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Friends for Racial Equity I had struggled before over whether to speak during worship, but this was different. It was near the close of worship, and a long-time member was sharing a folk tale from childhood. The story clearly moved him, and I can only imagine it was intended as a gift, a tender ministry for all of us in worship. But it was not a gift, at least not of the kind intended. The tale was of an enduring struggle between two iconic opposing figures – one evil, one good. On another morning, I might have let such a story drift in and out of my awareness, a familiar premise with no hint of a surprise ending. Instead, as I listened, I felt my body stiffen; [pullquote]I was paralyzed and mortified. Here it was, in a folk tale, in worship: racist ministry.[/pullquote]

On Cliques (September 2021)

The Color of Law (review) The GI Bill was a White guy thing. Yes, the famous law that gave so many young veterans a good start in life after World War II. Although technically, it was for all veterans, in practice, African-Americans found it impossible to get the promised support. Before long, they stopped applying for it. And that was only the beginning. In his 2017 book, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein shows that many housing laws were designed to discriminate against African-Americans. He shows that it was in fact the policy of the federal government to discriminate in housing. And he shows how racial discrimination in housing led to the segregated society we know today; divisions by neighborhood, by financial situation, by profession, and by level of education – all come out of housing discrimination.

On Cliques (September 2021)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

On Words (November 2021)

The Search Committee “It just isn’t done that way,” the experienced voice responded when a Friend of Color on the Search Committee asked why we weren’t posting the salary. The committee resumed silent reflection. “Keeping salaries confidential is a longstanding way of maintaining wage inequality, especially when persons other than White males apply, not knowing how much others are paid.” More reflection. “It is insulting to qualified young adults to ask them to go through a hiring process, then offer to pay them less than a living wage.” More reflection. In the end, the committee united around our decision to include the base salary in the solicitation.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Alternatives to Prison Prisons rank high on the list of institutions that Quakers want to eliminate, very close to war. The most recent statement of legislative priorities by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (possibly the most widely-discerned document in the Quaker world) includes advocating for a system that “eliminates mass incarceration and promotes law-enforcement that is community-oriented and demilitarized.” The Board of the American Friends Service Committee, after producing an extensive background paper, took the position – back in 1978 – that it supports the abolition of prisons. Clearly, Quakers by and large want to live in that Light and Love that takes away the occasion of all prisons – along with jails, detention centers, and other places where people are held in cages.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hope for Racial Justice Despite U.S. History Dear Friends: I am so excited that Taylor Stewart of the Oregon Remembrance Project will present “Finding Justice for Historical Injustice” in a Zoom webinar at 7:00 PM Pacific on May 6, 2022. Save the date! This presentation offers a blueprint for communities throughout the West who want to reckon with racial injustice in their histories. We can write new endings to the tragic stories of the past. Watch Extra, Extra Western Friend for details to come!

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (5) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Individual and Collective Anti-Racism I was in my twenties when I came to Quaker faith and practice, and learned a new normal. It was the first time I saw social justice concerns centered by a faith community. Spiritual development was nurtured and encouraged for all ages and was treated as a personal responsibility, something one did for oneself and for the community. Although I had been raised in a religious home, this was my first exposure to faith as a way of life, not just individually, but communally. Quakers didn’t just “go to church together,” we shared the world and made sense of it as best we could together.

On Normality (July 2022)

It’s OK to Talk about Quakerism Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our Quakerism with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In my (so far unpublished) research on expressing Quaker spirituality in the workplace, I interviewed one person who said that when a co-worker found out he was a Quaker, he was stunned. “I worked next to you for five years and had no idea you were a Quaker.”

On Normality (July 2022)

Widening the Welcome In late February 2020, I was selected to “travel in the ministry” among Friends in Oregon. This was a part of the “Knitting Us Together” project of the Outreach and Visitation Committee of North Pacific Yearly Meeting (NPYM). I traveled virtually by Zoom with my elder, Jay Thatcher. We visited Quaker meetings in NPYM and Friends churches in Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYMF).

On Normality (July 2022)