A Quaker Witness to the World
When people have heard of Quakers, it often is in the context of justice, equal rights, and social change. Quakers have been pivotal to—among other things—the abolition of slavery; the education of women, the underprivileged, and indigenous people; support for refugees; and conscientious objection to violence.
Quaker activism is not due to a particular political affiliation, nor is it some secular ideological preference. It is rather an outward expression of an inward spiritual experience, an expression of values that emerge from our worship as well as the longstanding calling of our spiritual community.
Below, you will find some recent examples of the ongoing work Sandy Spring Quakers are doing in this area.
Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
Since November 2016, a Working Group on Refugees under the care of the Peace Committee has been working with four newly arrived refugee families from Syria. We became their “Friendly Visitors” and helped build bridges between needs and resources. We visited them in their homes and invited them to visit and share meals in our own. In the process, we developed friendships across our cultural differences. We also have supported other interfaith work on refugees. We collected money to purchase gift cards, and provided food packets and funds for the newly formed Montgomery County Interfaith Refugee Resettlement Network (MCIRRN). They were supporting 50+ newly arrived refugees from several countries, including Syria.
New Sanctuary Movement
Our Meeting approved May 7, 2017, becoming a part of the “New Sanctuary” movement by joining a broad interfaith network called DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network. With this approval, we dedicated ourselves to protecting immigrants and targeted communities in the DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area. We joined the network of 70+ faith communities to pledge to resist policies and actions that target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities, including those who are of color, indigenous, Muslim, Latino, and LGBTQ.
Statement on Religious Freedom
Our Meeting approved Dec. 4, 2016 this statement on religious freedom, joining other American Quakers in a call for a renewed commitment to equality:
As people of faith and conscience, Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is compelled in this time of growing violence and religious intolerance to witness to the Divinely bestowed right of all people to the free, peaceful, and legal exercise of their own religious traditions without fear of bullying, intimidation, or persecution. We commit our community and ourselves to support and speak out for freedom of religion as the Spirit leads.
Statement on Inclusiveness
Friends have a long history of belief in equal rights for everyone. In keeping with this tradition we wish to testify to the rights of all to live out freely and openly their differences in sexual orientation or gender identity.
For more, link to the full text of the Minute about Personal Ethics Standard in Friends United Meeting Personnel Policy.