Glorifying God in the Midst of Conflict

When we think about peace, unfortunately, what comes to mind is the opposite of war rather than the rich imagery of human wellbeing and harmony that is the Hebrew understanding of shalom. And yet, before we could ever begin to approach the implications of a biblical model of peace when it comes to something like war, perhaps we followers of Jesus might take a deeper look at what tools God has given us to address conflict among ourselves. Many of the leaders of College Avenue have recently done a study through Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, and I can say our group has had a truly transformational experience as we wrestled together with what God’s word has to teach us about repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Sande’s interest in biblical conflict resolution draws from a wealth of experience serving as a Christian lawyer, who at many points found himself  sincerely desiring God’s best for many of his Christian brothers and sisters who thought civil court was their last hope.

Ken’s presentation style is personal, practical, and unflinchingly faithful. Ultimately, he and some others founded Peacemaker Ministries to better serve and assist God’s people to work through conflict in a way that gives glory to God and strengthens the credibility of our Christian witness. Our hope as the IAYM Board of Christian Social Concerns, is to challenge our Yearly Meeting churches to consider making their way through this 8 week study. To do this, what is needed is a pair of facilitators with the time and passion, and a book and study guide for everyone in the class. While some might not choose to purchase them, there are also wonderful video resources designed to augment the study with teachings by Ken, and many illustrative short skits or “parables” that go with each lesson that truly bring these principles to heart. While not required, these video resources are recommended, and could perhaps be a shared resource among our various quarterly meetings. Peacemaker Ministries also has youth and family books and resources you may be interested in taking a look at, to make God’s best for us accessible to all.

We know that not every IAYM church has a Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and some that do aren’t very active, but if your church has a pair of co-leaders who are passionate about being peacemakers, you would be well on your way to facilitating a study on your own, as we did. But if your church is close enough to drive to College Avenue, and you are willing to make the trip, we are planning on starting two fresh courses: one on mondays at 6:00pm (beginning Feb 26th) that will be taught by Mike Fogle and Bill Blake, and a second wednesdays at 6:30pm  (beginning February 28th) taught by Mike and Deb Moyer. The second will even have soup a half hour prior! We also have two additional pairs of co-leaders lined up to offer additional courses this year, with one potentially being in the summer. We at College Avenue invite those who would to join us, with the hope to empower you with practical tools and inspire a passion for interpersonal peacemaking and biblical conflict resolution. We as Christians have such a foundation to draw on when it comes to living by God’s principles. Often, it is putting God’s best into practice where we struggle. Our hope as a committee, and my hope as a pastor, is to equip Christ’s church for faithful service and witness in the world. This study is not political, and not primarily about addressing the violence of our broken world. What it is, however, is a starting place to come together and earnestly seek God’s will when it comes to the things that so often divide us. And from that common frame of reference in God’s word, learn to walk together toward maturity to the glory of God. Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers. Let us seek that blessing together in 2018!


James Tower




Kit with DVD’s

Following Jesus to Iraqi-Kurdistan

God has taken me on quite the soul-stretching, faith-growing adventure this summer. Although it is difficult for me to discuss and talk about because of the emotions surrounding my trip, I know that God has called me to discuss this. I pray that your heart is open as well and that the Holy Spirit convicts you to at least pray.

On September 10th through the 23rd, I went on a peace delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams to Iraqi Kurdistan. Christian Peacemaker Teams, or CPT, is a human rights report group inspired by Mennonite pacifist theology – although any denomination can work with them. Despite many warnings from people, I knew that God was taking me to somewhere unique and special.  CPT’s main work is working with villages along the border that have been getting bombed from Turkey and Iran. It is intentional violence against the Kurdish people. Violence against Kurdish villages started to escalate more and more during our delegation, although we did not see this violence first hand. There were many other issues happening, such as Exxon Mobil’s abuse against these very same villages and sexual abuse against women, but the most prevalent problem that needs to be talked about on an international scale right now is the fact that a group of people, who have had their own land stolen from them multiple times, is seeking independence.

