as victimizing in multiple ways. Many here have been driven from their original home to form this small village. They call themselves La Union.) Everywhere we have met people who verify the violence being perpetrated by the central government, which forces people from their homes and land. Some do return to find homes and land devastated. There are
intimidating, armed military guards most everywhere. Estimates are that about four million have been displaced from their land and homes. The word “genocide” has been used to describe the work of the military. I met one woman, the sister of a nun with whom we stayed, who had been uprooted three times. Though persecution of the indi- genous population has been brutal for a very long time, now much of the lower, marginalized, disempowered are being pinched out of existence. The government wants their land to build dams and agro-businesses (bananas, palm oil, and cocoa). North Americans are complicit in that our government supports the Colombian government mainly with enormous military investments—about 500 million dollars per year from the United States. Most of us, I think, have not kept track of our government’s involvements around the world. More than that is the shocking probability that the U.S. is on the brink of building seven new military bases in this country. [TFLAC Ed. Note: The proposal is not to build new military bases, but for the U.S. military to use existing Colombian base structures for U.S. military purposes.] Colombians are aware that the U.S. is driving the conflict here with its heavy support of the military in the name of the wars on drugs and terrorists. Again, war here is not the answer. Please do what you can to get Hillary, Barack, and your representatives to alter their plans for Colombia and her neighbors.
Eliminating Violence Against Women in Colombia Means Ending the War by Moria Birss November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marks the anniversary of the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In Colombia, violence against women continues to be not just an issue of domestic or sexual violence, but of women bearing the greatest burden of the armed conflict. To that end, a coalition of women’s organizations from all over Colombia gathered in Bogotà today to call for a negotiated end to the country’s six-decade war. As the group’s handout explained, all of the armed actors in Colombia’s conflict rape, dis-
place, torture, kidnap and kill women. Children are forcibly recruited for the war. Four million people have been displaced, half of whom are women. A woman from Bucaramanga in the east of the country explained to me, “we are here to support negotiation, for peace. As women we are very badly treated, by the war, by the paramilitaries, by all of this.”
We would like to express special gratitude to all those individuals who have contributed to the Joe DeRaymond Memorial Accompaniment Fund, which is continuing the work of this courageous activist who served on FOR’s Colombia teams 2003-04, 2005 and 2009.
Iran: Citizen Diplomacy Today by Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens Article reprinted from www.forpeace.net, October 17, 2009
The current political situation after the first round of serious negotiations on one October in Geneva requires complex responses for citizen diplomacy. Iran is already an el ement in the Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict and a ‘player’ in the future of Iraq. Thus citizen diplomacy needs to be seen in its wider context in which large states of the region such as China, Russia, India and Turkey play a role. US-Iranian relations remain an important focus for on-going citizen diplomacy efforts, and therefore, the wider political context needs to be considered. Although the US-USSR Cold War (19451990) was of a different nature, there is some
benefit to be drawn from looking at citizen diplomacy during this period. Shortly after the Cold War was institutionalized in 1948, both the Soviet Union and the USA helped create non-governmental organizations to carry out citizen diplomacy and to support their policies. By 1959-1960, the Soviets realized that talking with their supporters in the USA and Western Europe was of limited use and that serious dialogue with more representative Americans was necessary. It is this second period of citizen diplomacy, starting in 1960, which may provide insights for the current wider Middle East efforts. Early in 1960, Georgi Arbatov, the leading specialist of US policy in the Soviet Union and Evgeni Primakov, later Prime Minister of Russia, then an academic with close government contacts, approached Norman Cousins, Editor of the Saturday Review of Literature and an activist against testing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s, to see if he would organize a meeting of non-governmental US personali-
ties to discuss with an equal number of Soviet non-governmental persons, but persons who had access to government decision-makers. Arbatov handled the Soviet side of the effort. Cousins agreed and so began the first necessary step in citizen diplomacy: contacts. It is necessary to know who has influence on government decision making but who are not currently in government and how to contact such persons In addition to contacts, a second vital aspect of citizen diplomacy is communication, both to an interested public and to government policy makers. Communications to an interested public was largely done through editorials and articles in the Saturday Review of Literature which was published weekly in 500,000 copies for a largely middle-class intellectual readership. Both Cousins [and Rockefeller] had access to political figures,
and the US State Department was interested in the conferences from the start. The third vital aspect of citizen diplomacy is money so as not to need government finance nor for the individual participants to finance their trip and stay costs. Three US foundations, the Ford, Johnson and Kettering Foundations covered US costs. Non-governmental funding was not really in the Soviet pattern, but there was a Soviet Peace Fund so that one could say that the Soviet government was not paying for the Soviet participants. It is impossible to reproduce the Cold War setting and the central role that US-Soviet politics played during the Cold War for the new citizen diplomacy efforts, but it is useful to analyze the past and to study some of the key elements. This article is an excerpt from FOR blog, October 17, 2009. For complete article please see http://forpeace.net/blog/rene-wadlow/irancitizen-diplomacy-today.
