June 5, 2020
As Friends serving in leadership on behalf of Quaker communities across New England, we join with people around the world to grieve, and to commit to action in opposition to the evils of racism and white supremacy that are again laid bare in our country. We pray for protection for those demonstrating and for all who are at risk.
We recognize that our silence in this moment would be collusion with violence. So we speak: to support the leadership of Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color; to support those calling and working for change in the streets, in government, in essential work, and at home. We speak to reclaim the symbols of faith from their use to justify the sins of empire. We speak to publicly recommit ourselves to Truth. Black Lives Matter.
This is a time for repentance and transformation. Quakers are called to live “in the virtue of that Life and Power that takes away the occasion for all wars.” We understand this to mean that those of us who have been and are complicit in the systems and practices that create and maintain white supremacy—and its myriad forms of violence—are called with Divine guidance to do the work to understand that complicity and to end it. Repentance, in its Biblical usage, goes beyond recognizing the harm done and includes both actively turning away from that harm and participating in the transformation of the Spirit—in us, and in the world.
We repent our complicity in the continuing violence of white supremacy, xenophobia, and all systems and powers that separate us from each other. We repent our role in the double standards and denial of justice for so many. We repent our part in American racism that led to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the African American people, Indigenous people, and people of color in recent months and across centuries whose lives have been taken by the violence and domination of white supremacy.
Repentance also means being transformed into something wholly new and Divinely led. We’re called to participate in the Spirit’s work transforming the world, making manifest a New Creation. In this moment, faithfulness calls us to listen and follow Black, Brown, and Indigenous leadership; to engage in service to those most impacted; to right the wrongs of the past and the present; to witness in our personal and public interactions to Truth—to transform the systems of this nation to more fully align with God’s vision of justice, liberation, and joy. There are Friends among us who are already doing this. We must actively support, learn from, and work with them as well as those in our wider communities who have been leading this work for many years.
Faithfulness in Friends’ experience is rooted in continuing revelation, in being broken open by the power of the Spirit calling us into new ways of living. We believe this is a time of such in-breaking and recognition, a time of turning for this country and for our Religious Society. We believe God is calling us to a profound kind of change, to move from awareness to transformative action.
With this message, we’re sharing some resources and tools Friends are using and have created. We'll share more in the days to come. Please use these, and others that you find, to increase your and your meeting’s engagement in learning, in service, and in witness. Please keep sharing how Friends in your meeting are living our faith into the world, what you are learning, and how we can support you.
Remember that you are beloved. Remember that you are not alone. Remember that God calls us to realize the Beloved Community here and now, and gives us the gifts, the tools, and the partners we need to do so.
In the Love that Brings a New Creation,
Bruce Neumann, Presiding Clerk
Leslie Manning, Clerk of the Permanent Board
Honor Woodrow, Clerk of Ministry and Counsel
Noah Merrill, Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
Resources to Support Engagement and Action
- For a deeper dive into how leaders and organizers can balance patience and urgency in times of change, check out this week’s Pendle Hill talk by Ricardo Levins Morales here.
- For tools on exploring racial justice from the heart, check out Philadelphia Friend and racial justice mentor Dr. Amanda Kemp’s website here. Amanda will be the plenary speaker for our Annual Sessions in August.
- For resources on self care for people of color, here's a blog post from Jasmine Banks
- For introducing a conversation about how the past two weeks' events relate to bigger issues, consider Megan Ming Francis' Ted Talk called “Let’s get to the root of racial injustice” here.
- This new website from New England Friend Rachel Carey-Harper offers a wide range of tools for spiritually grounded racial justice work gathered over many years.
- Amesbury (MA) Friends Meeting is maintaining a collection of anti-racism resources here.
- If you have not yet engaged with New England Friend Lisa Graustein’s 2019 virtual plenary series on white supremacy and spiritual practices for anti-racism work, you can watch and listen to these videos here.
- For tools to advocate for meaningful police reform legislation now, check out the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s recent action alert here.
- For tips for white Friends attending Black Lives Matter protests, see this resource from the American Friends Service Committee here.
- A number of local meetings are supporting the work of local groups advocating for racial justice including SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice):
Discernment & Next Steps
- For individuals or groups considering action, check out this guide from Quaker Voluntary Service to next steps.
- Meetings and individuals may also find it useful to draw from this detailed discernment guide which invites users to prayerfully consider social implications of their actions (from Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen in Boston).
- You may also find this guide to the many different roles we can each take in social action useful as you seek to use your gifts in these times. From lawyer and racial justice advocate Deepa Iyer.
- As contemplation, conversation, and responses emerge at your meeting, we’d love to hear from you about how you are led in this time and what questions your meeting is wrestling with. We'll keep connecting and sharing back. Contact Nia Thomas at [email protected].
May we be faithful.