Iraqi Kurdistan has been more friendly towards the minorities that have sought refuge within their limits. Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims, exist next to each other with little to no conflict in the Kurdish regions. One Christian village, Keshkowa, got bombed by Turkey frequently until CPT helped to amplify their voice. The Muslim village five miles away named Dupre has also been getting bombed less and less. These two villages have keys to each other’s houses because these bombings used to happen on a regular basis. The Turkish government has called these incidents “casualties,” even though no known terrorists have been hiding in these villages and no direct connection has been made to them from any terrorist organization. I should also mention the Christian village Keshkowa is known for its peacemaking-leanings. In their courtyard is a cross that was used as target practice by Saddam’s regime. One of the statements that was said there was that although Saddam’s regime was extremely violent to them, they decided to respond with “the love of Jesus Christ” and forgave them.

While the United States Congress is overwhelmingly supportive of Kurdistan’s independence from Iraq, President Donald Trump has taken the opposite stance for the sake of fighting ISIS.[1] The evangelical preacher Franklin Graham has also come out in massive support for Kurdistan’s independence.[2] With the recent threats of deporting Iraqi citizens from the United States by Trump, churches in the entire nation of Iraq and Kurdistan are concerned with the fate of Middle Eastern Christians returning to their countries – violence either from their communities or from the government oppression.[3] A big issue is that these Christians and other Kurds and Arabs could be seen as cowards for fleeing the violence and oppression that began with ISIS, thus leading to community rejection and oppression.

My delegation just so happened to have been there during a politically tense time. It was during the build up to the independence referendum, and we all flew out two days before independence was declared. The vote officially took place on September 25th. After that, the airports were immediately seized back by the Iraqi government and all travel to this region was banned. The Iraqi military immediately seized with force the oil-rich Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Turkey and Iran have been bombing the villages along the border once again. Turkey has also opened fire on Kurdish villages in their own region and killed innocent citizens. Minorities really have no other place to go in this region. If Kurdistan falls, so does the hope for the indigenous Muslims, Yazidis, and Christians.

Despite all of this violence and despite all of the oppression I heard about, I cannot help but pray that I one day go back. My heart was open in ways that I thought could not be opened in. I don’t know what the solution to these problems is, but it does not stop me from praying for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and keeping them in my heart.

Authored by Nate Perrin, pastor of Valton Friends Meeting, Valton, Wisconsin

[1] Mylrorie, Laurie. “Rep. Glenn Grothman: ‘Overwhelming support’ in US Congress for Kurdistan referendum.” September 23rd, 2017. Kurdistan 24 English. Online.

[2] Mylrorie, Laurie. “Franklin Graham: US should support Kurdistan Referendum.” September 24th, 2017. Kurdistan 24 English. Online.[3] Casper, Jayson and Jackson, Griffin Paul. “Christians Could Return to Middle East, Thanks to Trump (Deportations.)” September 20th, 2017. Christianity Today. Online.

Some Thinking on Thankfulness

While not a very religious holiday, Thanksgiving is still my favorite one to celebrate. This has to do with my love of gathering loved ones around a table in fellowship. It truly is the great American love-feast, and often comes the closest many of us ever experience in our culture to the table fellowship of the early church (or for that matter the holy feasts of the Old Testament). There is something holy in the love that our green bean casseroles were made with. There something holy (and wholesome) about dedicating a day to spend together with family thanking God for His providence.

Thanksgiving seems to break through our individualistic culture and provide a sorely needed excuse for togetherness. In our fragmented and disconnected world, there is something that food and fellowship around a table provide, that I believe, is sorely needed. It gives us an opportunity to invite in that weird uncle or aunt or neighbor who sees the world so differently than we do, and to love them where they are (not as we want them to be). As Quakers, we believe that everyone is imbued with the image of God; that all people have value. At Thanksgiving, many of us put that commitment to love our neighbor to the test! We need this grace to us more than most of us are willing to admit.

