I am co-clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s Peace and Social Concerns committee. We just finished our annual meeting sessions, and the approved reports and minutes follow:
Peace and Social Concerns Committee Report 2015
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
The Peace and Social Concerns Committee reports from our monthly meetings reflect a great deal and variety of work in areas of interest and concern to Friends. One monthly meeting asked that all of these reports be shared among all of us, which was done just prior to the beginning of our annual sessions.
This has been a year of numerous traumatic events related to injustice, as well as an increasing level of concern and response by Friends as well as many others. There is a sense of an increasing engagement by more of the public in social justice and peace work.
Outrage at the killing of so many people, particularly people of color, by police, as well as the violent, militarized response of the police has ignited nationwide conversations and actions, such as Black Lives Matter, and the President’s order to stop providing certain military surplus equipment to police departments.
This has caused many Friends to look more closely at our historic positions of privilege, and for ways to address the consequences of that.
The consequences of climate disruption have become increasingly evident by more extreme weather patterns. The positive side of that is that more people are paying attention to this, and we are heartened that Congress is beginning to bring forth legislation to start to address this, finally. We especially appreciate the very long and patient work in this area, including building faith based coalitions, by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
We were moved by and appreciate the work of Junior Yearly Meeting to help us address our ongoing concern regarding changes in our environment. Their project of selling flowers to raise money to support FCNL’s efforts related to the environment was beautiful both spiritually and artistically.
We were very fortunate to have Hannah Evans from FCNL, and Brant Rosen, Jon Krieg, Kevin Rutledge and Kathleen McQuillen from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) spend much time with us, including attending our Peace and Social Concerns committee meetings. Their insights into many issues have been extremely helpful.
Kevin Rutledge described his work of “bird dogging” Presidential candidates when they campaign in Iowa. Iowa is uniquely positioned for interaction with the candidates. By asking carefully crafted questions to the candidates in person, the candidates, press and public are often educated about issues of concern to Friends. We urge monthly meetings to invite Kevin to train them how to do this, and then do it.
Hannah Evans educated us about the recent policy to detain families seeking asylum in the United States.
The recently negotiated deal to limit Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons is a welcome result of years of patient diplomacy. We encourage Friends to urge Congress to approve it.
Brant Rosen, Director of AFSC’s Midwest office, talked to us about AFSC and the situation in Palestine/Israel. An increasing depth and breadth of violent response in so many arenas is of great concern to us. We are heartened by so many examples and stories of Friends’ work this past year on so many issues related to peace and justice. This is a great opportunity for us to continue and expand our commitment to lives of nonviolence. Direct actions of nonviolent civil disobedience are happening increasingly, in an increasing number of social justice areas. This is an opportunity for Friends to teach others about nonviolence and civil disobedience.
Stories of this work by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Friends are a very powerful tool to teach others about this. We encourage Friends to share their stories on the Quaker Story Project as an effective form of peace and social justice education.
We ask that Friends continue to be mindful of the ongoing concerns and minutes from previous years.
For the committee,
Jeff Kisling, Sherry Hutchison, co-clerks
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
Working for peace entails working for justice.
The state of Israel continues to expand its occupation of Palestinian land, continues to imprison Palestinians without trial, continues to rob Palestinians of water and other vital resources, and continues to violently deprive Palestinians of basic human rights. By our economic and military support of Israel, we and all Americans are complicit. Our faith compels us to respond.
Therefore, we support the Palestinian civil society’s call of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to boycott products made in Israel’s West Bank settlements and to divest from companies that support Israel’s military occupation and repression of the Palestinian people.
Carbon Fee and Dividend
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) supports a carbon fee and dividend approach to accelerate the necessary transition from fossil fuel to renewable sources of energy.
Detention of Families Seeking Asylum
Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative) believes the recent practice of detaining families seeking asylum in the United States is both immoral and illegal. We support community based alternatives to help these families.
Gun Violence Research by the Centers for Disease Control
We, along with many other Americans, are concerned about of the number of Americans killed every day by guns. It is disturbing, therefore, to realize that Congress has effectively banned the use of federal funds to study the public health effects of gun violence. While many more children are killed by guns than by cancer, Congress funds the study of cancer but bars the study of gun violence. This is outrageous.
As our representative in Washington, we ask you to restore the money that the Center for Disease Control has previously used to fund independent research on the danger of guns to public health.
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) supports the peaceable agreement among world powers, including the United States and Iran, to dramatically curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions against Iran. We hope this will be the beginning of many more peaceful negotiations.
Junior Yearly Meeting Addresses climate change with fund raiser for FCNL climate work
We are deeply moved and appreciate the contribution of Junior Yearly Meeting to our ongoing concern regarding changes in our environment. Their project to raise funds for FCNL’s efforts to address environmental concerns by selling flowers was both spiritually and artistically beautiful.