"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).
Safeguarding Our Elections
In 2020, the focus of the Peace & Social Justice Committee was on "safeguarding everyone’s right to vote and getting everyone’s vote counted."
This involved supporting the work of four nonpartisan organizations that have been active in this field.
The four organizations are:
CALL FOR ACTION AGAINST SYSTEMIC RACISM--from BYM Friends to all our local Meetings
This country has been immersed for so long in our struggles with racism. At this troubled time, BYM Friends as individuals, with our local Meetings, and with other worshiping communities, are called to act and to help in turning this historic tide of racism both in our wider society and in ourselves.
Our Quaker values call us to speak truth and to seek equality for all people. Our BYM Declaration As An Anti-Racist Faith Community calls us to work with impacted people to make a difference with all our decisions and actions. With this letter, a group of BYM Friends from several states and committees unite to call for all our local Meetings to take action.
As Quakers once served as catalysts and key allies in the struggle to end slavery, please take this opportunity brought by our country’s shame at law enforcement’s misuse of deadly force against George Floyd and so many other people of color, by the ongoing protests, in the eye of our COVID-19 storm. Let us accept Bayard Rustin’s wisdom that “we need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers” and John Lewis’s call to “make good trouble.”
Please go to the full document for recommendations. https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1HX8NFO44N5HK_g7-8BM1bT9YAw8Iy-KZRIcZfurfcUg/mobilebasic
For more Peace & Social Justice information at BFM, please click on the links below:
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.
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.
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 website that addresses environmental issues and concerns. One important step was BFM’s endorsement of the Quaker Environmental Statement.
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.