As an Osky transplant, I am blessed with a newcomer’s perspective. I see the many things about this community that are amazing. For me, it has been kind of like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting, in a very good way. I think as a community we have a lot of things to be thankful to God for, and that joining together in worship to celebrate God’s rich bounty is something that is worthwhile. While there may be theological differences and a variety of ways people experience God in worship in this community, I bet one thing we could all agree on is God’s goodness to us. This one brute fact should inspire us to live out our love modeling Christ’s example. If God truly loves us–US–warts and all…that should fill us with excitement.

In my Quaker values class I teach regularly about simplicity, something I like to define for a largely secular audience as “saying no to some things in order to say yes to the right things.” I regularly do an exercise where I have the students physically stand in the left, middle, or right side of the classroom to show their response (agree, unsure, or disagree) to an intentionally vague statement. This really gets people talking because they have already made a statement in their walking. For the week on simplicity I pose the statement “having lots of money will automatically make a person grateful, happy, and enjoy a meaningful life.” I am always surprised with how this exercise reveals. Some, see money as giving a person the freedom to pursue a life of meaning unhindered. Others, resonate with money’s power to magnify good or problematic areas of a person’s life. They acknowledge statistics about high levels of suicide among lotto winners, and recognize that in many ways, massive wealth could undermine the things in life they value the most.

This is a crucial step in the class’ journey of exploring the intersection between simplicity and gratitude, something few of us wrestle with openly. To get the class moving in this direction, I read a quote from Robert Fryling’s book The Leadership Ellipse that asks such an important question:

“…Gratitude is the involuntary response of the heart to all aspects of life and ultimately to God. It is not based primarily on circumstance. Some of the most grateful people in the world are the poorest, while many that are rich often are characterized by their lack of gratitude as they seek to acquire more money or fame. If this is the case, what then makes us grateful, or how can we be more grateful people?”

I think how we answer that question powerfully shapes the direction of our lives.

It is easy for many of us to always focus on what we have not attained, to be driven (consciously or not) by our fears or pride, or other people’s expectations. Few of us ever stop and be grateful.

One girl, who warned me on the first day of class that she struggled immensely in all of her attempts at religion classes, ended the course having a spiritual awakening and getting involved in a local church. As she presented her journey of exploring simplicity, she found such freedom that as a part of her relationship with God, she had someone to be grateful TO for her many blessings and the beauty of creation. This, among many other extravagant luxuries, are easily taken for granted by us Christians. But at the end of the day–each day–so much of how we see the world is shaped by where our focus lies. We daily have a choice of what we choose to focus on–the blessings we haven’t yet received, or the ones we have. We can allow gratitude to fill our hearts…or jealousy. The only one who chooses this, is you or me.

How DO we become more grateful people? I think grateful people focus less on the negative aspects of their current circumstances, and more on their many blessings. It is easy to fall into the same trap as the nightly news which is basically to focus only on the terrible or controversial things that happen in the world, and to do so until we find ourselves ever torn between reeling in fear and addicted to outrage. There is a story of three couples–freshly moved to town–who encounter an old man on a bench. In separate encounters, he asks each of them, “What was it like where you came from?” One couple said everyone was always gossipping and backbiting, another that people were always looking down their nose at others as they kept up with the Jones’, and the last said that there were many wonderful people with friendships that had deepened over dozens of years. The man on the bench responded to each couple with the exact same answer, “You are going to find a lot of that here too.”

As Christians we are going to find a lot of what we are “looking for” as well. We may see slights or grace, good or evil, the fallenness of people or the faithfulness of God. Whatever we want to see more of we will find. But we seem to need extra grace to do as Paul exhorts in Phil 4:8,

“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Scott Mcknight once said “Tables build societies.” How might Thanksgiving be an opportunity to see God’s value in all people? How might some food, fellowship, or even board games around a table be an opportunity to share God’s love? That table of old where Jesus sat with his rag-tag disciples transcended the differences between a radical zealot and his nemesis a tax collector. It brought together rough and tumble fishermen, and even had room for a traitor like Judas. There is something about Thanksgiving that connects us to the table Jesus shared long ago, and reminds us of the Great Wedding Supper of the Lamb to come. I believe it is there to find for us, if we are willing to let God give us the eyes to see it.

At a Well

I met him at a well one day.

