Quaker outreach

Each month my home Quaker meeting, Bear Creek Friends, considers a set of questions, referred to as Queries, to help us reflect on various aspects of our spiritual lives.  This month’s query is about outreach–how we express our faith with others:

Outreach of various forms has been my focus for the past several years.  One form of outreach has been the Quaker Story Project.  Friend’s stories are so fascinating and a unique way to share our faith among ourselves and with the world at large.  We shared this story system with people working with the Nandi tribe in Kenya, so they could share their tribal knowledge with their stories.  Quaker Story Project

I usually attend the weekly Peace Vigil in front of the Federal building in downtown Indianapolis as a way of sharing our peace testimony.

I have tried to use Friends’ history of experience with nonviolence and civil disobedience to teach others about the use of these tools for social change.  I’m the person in our Keystone Pledge of Resistance group who presents the nonviolent civil disobedience parts of our training sessions, of which we’ve held six for the Keystone Pledge.  Since nonviolence civil disobedience is used in the Moral Mondays movement, I was able to work with the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to adapt the materials we use for that training in the Keystone Pledge, for use in training for Indiana Moral Mondays.  We have held one training session, mainly attended by the Indiana Moral Mondays leadership, so far, with more planned.  Moral Mondays is a faith based movement, and a number of Friends from North Meadow Circle of Friends, as well as my new Friend, Jason Shenk, a Friends minister in northern Indiana, are involved, so the folks there know of Quaker involvement.  Additionally, the primary support for Indiana Moral Mondays has been provided by Erin Polley, our AFSC representative.  Additionally, Indy10, a group of youth working on issues related to Ferguson and Black Lives Matter, attended one of our Keystone training sessions, and we plan to do more work together related to their use of nonviolence.

Photography has turned out to be one of the more useful ways for me to reach out to the community.  At first I made the photos I take at rallies and protests available online, as a way to document the movement and as resources for activist organizations.  I’m on the media committee of, and photographer for Indiana Moral Mondays.  More recently friends have begun to ask me to attend upcoming events for that purpose.  Recently this is becoming more organized and formalized, as I’m beginning to get involved in efforts like  IndyArtMediaCoop http://iamcoop.org/  Solidarity Grassroots Collective http://www.solidaritygrc.org/  and working on an animation project with Glass Web http://www.glasswebprojects.com/currentprojects/view/Keystone+Pledge+of+Resistance:+Animation#page-header related to the Keystone Pledge of Resistance story.

When the so called Religious Freedom Restoration Act was an issue here recently, Indiana Moral Mondays tried, to no avail, to work with the Indiana state legislature, as well as publishing our opposition to the legislation.  At a gathering on the State Capitol grounds, Indiana Moral Mondays sponsored a rally at which faith leaders spoke against the legislation and discrimination.  Erin and I both spoke then.

I have continued to work with the Kheprw Institute (KI) to learn more about this African American, youth focused, community building group.  Over the past several years on a number of occasions various members of North Meadow Friends have been attended events and been otherwise involved.  A community discussion about the role of nonviolent civil disobedience for social change was one event held at KI, where I talked about that, followed by a number of people involved in the Keystone Pledge who told why they were led to embrace nonviolent civil disobedience.

Currently I’m really excited about a new opportunity to further develop these relationships.  We’ve begun working with Lucy Duncan and Greg Elliott of AFSC on a new model called Small Group Social Change Ministries, which is a framework to combine worship and activism, by using the idea of accompaniment, which is finding a group impacted by injustice, and finding ways, coming from them, that you can begin to offer your (Meeting’s) support, and work together.