Burning Bush by Hajj Muhammad Author of Islam and Religious Pluralism (al-Hoda, 1999) and teacher of philosophy in Qom, Iran
Burning Bush Whoever gazes in the sky might see dragons floating by becoming towers, birds, or apes— every minute changing shapes. Just for a moment, look away, then try to find, again, your way to what you had imagined there and now is only wisps and air. It’s also hard to recognize an old acquaintance behind strange eyes. Shifting forms make all seem strange as each part makes a different change. Even the self is the sacrifice to the river in which no one steps twice. Despite the change and complexity of transformations and variety, a single voice is always calling out from every face and tree and cloud; it calls the lion and the lamb, it calls us all and says, “I am!”
“A gentle hand may lead even an elephant by a hair.” Iranian proverb
YOUTH & MILITARISM
Signing Up and Staying Home by Brie Phillips Article reprinted from www.forpeace.net, June 3, 2009
A year ago I was a young person looking for opportunities to gain job skills, find adventure, and serve my community. Theoretical discussions and the occasional protest wasn’t enough - I wanted to be doing something that would make a difference in a concrete way. I was ready for physical and mental challenges, and to be tested in ways that I had never been. That’s when I signed up. Six months, a physical, screening, and a few tests later, I was in. My life would never be the same - I had joined my local emergency response fire and rescue department. When reading the first paragraph of this post, did you assume that I was referring to enlisting in the military? I bet many people did, and I think this showcases a major problem for those of us who are trying to encourage folks to find alternatives to enlisting. Where can young people find opportunities to gain skills and give back while doing work that feels meaningful? All though there are many myths and outright lies about what the military can and does provide for youth, it’s not hard to see why young folks don’t think there are many other options. When speaking to friends and peers about their decisions to join the military many people said that they were looking for skills and, surprisingly, discipline. I heard from several people that they were not challenged enough in high school and felt that they needed the organization that an institution like the army or the marines would force upon them. My own partner says that he occasionally considers joining because there’s not enough of a civilian service corps to fulfill the skill/service gap that military fills. My partner has been an anti-war activist his entire adult life, but he’s interested in disaster relief and wants the skills to do the intricate infrastructure work required to lead efficient, pragmatic and humanistic relief efforts in disaster areas. He’ll be the first to point out that the US armed forces is not the ideal choice for learning how to be efficient, pragmatic or humanistic, and he’s not serious about enlisting; but where else can he learn these skills and be paid for it? Personally, I wanted to provide service to my community and gain skills that could be transferred to a broad array of situations. I had been a street medic providing first aid at po-
litical actions, marches and rallies for a few years, but wanted more training and to broaden my scope beyond strictly activist circles. A friend of mine was a volunteer EMT at a local fire station, and suggested that I come check it out. The first time I rode in an ambulance responding to a 911 call, I was hooked. I loved the fast pace, the adrenaline rush of responding to a crisis, and the way the EMTs, paramedics and fire fighters were able to remain calm under pressure to provide help and relief to those in immediate need. Since joining, I have become a licensed EMT and average roughly 20 hours of volunteer service a week I’m up all night, I miss out on parties and happy hours - and I love it. It’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. The relationships, skills and preparedness that I’ve gained in even the short amount of time I’ve been in the fire service are absolutely priceless. My situation is fortunate. I’ve been able to find an opportunity to gain the skills and do the work that I’m passionate about. Even better, there is a volunteer infrastructure in our county that allows me to get training for free. I feel strongly that this is a model that needs to be expanded upon in other areas, and that the few organizations that are providing alternatives to the military need not only our support, but our endorsement to our friends, neighbors and communities. For example, Teach for America, the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and City Year offer opportunities to youth. These organizations help to fill the void, but we need more opportunities, especially paid opportunities for youth if we’re truly serious about keeping kids out of the armed services. The moral argument is not enough. We have to give youth the chance to gain skills and experience outside of military service or we don’t have much to offer when youth ask “well, what else can I do?” Luckily, this work has already been started. The American Friends Service Committee publishes a fabulous book on alternatives to the military, with ideas, organizations and information for youth. You can check it out at www.afsc.org/itsmylife. Also, The Center on Conscious and War has an excellent stateby-state resource guide for youth looking for training and job opportunities, which you can see here: http://www.centeronconscience. org/alternatives/index.shtml
I am incredibly happy with my decision to join the fire service. Having been able to cultivate my skills, I’m now considering a career in medicine. Because of the opportunities that have been made available to me, I’m doubly committed to helping other young people find opportunities that will allow them to gain skills and knowledge without having to enlist, whatever their passion may be.