I had no idea he would say

anything to me, after all

a Jew was far more apt to call

a Samaritan names than pass the time

with one of such a different kind;

and on a woman, was unheard

for Jewish man to waste a word.

As for myself, I also knew

better than speak with snobbish Jew.

But, it was the strangest thing, he ask

of me a simple task:

“Draw me water for a drink.”

What, what was I to think.

His eyes were not those seeking pleasure,

but those that offered different treasure.

What was it he really wanted

’twas strange enough he’d not insulted

me, but after asking me to give

he spoke of water that would live.

His riddle soon caught my attention

and I thought ’twas his intention

to speak religion and it’s place;

but when I looked into his face

the walls of prejudice tumbled

the self-defense inside me crumbled.

I thought; “Here is a man,

who see me as I really am.”

I twisted, feeling deepest guilt

but ’twas a loving gaze I felt;

confronting me with who I was

giving new chance at life and love.

Was he a prophet, or perhaps

the long Awaited One at last?

All this I really could not tell

but he who met beside the well

that day a broken person true;

left there this person

whole and new.

That is a familiar gospel story from John 4.  By all the righteous standards of his day Jesus should not have been there at Jacob’s well in Sychar of Samaria and he certainly should not have spoken to this woman, even if she weren’t of questionable repute.  I am sure there are other interpretations of this story, but I don’t see Jesus being hard on her so much as inviting her through the broken stuff of her life to experience what she has really been looking for all along – herself.  Jesus meets her, he sees her, he engages her and he invites her into relationship with God and with community.

I am in a position where I am privileged to hear people’s stories, but sometimes these are horrendous stories of brokenness.  I work with people who struggle with mental health and chemical dependency issues.  I won’t suggest that I can even begin to explain the physiological realities of the brain but I have it on medical authority that some people are born with brains that are wired differently and others brains have been rewired by trauma and abuse.  These are often stories of growing up with degradation and violence. The stories I hear are stories of survival; including sometimes entering bad relationships, and self-medicating; things that though they may offer temporary relief end up compounding the problem.

I have a deep concern about the direction health care is going these days.  How easy it is to feel righteous and holy –and judge.  How easy it is to justify cutting funding to programs that help those with mental illness and addiction if we can simply judge it as character flaw or moral weakness.

And then there’s Jesus. I can imagine the disciples returning from town with lunch, horrified when they find Jesus relating to this woman.  It is easy to judge when we don’t know the story.  It was a lot easier for me to judge before Jesus called me out on my own story; until he met me at the well with grace.

-Written by Dale Dorrell

IAYM Christian Social Concerns 2017 Advanced Report

The Iowa Yearly Meeting Christian Social Concerns committee desires to help connect the local churches of the yearly meeting to a better minister to the needs of their communities. To that end we have begun work on a short questionnaire that one day we would like to challenge each of our churches to take out into their neighborhoods. College Avenue will be trying this out in the coming weeks, and scheduling a follow up meeting to put the information gathered to practical use and wrestle with more effective ways of reaching out. As we create these resources, and challenge the YM to use them, our hope is that the church is better aware of the social concerns and needs of those surrounding it. 

We ordered 500 blog promo cards to hand out at yearly meeting, and they turned out very nice. We also secured WIngs of Refuge, an anti-trafficking organization, to host a yearly meeting workshop on our theme of loving our captive neighbor and how that looks in Iowa. We wholeheartedly desire you will take advantage of the opportunity to listen for ways you might respond in Christian love to efforts to engage the issue of human trafficking. Our committee has a real need for fundraising, as we must raise our own budget. We will partner with other boards, such as the Youth and Young Adult  in sending out a fundraising letter later this year. We have begun our efforts at communication in earnest faith that God will bless us and help us as we try to bring the rich Christian theology and historic legacy of Quaker witness through social action back together for the needs of our time.


