Bethesda Friends Meeting

Peace and Social Justice

"My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing.”
- Bayard Rustin
“We aspire to live as members of the blessed community, which is one of liberation, equity, and great diversity across all differences.”
- Baltimore Yearly Meeting Vision Statement
Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) puts its faith into action through engagement in peace-building, social justice, and environmental stewardship. Advocacy, education, and financial support of community groups are among the paths toward that goal. This work is led by the Peace and Social Justice Committee (P&SJ).

Upcoming Events:

Please click here to go to list of upcoming events BFM is sponsoring.

Safeguarding Our Elections

In 2020, the focus of the Peace & Social Justice Committee was on "safeguarding everyone’s right to vote and getting everyone’s vote counted."

This involved supporting the work of four nonpartisan organizations that have been active in this field.

The four organizations are:

Writing postcards to voters

CALL FOR ACTION AGAINST SYSTEMIC RACISM--from BYM Friends to all our local Meetings 

Dear Friends, 

This country has been immersed for so long in our struggles with racism. At this troubled time, BYM Friends as individuals, with our local Meetings, and with other worshiping communities, are called to act and to help in turning this historic tide of racism both in our wider society and in ourselves. 

Our Quaker values call us to speak truth and to seek equality for all people. Our BYM Declaration As An Anti-Racist Faith Community calls us to work with impacted people to make a difference with all our decisions and actions. With this letter, a group of BYM Friends from several states and committees unite to call for all our local Meetings to take action.  

As Quakers once served as catalysts and key allies in the struggle to end slavery, please take this opportunity brought by our country’s shame at law enforcement’s misuse of deadly force against George Floyd and so many other people of color, by the ongoing protests, in the eye of our COVID-19 storm. Let us accept Bayard Rustin’s wisdom that “we need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers” and John Lewis’s call to “make good trouble.”

Please go to the full document for recommendations.

For more Peace & Social Justice information at BFM, please click on the links below:

Peace Minutes

Bethesda Friends Meeting Peace Minutes:

In 1996 BFM wrote a statement (also known as a "minute") on the topic of "Prevention and Peaceful Resolution of International Conflicts." More than 20 years later, the epistle still has meaning and resonance. To read it, click here.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Peace Minutes
The BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee works to bring to life the testimonies of the wider Religious Society of Friends.
In August 2017, Baltimore Yearly Meeting approved this minute at their annual sessions:
"Minute regarding Consideration of US Renewed Military Action Against North Korea." 

Please click here to read more details about this Minute and the BYM Peace & Social Concerns committee.

Recent Committee Focus Areas

Ending Mass Incarceration
BFM is well-represented at Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR) and Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Working Group on Racism meetings. As a result of MAJR’s efforts in Annapolis, a Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (with key people in the Maryland State government) has reviewed current practices in Maryland. MAJR is considering additional initiatives related to promoting alternatives to incarceration (front door issues: bail reform, treatment for addictions, citations rather than arrests), prison conditions (expanding educational opportunities and improving health care, ending solitary confinement), and supporting successful re-entry (back door issues of collateral consequences, expanding job opportunities, etc.) In 2016, we sponsored Ending the Revolving Door, a forum on two highly successful re-entry programs and designated a social concerns box to getting Smart Cards to help returning citizens with transportation critical to finding employment.

Black Lives Matter
Correlated with Ending Mass Incarceration was our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, for which we had a forum (November 2015) to look at next steps in our response to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Some participated in the White Privilege Conference and reported back to the committee. This led to the Meeting’s endorsing a BFM Black Lives Matter witness along Arlington Road at the rise of Meeting in April and May of 2016. The response was heartening. The flier from that event is available here.

Environmental Sustainability
In 2016, the Peace & Social Justice Committee agreed to host the Environmental Sustainability Group. Because some of the most active participants did not consider themselves to be members of the P&SJ Committee, those interested in the topic decided to meet monthly and separately. Interest has grown and the group has set up a page on the BFM website that addresses environmental issues and concerns. One important step was BFM’s endorsement of the Quaker Environmental Statement.

Ongoing Projects

  • Helping Refugees Group (HRG): In 2017, under the auspices of BFM's Peace & Social Justice Committee, a Helping Refugees Group developed a way to assist with local refugee programs. The result was to sponsor a refugee family under the auspices of Lutheran Social Services (LSS). During 2017 and continuing into the present, HRG volunteers (and others from BFM) participated in a variety of ways. For more information, please read their initial report to Meeting for Business.
  • BFM participates in the Olive Oil Ministry (with other local congregations) in support of Palestinian farmers and A Tent of Nations. We sell bottles of olive oil at BFM, and at least three other Quaker Meetings and Baltimore Yearly Meeting have joined the project.
  • Members of BFM have testified on behalf of Action in Montgomery’s efforts to increase affordable housing. Participation in AIM’s Action Day re after-school programs in December was significant.
  • BFM was well represented at the BYM Peace Networking Day at Sandy Spring in April 2016 and look forward to doing so again in the coming year.
  • BFM organized two opportunities to reflect on Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) priorities for the coming Congressional sessions.
  • Please see the monthly “Peace Notes” in the BFM newsletter.
  • A monthly educational series at the Bethesda Public Library is sponsored by the P&SJ Committee.
  • We co-sponsor the Mary Jane Simpson fund (see "Monthly Social Concerns").
  • We hold seasonal service days at A Wider Circle.
  • We are a member congregation of the DMV Sanctuary Network, which "pledges to resist the newly elected administration’s policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities including those who are black, indigenous, Muslim, latinx, and LGBTQ+."


Financial support
BFM supports a number of causes via our monthly social concerns donation box, as well as direct aid through our annual budget designations.
Please click here to see the social concerns that BFM supports and how you can help with financial donations.

Bethesda Friends Meeting

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 30152, Bethesda MD 20824

Our Meetinghouse is on the campus of the Sidwell Friends Lower School at the intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Beverly Road in Bethesda, Maryland

We are a member organization of the Religious Society of Friends
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