Archive for the ‘FUM’ Category

Quilting for Kenya on eBay

August 26, 2008
The quilt made by Iowa Quakers

The quilt made by Iowa Quakers

I just got the following e-mail from Ann Nichols in Iowa. It looks like a beautiful quilt, and I thought you’d like to know about it. It’s an interesting idea to fund-raise on eBay.

Ann Nichols displays the “Out of Africa” quilt which will be auctioned to raise funds to support a nurse at the Kaimosi Friends Mission Hospital in Kenya, Africa. The multi-colored fabric in the quilt is African fabric donated by Eden Grace, of Friends United Meeting (FUM) Field Staff serving in their Africa Ministries Office in Kisumu, Kenya.

The quilt, a mission project of United Society of Friends’ Women, was made by women from five Iowa Friends’ Meetings:  Bangor Liberty, Hartland, Honey Creek-New Providence, LeGrand, and Marshalltown First Friends.

The “Out of Africa” quilt will be auctioned on eBay in mid-September.  The ten-day auction will end September 26 with the auction proceeds donated to the Adopt-a-Nurse Program for Kaimosi Hospital.

To learn more about the quilt and see it on auction, go to ebay.com after September 16 and search for “African Fabric Houndstooth Quilt.”

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‘Father Jake Stops the World’ Stops

July 3, 2008

As the FUM Triennial approaches I have been somewhat aware, through the pressure of my editing deadlines, of the continuing struggle in the Anglican Church. I also saw the news (but didn’t study it) that the assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has voted to ordain non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy and will now go through a year-long process of having its individual congregations ratify the decision–or not.

Thinking to catch up on some of this news before I leave for the Triennial on July 8, I checked into ‘Father Jake’ after a long hiatus and found, in a post dated July 2, that Jake is closing down his blog. I’m sad about that, but Jake sounds clear and rightly led in his decision.

I encourage you to explore the site before Jake takes it down. There are many, many links on it to interesting and informative sites. And there are some thought-provoking essays.

These are the words from Father Jake that I want to take away with me:

Am I abandoning the struggle? Some might see it that way. But, as I’ve said before, even though there are most likely many more difficult years ahead of us, I am no longer as concerned about the end result as I once was. In the long run, there is simply no way that the extremist perspective will become the dominant one within Anglicanism or Christianity. Their exclusive view, which insists on separating humanity into groups of “us” and “them,” simply cannot survive in a world in which we are all becoming more and more connected each day. A global perspective will not tolerate their kind of elitist mentality. Nor will such a perspective tolerate the same kind of rhetoric here. So, I think it is time for me to do the responsible thing.

Yes, we must continue to speak out against those who will use the name of God to oppress and imprison the innocent. But, it seems to me, that cannot be our sole focus.

The Pews Forum survey still has me reflecting. 92% of Americans believe in God. That is astounding! We’ve got some great conversations just waiting to happen beyond the walls of the Church. For me, at least, I think it is time to end this focus on internal squabbles, and begin to look outward.

As I prepare to leave the FUM board on July 13 after representing New York Yearly Meeting for six years, I am wondering what looking outward will mean. I know that I am burned out. And I know that I am to take a sabbatical from New York Yearly Meeting.

Great conversations waiting to happen beyond the Church walls . . . .

 

Kenya, Three Months Later

March 22, 2008

This blog has been–as it were–frozen in horror by the events in Kenya. At this point, I’d like to release it and rejoin the world, saying only a bit about the reports from the Kisumu area that I heard at the FUM board meeting in February. 

We spoke by phone with both John Muhanji and Ben and Jody Richmond. John and Jody had visited, the day before we talked, some Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps near Mount Elgon. At one camp there were about 4,000 people. The caravan of trucks carried food and blankets, both of which were desperately needed.  Unfortunately, the caravan only had 400 blankets, but 1 blanket for every 10 people had to be seen as an improvement.

Jody spent the day talking with people, using her training as a therapist to begin to help with the grief, shock, and PTSD the Kenyans were dealing with. There are pictures of this relief mission posted on picasa by FUM. John and Jody hoped to go back to the IDP camps once a week.

