Category Archives: Signs of the Times

King Day Special! “Eating Dr. King’s Dinner” – Told LIVE

This weekend, Chuck Fager told the true story of Eating Dr. King’s Dinner, by  Zoom at the  historic Fairfield Friends Meeting in Camby, Indiana, near Indianapolis.

The invitation came from Fairfield’s well-known pastor (and best-selling author) Phil Gulley.

You can now watch Chuck telling this story (34 minutes), right now, at this free link.

(You don’t need to register, and we won’t collect your data.) Continue reading King Day Special! “Eating Dr. King’s Dinner” – Told LIVE

AFSC After “The Day The Movement Died”

Having read and pondered the lengthy memo from General Secretary Joyce Aljouny laying out the plans for the latest AFSC Restructure, I think I’ve figured out what’s going on there.

It has little to do with the current effort to stoke a staff rebellion, so we’ll deal with that only in passing. Its roots, I think, go back years before, fourteen in fact, to January 27, 2007, which is better remembered as, “The Day The Movement Died.”

I remember that day well, because I was there too.

Before dawn that morning I helped fill a bus in Fayetteville, North Carolina, headed north on I-95. We got off the bus near the Mall in Washington, and joined a big antiwar rally.

How big? One estimate said 500,000, another sniffed it was merely “thousands.” I don’t know, but it was big. There were banners and flags and speeches and music and all that. It was aimed at building pressure on Congress, newly taken over by Democrats, to stop the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The umbrella sponsor for the rally was, as noted by the Washington Post: United for Peace and Justice, which describes itself as a coalition of 1,400 local and national organizations. Among them are the National Organization for Women, United Church of Christ, the American Friends Service Committee, True Majority, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Farms Not Arms, CODEPINK, and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

While AFSC was third among the  groups listed above, it was among the top in UFPJ by internal weight. It had staff; it had money; it had a web of ten regional offices and thousands of contacts; and it carried an air of respectability which had been ratified by a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

While not large as Washington lobbies went, AFSC’s activist clout dwarfed that of most of the peace groups on the UFPJ roster. Further, AFSC had held this unofficial but key position for decades, ever since the national “peace movement” surged out of the civil rights struggles and onto the streets of Washington and New York in 1965, during the escalation of the Vietnam War, and then spread across the country.

Spirits were high that January 2007 rally day. Hopes also. Former U. S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle told a reporter at the rally, “Its primary value is that it keeps up the pressure. There is a sense that by summer, a march like this will be two or three times as large.” 

Our Fayetteville busload was hopeful too. In fact, we were planning to quickly ratchet up the pressure from our little base in flyover country, with a follow-up rally seven weeks hence, on the doleful anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Continue reading AFSC After “The Day The Movement Died”

AFSC & The Hammer: Duncan Fired

It appears AFSC’s “LT” (Leadership Team) is serious.

In the post below, copied from the Western Friend page, Lucy Duncan states she was fired on Monday January 3.

The dismissal was not a surprise (Duncan herself had predicted it). But it was revealing nonetheless, answering questions raised by Duncan’s “Perilous Crossroads” letter:

Would the LT respond decisively to the insurgents’ call for their overthrow and the crushing of their restructuring plan?  Could they?

Or would there be more endless palaver, “listening sessions,” “Seasoning” meetings, consultants doing consultations and interviews & focus groups, amid the ceaseless search for “transformation”? Continue reading AFSC & The Hammer: Duncan Fired

Breaking: A SAYMA Meeting Quits to Protest “Abuse”

The long-simmering dysfunction in SAYMA (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting & Association) quietly boiled over on First Month (January) 2, 2022.

Swannanoa Valley Monthly Meeting, in Black Mountain NC, adopted the following minute:

Swannannoa Valley meetinghouse, Black Mountain NC

We at Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting are called to remove ourselves from continuing to support, enable, and normalize abusive behavior in SAYMA.  This includes our witness to the breakdown of Quaker process.  As a result, please remove us from Yearly Meeting membership effective immediately.

 However note that we intend to continue our relationship with the SAYMA Young Friends program (SAYF). This includes offering our personal and financial support, as well as our meetinghouse for furtherance of its work.

[This text is not yet online, but was confirmed by a member who was present.]

The abuse spoken of is a years-long pattern of disruptive behavior centered on the self-identified “Quaker anti-racism ministry” of a person, Sharon Smith, currently based in South Carolina. Continue reading Breaking: A SAYMA Meeting Quits to Protest “Abuse”

“Hello, AFSC? There’s a Crisis on the Line—And It’s for You.”

Is the AFSC about to plunge into an existential crisis?

Oh wait – did I say “Crisis”?

Beg pardon: What I really meant was,“transformation.”

But Lucy Duncan wants a crisis, and no mistake. In late December, she and five collaborators published a manifesto in the Western Friend, under the title: “AFSC Is at a Perilous Crossroads.” The full text is in the magazine, here. And this is the gist:

AFSC management labored with the Board and staff eighteen months on a new strategic plan, which was finalized either in August of 2021, or maybe October (both dates are on their website with it.  The plan is here.

To carry out the plan, Duncan & Co assert, AFSC management wants to undertake

a dramatic re-engineering of the organizational structure . . . that will alter the Quaker character of the organization.

The specifics of the “restructuring” plan were laid out in a long memo of April 16, 2021. (The full text of this April 16 memo is here.) The AFSC Board expects to act on it in April 2022. But the dissidents want action, immediate action, from Friends, to stop it cold. Duncan:

Despite widespread dissent among staff and governance members, management has continued to push this plan forward. We call on other Quakers to call for a cessation of the planned restructure, an external evaluation of the Senior Leadership Team and a searching, well facilitated internal conversation about how this process proceeded so far despite widespread opposition and how the organization can heal and move forward collectively, honoring all voices especially those most impacted by the issues upon which AFSC focuses.

Basically, this is a demand for a coup. After all, any member of the “Leadership Team” who considered themself a professional manager and was submitted to such a forced “external evaluation” would either resign, or refuse and be forced out. And such a purge appears to be the main objective for Duncan & Co.:

In the name of strategic plan implementation, the Senior Leadership Team has since proposed a dramatic organizational restructuring that invests another $500,000 per year into a commitment to fund six additional middle management positions while adding no resources into the programs on the ground. It is unclear from where the funding for the new management positions will come.

These funds would be far better spent investing in the critical work staff are doing on the ground. We need investments in current staff, creating pay equity, and providing additional funding for local program and network convening, rather than experimenting with an excessively costly move to hire so many more managers.

Today we are at a crossroads. Will AFSC adopt a top-down NGO, grant and donor centered approach, or will it build on a powerful history by committing even more deeply to a grassroots, community-led approach that builds strategy and campaigns from the bottom up?

Can the insurgents do it? Continue reading “Hello, AFSC? There’s a Crisis on the Line—And It’s for You.”