Bellingham Friends worship at 10 a.m., Sundays at Explorations Academy
1701 Ellis Street (Creekside Building) Bellingham, WA 98225
P.O. Box 30144, Bellingham 98228
Advices & Queries: (Adapted from The Little Red Book #3) – Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on the Spirit’s guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished.
Calendar: January 04 – Potluck Sunday
January 11 – Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
January 14 & 21 – Mid-week worship at Mary Ann Percy’s, 7-9 pm.
January 18 – Quakerism: Experience It! Session #3: The Meeting (Virginia Herrick to facilate)
January 25 – State of the Meeting in 2014, discussion – Susan facilitating. (Committee clerks and repsentatives are reminded that if they have a report to offer, please have it completed by the end of this month so it can be given to whomever is drafting the SOS report.)
February 1 – Potluck
February 4 & 18 – Mid-week worship at Mary Ann Percy’s, 7-9 pm. Now meets 1st & 3rd Wednesdays.
February 08 – Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (Please bring your own brown bag lunch)
February 15 – Quakerism: Experience It! Session #4: Discernment (?)
February 22 – Steven Aldrich from Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy, hopefully. Virginia is contacting him to see if this date would work.
Other Events: PNQM Spring Quarterly Meeting – April 24-26, Ellensburg, WA. Theme: Lift Every Voice, Music & Spirituality
Articles: Anyone interested in a Couple Enrichment Workshop in Bellingham? Wendy Beach and I recently attended a Couple Enrichment Workshop sponsored by Whidbey Island Friends Meeting and held on Whidbey Island. The leaders were two married Friends from Fairbanks, Alaska, Cathy Wallin and Scott Bell, who were truly excellent and very effective at what they do. Couple Enrichment is a program of Friends General Conference, which provides training for the leader couples and general administrative support, however the actual program content is not specifically Quaker. It is also not intended as therapy or counseling. It is instead focused on exercises to assist couples with communication and finding specific ways to improve their partnerships and to support one another in improving their individual lives. It is equally suitable for relatively new couples such as us and for established marriages of any duration.
Cathy and Scott offer this service out of love and with no specific honorarium request, asking only for reimbursement of travel expenses and hospitality in the community being served. They prefer a minimum of four couples and a maximum of eight couples, the actual group size on Whidbey, and have expressed willingness to serve couples in Bellingham if there is interest.
The weekend workshop we attended began with a group dinner on Friday evening and also included group lunches on both Saturday and Sunday, ending after the Sunday lunch. The cost for participation in the Whidbey Island workshop was $175 per couple, a figure set by the local Meeting to cover expenses for the leader couple’s travel and the food provided for participants. In another community, for example one where rental of space for the workshop was expensive, this figure could be somewhat higher and it would also vary depending on the arrangements for meals.
We strongly believe that Bellingham Friends would benefit significantly from sponsoring a similar Couple Enrichment Workshop in our own community, and that Cathy and Scott would again be wonderful and well-appreciated leaders for it. Although we would need a minimum number of BFM couples (perhaps three) to commit to the workshop before proceeding with specific arrangements and scheduling, we suggest that the workshop be made available either to non-Quaker couples in our own community or to Friends from other towns, or both. Wendy and I are willing to facilitate organizing a Couple Enrichment Workshop here if there is sufficient interest and if the Meeting then agrees to assume the sponsorship and financial risk. We are also willing to commit ourselves to being participants once again, since our experience on Whidbey was valuable and inspiring.
If you and your partner are interested in being part of a local Couple Enrichment Workshop, please contact me by phone (671-1395) or email (email@example.com) to let me know. Given that Scott and Cathy facilitate such workshops just twice a year at most, we would likely be looking at a Bellingham workshop in the fall of 2015, at the earliest. (Don Goldstein)
About Friends General Conference – Friends General Conference is a North American Quaker organization primarily serving the Quaker yearly and monthly meetings in the United States and Canada that choose to be members. FGC was founded in 1900. Taste the vibrancy and the variety that is available by immersing yourself in this community of Friends for a week. We eagerly look forward to welcoming you—in person—at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, July 5-11, 2015. The theme is Seeking Wholeness.
Bellingham Friends are encouraged to apply now to be named the “sponsored attender” at the annual Friends General Conference Gathering in July. Sponsored attenders receive up to $1,000 in financial support from the Meeting to help defray the cost of tuition, housing and dining, and transportation. This year’s gathering will be in the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. More information about the Gathering (including a list of morning workshops) can be found at the website fgcquaker.org/gathering.
