Peace and Social Action
The Peace and Social Action committee implements the Quaker testimonies of peace, social and economic justice and equality within our community.
“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, And fightings with outward weapons, for any end, Or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.” —Declaration to Charles II by George Fox and others, 1660
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” —A .J. Mustie
"Live up to the light thou hast and more will be granted" - George Fox
Gwynedd Friend Nina Braxton used to say, "I am only one person, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. "Implementing the Quaker testimonies of peace, social and economic justice, equality, and ecological stewardship are enormous charges that might seem overwhelming if attempted all at once. Instead, as a committee, we focus on our leadings."
“The alternative to war is not inactivity and cowardice. It is the irresistible and constructive power of good will.” – Rufus Jones, 1917
Leadings and Projects
Currently the committee is working on the following:
• Serving as a connection between Gwynedd Monthly Meeting and local, national, or international organizations that work for peace.
• Developing a relationship with legislators regarding local and global concerns. Judy Inskeep is our local email and letter writing contact. Also visit FCNL
’s website (Friends Committee on National Legislation
• Helping families without homes in cooperation with Inter-Faith Housing Alliance
• Donating to Manna on Main Street
through food drives.
• Participating in book drives to share our resources with children or schools in the community surrounding the Fair Hill Burial Ground
Alternatives to Violence http://www.avpusa.org
The Basic AVP Workshops concentrate on primary conflict resolution skills. Step-by-step experiential exercises focus on:
Affirmation: Building self-esteem and trust.
Communication: Improving both listening skills and assertive methods of expression.
Community: Learning to build community within a diverse society.
Cooperation: Developing cooperative attitudes that avoid competitive conflicts.
Creative Conflict Resolution: Getting in touch with the inner “Transforming Power” to resolve violence.
By role playing, participants learn new and creative ways to respond to conflict situations.
The Advanced AVP Workshops focus on the underlying causes of violence. Some of the common themes explored are:
Training for Trainers Workshop
Fear: Reveals the hidden fears that usually underlie anger, jealousy and prejudice.
Anger: Results in a deeper understanding of the personal situations that trigger anger.
Communication: Develops the communication skills and the ability to communicate in tense and stressful situations.
Stereotyping: Builds awareness of bias and prejudice in personal relations:
Power and Powerlessness: Helps individuals understand power structures and get in touch with their inner power.
Forgiveness: Builds the groundwork for true reconciliation and freedom from guilt.
Begin by participating in the Basic and Advanced AVP Workshops. If you find that you would like to become a facilitator of the AVP process, take the Training for Trainers Workshop. These workshops focus on develop team leadership methods and group process skills.
All non-prisoner participants and facilitators attending a prison workshop must complete a clearance check before you will be allowed into the prison. This must be done at least three weeks in advance, so participants and facilitators should make their registrations early.
Al Paschkis, Local AVP Contact, Gwynedd Friends Meeting, P.O. Box 142, Gwynedd, PA. 19436
Conscientious Objection to war
Conscientious objection to war [C.O.] can be defined as a personal conviction not to participate in any war, in any form. This conviction is developed over time through a process of reflection and discernment, and stems from deeply-held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs.
Conscientious Objection to Military Service
C.O. contact at Gwynedd Monthly Meeting: Michael Lapreziosa.
The United States government currently recognizes the right of young men to refuse participation in military service. [Presumably this would also apply to young women, should they ever be subject to a military Draft.] A Conscientious Objector [C.O.] must demonstrate to a Draft Board that his claim meets the following three conditions:
1. His objection must be based on “moral, ethical, or religious belief.”
2. He must be “opposed to participation in war in any form.” Opposition must be against any and all war.
3. His claim must be “deeply held.” In general, documentation that supports your conviction must be available for
examination by a Draft Board.
The Gwynedd Meeting community helps its young members in discerning their own beliefs and leadings regarding war and other violent conflict, and holds them in the Light throughout their personal journeys toward clearness in this regard. The adult members and attenders are prepared to assist and support any young man or woman who wishes to document a claim of Conscientious Objection.
Conscientious Objection to Military Taxation
The following links provide access to detailed information and counseling about Conscientious Objection:
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s working group on Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns
The Center on Conscience and War
The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
Some taxpayers withhold payment of some or all of their Federal Taxes because those taxes make possible the preparation for, and waging of, war. This is not a legally-recognized form of conscientious objection, and therefore constitutes civil disobedience. Although there presently exists no legal accommodation for them, principled war tax resisters meet the same conditions that the government requires for draft C.O.’s, that is, their convictions are based on “moral, ethical, or religious belief,” their opposition is to “participation in war in any form,” and their beliefs are “deeply held.”
The Gwynedd community assists members and attenders considering war tax resistance with their process of discernment, and supports those who feel led to practice this form of conscientious witness.
The following links provide access to information and counseling regarding war tax resistance and proposed legal accommodation:
http://www.pym.org/peace-and-concerns/tax/index.html - Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s working group on Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns
http://www.nwtrcc.org/ - The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
http://www.peacetaxfund.org/ The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
Conscientious Objection contact at Gwynedd Monthly Meeting: Michael Lapreziosa.
Monthly Letter Writing
The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Quaker lobby in Washington, works to implement the Quaker testimonies of peace, social and economic justice, equality, and ecological stewardship. These are enormous charges that seem overwhelming, and it can be a challenge to choose one or two things to focus on. FCNL supplies a letter each month which it asks its constituents to personalize a bit and send to a public official. Judy Inskeep would be glad to forward a monthly reminder that a new letter is now on the web page, to anyone who is interested in following up. The current letter is at this address: http://www.fcnl.org/action/monthly_letter.htm
Judy receives a paper copy of the monthly FCNL letter too, and can forward one of those to anyone interested who does not have e-mail. Postal letters and post cards to officials in Washington are much delayed; letters to your Senators' or Representative’s local offices are speedier.
You can also join the action alert network by entering your e-mail address and zip code in the left-hand column of the FCNL webpage. FCNL finds your Senator or Representative when you enter your zip code, and supplies a prototype letter, which you can use exactly as it is if you do not feel moved to personalize it. FCNL sends out several communications each week: e-news bulletins, updates of various kinds, and requests to contact officials. If that seems like too many, you can ask to receive messages only about a specific issue you are interested in, such as immigration.
If you have questions, please e-mail Judy at email@example.com, or call her at 215-283-7255.
How Can I Help?
• Try to live by the Quaker testimonies.
• Plan on providing meals, transportation, and/or serve as overnight host when the Meeting participates in the Inter-Faith Hospitality Network.
• Fair Hill Book Drive: If you happen to see “gently used” children’s books at garage sales, for children ages 4-13, purchase them and save them for this book drive, held each year in October & November.
• Bring canned goods to the Meetinghouse and place them in the box for “Manna on Main Street,” located in the kitchen.
• Email your Congressional representatives as topics of importance arise [link to “letter writing”, below].
• Concentrate on an issue that is of concern to you, become knowledgeable about it, and communicate with your representatives in Congress at least four times a year. Use the FCNL website for helpful information on lobbying.
• If you feel led to work with prisoners, consider Alternatives to Violence Project training.
• Become involved at the local level. Bring matters that are of importance to you, to the attention of the Meeting.
• Contribute a gift, during the Holidays, for the Hope Gardens family that Gwynedd sponsors.
For more information:
PYM: Application of Friends’ Testimonies
Quaker Information Center’s “What is the Friends Peace Testimony” http://www.quakerinfo.org/quakerism/peacetestimony.html