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Peace & Social Concerns

Peace and Social Concerns Committee of the Southeastern Yearly Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends

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Concern for LGBTQ people in Africa: SEYM Supports the Friends New Underground Railroad

At our Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions, SEYM Friends minuted our concern for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) people in Africa, and our support for the Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR) project of Olympia Monthly Meeting (North Pacific Yearly Meeting) to aid LGBTQ Ugandans who are fleeing their homeland for their lives (see YM minutes 10 & 11). Over $600 in individual contributions was raised for the FNUR at the Yearly Meeting Gathering, to be added to the $200 donation from SEYM. Learn more about the FNUR here:

David Zarembka, Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of Friends Peace Teams, visited Meetings in Florida last October to talk about issues related to the work of AGLI. His talk at Tampa Meeting focused on responding to violence against LGBTQ people in Uganda and Kenya and the Friends New Underground Railroad.

You can read David's latest report, Homophobia in Uganda and Kenya, on the AGLI website here:, and news stories about the plight of LGBTQ people in Africa here: . Find out what you can do to help here:

Historic Day for Quaker House

On Thursday March 12, 2015, Quaker House, for the first time in it's history, was invited to Ft. Bragg to give a presentation. Lynn and Steve Newsom, co-directors of Quaker House, led a program on Moral Injury for a group of social workers, counselors, and psychologists who work with the service members at Ft. Bragg.

Two years of love, care and hard work to raise awareness of Moral Injury in the military town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, with heartfelt concern for the welfare of the men and women soldiers, has opened doors for Lynn and Steve. The Newsoms are members of many local organizations that provide care to service members. They give lectures and presentations both in Fayetteville and around the country promoting the care of the nation's service members and advocating for a peaceful world. Thank you Lynn and Steve for your faithful service!

----Elaine Martin, SEYM representative to Quaker House

See more about Quaker House at their website:

An appeal from the American Friends Service Committee

Laura Boyce, Associate General Secretary for U.S. Programs:

When Michael Brown was killed, the American Friends Service Committee was already working to equip youth in Ferguson and St. Louis schools with conflict-resolution and community-organizing skills. Almost a century’s worth of experience to advance human rights and nonviolence, allowed us to quickly support the youth in the community to help foster healing, justice and equality.

Your gift will support the young people with whom we are currently working, who are already using peaceful means in an effort to change the systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. Specifically, we help young people build the skills they need to understand the roots of structural racism, and how to dismantle the policies that lead to systemic discrimination.

We are standing with teachers and families, with the community organizations protesting, and with the family of Mike Brown. Please make a special gift to our St. Louis Peace Education Program and help the Ferguson community heal and find peace from this tragedy.

Read full letter at AFSC


The Costs and Consequencs of War

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Speaks Out:

"I am fundamentally opposed to the authorization of an additional $5.6 billion in war funding and the deployment of another 1,500 U.S. troops to Iraq. I will continue to oppose the incessant call of some Republicans for the deployment of U.S. ground combat troops to Iraq and Syria. After more than eight years of war, the loss of nearly 4,500 servicemen and women, and more than a trillion dollars spent, we cannot afford to engage in long-term military action in the region without a full and robust congressional debate on the costs and consequences of doing so."

Read the full statement at:

FCNL's Quaker Public Policy Institute, Nov. 20-21

The Quaker Public Policy Institute (QPPI) brings together Quakers and advocates from around the country to lobby Congress. The two-day Institute includes lobby trainings and policy briefings. It culminates with a lobby day on Capitol Hill to support diplomacy with Iran. The Quaker Public Policy Institute is part of the four-day Annual Meeting. Friends interested in the governance of FCNL are invited to attend Annual Meeting in full.

All Friends are invited to attend FCNL's Quaker Public Policy Institute, Nov. 20-21, in Washington DC.

Friends do need to register whether going to just the Public Policy Institute or to the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for Annual Meeting, you do not need to register for the Quaker Public Policy Institute. Those who attend annual meeting can sit in on the plenary sessions and the workshops but it is the appointed Representatives to the General Committee who are charged with approving the budget and work on other decisions in the Plenaries which are Meetings for Worship with a Concern for Business.

Right now SEYM has 4 or 5 Friends from Florida who will be lobbying together at the offices of Sen. Nelson and Sen. Rubio and then also going to meet with their individual House Representatives.

To read more, and register, visit these web pages:

FCNL Quaker Public Policy Institute:

FCNL Annual Meeting:

One Minute for Peace Campaign

At its Fall Interim Business Meeting, Southeastern Yearly Meeting heard explanation of the "One Minute for Peace" campaign of the American Friends Service Committee endorsed by Miami Friends Meeting. SEYM will make information about it available to members and attenders, and asks Monthly Meetings of SEYM to consider endorsement and support for One Minute for Peace, as led.

