Friends Meeting in Ramallah and FICR newsletter
It is with great joy that we share with you the outcome of our recent all-day consultation.
Six members of the Ramallah Friends Meeting (RFM), along with all but two members of the Steering Committee of Friends International Center Ramallah (FICR) met in Sandy Spring, Maryland on October 12, 2013. We were joined by Thom Jeavons who, along with Arlene Kelly, Jim Fine and Jean Zaru in 2005, had first dreamed of partnering to support the ministry of the Ramallah Friends Meeting and its service to the wider community. We gathered mainly in person, with a few connecting via telephone conference call.
Our goal in meeting was to envision what would come next, following a seven year period in which FICR, a ministry of the RFM, had carried out programming through a Program Coordinator, Kathy Bergen.
It was a deeply enriching and spirit-led time. Members of the RFM shared how the Meeting has shaped their life journeys and served as their spiritual guidepost. Through the moving witness they bore, a beautiful vision of the Meeting’s future ministry began to emerge.
Those gathered were gifted with renewal and a re-determination to engage in the service that the future presents. And we do so with a profound sense of gratitude to all of you who love and care for the Ramallah Meeting, its Quaker witness, and our shared pursuit of peace with justice.
We do so honoring the 100 plus years of the Ramallah Friends Meeting’s existence. We do so affirming the solidarity offered by Friends around the globe. We do so in humble partnership, listening to the Meeting articulate its own needs, aspirations, and programs.
It is with a renewed sense of clearness, focus on the spiritually rooted ministry of the Meeting and its service to the Palestinian community with which we walk into this exciting new chapter.
The Steering Committee of the Friends International Center Ramallah was clear that it is the Meeting that is steering this ministry and therefore we will discern a new name to signify our renewed commitment to support the ministry of the Ramallah Friends Meeting.
The RFM’s ministry of spiritually based service will take the form of projects conceived and planned by its newly formed Ministry Committee which will then invite participation by supporters of the Meeting.
Throughout the last few months of discernment and rebirth, the outreach ministry of the RFM has continued in full gear. Visitors continue to ask to hear about the peace witness of the RFM with regard to current realities and in response to the Kairos Document.
- Groups have included: Swedish theological students, American study tours, volunteer study groups from FUM, Guilford College (North Carolina) and the Quaker Voluntary Action (Europe).
- Singer-songwriter, Carrie Newcomer, a prominent voice for progressive spirituality, social justice and interfaith dialogue performed a concert.
- A short-term and seasoned Friend in Residence, Gordon Matthews, from Great Britain will focus on the Meeting and lend communication expertise this fall.
- And finally, prior to the winter rains, the Meetinghouse roof has seen much needed repair. The annex and window frames received a fresh coat of paint, as well.
Our hope is that this letter conveys energy and excitement, a sense of renewed commitment and focused solidarity. Our promise to you is one of faithfulness to the unique, cherished, revived and much needed witness of the Ramallah Meeting.
We leave you with the beautiful words which one of the young adult members of the Meeting, Deena Zaru, shared during our consultation.
“You see, I have been fortunate enough to know peace and recognize it and seek it—not in my lifetime, not on my street, not in my city and not in my country but in a small building on a chaotic street, in a chaotic town that centers around a troubled people. The Ramallah Meeting House is where my soul comes to life; it is my silent healer, my safe haven and a testimony of life in a desperate place overwhelmed by violence and unbearable, excruciating noise.”
We remain steadfast in hope and peace, looking forward to the several ideas already being developed by the Meeting for furthering faith in action.
Yours in peace,
Deb First, CLerk, Friends International Center in Ramallah, and
Jean Zaru, Clerk, Ramallah Friends Meeting