In early February, more than $70,000 in earmarked donations was sent to Kenya by FUM and helped to buy the food and blankets that were distributed.

 Under the heading of “proud to be a humble New York Yearly Meeting Quaker,” I can report that the largest percentage of that amount came from individual members and monthly meetings in New York Yearly Meeting–a result partly, I suspect, of the steady coverage that the New York Times has been doing of the crisis.  Many board members from southern or midwestern regions had little or no media coverage of what was going on and first heard of the events in Kenya through e-mails from FUM. A sad, sad commentary on the press today.

In the third week of March, however, PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer had reports filed from Kenya by Margaret Warner. Videos of those broadcasts, as well as extensive additional material, can be found here. In one of those broadcasts, Margaret speaks of the deep Christian faith she finds among Kenyans and of their remarkable spirit of forgiveness.

Donations are needed, more than ever, to continue the work of distributing food, blankets, and other supplies to the IDP camps. They’re going to be there a long time.

The Richmonds Ask for Prayers for Deep Healing

January 31, 2008

Although the Grace family was flown out of Kisumu earlier this week, Ben and Jody Richmond remain in nearby Tiriki. Here’s their latest report:

Thursday 31 January 2008

Many Friends are inquiring how we are doing at Friends Theological College in Kaimosi.  Well, today, even as the country reacted to the killing of the second opposition Member of Parliament, our area remained calm.  While some friends reported chaotic conditions in the nearest large shopping-towns of Kisumu and Kakamega, and on the road to Kapsabet, there was also good news.  Two more of our students arrived on campus today, so we are almost all here.  Two of our staff colleagues actually accomplished some college business in Kakamega, and arrived back on campus safe.  Friends will also be glad to hear that when we spoke with John Moru tonight, he reported that he and family are fine.

We start each day with worship at 7:40 a.m. prior to the first classes, and our prayers for peace in Kenya are fervent.  So are the joyful songs of praise that start each morning.  God has been faithful, and Jody notes that we feel God pushing back the darkness during these times of worship singing. 

Wednesday we had a “convocation” for the college at which we reported on the recent conference of Friends church leaders about peace, and this opened a lively discussion.  Jody led a portion of the report on the theme of trauma healing and that led to a good time of praying for one another.  You know how we have been giving opportunities for students to share their stories.  Today, one of the older students told of his return from Nairobi, where he had gone to take his grandson.  His story was too complicated to report all the details, but he was traveling by bus in a convoy.  They were stopped at many, many places along the road by youth blockades, with bows, arrows, and pangas.  At one, they evacuated everyone from the bus (helping people get all their luggage off) and then burned the bus.  They had police escorts part of the way, but the youth blockaders particularly threatened the police, and it was terrifying.  Somewhere along the way, the scenario at the roadblocks changed:  the youth went from checking for Luos to checking for Kikuyus.  In the cycle of violence, everyone is threatened, but as our student said, thanks to God, they made it through.  Even while giving testimony to God’s saving protection along the way, he admitted that he is suffering from some of the symptoms of trauma after this journey.  Please pray with us for deep healing for all our students and staff who have had to face frightful experiences.

Ben was able to meet Wednesday morning with the chair of the Board of Governors of the College and the chair of the Board’s development committee, who agreed on final instructions for our architect to prepare detailed drawings for the proposed new administration block.  So, amazingly, “normal” life continues to be lived.  There was a very delightful, but too short, rain Wednesday evening, and then we had a lovely glowing orange sunset.  Following that, a red-tailed monkey ran across our yard…

We are so grateful for the prayers and support of Friends everywhere.  Please keep praying that God will hold open the doorways to peace in the coming critical days.

Ben and Jody

—————————–
Ben Richmond, Principal
Friends Theological College
Tiriki  50309  Kenya

The Graces Evacuated by U.S. Embassy Flight to Nairobi

January 30, 2008

FUM has just (Wednesday morning) sent out this e-mail from Eden Grace. They have left Kisumu and are currently in the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi.

At dawn this morning, as I listened to the BBC in lieu of sleep, the reports were that Kenya is breaking apart and that civil war looks possible–even likely. 

 30 January 2008

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you all, and huge thanks for your messages of support and encouragement. You have truly been sustaining us through these troubling times.

