Bellingham Friends Meeting

Bellingham Quakers – The Religious Society of Friends

Metamorphosis – March 2014


Bellingham Friends meet at 10 a.m. on Sundays at Explorations Academy
1701 Ellis Street (Creekside Building), Bellingham
Mailing Address: Box 30144, Bellingham, WA 98229-2144
E-mail: info@bellinghamfriends.org

 

Clerk:  Susan Richardson
Ministry & Council:  Virginia Herrick
Environmental & Social Concerns:  Judy Hopkinson
Hospitality:  Rob Dillard
Treasurer:  Joanne Cowan
Newsletter:  Betty McMahon
Children:  Sharon Trent

Advice and Query: # 20 from The Little Red Book, “Do you give sufficient time to sharing with others in the Meeting, both newcomers and long-time members, your understanding of worship, service, and commitment to the Society’s witness?  Do you give a right proportion of your money to support Quaker work?”

 

Schedule of Second Hours:

March 16:  (Singing Sunday) Greg Winters will speak on homelessness in Whatcom County.

March 23:  Outreach and Welcoming Group will present an Introduction to Inreach/Outreach, what does it offer, and would Friends enjoy a spring day-long retreat on the topic?

March 30:  First Friendly Lunch

April 6:  Potluck

April 13:  Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

April 20:  Easter Egg Hunt for the children.  If you would like to supervise the kids while eggs are hidden or help hide eggs, please get in touch with Sharon Trent.

April 27:  Quarterly meeting – no second hour

Other Scheduled Events:

Mary Ann Percy has graciously offered to host a midweek worship at 7 p.m. every second and fourth Wednesday, beginning March 26 at her home.  Please contact Mary Ann for details.

 

Changing the Culture of Violence: How Can Quakers Speak?  Spring 2014 Gathering of Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting, April 25-27 at Lazy F Camp in Ellensburg, WA.

For our planning and Lazy F’s, it is important to know well in advance who will be attending. Thus, we offer a $10.00 Early Discount per form if your registration is entered online, postmarked, or emailed by March 24.  We assess an additional $25.00 Late fee per form for registrations after April 14, no matter what your Chosen Family Fee.

 

The Concern of the Month:  Women for Women, International

Appreciation:  Thank you is expressed to those friends who worked on the nomiinating slate and those who worked on our State of Society Report.

Welcome:  Bellingham Friends Meeting welcomes the transfer of membershisp to Kris and Chip Gustavson from their Meeting in Maine.

 

Here is an interview from the January/February 2014 edition of “Western Friend”

Patriotism and the Quest for World Peace – An interview with Diane Randall

Diane Randall has served as the Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation since March 2011.  Before joining FCNL, Diane spent nine years in Connecticut as Executive Director of Partnership for Strong Communities, a non-profit working for solutions to homelessness.  She is a member of Hartford Monthly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting.  Diane spoke by phone with Western Friend on December 10, 2013.  The following text was drawn from a transcript of that interview.

Western Friend:  I’m interested in exploriing the concept of patriotism and how it intersects with our hopes for creating a peaceful world.  So, I’m interested in how you see people’s sense of national identity being an influence on our search for global peace – as an obstacle or as a positive influence.

Diane Randall:  The challenge with the term “patriotism” is that it is a word that has a lot of meanings.  For some people it means fidelity to one’s country and a willingness to serve one’s country.  That might mean serving in a military capacity, and for others it might mean serving in a way that strengthens the country for human security, or for equality, or for many of the other noble ideals that define our aspirations as a democracy.  When I think of patriotism, I think back to our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  Of course it said all men are created equal, but I think of it as promoting ideals that are universal – equality and liberty.  The challenge is that for many people, patariotism gets caught up in a notion of national security interpreted as only military might.  At FCNL, we look at security differently, not through the notion of military strength.

One of the projects that FCNL has worked on this past year is a publication with AFSC on the idea of “shared securitiy.”  We don’t directly talk about patriotism in that, but we do talk about the idea of human security, which goes right to the heart of one of the core tenets in the Religious Society of Friends, the idea of equality, the idea that God loves every person, and that every person has that of God in him or her.  If in fact that is the case, then we need to regard our behavior in the world in the way that God might regard it.

WF:   When you use the word “security” in that context, what do you mean?”

DR:  I think of liberty and equality and opportunity, ideas that, when effectively practiced, give people a sense of security.  In the concept of human security, people can pursue their lives without fear of violence, in ways that are meaningful – they can worship, be educated, seek the kinds of human fulfillment that we all desire without threat.  So, even though it’s common for people to think of national security in terms of being “protected,” when we talk of human security, we’re talking about creating a condition of peace and opportunity, allowing for individuals and communities to come first, not countries first.

WF:  This makes me think of – after the financial meltdown in 2008 and all the press about economic  disparity, it became pretty clear how kind of puny the powers of the nation-state are, compared to international capital.  I’m interested in your reflections on the role of the nation-state and its weakness in protecting human security.