One event we would like to highlight is an opportunity for continued conversation and education on the issue of immigration, called Welcoming the Stranger, will be put on by Erica Palmer of AFSC Saturday, Sept. 23, 10AM – 3PM, at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church in Wayland, IA. Also, a man named Timothy Lovell from LaGrand Friends approached the Yearly Meeting with an opportunity to write about this issue in a piece to be published at some point, if anyone is interested in finding out more (and is interested in writing from a PERSONAL perspective and not purporting to speak on behalf of the yearly meeting), Timothy’s email is His invitation is extended to  all Friends  from all perspectives who might feel led to write a  250 word response.
Expenses so far include:

Promotional cards from VistaPrint $71.97

Wings of Refuge Workshop speaking fees $359
Total budget left (because of the generous donations of one of our committee members)

15 dollars


We continue to seek writers and resources. We plan to reassess and listen for where  God is calling us to go next. We ask you would support us financially, and also prayerfully, as our newly reformed committee gets its bearings and attempts to minister in some new ways. Thank you for listening.


James Tower

Stepping into the Mess: An Exciting IAYM Sessions Workshop Opportunity

Have you ever watched a movie about something important that God wouldn’t seem to let you let it go? Joy Fopma did, it was the documentary Nefarious: A Merchant of Souls, a movie that opened her eyes to modern sex slavery around the world. Joy was already a survivor of sexual abuse who had worked her way through trauma with Jesus’ help. As she saw the plight of other young girls and boys being exploited in this way, her response was “What can I do?”

Trafficking is a game of supply and demand and Iowa is in the prime location for it due to interstates 35 and 80, a major hub of transcontinental travel. Exploitation often involves gaining the trust of young girls seeking a career in modeling, or through internet chat rooms. Truckstops and online ads often connect the exploiter with the exploited. The average age of a trafficking victim is 12 years old.

Compared to surrounding states, Iowa ranks about in the middle of trafficked victims. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been 31 cases reported so far in 2016. That number is down from 36 in 2015. Of 2016, Illinois reportedly had the highest number trafficked victims, 97, while South Dakota has the least, eight.

Joy began learning more about human trafficking, and founded a faith based anti-trafficking non-profit called Wings of Refuge. Its goal is to provide a place for victims of human trafficking to heal, be counseled, pursue opportunities for education, and be connected with a local church. Before Wings of Refuge came on the scene, there were no beds for human trafficking victims to be found in Iowa. Rick Bachman of Grinnell Friends, a former law enforcement officer, has recently joined the Wings of Refuge board to share with it some hard won wisdom and experience of serving the ends of justice in Iowa.

The ministry of Wings of Refuge is one the Iowa Yearly Meeting Christian Social Concerns Committee wants to highlight with our 2017 theme of loving our captive neighbors. We are pleased to announce that Marissa Price of Wings of Refuge will be offering two workshops at Yearly Meetings sessions. These workshops are geared toward learning more about both human trafficking in Iowa and the work of Wings of Refuge as it tries to meet as much of that need as God allows. The same workshop will be offered twice to allow as many people as possible to attend, and will take place Saturday July 29th @ 9-9:45 and 10-10:45 AM. We hope and pray as a committee that the ministry of compassionately reaching out to Iowa’s victims of modern slavery with the love of Jesus will be lifted up in prayer, and also financially; and that God’s people would be equipped to learn to see and serve their local communities in some new ways, living out Jesus’ call to proclaim the year of God’s favor, to bring recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the captives free. Please join us in this opportunity, and also, consider prayerfully if God might lead you to bless our committee financially as we try to establish a renewed vigor among the churches of Iowa Yearly Meeting for God’s heart for justice.


Loving Local

Loving Local

One social justice issue that College Avenue Friends Church cares about especially deeply is hunger. You can see this in the many among us who volunteer at the local ecumenical food cupboard, in Jan Palmer’s Take Along Lunch program that helps hungry kids get through the weekend, and the Oskaloosa Summer Lunch Program that I especially want to highlight here. The Summer Lunch program was pioneered by a wonderfully Christ-like woman named Martha Comfort, who launched and directed the program on a volunteer basis for its first three years. It became a non-profit under the umbrella of the United Way of Oskaloosa and because of the high poverty levels in our community it is both fully reimbursed for every meal by the USDA, as well as is not required by them to ask the children for proof of their neediness. It now has twelve sites in the Oskaloosa area. Martha recently stepped down from the program as she graduated from a graduate program in social work and plans to pursue further ministry in the new doors God has opened to her in a slightly different direction.

