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Quakers host virtual interfaith worship to #FreeThemAll

Person participates in interfaith service
Photo: Nathaniel Doubleday / AFSC

PHILADELPHIA (April 23, 2020) On Sunday April 26, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a century old Quaker social justice organization – will host a virtual meeting for worship lifting up the need to free people behind bars during this pandemic. Meeting for worship is the Quaker practice of gathering in silence for divine guidance through individual communion with God, and sharing vocal ministry as people feel moved. This event will be an interfaith service that also includes speakers from multiple faith traditions.

“We are coming together for our brothers, sisters, and kin behind the walls in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Lucy Duncan, director of Friends Relations for AFSC. “This interfaith worship welcomes all our voices in chorus with the words of invited speakers, calling out to all those in prisons, jails and detention centers. Let our spirits reach them, our unity protect them, and our work liberate them.”  

We will open with a brief reflection on Quaker worship and this moment, a song, then invited speakers will offer brief prayers, poems, or spiritual offerings with silent space in between each to receive the messages. We will close with a call to action and 20-30 minutes of open worship for folks to join in silent reflection or, if so moved, add their own prayers or offerings, then we will conclude with a song. We ask participants to come with open hearts and minds, ready to receive and join in spiritual community.  

WHO: Hosted by the American Friends Service Committee. Speakers include:

  • Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest on the Strategic Clergy team at Trinity Church Wall Street, blogger for Patheos; author of Church Meets World; and editor of What We Shall Become.
  • Rabbi Brant Rosen, congregational rabbi for Tzedek Chicago, an anti-Zionist temple
  • Rev. Petero Sabune, Africa Partnership Officer for the Episcopal Church and pastor and former chaplain at Sing Sing Correctional Facility
  • Chaplin Rev. Edward Muller, founder of the Exodus Group in the 1970s, which offers opportunities for study and discussion to those serving lengthy sentences
  • Siwatu Salama-Ra, environmental and racial justice organizer from Detroit who was wrongfully incarcerated for self-defense when she was in her third trimester of pregnancy
  • Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, Unitarian Universalist Minister
  • Steve Tamari, Palestinian Quaker
  • Music by Emma’s Revolution and Elena La Fulana

WHAT: Virtual interfaith meeting for worship to lift up the call to free people from prisons, jails, and detention centers during COVID-19

WHERE: Via zoom, register for access at https://www.afsc.org/content/call-to-worship-to-freethemall

WHEN: Sunday, April 26 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.