DR:  FCNL’s mission is to influence U.S. public policy.  But, it became clear to us as we were working on the shared security project that there are many other powerful influences at work in the world in addition to governments that have bearing on people’s livelihoods and their sense of security.

We see that people focus their activism in a variety of ways to influence power or decision-makers.  For example, people are choosing to develop stronger communities at a very local level, based on a sustainable living model.  We see it in shareholder activism, trying to influence corporate responsibility.  When people want to change systems, they look at where power lies; clearly, there’s power in the global economic system, distinct from the power in the nation-state.

There’s no question that when the President of the United States makes a statement or a decision, the effect of that is felt – often around the globe.  When Congress takes action or doesn’t take action, the effect of that is also felt.  Nation-states have a huge impact on our lives, although I do think the centers of power are shifting.

WF:  I don’t see the international capital as being democratic, and so I wonder if part of patriotism is finding a way to reset the seat of power in our Democratic institutions?  I also wonder, on a global level, how possible is that?

DR:  Institutions are made up of people, and people can change institutions.  This comes back to the human heart.  It comes back to the inward journey as well as the outward journey.  Although much of the work I do is outward social action, I think that the question of how we live our lives, how we treat one another and how we want to be treated is equally important.  Relationships matter.  Changing power structures — that’s done through relationship-building and through convincing people.  Corporate powers aren’t necessarily democratic in terms of how they operate, but some of them are run by people who have social consciences.  The question is, how do we as people of faith inject a moral way of being into our lives so that it can have bearing on our world?

WF:   Does FCNL have sister organizations in other countries?

DR:  We don’t have sister organizations that are focused on advocacy like we are.  When I was in Kenya, at the Friends World Gathering, a couple of people from Kenya talked to me about how they might influence their government and particularly work with Quakers who are in elected office there.  Britain Yearly Meeting does some lobbying of the Parliament.  The Quaker Council of European Affairs, based in Brussels, works with the European Parliament; they are more like FCNL.

WF:  What’s your sense of the particular place that Quakers have played in history in terms of organizing faith voice in government?

DR:  I think it’s been huge.  I’m not a student of history, but when you look back at the Declaration of Independence, you see that a number of Quakers signed it.  When you think about William Penn, coming to the Colonies to establish a utopian community, ­ it’s an example of how Friends, from the time we were founded, have tried to make God’s love real in the world.  It illustrates the most radical religious way of interpreting the Gospel of Jesus in trying to personify agape love.  So, Friends have always seen that as part of their lives — not only in one-on-one relationships, it’s also been about systems.

John Woolman is one person that we all cite as the Friend who really lived out his testimony – against slavery and for the poor – yet, there have been others.  When you think about the women’s suffragist movement, or the civil rights movement, or the disabilities movement, or the peace movement, it’s fascinating for me to think about all the organizations that have had Quakers in founding positions.    Amnesty International had a friend who was core to it’s beginning; Greenpeace did; I think Oxfam did; Bread for the World.  They all had Friends in very early leadership positions, taking on the core issues.  Even at FCNL, we have helped nurture the inception of other organizations like the Washington Office on Latin American Affairs or the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

When I think about the work that Quakers do, in many cases it is to provide some early support and encouragement.  Friends, as individuals, have followed their leadings and do have a disproportionate impact, relative to our numbers, in addressing injustice at every level – environmental injustice, racial injustice, economoic injustice.  When I talk to colleagues here in Washington and talk about our grassroots network – which includes both Quakers and non-Quakers – I can say with some certainty that when we ask our network to take action on an issue, they’ll take action!

WF:  This is reminding me, when I was thinking about calling you, one of the things that came to my mind was that bumper sticker, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

DR:  I love that, and I agree.  It’s been fascinating to watch the coverage of Nelson Mandela, his death and the memorials to him.  When we think about what we admire about him, it is the fact that he had a kind of courage of his convictions, along with some pretty remarkable political instincts.  It’s not just that he was able to voice dissent and call for freedom, but that he lived his entire life with clarity and nobility; it’s just stunning.

I think that’s another halllmark of Friends, the notion of being able to be consistent and persistent for a cause.  It’s one thing to react – we all have reactive responses to things we don’t like across the political spectrum – but to take on an issue, to learn it thoroughly , to stay with it and not let it go – that’s how social change happens.  That’s certainly what FCNL tries to do, and I’d say that’s true of Friends in many walks of life.

You know, not everyone responds to FCNL’s action requests.  Some people just don’t want to get engaged in politics, however the longer I work at FCNL, the more I see about these issues – a vital path for civil engagement, a way to act on beliefs about peace and justice.  People trust us, and they use our resources to learn more about the issues that Friends have made priorities.  Those are positive steps toward building a better world.

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