At a Golden Circle program (a monthly small group for senior members) the winter before last, Martha came and told us about her program, and immediately I wanted to learn more about what it would take to become a site. College Avenue sits of course right next to the Friends Park, the shadiest park in Oskaloosa on a hot summer day, and its recently updated play structures and sand pit are the perfect place for large groups of kids to play. Historically CAF had its Jack and Jill preschool whose legacy is readily seen in our facility’s ample kitchen and nursery, which is a wonderful plan B location in the case of rain or bad weather.

After finding out all that was needed was a small about of food safety training and a few volunteers, and all we really had to do was show up and love on the kids and serve them, we started last year out as a smashing success. Lunches were served MWF from noon till 12:45 with a fifteen minute craft or game following. Martha brought a bunch of donated sand buckets to give the kids at our first launch last summer and the first day we had around thirty kinds having a blast in the sand box! I mostly did the activities and picked up the food, and got a chance to meet many of the kids in the neighborhood and minister to them. One child known by many of the neighborhood kids had died tragically from an allergic reaction to the anesthetic from a simple tonsil removal, and though I was not technically allowed to proselytize because of federal funding, the kids knew I was a pastor and I was of course free to respond to their questions.

I knew all of this work was worth it when I saw the kids enjoying hospitality together as equals free of the poor kid stigma I grew up with, as well as mothers enjoying each other’s company in a welcome break from the isolation that comes with small children. Also, many of these kids did come out in the fall for our movies in the park, and I remember one day walking over to the church when seven kids riding their bikes all greeted me gregariously shouting “Hi Pastor James!” when before, they might not have even realized a church met there for worship or recognized me at all. Seeds of love were scattered very thoroughly last summer, and I pray some of these relationships that started last year will continue to deepen and grow, and of course come to discover that Jesus is at work.

This year our Peace and Social Concerns committee at CAF is beginning to gear up for launch May 31st. This year, my wife Liz will be the head cook of the program, and we recently built a weatherized bulletin board in the park to help communicate to people in the park opportunities they will have to experience the love of Jesus at work among us. Liz is especially suited for this work and has been gifted to serve in the area of hospitality. Her degree from George Fox was focused on equipping her to start a restaurant, and she spent three years as the head cook of Barclay College. The amount of volunteers that showed up and worked hard to bless these children is truly inspiring and there are many ways to get involved for those who have interest.

God’s heart for justice is clear, but not all justice ministries need be perceived as overly political. I believe most what is needed is eyes to see those in need in our community and compassion to serve. There are many tangible ways of ministering to the hungry that are very practical and dead simple, and perhaps even fully funded in some cases. All that is sometimes needed is a space and a helping hand. Love has to be shared, and I believe, must be seen in the form of action. How might we as the church better share the love of Jesus with those who are hungry, and perhaps build relationships where their spiritual hunger may also be addressed? It is my conviction that the more one knows God, the more one recognizes His love for the least, the lost, and the last. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, and it is the natural response to first loving God. When someone asked Jesus who was their neighbor, he told them the story of the Good Samaritan. Love is a verb, an action word. It is also a command straight from the mouth of Jesus. Let us pray for ears to hear and eyes to see what God might dream for our neighborhoods, and our world!



Right Sharing


Right Sharing of World Resources is a Friend’s organization that works largely in Africa and India. They work with women to start small businesses in very poor communities. Many of the women they work with in Kenya are Friends. They are Christians, but as many of you know, becoming a christian does not instantly make a person wealthy. Right sharing works in these countries with women, who in many places in the world are the poorest of the poor nations lend money to women who then have to pay the money back to the organization with a small interest rate and the money is then lent out by the organization to another woman or group of women. Right Sharing also works with groups of women. The women support and pray for each other throughout the project. Right Sharing helps them set up business plans. Then Right Sharing raises money to fund the women’s projects. The women in the group decide who will receive loans first and what the interest rate for the group will be. The money is then paid back to the women’s group. Right Sharing does not receive the capital or interest back. This is different than any other micro lending group that I am aware of . The women have a permanent pool of capital to work with and to grow. Once all the women in the group have taken out loans and repaid them to the group, the group can engage in a second round of lending or they can begin lending to other women in the community. Right Sharing not only helps women create new income for their families, but it establishes new sources of capital within communities.