Fellowship, a quarterly journal published by FOR, is the oldest continuously-published peace and justice journal in the nation. Your one-year subscription to the magazine is $40. Make checks payable to Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Selected excerpts are available online at www.forusa.org/fellowship.
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2009 PEACE AWARDS –––––––––– continued
Guest speaker, Father Michael Lapsley, Institute for Healing of Memories.
from page 1––––––––––
Patricia Ackerman, liaison to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Though tinged with humor, Pratt’s speech expressed that where there is conflict and hate, the best model is peace and love. Patricia A. Clark, Program Officer with Fund for Nonviolence and former executive director of FOR, was next at the podium filling double duty by introducing and then accepting the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. National Peace Prize on behalf of Cynthia Brown. Brown, activist, former commissioner and co-chair of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was unable to attend the Awards Banquet due to an illness in her family. Clark, a fellow commissioner on the GTRC, spoke of Brown’s humble character and passion for social justice. La’Onf, (which means “no violence” in
Arabic) a network of more than 120 NGOs in Iraq and recipient of the 2009 Pfeffer International Peace Prize, was represented by Abdulsattar Younus. After being introduced by Terry Rockefeller, founding member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Younus told of the challenges of building a culture of nonviolence in war-torn Iraq and expressed immense gratitude for the support and inspiration that the Pfeffer award represents. As Younus spoke about the tremendous strides that La’Onf has made in educating Iraqi society on peace and justice, we cruised by the former site of the World Trade Center emphasizing the poignancy of the event and the urgency of our shared mission. At the end of the afternoon, we returned to shore with our hungers satiated, our hearts full of promise and hope, and our spirits renewed in the commitment for peace.
Chief Ronald Roberts of the Western Mohegan Tribe and Nation giving the invocation.
Mrs. Frances Pratt, 2009 Local Nyack Area Peace Prize winner.
Iraq Student Project students: Foreground: Randa Mohammed; 2nd row from left to right: Raed Ibrahim, Mustafa Ahmed, Father Michael Lapsley and Samina Faheem Sundas, 2007 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize winner. Photo courtesy of Andrew Courtney.
Cruise attendees viewing the Statue of Liberty. Photo courtesy of Bridget Meade.
CRUISE All photos by FOR, except where noted.
Pat Clark, former executive director of FOR, accepting the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award on behalf of Cynthia Brown.
International Pfeffer Peace Prize winner, Abdulsattar Younus of Laâ€™Onf. Photo courtesy of Bridget Meade.
Iranian students from Bard College. From left to right: Adna Jevric, Tajreena Tabassoom, and Zainab Aslam. Photo courtesy of Zainab Aslam.
Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Daphne Joslin and ISP students. Photo courtesy of Andrew Courtney.
Enjoying the fellowship. from left to right: Judith Dickerson, Chuck Dickerson, Donna Blackwell, CEO - Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, and Mark C. Johnson. Photo courtesy of Bridget Meade.
Statue of Liberty
Alan Youngblood and Bill Winston, Director, Organizational Advancement & Communications. Photo courtesy of Bridget Meade.