Yesterday, our family left Kisumu on a chartered flight sent by the US Embassy to bring out families with children. The situation in Kisumu (and all of western Kenya) has taken a turn for the worse since the horrible events in Nakuru and Naivasha over the weekend, and it was no longer prudent to stay where we were. For the moment, we are staying at the Mennonite Guest House, and taking things day by day. Eden is continuing to work, and can actually get more done in Nairobi, where there is freedom of movement, than in Kisumu where she was confined to the house. James and the kids are planning to spend their mornings doing some informal homeschooling. We are all grateful to be in a calm and restful environment, and plan to do a lot of sleeping!

This comes, of course, as a shock and disappointment, since it seemed last week like things were starting to improve. Kofi Annan is still here, and there is still some hope for the political mediation process, but at this point, it will be very difficult to quell the violence, even if the politicians reach a settlement. Kenya is in desperate need of your intercessions!

We held a very successful National Kenyan Quaker Peace Conference last weekend in Kakamega — truly the Lord wanted this conference to succeed, since a “window” of peace opened up just for those four days, and we were able to travel and meet together! The Conference emerged with some very strong ideas for immediate action that Friends can take. If you haven’t done so, we encourage you to read the conference documents on Mary Kay’s blog — http://www.updatesonkenya.blogspot.com/.

Our work now is to implement the Plan of Action. Eden was appointed Treasurer of the Coordinating Committee, which means that she will be responsible for overseeing the right use of your contributions toward this work. We really hope that you will be able to partner with us, and encourage you to contribute at www.fum.org. The need is enormous!

Our thanks go out to Ginna, who felt a burden on our behalf to draw your attention to the fact that our family’s livelihood is not covered by the outpouring of emergency relief funds from Friends. We have important work to do now, and we do ask for your contribution toward our ministry account, so that we can continue to play our part in God’s work here. Thanks, Ginna, for helping “toot our horn”! We really do need you at this time.

Please, please continue praying for peace in Kenya. Things have reached a frightening “tipping point”, where we can envision a truly horrible future. But at the same time, we know that God is a miracle-worker, and that He has not abandoned Kenya, so we remain hopeful. Please join us in pleading for His hand of calm to stay the angry hearts, His hand of comfort to bind up the wounded in body and spirit, and His hand of wisdom to guide all of us who seek to do His will today and every day.

In Christian fellowship,
Eden

Eden Grace, Field Officer
Friends United Meeting/Africa Ministries

 

Ben and Jody Richmond Write from Western Kenya

January 24, 2008

Ben Richmond has been serving as interim dean of Friends Theological College in Western Kenya this past year on behalf of Friends United Meeting. His wife, Jody, is a therapist. Her training in trauma work is needed now, as you will read. 

Thursday, 24 January, 2008
Friends Theological College
Kaimosi, Kenya

 Dear Friends,

Since our last newsletter, a lot has happened, so we are writing again to update you and to ask you to redouble your prayers for Friends in Kenya.

FTC opened this week (as you will remember, we delayed opening for a week due in hope that the situation would normalize).  Today, about half of our students are back on campus. 

We last wrote that Kaimosi remained an island of peace.  Shortly after sending out that newsletter, clashes began in our area.  Houses have been burned just the other side of Cheptulu, our nearby market.  Quite a few have been injured with arrow and panga (long, sword-like knives) wounds, and are being treated at the Kaimosi hospital just down our road.  Some of the kiosks at the junction were burned the other night.  (Those of you who know Alex, will be glad to know that his kiosk is okay.)  Two people have been killed in the area:  one, the uncle of a recent graduate.  One of our groundsmen is “sleeping out” meaning that he and his wife are sleeping in the forest because homes near their home have been burned.  Other staff members are caring for relatives who have had to leave their homes. 

We should reassure you that the college and the mission compound in general have remained safe.  Last night, according to reports, things were calm in our area.  Perhaps, this is a good reaction to the Kofi Annan mediation efforts, and the response of the opposition leadership which called off plans for mass demonstrations today. 