Why lend to women? Women tend to use money to invest in their families. Women use their income to send their children to school, to provide a second meal for their families each day, or to fix a leaky roof on their house. Helping women to start businesses gives them some power in often male dominated societies where women may have very few rights. Women who have businesses tend to choose to have fewer children. Their husbands listen to them because they are providing money that helps support the family. Micro lending organizations around the world have found that women are more likely to pay back loans then men are.

The website for Right Sharing is You can choose and contribute to a project.

Paul Kessler

Handicap Accessibility Keeps Us Safe

Lyn Kinney is passionate about raising awareness to the experience of those who have extra obstacles to overcome just to be be gathered with Christ’s body on a Sunday morning. She sees these needs because she experiences them herself as she follows Jesus from the seat of a wheelchair. Her article shares her heart and a little bit of her journey leading up to the coming time Lynnville Friends Church’s facilities catch up to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1978. She writes:

Of the 30 Friends churches here in Iowa, how many are accessible to the handicapped? Those crazy ramps that have been made…who uses them safely? Children seem to love rolling down them or chasing their friends up and down the ramp. Does any person pleasantly use them? I think not!

There are rules to go by when designing the ramp. It is not difficult to look up the specifications and follow them when building the ramp for your church. Quit trying to save a penny. Do it right! At the end of the ramp, make it accessible to get into the building. When one is in a wheelchair or using a walker or cane, lifting a chair or a leg up 4 or 5 inches to get into the church is DANGEROUS if not IMPOSSIBLE! Do a ramp to the doorway, please if nothing else as more people need it than you may think. It is not that much more of an effort when you are building. Follow the Specifications. Rules are rules. They are designed with safety in mind.

I know some churches would bring us a CD or cassette or have a speaker put in our home for the church services to help keep some of us with challenges connected. But just because one is handicapped does not mean we don’t need FELLOWSHIP WITH OUR LORD JESUS ALONG SIDE OF YOU.

Need help financially? Call Iowa Yearly Meeting 641-673- 9717. They can hook you up with Friends Development. No one to build it for your church? Again call Iowa Yearly Meeting office Friend’s Response Team (formerly Friends Disaster Service) may be able to assist your church to be more hospitable to those facing these kinds of challenges.

I know there are other churches in my area with elevators and accessible handicapped ramps. I don’t care! I have spent 38 years at Lynnville Friends…I am not stopping now! We have an Elevator Fund project (drop an envelope with Elevator Fund on the front and your check or cash with your name inside into the collection plate.). I am happy to say we have the money to consider building the elevator now. YEAH!!!!

Please check your floor plans at church. Fix your building, your bathrooms, your walk ways, your parking areas. There is nothing more embarrassing than to need to leave the building to go to the bathroom because you can’t get to the bathrooms or the stools are not adult size and you don’t dare try to lower yourself for fear of not being able to get up. When the gravel rocks move or your cane or walker or wheelchair sinks into the grass, it leaves you in a precarious situation. You may topple over! When you are pushing someone in a wheelchair over the terrain, it literally throws you around in your seat and you feel like you are going to fall out. If no one says these things, many people won’t think about them until it’s too late.

Let’s get our churches in order. We are not getting any younger…and one never knows when it will be YOU that is handicapped. Trust me, it is not a fun journey.

Iowa Yearly Meeting 641-673- 9717 for financial FRIENDS DEVELOPMENT or  FRIEND’S Response Team (formerly Friends Disaster) to help build.

By Lyn Kinney, IAYM Christian Social Concerns 3/2017


God and Country

scalesAs a Christian leader in a time of great division, I recognize the dangers of being too specific about the things that are going on in the world. But I believe in truth, and I believe that the church should be a place where God’s people do not settle for the superficial, a place where deep questions of meaning and purpose are pursued, and where how faithfulness in our world might take shape is held loosely. I believe in the truth, and that our relationship with God is a journey toward not only knowing the truth of God, but truth about ourselves, and our world.

