Annual Session 2017

Growing Towards Justice - Acting on Faith

With our 2017 program theme - “Growing Toward Justice – Acting on Faith” - together we will seek to understand and discover ways to “live in that life and power that will take away the occasion” for the tragic violence, injustice, and lost human potential that begins in childhood and extends into entire communities.

We look at the tragedies of gun violence, substance abuse, untreated mental health issues, mass incarceration, etc. and ask what caused these situations and how can we work to prevent them in the future. Can we speak to issues starting in earliest childhood and reaching into a person’s adult life that sowed the seeds of a violent and unjust world? We are concerned that too many children are born into dysfunctional or harmful situations, that schools do not have adequate resources and support for struggling children, that there are not opportunities for positive activities to encourage creativity or wholesome sports, that discipline too often reinforces negative self-images instead of offering mediation, mentors or educational alternatives, and that too many young adults are not adequately prepared for meaningful employment.

And what stands in the way of our responding to the call to act? Fear too often holds us back from engaging meaningfully with others. As T.S. Eliot wrote “between the idea… and the act falls the Shadow” (The Hollow Men (1925)). Will we hesitate to share our lives with those with whom we might interact? Will we indulge our fear that they won’t like us, that we’ll make mistakes, that it will take too much time or require too much commitment, that we’ll not know what to say or do?

Or, in the Spirit, can we take courage, follow our leading, and see how way opens? As Friends, our shared Light can overcome the Shadow and the darkness of our times. Anne Frank, writing in her diary during the darkest of times, observed "Isn't it wonderful that none of us need wait a moment before starting to change the world?"

Related activities:

Tuesday evening panel discussion: Title: “Ending the school to prison pipeline.”

Panelists: Phil Caroom, former Maryland Juvenile Court master & judge; Eddie Conway, founder of prison literacy project; Natalie Finegar, Deputy Public Defender (Baltimore City); and Vince Taylor, former Juvenile Probation Officer and manager of school “Restorative Justice Circles.” Moderator: Ruth Flower.

Wednesday afternoon intergenerational program: Title: TBA.

Friday evening Carey Lecture: Shan Cretin, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee. Title: TBA.