Viva La Esperanza by Judith Liro Remembering Vera May Shirley’s devotion to peace and to FOR inspired “Viva La Esperanza!” sponsored by St. Hildegard’s Community (Episcopal) in Austin, Texas; $1,600 was raised and given in her memory. Tom, Carolyn and Frank Shirley, and the Austin FOR chapter (now inactive) joined Vera May’s faith community, friends and neighbors on the evening of September 26th. About 50 people enjoyed eclectic music interspersed with offerings of poetry as well as a delicious feast donated by local merchants. Son, Frank Shirley’s Austin Recorder Society Quartet delighted with beautiful Baroque and Renaissance music, The Therapy Sisters provided humorous musical satire and two Gospel groups moved heart, soul and body. We heard about FOR, sang peace songs, danced, and ate ice cream sundaes (another of Vera’s passions). Vera May had sung “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” with most of the nation until her transformation on August 6th,
1945: Cradling her firstborn son, she felt a deep connection to the suffering of the Japanese mothers and children. The rest of her life she worked for racial reconciliation and peace quietly and effectively including peaceful integration in the 1960’s, and learning Spanish in order to work with immigrants in the 1980’s. In her 70’s she helped found three organizations promoting a culture of non-violence: The Servant Leadership School of Austin offers transformative education; St. Hildegard’s is a contemplativeactive community offering inclusive liturgy and supporting members’ work in the world; and Non-violent Options for Youth provides a presence at high schools when military recruiters visit. Providing hospitality to nationally-known leaders brought her the riches of varied friendships. As she became frail, she would be in solidarity by pray-dancing in her home. Her sensitive nature caused her to struggle with anxiety and yet her very being was radiant with peace—gentleness, commitment, loving presence, joy.
All photos courtesy of Joe Liro.
Tom Shirley, Vera’s husband and Judith Liro who had the dream for “Viva La Esperanza.” Mary Berwick, FOR Austin - a dear friend of Vera’s and leader of Pax Christi.
The Austin Recorder Society Quartet, Frank Shirley, Vera’s son on the far right.
Enjoying the show.
Bobbie White and Carolyn Shirley, Vera’s daughter
Viva La Esperanza: a mixture of Hildegardians, FOR members and friends. 2nd row, co-chairs, Chris Purkiss and Sarah Bird, are in the center back row.
Presented by the Hudson Valley FOR
No More Smoke Signals A film by Fanny Brauning A powerful and inspiring documentary of the life and struggles of the Lakota Nation. More information and trailer at http://www.distantlights.ch/nomoresmokesignals/en/
Sunday, Jan. 10th, 2-5 PM Fellowship of Reconciliation 521 No. Broadway, Nyack 845-358-4601 contact: Alan Levin, alevin@SacredRiverHealing.org The Film will be introduced and there will be a discussion following with Tiokasin Ghosthorse. Tiokasin is a radio journalist and host of First Voices Indigenous Radio in New York on Pacifica Radio. He has performed world-wide as a flautist and has been featured at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations, numerous universities and concerts. Funds from the film screening will support: Changing Winds (changingwinds.org) A Native American Civil Rights and Education Agency
SYNOPSIS of film: Kili in Lakota means - AWESOME!
Kili Radio - “Voice of the Lakota Nation” - is broadcast out of a small wooden house that sits isolated on a hill, lost in the vast countryside of South Dakota. It’s a place that’s long forgotten; lying at the crossroads between combat and hope, between the American dream and daily existence on America’s poorest reservation. Yet we find people like Roxanne Two Bulls, who’s trying to start over again on the land of her ancestors; the young DJ Derrick who’s discovering his gift for music; Bruce, the white lawyer who for thirty years has been trying to free a militant who’s been fighting for American Indian rights; and finally John Trudell, an old AIM activist who’s made a career for himself as a musician in Hollywood. Everything converges at Kili Radio. Instead of sending smoke signals the radio station transmits its own signals across a vast and magnificent landscape with a delightful combination of humor and melancholy. Native hip hop and broken windshields: pride has been restored - it really is OK to be Lakota.
