To spice up the 2021 holiday season, BFM Friends decided to do a cookie exchange. Friends took a batch of their favorite homemade cookies to the Bowen’s home, and later in return they received a lovely variety pack of delicious cookies. After the rise of our online Meeting for Worship on December 12th we took time to share stories about the cookie recipes and various family holiday traditions and favorite memories. We also enjoyed carol singing with accompaniment on guitar. A good time was had by all!
At a recent Meeting for Worship, Geoff Brieger shared this impromptu rhyme.
The Quaker Way
We twelve Quakers from Birmingham see
Sitting in circle, waiting to be
Blessed with insight in these fraught times
Still small voice, just speaking in rhymes
Can we find ways to better the life
Of the many that live in strife
Live in hunger, live without home
Live without hope, to diseases are prone?
Yes, we can, for we know it’s true
There’s that of God in me and you
And that makes us all one family
And we’ll care for each other in unity
Bring to the table some of your food
Bring some clothing that is good
If you have space, some shelter provide
Counsel the needy, take others inside
These are the actions, what we can do
Just having beliefs is not coming through
Friends have a mission, as you will see
To share our good fortune, whatever it be!
Birmingham Friends Meeting (BFM) is affiliated with a broader group of Quakers known as the Lake Erie Yearly Meeting. As part of Annual Sessions this year, LEYM Friends were invited to use Zoom to visit other meetings for their Meeting for Worship on August 1. BFM joined with 6 other meetings to open our virtual doors to visitors, and to encourage virtual travel to worship at meetings other than our own. Here’s the Monthly Meetings that participated in the wonderful opportunity for intervisitation.
- Ann Arbor Friends Meeting
- Birmingham Friends Meeting
- Broadmead Friends Meeting
- Detroit Friends Meeting
- Granville Friends Meeting
- Pittsburgh Friends Meeting
- Wooster Friends Meeting
The American Friends Service Committee invites you to join them for a week of events and workshops on the occasion of AFSC’s annual meeting, a virtual program exploring different dimensions of “Making New Worlds: Pursuing Peace with Justice,” from Sunday, April 11 through Thursday, April 15.
In six workshops, one panel presentation, and one plenary address AFSC will explore questions including: What does it mean to dismantle systems to create justice? What is the Quaker historical perspective on working for liberation, and what is the vision of contemporary Quaker organizers? How is AFSC working to end injustice and the institutions that perpetuate it—and create alternatives based on care and a solidarity economy?
We will explore approaches to working toward peace with justice and ways that AFSC and Quakers are striving to build new worlds. Workshops and programming: Join AFSC for one or two sessions or attend the whole program!
The program will begin on Sunday, April 11 at 7 p.m. ET with a panel presentation, “Quakers, AFSC, and abolition: Then and Now,” featuring historians Marcus Rediker and Katharine Grebner and contemporary Quaker abolitionists.
Workshops will be offered throughout the week, as listed below:
Monday, April 12, 8 p.m. ET: FreeThemAll: How we are living into the call to free folks in the context of COVID-19 and beyond. Presenters: Adriana Jasso, Demetrius Titus, Layne Mullett.
Tuesday, April 13, 8 p.m. ET: Pursuing freedom for Palestine: A campaign for Palestinian children’s rights.Presenters: Jennifer Bing and Zeina Hutchison.
Wednesday, April 14, 4 p.m. ET: Global migrant justice: Manifesting the joint Quaker statement. Presenters: Kristin Kumpf, Marianne Elias, Pauline Muchina, and global migration staff.
Wednesday, April 14, 8 p.m. ET: Restorative Justice: What does it look like/feel like in our communities?Presenter: Fatimeh Khan.
Thursday, April 15, 1:30 p.m. ET: Making new worlds: Creating a society based on care and a solidarity economy…what to divest from/what to invest in? Presenters: Rick Wilson, Dov Baum, and Grace Kindeke.
Nyle Fort will conclude the program with a plenary session on Thursday, April 15 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. ET. Nyle Fort is a minister, activist, and scholar based in Newark, NJ. He has worked in education, criminal justice, and youth development for over a decade and is a lead trainer at Momentum, an activist incubator that builds large-scale social movements in the United States and around the world.