While there is great division and a great need for healing in our world, true peace can never be found in sweeping problems under the rug or walking on eggshells. As people seeking to know and show the love of Jesus with the world, we cannot let fear have the final say. While the church of Jesus Christ shouldn’t simply go around grinding a political axe or adding “public policy” to the gospel, we also cannot ignore the truth. I believe in humility and grace, that the church should be one place where the world can see how people who love Jesus are truly transformed and can “disagree agreeably” and speak the truth in love to one another. Unity is not uniformity, but where people of all stripes join together around Jesus.

But I think we should be able to be specific at times, and despite its controversial nature, I believe there is a movement among the people of God to consider how to lovingly engage the issue of immigration and how we as believers seek justice for the “stranger and foreigner” in our midst and in our world. One of the clearest themes of scripture is caring for the marginalized. Countless scriptures show us God’s heart for the liberation of people who are being oppressed and mistreated, and how God’s righteousness calls us to treat “sojourners” seeking refuge among us (Lev 19:33 among others).

As we explore this issue of immigration together, I want to express first off that I have no intention of using the trust and influence of my position merely to further any kind of earthly agenda or cause. I also want to express that while some may write my concerns off as naive, that I am on an earnest quest to seek the truth with God, and am open to your wrestling with me in that. If you disagree, please help me understand where and why. That being said, I do especially have a concern for the needs of two groups of people in our world today, refugees from Syria and Iraq, and DREAMers.

First, refugees from Syria: I want to begin by acknowledging that though the lines of Syria were redrawn in their final form after WWI, Syria is an ancient place with a rich biblical history. It was Antioch of Syria that followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:25). This ancient hub of Christianity is home to many Christians to this day, who are now desperately facing some of the worst persecution of our time, fleeing terror and tyranny in a refugee crisis at a scale that the world has never seen. In scripture we see it is in fact the church of Syria–who in the face of a famine that spanned the Roman Empire–exemplified extravagant generosity by sending all the money they could muster to help their struggling brothers and sisters facing starvation back in Judea (Acts 11:28-30). Right or wrong, it is our government that destabilized Irag and Syria, and that put our current Christian brothers and sisters in their desperate situation. I understand deeply held concerns about our own security, and have my own, but my greater concern is that if fear of terrorism justifies a refusal to help those fleeing ISIS, have we not let the terrorists win? Are we not, as Christians, obligated to refuse to let fear tell us what is right and what is wrong?

Secondly, the DREAMers: While many people have broken our countries laws and entered illegally, and it is easy to find justification that they should be deported, DREAMers are different. These are people who were brought across the border as children by their parents. Many of them have no connection with their former country, and have only known America as their homeland. Under DACA, these immigrants made a deal to register themselves with the government and even paid their own money to balance out the cost of processing their applications for this low risk status. Now they are quite understandably fearful that they will be the easiest targets for deportation, because of their attempts to seek official status and come out of the shadows.

It is my understanding that Quakers in Iowa long ago found themselves in a similar situation with the hot button issue of slavery: people–who were trapped in a vulnerable position not by their own choice–and who because of the letter of the law, were not accepted as people of value. It was many Quakers who, at great personal risk, stood up to these unjust laws by harboring slaves on their way to Canada, our forebears’ civil disobedience answered to Christ’s law of love and not popular opinion.

I want to conclude with this: I do not have the answers to these big questions. But I do know that Jesus cares for “foreigners and aliens” and that according to Mt 25, if the Lord blesses us with a tangible way to serve them, it is actually a way we serve Him. The examples of the Syrian church and of the early Iowa Quakers give me great hope that God may once again awaken and “unleash” the church to meet big needs in our day. But if the Lord is awakening His people to meet these needs–and I believe He is–instead of thinking “politically,” let us seek the truth prayerfully. Let us trust that God will present His will, if we have the courage to seek it faithfully together.
James Tower