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SUMMER 2000: v5i2 INDEX

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SUMMER, 2000: Volume 5 Issue 2

Encouraging Monthly Meetings to Nurture Friends with Leadings to Peace Witness by Rosa Covington Packard, New York Yearly Meeting

The vision of “Every Monthly Meeting as a Center for Peacemaking” was taken to our New York Yearly Meeting’s Peace Concerns Committee, on which I serve and which encourages me to report on Friends Peace Teams Project (FPTP) matters. This vision of FPTP work is beginning to bear specific fruit in our Yearly Meeting. Of course the vision will be, as it always has been, defined differently by each Monthly Meeting.

I am currently joining other Friends on the Peace Committee of New York Yearly Meeting to interview by telephone Friends in each of our sixty Monthly Meetings to learn what is going on and who is doing what and how we may help each other. Friends witness is already there and flows from the wellspring and guidance of the Holy Spirit. At this time my work as FPTP’s New York Yearly Meeting Representative and the work of the Peace Concerns Committee appears to be the naming and holding up of witness and skills that already exist or are emerging and the beginning of a new focus in our Yearly Meeting on Monthly Meetings’ relationships to individual leadings.

As FPTP’s Representative, I sponsored an interest group on Released Friends by Liz Yates and worked with other Friends on a subcommittee of Witness Coordinating Committee to develop a bibliography for Monthly Meetings relating to the clearness, support and oversight of individual Friends who have leadings. Thanks to the work of John Randall, Scarsdale Meeting, this is available on the New York Yearly Meeting’s web page. Also very helpful was an interest group given by Marty Grundy at our recent yearly meeting about the work of Friends General Conference’s visitation program, and her just published Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Tall Poppies.

Various New York Yearly Meeting Monthly Meetings have opportunities to practice, as appropriate, clearness, support and oversight of Friends with leadings to peace witness. Two peaceworkers who are being supported are Shirley Way and Carolyn Keys.

Shirley Way of Morningside Meeting will go this summer with a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Mexico as the first step in a spiritual journey of witness that includes taking additional nonviolence training and improving her Spanish. Christian Peacemaker Teams is a partner with Friends Peace Teams Project. Shirley Way, who spent the last year at Pendle Hill, has received initial support from New York Yearly Meeting’s Latin American Concerns Committee, and its Peace Concerns Committee and from The Elise Boulding Fund for Peace Team Work of Friends Peace Teams Project. She previously went to the San Carlos Hospital in Mexico with a team lead by Elaine Chamberlain of Buffalo Monthly Meeting under the care of Latin American Concerns Committee, for which FPTP facilitated a team retreat.

Carolyn Keys of Montclair Monthly Meeting has been accepted by the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of FPTP to serve for two years at the invitation of Burundi Yearly Meeting on a team that seeks to develop a trauma and reconciliation center there (see African Great Lakes Initiative’s Burundi Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Center in this issue). Carolyn Keys has years of relevant work as a social worker and is clerk of New York Yearly Meeting’s Black Concerns Committee that supported John Johnson of Staten Island Meeting last summer on AGLI’s Kamenge Reconciliation and Reconstruction Project, cosponsored with Burundi Yearly Meeting.

As FPTP’s representative, I helped organize the week-long “Ministry of Mediation” Institute at Powell House, New York Yearly Meeting’s Conference Center, in August, 1999, working with Deborah Wood of Purchase Meeting to revise the two hundred page manual from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center into Quaker culture and language for that event. Another week-long “Ministry of Mediation” Institute will be held this August at Powell House.

Deborah Wood and I also developed a weekend training agenda for Monthly and Quarterly Meetings on “The Ministry of Mediation” that we initiated at Purchase Meeting in March, 2000, as a Powell House on the Road program. The facilitation team included Ann Davidson, Farmington Meeting, who is director of Powell House, and Betsy Rothstein, Bulls Head Meeting, who is co-clerk of the board of New York’s Alternatives to Violence Project. This agenda, designed for team facilitation, was based on the The Mediators’ Handbook published by Friends Conflict Resolution Programs in Philadelphia.

Out of these experiences Friends are encouraged to help Monthly Meetings educate themselves in the skills of mediation. Many Friends in our Yearly Meeting have experience as Alternative to Violence Project facilitators in prison programs and can help facilitate such educational sessions in Monthly Meetings or in their communities. Many individuals in our Yearly Meeting serve as mediators already. Each county in New York State has a court referral program, started over a decade ago thanks to the initiative of Albany Meeting Friends. In addition there are many Friends who use their skills professionally in family counseling or divorce law.

Friends are also working in peer mediation and other conflict resolution programs in the schools; for example, the Stamford Area Council of Churches and Synagogues has appointed Peggi Chute of Stamford Greenwich Meeting director of their Teaching Peace Project. She is arranging a meeting in June for Superintendents of Schools in the towns of Darien, Norwalk, New Canaan, Stamford and Greenwich to explore the development of conflict resolution education in their public schools. They will share initiatives already begun and will consider working on a regional level to develop a curriculum for conflict resolution, K-12. This will include peer mediation programs, anger management programs and diversity awareness programs.

A committee under New York Yearly Meeting’s Ministry and Counsel Coordinating Committee has been formed to discern ways to respond to conflicts that arise within our monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings. Its work will be enhanced as more Monthly Meeting members learn the skills of mediation. The nurture of Friends led to the ministry of mediation needs strengthening by their Monthly Meetings and upholding by our Yearly Meeting.

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