Matt Chandler, member of Newtown Quaker Meeting and Clerk of its Peace and Justice Committee, will moderate a discussion on “Next Steps for Racial Justice: A Community Conversation” at the Newtown Meeting Adult Class at 9:45a.m. on Sunday, October 24, at the historic Friends Meetinghouse, 219 Court Street. People who are vaccinated and wear masks may attend in person. Others may attend via Zoom. Meeting for Worship in the manner of Friends will follow at 11 a.m.
To facilitate the discussion, the Peace and Justice Committee plans to use the bi-weekly silent vigil in Newtown for racial justice that Newtown Meeting has been involved in since June 2020 as the launching point. Members of the Committee and the Racial Justice Subcommittee will talk about what the recurring public witness has meant for them personally and how it has been received by the Newtown community.
The discussion will also review actions and opportunities with POWER Bucks, the group supporting an equitable Pennsylvania formula for funding public schools. Much of the time will be spent in small groups soliciting responses to queries about the future of the vigils, opportunities with POWER Bucks, and next steps for fostering racial justice in general.
Quakers believe there is “that of God in every person and each person is equal in the eyes of God.” Quakers have wrestled with the issues of slavery and civil rights since their early beginnings in 1652 England.
In 1688, members of Germantown Friends Meeting in Philadelphia first recorded their opposition to slavery. And in 1727 in England and in 1774 in America, Quakers became the first religious body to officially oppose slavery.
More recently, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) sponsored Martin Luther King Jr’s trip to India in 1959 to study the non-violence of the Gandhi organization. In 1963, Quaker Bayard Rustin helped organize the March on Washington and Quaker Joan Baez was one of the singers. The AFSC nominated Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize which he received in 1964.
The Economic Policy Institute issued a report in 2013 about civil rights which it called “The Unfinished March.” Newtown Quaker Meeting’s Peace and Justice Committee believes each of us has a responsibility and a stake in the Unfinished March for equality and opportunity for everyone.
Newtown Friends Meeting, co-founded by the Quaker artist and minister, Edward Hicks, in 1815, holds services every First Day (Sunday) with classes for children and adults at 9:45 a.m. and Meeting for Worship at 11:00 a.m. Currently, people attending in person are asked to be vaccinated and wear masks. Others may attend via Zoom.