During these sessions discover AFSC’s work, ways you can join them, and hear from historians and wise activists about the contemporary challenges for justice and how we can pursue it together.
Friends have begun gathering online to share discussion of the Book of Joy featuring a dialogue between the Dali Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Check the calendar for upcoming sessions.
Bill Warters, the webmaster at Birmingham Friends Meeting, has been selected to receive the 2020 International Conflict Resolution Educator Award to be delivered November 6 at the 14th International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education. Dr. Warters has a long background of service to the Conflict Resolution field as reflected in his online portfolio and the meeting is proud of his accomplishments.
Birmingham Friends Meeting has a tradition of providing food and staffing for a local soup kitchen multiple times per year. Since the emergence of the pandemic many changes have happened, including the procedures at the Genesis Church soup kitchen in Royal Oak.
Now, instead of cooking and providing sit-down meals, we provide “grab and go” pre-packaged meals. This past Saturday BFM, with leadership from Jimmy Ajlouny and Inge Brieger, delivered 60 nutritious meals to appreciative participants. The menu included Shawarma sandwiches, side salads, bananas, bottles of water and bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies, a local favorite.
NOTICE: Due to our desire to curtail the potential spread of COVID-19, Birmingham Friends Meeting is temporarily suspending our weekly face-to-face Meeting for Worship. We are exploring ways to continue to support our spiritual lives using online tools and will provide additional information when it becomes available. Contact the Clerk if you have questions or concerns to share.
The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is growing within Michigan, and our Birmingham Friends Meeting is actively supporting the fully volunteer project. AVP offers experiential community and prison workshops in personal growth, community development and creative conflict management. Founded by Quakers in New York prisons in 1975, the nondenominational program was developed based on the real-life experiences of prisoners. AVP encourages every person’s innate power to positively transform first themselves and then the world around them.
Today, AVP workshops are present in 37 States and over 50 countries. A full list of active projects in the U.S. can be found at https://avpusa.org/. Facilitators go through 60 hours of training (Basic, Advanced, and Training for Facilitators workshops) and then apprentice for an additional 60 hours before they are considered fully certified. The AVP Michigan chapter, previously active in the 1990s through the efforts of Friends from Birmingham and Detroit Monthly Meetings, was revived by Kathy and Joe Ossmann of Kalamazoo Friends Meeting in 2013 when they moved here from California. The Ossmanns began by offering monthly AVP workshops in the Muskegon Correctional Facility, a state prison for men.
AVP Michigan Expansion
After hosting a series of community workshops in the Detroit area, AVP Michigan developed a qualified volunteer facilitator pool in the Southeast Michigan region. Bill Warters of Birmingham Friends Meeting coordinates the Southeast Michigan team. Thanks to a helpful introduction from Natalie Holbrook of AFSC’s Michigan Criminal Justice Program in Ypsilanti, AVP Michigan was invited to begin offering monthly workshops in the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) starting in July of 2019. As of February, 2020, the AVP Team has offered 8 3-day workshops at ICF, including 4 Basic Workshops, 2 Advanced Workshops, and 2 Trainings for Facilitators. A team of twelve newly trained inside inmate facilitators are now active at ICF.
This expansion requires resources for things like housing, food and transportation costs associated with hosting the 3-day workshops in Ionia, Michigan, located in a rural area about halfway between Lansing and Grand Rapids. Members of the Birmingham Friends Meeting have been gracious in their financial and tactical support for the project since the expansion to Ionia, making AVP one of the meeting’s essential community projects.
AVP Michigan welcomes your support and well wishes going forward. Visit the AVPmichigan.org website if you are interested in being involved. The project can also be reached using the information below:
Alternatives to Violence Project – Michigan
PO Box 171, Paw Paw, MI 49079
Alternatives to Violence Project – Michigan South East Council
P.O. Box 602, Roseville MI 48066
The adhoc Web Committee (Pam Melick, Marvin Barnes, Jj Kidder and Bill Warters) is pleased to announce the release of our new meeting listserv. To get the list started we have used the email addresses maintained in our meeting directory. If you would like to added to the email distribution list, you can use the Contact Us link to pass along a request to be added.
We look forward to the connections and convenience provided by the list and trust that over time we’ll find the right balance of supportive and informative messages that can help nurture the spiritual life and growth of our meeting without unduly burdening the inboxes of participants.