Tuesday was scheduled to be our first day of classes.  Instead, the faculty decided to cancel classes and devote the day to sharing our stories and praying for one another and the general situation.  Those students who had been able to travel to the college, together with faculty and staff, gathered in the Dining Hall, and for three hours recounted the impact of the clashes in personal stories.  Some had experienced terrifying moments at roadblocks.  Others told of neighbor’s houses burned, or people killed.  Several pastors recounted how they had given refuge to members of targeted tribes.  Others recounted how family members had had to flee from their homes in the face of threats.  One mentioned that gunshots in his vicinity became so common that they almost began to seem normal.  Others reported that calm prevailed in their areas, but all were affected by seeing “a Kenya they had never seen before in their lives.”

Jody led that session, with Pamela Igesa, the College chaplain.  Ben preached from Luke 4 and Isaiah 61 about the healing power of the spirit and contrasted the heresy of a “gospel” that pretends God’s love is only for “our community” with Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom of God that embraces all communities.  One member of our staff shared an incident of this lived out, when a vehicle carrying refugees from violence-torn areas came through his village in the first few days after troubles began.  He was amazed and touched to witness a number of market vendors gave food to them freely, never asking for any money.  We’ll remember the image of street vendors tossing avocados into a truck full of their hungry “enemies”!

Ben preached again the next morning, at our regular daily worship, carrying forward the story in the Gospel of Luke to the sermon on the plain in chapter 6.  He drew on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1957 sermon on loving your enemies, in which he said, “So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, ‘I love you. I would rather die than hate you.’” Later in the day, we held a convocation at which Mary Lord, a Friend from Baltimore Yearly Meeting with vast experience in peacemaking work, spoke.  She rooted the Friends’ peace testimony in our experience of the power and love of God, and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  She then recounted stories to illustrate many ways in which Quakers have lived out the peace witness to demonstrate what a vast toolbox is available to peacemakers.  In the question and answer period, one of the teachers asked Mary to talk about the biggest obstacles she has faced and overcome.  Mary responded from her own experience the need to forgive violence she experienced as a child; and then told about how God had, unknown to her, used a conference she had organized in the 1980s about the effects of nuclear weapons, to impact Ronald Reagan and start the beginning of Reagan’s pulling back from nuclear brinksmanship.  Today, Mary spoke to Jody’s class on Peace and Conflict Transformation about the cycle of violence.  Students and faculty have been deeply engaged. 

In Quaker Theology, we have modified the syllabus to begin from an experiential basis to ask what theological questions rise out of our experience.  Ben and Jody have invited the students to think over the last weeks and ask what mental images come to mind, and then share why they are important.  Some of the images:  “people being slashed in nearby homestead; young kids, displaced from their homes in Eldoret walking by my place to find refuge; people burning down houses and looting; members of parliament on TV pouring out their anger, seeking power; a young child in the hospital with an arrow sticking in him; a member of the church, home from Mombasa, asking for prayer because he was being sacked from his work in a hotel, and facing an unknown future; women being fallen on by soldiers, and young men and even old men (“wazee”) and being raped.”  One image was of “a man being slaughtered, the way one would slaughter a hen.” 

Even if the Annan peace efforts succeed today, and peace returns to the land, and all the hundreds of thousands of displaced were able to go back to their homes (many of which are, of course, burned), there would still be a tremendous need for trauma healing.  There is fear, distrust, and deep uncertainty because people who seemed to be friends so easily became enemies.  What theological questions does all this raise? 

This is a testing time for the church in Kenya.  Will we be able to be bearers of Good News that is deep enough to bring healing and hope to those who have been traumatized, and reconciliation to those who have experienced the reality of enmity?  Will you pray for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit? 

In the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, normal life also continues.  We are making progress on the design of a new administration building, and wrapping up final details on the new Meetinghouse.   To continue to pursue “normalcy” is a part of living the Kingdom of God in these times—proclaiming hope that God plans for a good future for Kenya.

Thank you for your prayers, and support.

Jody and Ben Richmond

Listen to Eden Grace on PRI

January 17, 2008

On January 16, Lisa Mullins of PRI (Public Radio International) spoke with FUM’s Eden Grace, about violence in Kenya.

Click here to listen (via PRI’s website).

