Testimonies and Concerns 2013 Annual Report:
Testimony: A guiding principle of conduct that bears witness to the presence of God in the world and in our lives...
Faith and Practice
This committee takes concern for the witness our meeting makes in the world. Again in this year, many activities have been interfaith in origin and expression. Others have involved the young people in First day School. A large responsibility has been oversight of the Shoffner International Education Fund. Another is a connection to the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund.
We again participate actively in P.E.A.C.E., a local organization. Our Faith in Action simple lunch featured a speaker from P.E.A.C.E. P.E.A.C.E. continues Thursday evening vigils outside the courthouse in Easton. Our young people joined the group in World Day of Prayer and with peace dove puppets in the town Christmas parade. We had a table at the yearly Multicultural Festival in May that involved a project enjoyed by kids attending the festival.
Two members of the Testimonies and Concerns committee, Ralph Young and LA Dodge, are trained as Alternatives to Violence Project facilitators. With support from the committee and also the larger Meeting, LA Dodge facilitated in a workshop in Washington D.C. in the spring and in a large AVP experiment with 500 high school students in N.E. Philadelphia in the fall. Nationally gathered information about the Philadelphia experience will be linked to the T&C part of Third Haven's website.
Closer to home, and with seed money designated from a carriage shed sale of past years, the fledgling Mid-Shore AVP has begun a series of workshops aimed at connecting with local organizations who share a mission to work with children and young adults. MSAVP has partnered with Mid-Shore Mediation Services, Rural Cares, the Chesapeake Multi-Cultural Resource Center and P.E.A.C.E. to present three AVP workshops of two days each this fall and winter. Ralph Young is guiding this effort.
Detention Center Lending Library:
Every week, on either Friday or Saturday morning, either Mary and Ralph Young or Leigh Anne Dodge and Robert Wieland go into the Talbot County Detention Center and fill inmate requests for books from the detention center lending library. Third Haven Friends Meeting financially supports this effort. On any given week, ten to twenty percent of the inmates request new books. The detention center allows inmates to keep in their possession up to four regular books and two more books which are long term loaners such as bibles, meditation books and textbooks. A computer program enables the library staff to monitor all book loans. The library contains over 5,000 books and inmates select desired books from library lists located throughout the detention center. Most books in the library have been donated with many of the donations coming from Third Haven members and attenders. Funds donated by the Third Haven Friends Meeting is used both to purchase books which are in demand but not donated and for the binders which house the lists of lending library books from which inmates make their weekly selections. The lending library was created about 11 years ago. The library staff thanks the Meeting for it's continued support.
Seasonal Farmworker Labor Camps support:
Again, in 2013, Third Haven Friends joined with six other faith communities in our area to gather items for delivery to three seasonal farm worker labor camps located nearby. Third Haven collected needed items, including clothing, toiletries and books, and had a designated giving day in July, where Friends put money in a hat to be used to buy necessities. Especially appreciated were bug spray, new towels and washcloths and new handkerchiefs. Terry and Maryann Stackpole, who have led this effort for many years, retired to Baltimore this year. It took two volunteers to fill their shoes, one of them is LA Dodge. The interfaith group prepared to continue this work met in September to share experiences and ideas and to make plans for next year. This group will meet next in April 2014.
Interfaith Hunger Coalition:
The Meeting continues participation in the interfaith Hunger Coalition by providing lunches once every other month for as many as 100 people confined at home. In winter the lunches are soup prepared at Asbury Methodist Church with extras put in by the Meeting and for the rest of the year sandwich lunch bags are packed monthly at Third Haven. Members of the Temple B'nai Israel work together with our members and buy the food in the alternate months. Some Meeting members also fill a request of the Neighborhood Service Center to provide lunches monthly to Ridgeway House, a shelter for homeless in Easton. The Thanksgiving dinners provided by the Coalition are hot turkey dinners with all the trimmings. Members prepare pans of food at home and help distribute the meals.
Again last winter the Common Room was outfitted with cots and provided overnight shelter to Talbot Interfaith Shelther (TIS) guests for two weeks. The program is financed and run by TIS and volunteers were recruited by the Meeting and our partner Church of the Brethren for one week, the Baptist Church for the second week. We are doing it again next February in cooperation with two other faith groups. Frank Ryan, Lorraine Claggett, and Pete Howell co-chair this event.
The work that the older class of First Day School youth spent with Mark Beck in identifying and choosing organizations around the world that work for peace resulted in about $700 of the invested Shoffner funds (SIEF) being disbursed to Doctors Without Borders, World Vision and Africare. A young boy from El Salvador, Kelvin Gonzalez, age 4, was adopted through World Vision for six months. The younger group chose animals from Heifer International to send abroad from SEIF funds.
For three years $600 scholarships have gone to Bolivian Quakers as gifts from meeting members and friends. This year the Carriage Shed Sale amplified the scholarships by continuing one for next year. Our two current students are Isaac Limbert Poma Murga, who is in his last year of certification to be a chef and Vanessa Raquel Sirpa Pomacusi who is in her fifth year studying law and political science. The students write lengthy letters describing their studies and participation in their Quaker church youth groups.
This committee has been charged by Monthly Meeting with recommending the recipients of the donations item in the budget. It recommends that the donations to six or more national/international Quaker organizations be continued in the future as has been done for three years. Smaller donations this year came from the T&C budget and went to organizations in which members participate actively: the Neighborhood Service Center, the Multicultural Resource Center, Aguayuda, Detention Center Library, Migrant Worker Ministry, P.E.A.C.E., and Marilla's Lunches. The committee recommends that the Good Samaritan Fund be an ongoing line item in the budget so that it can be adequately funded and not subject to yearly decision-making.
A request to help a family facing eviction for money to pay disputed past rent was turned down by the meeting which does not keep funds available for this kind of emergency. The amount available from the Good Samaritan Fund was limited to $100 and not enough to help.
The Testimonies and Concerns Committee: Cynthia Browne, Lorraine Claggett, Clerk, Susan Claggett, Susan Dabney, LA Dodge, Norman Hackland, Chris Polk, Connie Pullen, Nancy Robbins, Sarah Sayre, Nancy Wohlsen, Ralph Young.