Reflections On Friends Peace Testimony

Mary Lord

Interim Director, Peace Building Unit,
American Friends Service Committee

Given at the Annual Meeting of

Friends World Committee for Consultation,
Section of the Americas

Friday, March 15, 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Dear Friends, when you first invited me to speak on the peace testimony last summer, I was working at Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) starting up a new program on the peaceful prevention of armed conflict. I had been doing talks on the spiritual basis of our testimony and on the opportunities presented by the emerging field of conflict prevention. I enjoyed telling the stories of heroic peacemaking being done by many people, including Friends in regions of conflict, and of the possibilities for a new vision of the peaceable kingdom. I planned a speech on those lines, and I will do some of that tonight.

After September 11th, I agreed to come to Philadelphia, on loan from FCNL to work as the Coordinator of the No More Victims Campaign, AFSC’s response to September 11th and the emerging war. In the months since then, I found that many Friends in the US have struggled with the peace testimony because they were not sure what we should do instead of going to war. So I had decided to respond to that need and to talk also about the need to end the bombing of Afghanistan. That was when I picked my title, and I will do some of that tonight.

Both my little world and the world around us have changed again. Tonight, I have a new task at AFSC, as the incoming Interim Director of AFSC’s Peace Building Unit, following Judith McDaniel’s decision to return to Tucson and a very special new job. As I was writing up the talk for tonight, I began to struggle—while Cilde Grover [FWCC Executive Secretary] got more and more nervous because the translators were supposed to have the talk two weeks ago. Finally, on Tuesday night of this week, I needed to acknowledge that I was having so much trouble with the speech that I must be working on the wrong message. So in prayer I asked God what I was supposed to say. The response was pretty swift and clear. It is a hard message to give, and probably a hard one to hear. But we live in hard times.

I need also to apologize to Friends coming from outside the United States, because much of my message is directed to those of us who are US citizens and must face the consequences of what our government is now doing. I hope what I say will also be of value to you, and I hope that you dear Friends from other countries will help us, through your prayers and your insights, to be faithful to our witness.

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