I found what Eden had to say about the so-called tribal nature of the violence worth thinking about.

Here is a picture of Eden and her family from the Friends United Meeting Web site.

Jim, Eden, Isaiah, and Jesse

More on Sending Money to Kenya, More Links, More Blogs

January 9, 2008

I’m learning from those in other parts of the U.S. that they’re not getting the news from Kenya in their hometown papers. Here are some Quaker blogs that are attempting to pull things together. Along with news, they also have links for organizations collecting money.

Kenya News  is the blog Mary Kay Rehard has created especially to cover this crisis. It has many links and resources on it and is the best place I’ve found for keeping current with the developments.

Friends World Committee on Consultation Kenya News posted on January 8 a long and thoughtful letter by Mary Lord of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, who just happened to be visiting Kenya for two months when the violence broke out. I commend it to your attention.

 Friends United Meeting has set up a special Kenyan Relief Fund. Terri Johns of FUM gives a summary of the needs:

there is before us an ever mounting need for funds to help provide subsistence to the folks who are displaced and without enough food, fresh water, clothing and shelter. Depending on the news reports there is somewhere between 250,000 to well over 500,000. Some of the emails I’ve received believe this number is still too low. For me, the numbers are unimaginable. With food prices doubling and tripling and quantities limited or nonexistent in different areas of the country, it is clear that a big part of our responsibilities in the coming weeks will be to focus on relief efforts.

FUM has begun collecting money to help with humanitarian aid in Kenya. This money will be collected and distributed by FUM’s Africa Ministries office and Friends Theological College according to need.

Let me help you understand the needs just a bit better:

  1. With increased patient load at the Kaimosi Hospital, our head doctor is in need of assistance to keep up. It would be good to have a second doctor to assist.
  2. Because of food shortages, Samburu and Turkana (whose funding is substantially down anyway) are in more of a pinch this month than normal. They are able to buy only 1/3 the amount of food they normally purchase.
  3. With money going toward subsistence, tuition will be difficult for students at Friends Theological College (when it opens for the semester).
  4. FTC’s budget for food, fuel and other supplies will be severely impacted and could cause a crisis in caring for our students.
  5. Short supply of medicines, due to the inability to travel (blockades, lack of fuel, etc.), will cause difficulties in care especially for those patients suffering from HIV/AIDS and cholera (due to sanitation problems and lack of clean water).
  6. All these things also affect the orphanages (food, water and medications), churches and schools (who are caring for the displaced).

Many more problems abound in Kenya during this time, but there are ways we can make a difference. Please give generously to FUM for Kenya Relief.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Terri Johns
FUM Program Manager

How to Donate Money to Kenyan Relief

January 4, 2008

People may want to know how best to make financial contributions to Kenya with matters in such turmoil there. Here is an excerpt of a letter from the Friends World Committee on Consultation that gives information about how to do it. Friends United Meeting has an office in Kisumu in western Kenya where the worst violence is taking place. The office is staffed by John Muhanji and Eden Grace.

When you go to FUM’s or FWCC’s Web sites, you will see that neither of them has pages dedicated to donations for the Kenyan crisis. Do not be deterred. Earmark your donation for Kenyan relief. Both organizations are in close touch with Kenyans and with field staff in Kenya.

The letter also relays the information that the American Friends Service Committee is at work with Quakers in England on the way to proceed effectively.

Donations can be made via the FUM Web site, www.fum.org, or via the FWCC World Office, . . . earmarked for this purpose.

In terms of the more general financial and other material support that Friends can offer, discussions are taking place both at AFSC and amongst Friends in Britain to determine the best and safest way to ensure that help reaches those who need it. We should be in a position to tell you more about this early next week.

Most of all, Friends in Kenya need our prayers along with prayers for peace and justice to prevail in their country. This is the season of the Prince of Peace and we must seek God’s assistance and guidance amidst this turmoil.

With hope and faith,

Nancy Irving, General Secretary
Friends World Committee for Consultation

Harry Albright, Communications Director
Friends World Committee for Consultation

113 Pictures from Kenya via Yahoo

January 4, 2008

I just received this link for a gallery of 113 photographs of Kenya. Some are graphic.