FOR’s Interfaith Statement The World Council of Churches (WCC) is in the midst of the Decade to Overcome Violence. The decade will culminate in 2010 and its fruits will be celebrated in 2011 at a Peace Convocation in May of that year, in Kingston, Jamaica. At that convocation, members of the WCC will attempt to reach unity around a “Statement Towards an Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace.” As part of that process stakeholders have been given an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns around the initial draft of the “Statement Towards an Ecumenical Declaration On Just Peace.” The Fellowship of Reconciliation USA has a place at the table of the World Council of Churches (WCC) along with the historically recognized peace churches (The Church of the Brethren, Mennonites,
and The Religious Society of Friends/Quakers) through the HPC/ FOR Consultative Committee. At the inception of this committee the FOR USA was an ecumenical body which has, over the years, seen the wisdom of being an inclusive, interfaith organization. We believe that it takes the wisdom of all faith traditions to move us as a united people to a place of Peace. The following document was unanimously approved at the FOR USA National Council meeting October 2009 as our faithful response to the WCC draft statement entitled “INITIAL STATEMENT TOWARDS AN ECUMENICAL DECLARATION ON JUST PEACE”. The full WCC draft may be seen at http://www.overcomingviolence.org.
To our partners in the World Council of Churches Some thoughts on the INITIAL STATEMENT TOWARDS AN ECUMENICAL DECLARATION ON JUST PEACE Entitled “Glory to God and Peace on Earth” We are grateful, as members of the Historic Peace Churches/Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultative Committee to the World Council of Churches, to be part of initiatives that intend to bring our world closer to the ultimate goal of peace on earth. The decade on nonviolence and this proposed document are important ways of seeing our way forward. The Fellowship of Reconciliation at its inception shared the roots of ecumenism and entered into a consultative relationship with the World Council of Churches during those years. Our membership, and indeed our National Council are now interfaith; encompassing the full spectrum of religious tenets and beliefs. It is from that place that we offer the following reflection. We believe that we are ALL children of God first and foremost. Whether we choose to worship as Jews or Quakers or Protestants or Muslims or Roman Catholics or Buddhists, we are all children of God. When that becomes our locus; what we see first and foremost when we greet
one another, rather than the color of our skin or how we speak or whether we are clean or dirty or male or female but only that we are ALL God’s children - only then will we be able to move toward true Peace. It is humankind and not the All Holy who has created the many divisions among us. We have divided and discriminated against other humans, other children of God, by color, by gender, by sexual preference, by class, by the way we choose to worship our Creator: in ways too numerous to mention. Fear has risen up among us as we no longer know or seek to understand what resides in the depths of each other’s hearts. And so we attempt to defend that which we know against that which we choose not to understand. We blindly seek to defend our personal beliefs, failing to acknowledge that no one of us carries the full measure of Truth and that only by coming together and each sharing his or her measure of the Truth will the Light of Truth; the Light of Peace grow among us. As children of God we are all created equal. We often say that this means we should share the same rights and privileges but it also means that we share the same responsibilities. Each and every person carries gifts of the Spirit and they are responsible for using those gifts and helping others to learn about and hone their gifts. We believe that the Gifts of the Spirit
are given to all, regardless of race, or creed, or skin color, or gender, physical ability, educated or not. We believe that, as we seek Peace on Earth for all it’s inhabitants; that rather than beginning with a focus on what makes us different, we must begin by actively searching out that which makes us all the same. We must actively search for the Holy One in every other person, focusing on that before all else: Acknowledging first that we are all the same before we look for the gifts that our diversity brings. We believe that there is only one power in heaven or on the earth that is strong enough to overcome fear and hatred which are the roots of war, and that that power is Love. We believe that it is only through joining hands with all others and through Loving one another, no matter what our differences may be that we will ultimately achieve Peace on Earth and Good Will towards All. We strive to live and work in the Power of that Spirit. While the World Council of Churches is an ecumenical body it does its work within an interfaith world. We believe that as we search for World Peace it becomes imperative to at least attempt to make our thoughts and hopes and dreams for that peace accessible to all. We pray that, as we move forward, hand in hand, there may be openness to the use of interfaith language and an ear to understanding the leadings of the Spirit of All God’s Children.
