Pittsburgh Friends Meeting supports AFSC – American Friends Service Committee

AFSC Updates July 2012
by Scilla Wahrhaftig
The AFSC Program Committee enjoyed having the opportunity to share our work with Friends at our recent open house after Meeting on June 17. We would like to thank all who stopped by the office or viewed our material and videos in the Meeting Room.
One of the pieces of material which was on display was the Introduction to Quaker Testimonies that AFSC recently produced to educate new AFSC staff on Quakerism and Quaker values. This project was instigated by Shan Cretin, General Secretary and worked on by a number of staff including Scilla Wahrhaftig. It has received very good reviews from a number of Quakers, including our own Martha Berg, who called it “excellent”. She suggested we need to get more copies to share with the Meeting. I will be ordering some soon and will let the Meeting know when they come in.
I wanted to share a little from the testimony of peace:
We are called on to transform the institutions of society into instruments of peace and to be ourselves transformed.
For us (AFSC) peace is not just ending war or violence, but nurturing the capacity of individuals, communities, and societies to sustain harmonious relationships based on mutual respect and caring for the welfare of all. We seek to reconcile enemies and serve the needs of all sides torn by violent strife.
This very much reflects how the AFSC Pa Program sees its work. The local AFSC Program Committee recently met to talk about the future of the program and what directions it should take. At that meeting we recognized that one of the tools we incorporate into all our work is respectful listening. The mission is: Through respectful listening to all voices, the AFSC Pennsylvania program seeks to bring people of divergent views together to build a peaceful and just world.
This approach is certainly reflected in the Windows and Mirrors exhibit we brought here in January where, through art and listening, we were able to raise up the voices of those who have experienced war. The recent video that our Racial Justice through Human Rights youth group developed enabled them to get their concerns on the education system and our schools out to the community. We are also working with others around the state to hear the voices of prisoners who have been confined in isolation sometimes for decades in an effort to get this practice changed.
This summer we will be conducting a listening project in the East end of Pittsburgh. We will be inviting people mainly in the East Liberty, Highland Park and Larimer communities to listen to their neighbors about their experience of living in the area and their concerns. We are especially interested in getting the youth involved in the listening in the hope they will form the nucleus of our new youth group.
One of the queries in the booklet is: How can I nurture the seeds of peace within myself, my community and the world? This is what we strive to do and invite you to join us in this work by attending events, writing letters, volunteering, through financial support, or by joining us in building bridges through respectful listening.

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