We ask that local and regional websites post and share the link to One Minute for Peace:

Moral Injury – The Hidden Cost of War

Steve and Lynn Newsom, co-directions of Quaker House will be in Florida for Circus McGurkis on October 25th and will be leading presentations On Moral Injury – The Hidden Cost of War, in several Florida cities.

Moral Injury”, a relatively new diagnostic term employed by the VA, recognizes that among the effects of war on military personnel is emotional trauma over serious transgressions of moral, spiritual and religious beliefs. Acknowledging the reality of “moral injury” provides common language for people of faith and conscience to collaborate with the medical profession in caring for the needs of veterans. Moral injury can produce shame and guilt which can increase the risk of suicide. Too many veterans are killing themselves, but together we can do something about it. Quaker House, in Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg, has provided counseling, support and education to service members and their families since 1969.

Moral Injury – The Hidden Cost of War - Presentations

Jacksonville, FL - Thursday October 23, 2014 – 7pm
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 11924 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32223

Tampa, FL - Friday October 24, 2014 – 2pm
Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 500 W. Platt St. Tampa, FL

St. Petersburg- Friday October 24, 2014 – 7pm
St Petersburg Friends Meetinghouse, 130 19th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, FL

Circus McGurkis Saturday October 25, 2014 9am – 4pm
Lake Vista Park, 1401 62nd Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL

Miami, FL – Sunday October 26, 9:30 am
Miami Friends Meetinghouse, 1185 Sunset Drive, Miami, FL

Miami Friends Meeting endorses the One Minute for Peace campaign of American Friends Service Committee

The meeting will make information about it available to members and attenders. Miami Friends Meeting asks other meetings of SEYM to consider endorsement and support for One Minute for Peace, as lead, and asks that the local and regional websites post and share the link to One Minute for Peace:

Earth Quaker Action Team [EQUAT] Announcement:

Join the Earth Quaker Action Team at PNC Bank HQ July 3, 2014 in Pittsburgh PA

As this year’s FGC Gathering is not far from the national headquarters of PNC Bank, Friends of all ages from across the country will stand together to insist that PNC stop profiting from this destructive practice and finance renewable alternatives instead. In the tradition of Quaker witness, we will engage in storytelling, both ours and those from Appalachia, at several PNC locations. We will then gather together for prayerful protest near PNC's headquarters. [...] We will not be committing civil disobedience and will not be risking arrest.

A major expense for this action is renting buses. Send donations to:

4510 Kingsessing Ave..
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Amnesty International Miami Chapter: Stop Florida Executions

John Henry is scheduled to be put to death on June 18, and Eddie Davis on July 10. Please make appeals seeking a commutation of sentence to life in prison to Governor Rick Scott, who is able, under Florida law, to issue a 60-day stay of execution on his own initiative. You can contact him at: Office of Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001, Tel: (850) 488-7146, Fax: (850) 487-0801. Email can be sent from

The Governor may grant clemency only upon a positive recommendation of the Office of Executive, which may be reached at: The Office of Executive Clemency, Florida Parole Commission, 4070 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450 phone: 800-435-8286, 850-488-2952/ fax: 850-488-0695

Downsizing the Military Mission, Upsizing the Peacetime One

"The spending on that war machine is so profligate, in fact, that the Pentagon has never successfully completed an audit; its officials can’t even tell you where all that money goes. The U.S. accounts for a staggering 40% of all military expenditures globally.


Friend Ellie Caldwell Sends:

Friends, I don't usually like to forward political messages or ask people to sign petitions on line, but this one seems different to me. Ricardo Esquivia is the husband of Lillian Hall who used to be director of the SEYM ProNica project in Nicaragua, someone I trust and would want to help. Her husband is doing work in Colombian human rights and this is petition to the government to help him avoid prison. I also trust, but hope they don't inundate us with money requests. But we can always unsubscribe if they do!


Water: A Vital Concern For All

Orlando Sentinel: 50 Florida Eco-groups joining forces to stage protests and lobby for protections for Florida waters.


More from the Sierra Club:

Floridian'a Clean Water Declaration Campaign:


10 More Years in Afghanistan, by David Swanson

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later. Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama's war than President Bush's. Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until "2024 and beyond."


Friend Ruth Hyde Paine & Marina Oswald

Dan Vaughen has given us a 'heads up' that a piece of SEYM history--- Ruth Hyde Paine and her role in giving Marina Oswald a place to stay---is featured in the National Geographic Channel special "Killing Kennedy".

The National Geographic Channel site on this program:

Here's where Ruth is featured in their website interactive piece:

NYT: South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters

“I don’t think people realize how vulnerable Florida is,” Harold R. Wanless, the chairman of the geological sciences department at the University of Miami, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to get four or five or six feet of water, or more, by the end of the century. You have to wake up to the reality of what’s coming.”