IN MEMORIAM Edmund (Ed) Mills Brennan, 78, FOR member since April 16, 1981, passed on surrounded by family in The Villages, Florida, on April 26, 2009. Ed was born and raised in Larchmont, NY. After high school, he attended Divinity School and became a priest. He left the priesthood to marry Beth, a high school friend, and became the father of her seven children. Ed and Beth settled in Harwich, MA where they held peace and justice gatherings in their home. Ed later became the local coordinator for the newly formed Cape Cod Chapter of FOR, and served in that capacity until relocating to Chicago to work for Misercordia. In addition to bearing witness for peace and justice issues, he and Beth also cared for developmentally disabled young adults. A quiet hero, Ed will be remembered by family and friends as one whose life had meaning as he brought love and goodness and light and truth into the world. Leslie Brockelbank, 85, of Eugene, OR, a member of FOR since January 31, 1992 passed away on August 31, 2009. Gordon M. Browne of Hanover, NH, a member of FOR since December 1, 1951, passed away on September 25, 2009. William E. Connor, MD, 88, FOR member since June 1, 1961, passed away peacefully at his home in Portland, OR, on October 25, 2009. Bill was born on September 14, 1921, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, attended the University of Iowa where he received a BA, and then later became a doctor after serving in the Army Signal Corp in Hawaii during World War II. In Hawaii, Bill joined the Honolulu Friends Meeting and became a lifelong Quaker. In 1975, Bill moved to Portland OR to become a faculty member in the Department of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. As a physician scientist with a boundless curiosity, Bill was a pioneer in the field of diet and heart disease. Throughout his life, Bill was also a passionate peace advocate who actively worked on this effort through various groups that included the Physicians for Social Responsibility,
the American Friends Service Committee, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation. In addition to his illustrious medical career and social activism, Bill was a strong supporter of nature conservancy and a devoted family man who instilled in his children and grandchildren a love of books, hiking, biking, camping, gardening, and, of course, a passion for helping others. Bill is survived by his wife, Sonja, his five children, eight grandchildren, a sister, a brother, extended families and many friends. Alfred Egendorf of Rancho Mirage, CA, a member of FOR since December 1, 1983, passed away on July 3, 2009. Dr. William Meeker Fuson, 93, a member of FOR since April 19, 1937 died in Richmond, IN., on July 16, 2009. Bill was born on Dec. 21, 1915, in Canton, China where his parents were Presbyterian missionaries. He lived in China until the age of 12 when he was returned to Emporia, Kansas, to live with an aunt. Bill attended the University of Kansas. In 1941, he was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology by the University of Wisconsin and later that year married Helen Leone Finley, M.D. During World War II, Bill was a conscientious objector and served for three years in the Civilian Public Service. His first faculty position was at the University of Michigan. Bill and Helen moved to Richmond in 1946 where he taught sociology at Earlham College from 1946 to 1979. During that time he became an active member of the West Richmond Friends Meeting and was actively involved with the wider Quaker community. Bill is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Helen Finley, in 1988. Robert Boyd Ladd, 94, of Gaithersburg, MD, a member of FOR since December 4, 1939, passed away on April 14, 2009. Elizabeth R. McGee of Fort Myers, FL, a member of FOR since February 4, 1966, passed away on March 31, 2009.
Mary Cochran Moulton, 86, a member of FOR since April 10, 1940, died at Friends House Retirement Community, Sandy Spring, MD on April 15, 2009. Mary was born in 1923 in Tabriz, Iran, where her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were missionaries. After graduating from Smith College with high honors, Mary obtained an MSSW from Columbia University, and then held various positions as a social worker and community organizer. In 1947 she married her husband Phillips, a Methodist minister and college professor. Mary joined the Society of Friends because of its peace testimony, and most of her volunteer work was connected with peace education. Mary is preceded in death by Phillips; and survived by two children, two grandchildren, and three sisters. Dr. Robert C. Murphy, 94, of Sheridan, WY, a member of FOR since March 1, 1955, passed away on January 5, 2009. Malcolm I. Nichols, 95, FOR member since March 1, 1949, died in Whittier Presbyterian Hospital on January 17, 2009. Malcolm was born in Watsonville, CA on November 13, 1913 and moved to Whittier, CA in 1917. After graduating from Whittier High School in 1934, he worked as a window washer until he was drafted. Although classified as 4F due to a congenital hearing problem, Malcolm was drafted by the U.S. government to serve in Civilian Public Service because he had registered as a Religious Conscientious Objector. In 1946, Malcolm returned home to work as a carpenter. A lifelong Methodist, Malcolm was active in his church and lived his convictions of peace, and community service. He was an avid supporter of institutions of peace, national forestry and a wide range of American Indian charities. Before recycling became popular, Malcolm began collecting newspapers and aluminum cans. For more than twenty years, he contributed over 58.2 tons of newspapers and over 387 pounds of aluminum cans, earning enough money to help put a neighborâ€™s child through college. Malcolm was loved by everyone who met him for his open, loving, humorous nature and his many kindnesses. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, and survived by three adoring nieces.
