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FCNL Joins Intermountain Yearly Meeting’s Annual Gathering in New Mexico

June 16, 2010

Friends gather at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, to say that War Is Not the Answer.

Last week, I traveled to New Mexico to join Friends from across the Southwest for Intermountain Yearly Meeting’s annual gathering.  The theme was “Quaker Service in the 21st Century” and Friends explored this topic and other areas of interest through workshops, worship sharing, interest groups, and meetings for worship.

We were surrounded by beautiful landscape – scrubby junipers, sagebrush, and red rock – at the Ghost Ranch, near where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted.  I really enjoyed having the opportunity to discuss FCNL’s work, and specifically immigration concerns, with Friends who have taken such an active interest in this issue.

During the meetings for worship with a concern for business, Friends approved two minutes that relate to FCNL policy.  The first minute addresses immigration concerns and the second focuses on U.S. military involvement.  At FCNL, we are very excited about these minutes and we plan to assist in distributing them as widely as possible – to Friends everywhere, members of Congress, state governors, the media, and our coalition partners.

One excerpt from the minute on immigration that I’d like to share with you:

“We, as people of faith, are called not only to resist unjust laws and to work to change them, but to take the initiative to act in accordance with higher laws.  We call upon Friends everywhere to urge our elected representatives to immediate action on humane immigration reform.  We call upon ourselves to act with integrity in response to these challenges and we rededicate ourselves to loving our neighbors, to doing justice, and to walking humbly in the spirit of love.”

From all the energy and enthusiasm around the immigration minute at IMYM, I anticipate and sincerely hope that this will lead to an even deeper engagement of Friends advocating for humane immigration reform.  As one Friend from Austin, TX, said: “I’m here to tell you that in Texas we’re asleep, we’re not working on this issue in an active way in our meeting… I think that one very important purpose [of this minute] is to speak to other Friends meetings and to ask them to wake up and to take a stand and to be more alert to what is going on in their state because there’s not a state in the country that is not involved in this issue.”

Friends also gathered at lunch and dinner to write letters to their members of Congress about immigration.  Specifically, Friends expressed concern about the safety and well-being of families which are at risk of being torn apart by the broken immigration system. We provided everyone with background information and suggestions for their letters, and then encouraged them to personalize it with their own stories.  Our enthusiastic volunteers danced around the dining hall with “War Is Not the Answer” signs to encourage everyone to participate.

In the end, we gathered 108 hand-written letters (including some written by the staff members of the ranch where we stayed), which I will soon deliver personally to Congress!

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to meet, talk with, and learn from so many Friends.  I hope to stay in touch with those who I met at IMYM and I look forward to circulating the minute on immigration far and wide.  I know that the beauty and stillness of Ghost Ranch, and the passion and commitment to social justice of the people I met there, will stay with me for some time.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sustainablepeacebypiece permalink
    June 22, 2010 8:45 am

    Hey Becca! Sounds like you had an amazing time at IMYM….great work with the letters and I’m please to hear the YM issued a minute on immigration!

    Keep up the good work FCNL!


  2. Tom Kowal permalink
    June 22, 2010 4:16 pm

    Rebecca was a wonderful addition to InterMountain Yearly Meeting — her work with us on the Immigration Minute was instrumental. She brought FCNL’s heart and soul to us, and kept some of us yahoos on track. Her presence in our sessions contributed to a spirit of worshipful activism on many issues including immigration reform. I want to convey the same recognition to Rebecca that Congressman Jared Polis was happy to receive a while ago: we think Rebecca is a closet Quaker!!

  3. Erin Olschewski permalink
    July 4, 2010 10:15 pm

    I noticed that the picture shown here is cropped and therefore leaving some of us who were in the picture out. Is there any way that we can be shown some of the other pictures from this little photo op?

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