Mike Shell: Thank you for your service! was created by Mike Shell who has kept the page current and relevant for many years. Mike has stepped down and Steve Kinney of the SEYM Peace & Social Concerns Committee will maintain SEYM Peace pages going forward. The new plan is for "more of the same, it ain't broke and I don't intend to fix it." Our thanks are due to Mike for years of dedicated work here. The new maintainer especially appreciates the neat, clean work Mike has done "under the hood" where the HTML that makes it go lives!

From PRONICA: Urban Gardening Presentation in Managua

This is the latest blog by Laura Hopps, ProNica’s program director in Nicaragua, regarding her Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership grant. It’s about an urban gardening and food security workshop she held at Quaker House in Managua. -- Melissa Ajabshir


Quaker Earthcare Witness: Mary Jo Klingel Interviewed

Mary Jo Klingel, of Quaker Earthcare Witness and the SEYM Committee for Earthcare, sends this out to all SEYM Friends concerned for our care for the Earth:

"I participated in a radio interview at FGC about the workshop I was attending there, called Gathering for a Deeper Relationship with Earth. This is the link to the show."


Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says

We cannot be reminded too often that our debt to the Iraqi people is ignored and unresolved. Will Friends take up the concern for reparations? Will Friends seek accountability for the misuse of our taxes and resources to mount the invasion of and carry out the destruction of a country without even a just cause for the war?

"In the new PLOS Medicine journal survey, led by public health expert Amy Hagopian of the University of Washington in Seattle, an international research team polled heads of households and siblings across Iraq. The researchers, including some from the Iraqi Ministry of Health, aimed to update and improve past estimates of the human costs of the war and occupation. [,,,] We think it is roughly around half a million people dead. And that is likely a low estimate."

Article: National Geographic Iraq War Deaths Survey 2013

A relevant Friends program may suggest one way forward: Madison Quakers Inc. has raised more than a million dollars to fund humanitarian projects in Quang Ngai province in Vietnam.

Working for healing & reconciliation:

New Quaker Organization To Address Palestine-Israeli Conflict

The Quaker Palestine Israel Network (QPIN) is a new national Quaker network dedicated to Palestine Israel Concerns.

"The purpose of the QPIN network is for Quaker activists to share ideas, energy, and experiences educating their own Meetings about Palestine Israel concerns, and to provide guidance for Friends who hope to educate their Meetings about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and encourage their Meetings to take action. A Steering Committee is being formed to determine QPIN’s goals, structure, and processes, to set up networking tools, and to grow the organization by finding and supporting new members."

Announcement & sign-up:

How Prisons Change the Balance of Power in America

Southeastern Yearly Meeting has a long standing concern for the issues surrounding mass incarceration: The United States has the world's largest prison population, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of our population. This Atlantic article raises some key concerns.

"With so many powerful arguments being made against our current criminal justice system, why then does it persist? Why haven’t the American people, particularly those who are most negatively affected by this most unsettling and unsavory state of affairs, undone the policies that have led us here? The answer, in part, stems from the fact that locking up unprecedented numbers of citizens over the last forty years has itself made the prison system highly resistant to reform through the democratic process. To an extent that few Americans have yet appreciated, record rates of incarceration have, in fact, undermined our American democracy, both by impacting who gets to vote and how votes are counted."

Full article: How Prisons Change The Balance Of Power In America

Seeking way forward at AFSC:

"Criminal Justice reform is catching fire in Quaker communities around the country, in large part due to the publication and popularization of Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow.” The facts embedded in every page are undeniable and horrifying, and illustrate a truth that many have known for years, that these injustices are tied directly to this country’s history of slavery."

AFSC Acting In Faith: Healing Justice

Friends Committee on National Legislation In Action:

"Quakers Scrambling to Discourage Syria Bombing" is the title of an article in the August 28th US News & World Report. Good coverage of the efforts of FCNL.

To see more about what FCNL is doing with the Syria issue, go to their website:

Protecting Our Florida Waters

Gainesville Friends held a very successful community meeting about conserving and protecting our Florida springs. Called the 'Spring to Action Forum', the event featured a presentation by the Florida Springs Institute director, Bob Knight.

"Water is the essence of Life, and as Quakers, we believe it is our spiritual responsibility to protect and conserve Florida's waters. We are deeply concerned about the depletion and degradation of the Floridian aquifer, as well as the springs and waterways of our region and our state. Please come and share your ideas about how we can work together to conserve and protect our precious springs, rivers and aquifer. "

This message was included in an invitation that went out to other faith congregations and members of the community, welcoming them to attend a public forum at the Meeting House on Sunday August 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm. More than 50 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the Quaker Earthcare Witness Committee, with support from Peace and Social Concerns.

