Peace and Social Justice

 “Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, 
answering that of God in every one.”
- George Fox
"My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing.”
- Bayard Rustin
 “We aspire to live as members of the blessed community, which is one of liberation, equity, and great diversity across all differences.”
- Baltimore Yearly Meeting Vision Statement
 

Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) puts its faith into action through engagement in peace-building, social justice, and environmental stewardship. Advocacy, education, and financial support of community groups are among the paths toward that goal. This work is led by the Peace and Social Justice Committee (P&SJ).


 
 
Upcoming Events (Calendar) Events will be listed when scheduled.
  

 "SECOND MONDAY" EVENTS

Monday June 11, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Homelessness in Montgomery County.
  • Please attend this film and panel discusson on the programs and solutions to homelessness in our county.
Location: Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Download and share the flyer

 The program will start with a 16-minute film from the County Council called “A Place to Call Home,” which focuses on the January Point of Time Count of homeless people in the county. 

This will be followed by a panel discussion on programs and solutions for homelessness in Montgomery County with
 Bethesda Cares provides extensive street outreach services throughout the down county areas of Montgomery County. It partners with other programs to conduct supportive housing activities for persons formerly homeless. It works to prevent homelessness through its Homeless Prevention program with utility shut off assistance and eviction prevention funds. www.bethesdacares.org

EveryMind provides case management services for street homeless adults in Montgomery County. Services include shelter referrals, outreach, engagement, needs and housing assessments, entitlements and beneficiary referrals, advocacy, education, and connection to resources with a goal of connecting clients to shelter or permanent housing options. www.every-mind.org

Interfaith Works serves Montgomery County residents through programs that prevent, stabilize and empower. These programs provide emergency shelter in weather extremes, permanent supportive housing to men and women who have experienced chronic homelessness, and vocational services to connect un- and underemployed men and women to sustainable employment. www.iworksmc.org

Since 1990, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) has provided solutions to end homelessness in Montgomery County. MCCH’s mission is to ensure that homelessness in Montgomery County is a rare, brief, and nonrecurring experience. MCCH’s vision is to build a community where everyone has a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. www.mcch.net 

Free and open to the public. Two blocks from the Bethesda Metro Station with parking available. 
Sponsored by Bethesda Friends Meeting.

 
For more Peace & Social Justice information at BFM, please click on these links:
 

Bethesda Friends Meeting Peace Minutes: In 1996 BFM wrote a statement (also known as a "minute") on the topic of "Prevention and Peaceful Resolution of International Conflicts." More than 20 years later, the epistle still has meaning and resonance. To read it, click here.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Peace Minutes
The BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee works to bring to life the testimonies of the wider Religious Society of Friends.
In August 2017, Baltimore Yearly Meeting approved this minute at their annual sessions:
"Minute regarding Consideration of US Renewed Military Action
Against North Korea."
Please click here to read more details about this Minute and the BYM Peace & Social Concerns committee.

 
Recent Committee Focus Areas

Ending Mass Incarceration. BFM is well-represented at Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR) and Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Working Group on Racism meetings. As a result of MAJR’s efforts in Annapolis, a Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (with key people in the Maryland State government) has reviewed current practices in Maryland. MAJR is considering additional initiatives related to promoting alternatives to incarceration (front door issues: bail reform, treatment for addictions, citations rather than arrests), prison conditions (expanding educational opportunities and improving health care, ending solitary confinement), and supporting successful re-entry (back door issues of collateral consequences, expanding job opportunities, etc.) In 2016, we sponsored Ending the Revolving Door, a forum on two highly successful re-entry programs and designated a social concerns box to getting Smart Cards to help returning citizens with transportation critical to finding employment.

Black Lives Matter. Correlated with Ending Mass Incarceration was our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, for which we had a forum (November 2015) to look at next steps in our response to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Some participated in the White Privilege Conference and reported back to the committee. This led to the Meeting’s endorsing a BFM Black Lives Matter witness along Arlington Road at the rise of Meeting in April and May of 2016. The response was heartening. The flier from that event is available here.

Environmental Sustainability. In 2016, the Peace & Social Justice Committee agreed to host the Environmental Sustainability Group. Because some of the most active participants did not consider themselves to be members of the P&SJ Committee, those interested in the topic decided to meet monthly and separately. Interest has grown and the group has set up a page on the BFM web site that addresses environmental issues and concerns. One important step was BFM’s endorsement of the Quaker Environmental Statement.

  

 

Ongoing Projects

  • Helping Refugees Group (HRG): In 2017, under the auspices of BFM's Peace & Social Justice Committee, a Helping Refugees Group decided to develop a way to assist with local refugee programs. The result was to help sponsor a refugee family under the auspices of Lutheran Social Services (LSS). During 2017 & 2018, HRG volunteers (and others from BFM) will be participating in a variety of ways. For more information, please read their initial report to Meeting for Business
  • BFM participates in the Olive Oil Ministry (with other local congregations) in support of Palestinian farmers and A Tent of Nations. We sell bottles of olive oil at BFM, and at least three other Quaker Meetings and Baltimore Yearly Meeting have joined the project.
  • Members of BFM have testified on behalf of Action in Montgomery’s efforts to increase affordable housing. Participation in AIM’s Action Day re after-school programs in December was significant.
  • BFM was well represented at the BYM Peace Networking Day at Sandy Spring in April 2016 and look forward to doing so again in the coming year.
  • BFM organized two opportunities to reflect on Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) priorities for the coming Congressional sessions.
  • Please see the monthly “Peace Notes” in the BFM newsletter.
  • A monthly educational series at the Bethesda Public Library is sponsored by the P&SJ Committee.
  • We co-sponsor the Mary Jane Simpson fund.
  • We hold seasonal service days at A Wider Circle.
  • We are a member congregation of the DMV Sanctuary Network, which "pledges to resist the newly elected administration’s policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities including those who are black, indigenous, Muslim, latinx, and LGBTQ+."
 

 
Funding
 
Financial support
BFM supports a number of causes via our monthly social concerns donation box, as well as direct aid through our annual budget designations.
Please click here to see the social concerns that BFM supports and how you can help with financial donations. 



BFM holds witness to Black Lives Matter in Bethesda, MD Assembling a wagon for A Wider Circle clientCollecting coats for Syrian refugeesQuakers at a Capital Pride boothBFM Walkathon for the Homeless