Ever since I returned from a Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) delegation to Iraq in 2011, I've been asking the question "Where are all the Quakers in peace-building?" With some digging, I'm slowly starting to find the Quakers who are part of CPT but I continue to be amazed at how much more present and active our Historical Peace Church neighbors (Mennonites, Brethren) are in international peace-building.
There are a few organizations, like the American Friends Service Committee, Friends Disaster Service, Friends United Meeting and Friends Peace Teams who work internationally on issues of humanitarian relief, community development, poverty reduction, and conflict resolution. However, Quaker involvement in ecumenical and inter-faith organizations such as Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peace Brigades International, and Nonviolent Peaceforce, appears much more difficult to ascertain.
Back in 2011-2012, when I was living in Seattle, WA, I attended an Alternatives to Violence (AVP) Advance Training. In Seattle there are several Friends Meetings and a Friends Church. Outside of Seattle, throughout the state of Washington and the state of Oregon, there are quite a few more. At this AVP training 3/4th of the participants came from a Quaker worship community in the Pacific Northwest. I remember realizing during one of the activities "Oh... this is where the Quakers are..." (Quite a few Quakers are involved in domestic peace-building efforts such as AVP-prison work, immigration accompaniment, social work, etc)
The workshop was led by two members of Friends Peace Teams who worked in Indonesia. The Advanced Workshop was about trauma healing. While many of the participants in the AVP workshop did their work in US prisons and not in international settings, the exercises and discussions about healing were applicable to us all. I learned that a few other participants had traveled and worked with Friends Peace Teams in Africa and South America. In fact, some of the trauma healing materials were developed from African friends who have developed a training called HROC: Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities.
Friends Peace Teams though, is not a highly structured international organization. For the most part the regional initiatives/projects have autonomy over their programs and funding. There is not a central governing body that makes these decisions.
I have often seen Friends Peace Team members raising funds and awareness at Yearly Meetings and other Quaker gatherings. Friends Peace Team members often live radically simply when they are back in their home countries, spending most of their resources and time on team. While many team members are from the USA, Europe and Australia, local partners in the three regions (African Great Lakes, Asia West Pacific, the Americas) have taken on extensive leadership and now several travel throughout the USA giving talks and holding trainings with materials that have been developed in the regions. Their work is a radical faithfulness that is to be admired.
From the FPT website:
Mission Statement Friends Peace Teams is a Spirit-led organization working around the world to develop long-term relationships with communities in conflict to create programs for peacebuilding, healing and reconciliation. FPT’s programs build on extensive Quaker experience combining practical and spiritual aspects of conflict resolution.
Method - Our Peacemaking Philosophies, Programs and Practices We use processes and methods that respect individuals and help conflicting groups through such programs as the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP], trauma healing, community reconciliation, and peace education. In all of these programs, we bring together people or groups-in-conflict from different ethnic, political, gender, religious, and/or other conflicting groups.
Members - The People and Structure of Friends Peace Teams Friends Peace Teams is a network of individuals and organizations dedicated to practicing and promoting Quaker Peacemaking philosophies and methods. The FPT family includes partners, working group members, active yearly meeting members, donors, volunteers, staff, and others.