Sponsored attenders are expected to make arrangements promptly for their own transportation and register for the gathering promptly once registration opens April 1; attend a morning workshop; and participate in a range of activities throughout the week. Friends are asked to apply for financial aid directly from FGC to help reduce the amount of the grant needed from BFM. Sponsored attenders also are asked to make both a written and an oral report to Bellingham Friends within a month or two of returning from the Gathering.
It is expected that your desire to apply should be presented to Nominating Committee (clerked by Mimi Freshley) as soon as possible. The Nominating Committee will submit a recommendation to our Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business Meeting on February 8th, if possible, for final approval by Meeting for Business on March 8. The details of expectations and reimbursement can be discussed with Nominating Commmittee. We welcome your inquiry and can make additional details available to you.
About Friends Committee on National Legislation – Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL’s nonpartisan, multi-issue advocacy connects historic Quaker testimonies on peace, equality, simplicity, and truth with peace and social justice issues. FCNL fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC.
The Urgent Need for a Humanitarian Framework to Address the Syrian Refugee Crisis – Submitted to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) shares the concerns of this committee and the world community about the devastation that the Syrian civil war has wrought on the people of Syria and on the surrounding countries. Since 1943, FCNL has lobbied Congress to prevent war, protect vulnerable populations, and support effective, principled policies to help build a more peaceful world.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has worked to protect refugees in the Middle East and the regions around the world for more than a century. In 1949, the United Nations asked the American Friends Service Committee – a sister organization – to organize relief efforts for Palestinian refugees. Today, AFSC continues to support peacebuilding efforts throughout the Middle East, including in today’s war-torn Syria, by partnering with Syrian civil society groups seeking nonviolent solutions to the conflict.
As the oldest registered ecumenical lobby in Washington, D.C., we are led by our faith to advocate for systemic changes that address the root causes of deadly conflict. So long as the Syrian civil war rages on and the international community continues to fuel the violence rather than unite for a political solution, the Syrian refugee crisis will continue to inflame the region.
Therefore, we urge Congress to vigorously support the Geneva II talks, commencing on January 22, to devise a political transition that would give millions of Syrian refugees a reason to go home, and the safety to do so. The Geneva II talks offer an opportunity to secure an agreement between the internal warring factions as well as Russia, the United States, Iran, the Gulf countries and other external parties that possess influence to end a proxy war now fought through Syrian lives.
At the same time, there is also an urgent need for the United States to seek Russian and international support for a humanitarian framework agreement to more immediately address the Syrian refugee crisis and other ongoing humanitarian catastrophes of the Syrian conflict. Like the agreement to eradicate Syria’s chemical arsenal, a separate political track would be essential for devising a successful humanitarian framework agreement.
The Ever-Escalating Syrian Refugee Crisis – Without an increased and sustained commitment to address the Syrian refugee crisis, it is likely to accelerate exponentially. To put the crisis in perspective, since the onset of the Syrian civil war, more than 2.3 million Syrians – nearly ten percent of the population – have fled to neighboring countries, the rates of which have multiplied eight times in the last year. Thousands of Syrians continue to leave on a daily basis. In the context of the United States, this exodus would be proportional to the entire populations of New York State and Illinois taking refuge internationally. Over 1.1 million Syrian refugees are children, 740,000 of whom are under the age of 11, which is about twice the number of Quakers in the world.
Running for their lives, refugees have flooded the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The population of Lebanon has increased by more than 25%, equivalent to the population of Tel Aviv twice over. Camp Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, has reached a population equivalent to the country’s fourth largest city. The overwhelming influx of refugees has placed enormous pressure on local infrastructure and economies in host communities and fanned the flames of sectarian resentment. The far-reaching effect of the Syrian conflict threatens the long-term stability of the Middle East.
The U.S. Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis – We urge the Administration and Congress to increase its diplomatic and financial resources directed toward the Syrian refugee crisis and end U.S. support for armed groups that has only fueled greater violence and displacement in Syria.
We applaud the United States government for providing more humanitarian aid toward the Syrian refugee crisis than other state actors. However, the United States and the international community at large have hardly begun to demonstrate the diplomatic and financial commitments necessary to resolve the Syrian crisis, including the refugee crisis. FCNL urges the Administration and Congress to expand its important humanitarian aid efforts to meet the ever-growing need of those impacted by the Syrian crisis in the following ways:
1) Increase Volume and Flexibility for Humanitarian Aid to Syria – The U.S. has a small window of opportunity to prevent the Syrian crisis from further destabilizing the region. This can be accomplished by allocating greater resources for humanitarian assistance and conflict mitigation funding to address tensions between host communities and the more than 2 million refugees that have fled Syria, including the approximately 70% of displaced that are not living in refugee camps. This should start by funding the International Disaster Assistance account at $1.6 billion in the FY14 SFOPs bill. We also echo calls from various humanitarian organizations providing relief to Syrian refugees in recommending that Congress increase its overall investments in flexible, non-earmarked crisis response, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding funding given the protracted nature of this crisis. U.S. funds should have built-in flexibility to respond to emerging and unforeseen emergency needs, and programs should be designed to bridge immediate humanitarian needs with longer-term development strategies, implemented in a conflict-sensitive manner.
