Bethesda Friends Meeting

Peace and Social Justice Committee

"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).

Previous Social Justice Events

Please click here to go to list of events BFM has previously sponsored.

For information on Peace & Social Justice Committee's work at Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM),

please click on the links below  

          BFM visits Josiah Henson Museum
Peace & Social Justice Committee members
visit the Josiah Henson Museum
in Montgomery County, MD. 


An Urgent Call to Protect Human Life and Bring a Just Peace to Palestine and Israel

At the January 7, 2024 Bethesda Friends Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, a Minute about the violence in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel was approved by BFM.

  • Please click here to read this Minute. 
  • This page will give more information about the mearing of a Quaker "minute" and past Bethesda Friends and Baltimore Yearly Meeting minutes. 

Approved Donation Organizations to Help Palestinians

In a 2024 report to Bethesda Friends Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Disposition of a Gift to Help Palestinians considered and approved a number of organizations as deserving of our donations.


Coming soon: A web page to help us navigate action, information, and organizational choices related to the violence and peace-building in Palestine and Israel (for example, Palestine and Israel peace groups and relief organizations).

  • We'd like this future page to challenge us to participate in the discussion, consider vetted resources, and find organizations to both join and contribute to. 

BFM input on FCNL's policy note on Reproductive Health Care 

In January 2023, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) asked local Friends Meetings for discernment on FCNL's "Policy Note on Reproductive Health Care" and to advise FCNL on possible revisions to their policy statement. 

The Policy Note is one part of FCNL's larger document "The World We Seek," which is a policy statement of Quaker convictions that  provides the foundation for FCNL's work. 

This request for discernment arose from concern from Friends around the country on the lack of a clear policy position on reproductive health issues following the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. Input from local Meetings was requested by May 1, 2023.  

In response,

  • BFM held a series of opportunities for dialogue and discernment on the multiple aspects of this issue.  All were encouraged to participate via various meetings and background materials. 
  • An important part of the discernment was its relevance to BFM's work on social justice issues, as the lack of availability of reproductive health and family care disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. 

To read the process and background materials, please click here

 To read the final BFM report, approved on May 7, 2023, please click here

      from Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) 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. 

        Peace Minutes

      • In Quaker terminology, a “Minute” is a statement of belief that an individual or group would like to record for others to see, both now and in the future, about a certain topic or person.
      • At Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM), each Minute is recorded in the minutes of our Business Meetings, and each one is held as a permanent record of our Meeting’s convictions. 
      • Please click here to read more about BFM "Minutes" and to see those recorded by our meeting. 

      Bethesda Friends Meeting (BFM) Peace Minutes:

      • On January 7, 2024, BFM approved a statement (also known as a "minute") titled "An Urgent Call to Protect Human Life and bring a Just Peace to Palestine and Israel." Please click here to read this Minute. 
      • 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 Minute

      The BYM Peace and Social Concerns Committee works to bring to life the testimonies of the wider Religious Society of Friends. 

      • In August 2017, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting approved a minute at their annual session that is titled "Minute regarding Consideration of US Renewed Military Action Against North Korea." 
      • Please click here to read more details about this BYM Minute and the BYM Peace & Social Concerns committee.

      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.
      • Monthly educational series previously held at the Bethesda Public Library were 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+."

      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.


      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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