National Council Members Glen Anderson Andrea Briggs Paul R. Dekar, Chair Martha DiGiovanni Janice Gallagher Gus Kaufman, Jr., Vice Chair Rose Lewis Jeremy Lowe Greta Mickey
CALENDAR OF EVENTS Weekly Activities at FOR/Shadowcliff 521 N. Broadway, Upper Nyack, NY 10960: Sundays: Live and Let Live Alcoholics Anonymous, 10-11am Young Peoples Group Alcoholics Anonymous, 8:30-9:30pm Mondays: Nicotine Anonymous, 7-9pm Tuesdays: Compassionate Communication Circles, 5:30-7:30pm Wednesdays: Buddhist Meditation, 7-9pm Thursdays: Young Peoples Group Alcoholics Anonymous, 8-9pm For more information: 845.358.4601
Jennifer Newell Peggy Rivers Rabbi Michael Rothbaum Bill Scheurer, Vice Treasurer Sarah Schindler, Treasurer Rev. Sam Smith Rabbi Karen Sussan Rick Ufford-Chase Zara Zimbardo Executive Director: Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Witness is published on-line two times a year by the Fellowship of Reconciliation Comments and letters are welcome. If you have news to share, or an opinion or comment, please e-mail, telephone, or send by mail. We will publish all items as appropriate for Witness readers and subject to space availability. Editor: Jonette O’Kelley Miller Editorial Assistant: Linda Kelly
Fellowship of Reconciliation 521 N. Broadway, P.O. Box 271 Nyack, NY 10960 Telephone: 845.358.4601 Fax: 845.358.4924 Web site: www.forusa.org Blog: www.FORpeace.net e-mail: email@example.com
JANUARY January 1: Global Family Day www.gfday.org January 14-17: “Sex and the Body of Christ” led by Chris Glaser and Terry Flynn Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org January 15: World Religions Day January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 19-21: “Courage to Lead” led by Jean Richardson Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org January 28-31: “A Brush With God” led by Peter Pearson Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org
FEBRUARY February 2: World Wetlands Day www.ramsar.org February 5-7: “Courage to Lead II” led by Beverly Coleman & Valerie Brown Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org February 12-15: “Creating a Culture of Peace Basic Training” led by Janet Chisholm Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org February 19: National Day of Remembrance: Of the forced interment of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government http://www.dayofremembrance.org/ February 26-28: Student Peace Alliance Conference, Southwest University www.studentpeacealliance.org/conference February 26-28: “Singing in the African American Tradition” led by Ysaye Barnwell Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org
February 26-28: “The Hidden Power of the Gospel: Four Questions, Four Paths, One Journey” led by Alexander Shaia Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org
MARCH March 8: International Women’s Day www.internationalwomensday.com www.un.org/events/women/iwd March 11-14: Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) 2010, Chicago, IL March 12-14: “New Beginnings” led by Mark C. Johnson Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Bangor, PA. 610.588.1793, www.kirkridge.org March 19-20: 7th Anniversary of US-led invasion of Iraq March 21-22: Truth Commission on Conscience in War (TCCW) Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Dr., NYC. www.conscienceinwar.org March 22: World Water Day www.unwater.org
APRIL April 22: Earth Day www.earthday.net April 29-30: Nippozan Myohoji Peace Pagoda
MAY May 1: International Workers’ Day May 15: International Conscientious Objectors Day May 24: International Women’s Day of Peace and Disarmament www.ifor.org/WPP; Jose deVries, firstname.lastname@example.org May 29: International Day of UN Peace Keepers www.un.org/depts/dpko/dpko/index.asp
JUNE June 5: World Environment Day www.unep.org/wed/ June 20: World Refugee Day June 22-26: US Social Forum II: “Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary!” Detroit, MI. http://www.ussf2010.org June 26: UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture www.un.org/events/torture For more information on Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)sponsored Programs, visit the FOR website: www.forusa.org