Recommendation: We urge the full funding of the Complex Foreign Crises Fund in the FY2014 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and preservation of the flexible, global structure of the 40 million dollars reserved for global enduring operations within it. We, furthermore, urge that the 200 million earmarked for Jordan within this account be focused on decentralized investments to host communities and municipal governments that are bearing the brunt of the impact of the refugee flows on already limited resources and social services.
2) Resettle 20,000 Refugees – The United States government has announced plans to resettle up to 2,000 Syrian refugees in 2014. While this is a welcome increase from the mere ninety Syrian refugees that have been resettled in the United States so far, it is far from an adequate response to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Just as the United States welcomed more than 120,000 refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War, so should this nation of immigrants open its doors to far greater numbers of Syrians as this crisis continues to unfold.
Recommendation: We urge the United States to resettle half of the approximately 40,000 refugees that UNHCR has indicated are particularly vulnerable, a burden that the United States has accepted in response to past resettlement requests.
Support a Robust, Integrated Response to the Syrian Conflict – Ultimately, only a political settlement can end the violence in Syria and prevent the Syrian refugee crisis from continuing to escalate. The Geneva II negotiations offers a promising next step to devise a roadmap to end the bloodletting in Syria and accordingly end the refugee crisis that has impacted millions throughout the region. We commend the White House for its renewed investment in the Geneva II negotiation process to reach a political solution to the crisis, and we urge this committee and every member of Congress to speak out in support of these efforts to secure a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war.
Recommendation: We urge this committee to publicly support comprehensive Geneva II talks to bring about an end to the conflict and the root cause for the escalation of the Syrian refugee crisis.
A Humanitarian Framework Agreement that would Address the Syrian Refugee Crisis There is already bipartisan support for the United States to prioritize efforts that could secure a humanitarian framework agreement for Syria. Last month, Democratic Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and William Keating (D-MA) joined the Republican Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Administration to negotiate an agreement for humanitarian access in Syria.
These congressional leaders emphasize that “the humanitarian crisis demands urgent U.S. leadership that we believe can be immediately successful and save lives.” However, a humanitarian framework agreement could be expanded, or a separate framework agreement pursued, to specifically address the Syrian refugee crisis.
Crafting a humanitarian framework agreement to address the Syrian refugee crisis would require working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other U.N. bodies. A framework agreement with enough high-profile political commitment could be successful in ensuring that the international community fulfills its pledges for humanitarian aid for Syria and commitments to resettle greater numbers of Syrian refugees.
A humanitarian framework agreement would outline the responsibilities for all the countries that pledge funding for the Syrian refugee crisis at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria scheduled for January 15, 2014. This year, the United Nations is appealing for $2.3 billion for activities within Syria and $4.2 billion to address the needs of refugees.
A framework agreement with deadlines set throughout the year would ensure that, unlike last year when the international community fell short of honoring its obligations to provide aid and protection for Syrian refugees, all pledges for funding and resettlement are met.
Dr. Ake Sellstrom, who heads the U.N. Weapons Inspection team in Syria, recently pointed out that if the international community can gain his access to even the most sensitive parts of Syria, it should also be able to do the same for urgently needed humanitarian aid.
It will be necessary to engage Russia, the other members of the U.N. Security Council, and other states at the highest-level to secure buy-in for a humanitarian framework agreement; U.S. diplomatic leverage with various heads of state can be used to ensure that they meet their obligations.
The success of a humanitarian framework agreement will depend on buy-in from all the states involved so that if necessary, they will use their leverage with other countries to ensure that the resettlement and aid pledges are fulfilled. A successful implementation would help save Syrian lives and be a triumph for advancing regional and global peace and security efforts.
Finally, like the agreement reached on Syria’s chemical weapons, it will be seen by many as impossible to accomplish. Unfortunately, in the absence of such a high-profile humanitarian framework agreement, we will likely see far-reaching commitments made at the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait next week, with little follow through. A humanitarian framework agreement would address one piece of the Syrian crisis which the United Nations has warned poses the greatest risk for international security since World War II.
Recommendation: The United States should seek Russian and international support to devise a humanitarian framework agreement that pledges humanitarian aid contributions and follows through on the international community’s commitment to resettle Syrian refugees.
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek —
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean —
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home —
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay —
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again —
The land that never has been yet —
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine — the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME —
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose —
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath —
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again!