Bob Knight's presentation about the endangered status of the springs and aquifer included an informative slideshow, and it was followed by a lively Q & A and discussion period. Many attendees left their contact information on a sign up sheet. The Gainesville QEW committee will be exploring options for following up on this successful event. Be sure to visit the website of the

Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute:

Friends throughout Florida are concerned about protecting our endangered springs, rivers, and aquifer. Here are some organizations and resources for staying informed and taking action.

Reaching One Child at a Time

Tampa Meeting follows a leading, starts a program to support literacy for disadvantaged children

by Nancy Triscritti, Tampa MM

It seems so unfair that some students can already be behind when they first enter kindergarten. I teach in a Title I school, and year after year I see children entering kindergarten who, before they even start, are behind. Studies show that the children from families who value literacy and have books in the home begin kindergarten nine months to fifteen months ahead of those from homes with no books. This gap almost never decreases, and in the summer, when students spend most of their time in their home environment, it continues to grow.

I bought up my concerns at a recent envisioning session to determine our meeting's Peace and Social Concerns projects for the coming year. To my surprise, but pleasure, this concern resonated with a large number of Friends. From this session, two projects were born. The first was to quickly come up with ten books to send home with ten children from low socioeconomic homes. The immediate response and effort put forth amazed me. For one thing, we learned more about each other. One person shared that he was a volunteer with the Friends of the Library at the Hillsborough County Public Library, where we could purchase quality books for twenty-five cents each. Several Friends went to various library locations to purchase these books. Others scoured their shelves at home. From these efforts we came up with more than enough books. I was able to send home bags of ten to twelve books with each of ten children.

I'd like to share the story of just one of these students. Chyanne is my lowest performing third grade student, she reads at a mid-first grade level. Chyanne comes from a very challenging home situation where there are nine or ten kids living with their grandma, a mix of siblings and cousins. I went to Chyanne's classroom with a bag of ten or so books and I took her into the hall with her backpack. I explained that they were for her to take home and keep so that she could enjoy them there. I also told her not to take them out at school (I knew it would create a distraction for other students). This was around 9:30. Later in the day, around 1:00, I was in her room to give her teacher some paperwork. Chyanne was sitting at a table with her teacher and she had on her backpack. I asked her why she was wearing it. Her teacher started laughing, and then said that she didn't know what I had given to Chyanne, but that she had refused to take the backpack off all day! She even wore it to lunch! What a feeling that gave me and should give all of us!

The second project is more long-term. It will give us at least a starting point for reaching one child at a time to bring opportunities for literacy support in the home for my low socioeconomic students. We plan to continue collecting books as well as a few other supporting supplies. Over the summer I will make ten sturdy bags with handles which will hold a set of alphabet letters or tiles and a small dry erase board and marker. This part of the project is made possible by donations from within our Meeting. On a daily basis a book and directions for a word work activity will be added to each bag. Each day, Monday through Thursday, a bag will travel home with each of ten students and then return the following morning when the book and the word work activity will be switched. This summer I plan to type up and print a large variety of these activities to have them available for quick placement in the bags. Our book collecting effort will continue throughout the year as we increase our resources, and to have available sets of books to send home next summer. One other aspect of the project is a short training session with parents to prepare them for using these daily activities with their child.

My hope and belief is that other teachers in my school will notice what I am doing and pursue a similar effort on their own, or perhaps the school might write a grant for such an effort. If other Meetings or individuals are interested in supporting this project to narrow the learning gap, gifts of money and donations of books would be gratefully appreciated. Additionally, any individual or Meeting led to develop a similar project near them may feel free to contact Nancy Triscritti by email at or by phone at 813-833-1875.

August 2013 Update

Our Reaching One Child at a Time project has continued. In the spring of 2013 we were able to send books home with 15 students to enrich their summer. The feedback from both parents and children has been encouraging. Parents have expressed appreciation of the project. One parent has shared how nice it is to have quiet activities to do with her child. Another said that reading with her child gives them things to talk about and that they both look forward to the time they spend together with books. It has been rewarding to me to see the children's eagerness to see what their book for the night will be when they come to my classroom to trade out books and activities.

Tampa MM meeting has set the goal for this year at 500 books. That would be 10 books for each of 50 students. Books they cherish as being their own!

Events of Concern & New Links

Committee Members

Warren Hoskins, clerk
Al Geiger  
Andrea Hoskins  
Mike Flanery  
Michael Canney  
Jack Bradin  
Shawna Doran  
Steve Kinney  
Minerva Glidden  
David Hersh  
Tim Ray  
Freddie Windriver  
Lin Young  

Note: Friends are encouraged to send suggestions for added topics of concern and for links or other content to

SEYM homepage