The Religious Society of Friends is small in number compared to many other religions, and might be considered to be a quiet group. We worship in silence. It doesn’t get any quieter than that.
But there are several Quaker organizations actively making noise to try to create a better world.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is one such group. Since 1917, AFSC has been pursuing their goal to “challenge injustice and build peace around the globe”.
AFSC started that year as a way for conscientious objectors to have alternatives to serving in the active military, which goes against the Quaker Peace testimony. In 1919, after World War I ended, they started a program to feed children in Austria, Germany, and Poland. As their website described it, “AFSC was willing to do what others would not—to house, feed, and train people scorned as enemies.”
Through the years the Committee has tackled poverty and racism, provided support for refugees, and opportunities for youth to participate in service projects. They have worked for prison reform, supported farmworkers, and brought to light the abuses of the Military Industrial Complex.
In 1947, AFSC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the British Friends Service Council for their work to heal the damage from World War II, and to prevent future wars.
AFSC is still very active today. In 2022, they were involved with the successful fight to prevent the lethal use of police robots in San Francisco, provided legal assistance to more than 2,000 immigrants in New Jersey, and worked internationally in Burundi and El Salvador. Closer to home, they helped homeowners in Atlanta’s historic Peoplestown community against the City which was using eminent domain to displace them.
For more information about AFSC, go to their website at AFSC.org.