A book drive is part of West Hills’ Hunger month fund raising. I just found a treasure: Minutes of Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, 1941. Wow!
From reading the Yearly Meeting Minutes in 1941, I found the Superintendent of Peace was Levi Pennington. Remembering the world was then in the throes of war, I was very interested in his report. Rather than me commenting on anything, I hope you will indulge me simply copying this report verbatim. I have found it fascinating, and would like it to speak for itself. I thought about cutting out a few paragraphs, but found even mundane information was enlightening about what Quakers were thinking then. It is lengthy, but worthy.
The remaining of my blog post is Levi Pennington’s Peace Report:
What can a Christian pacifist do in a world that is war mad? This is the question which has engaged the attention of the Friends of Oregon Yearly Meeting throughout the year. And the answer has been chiefly along two lines as it concerns us, and two lines as it concerns others.
For ourselves, we are concerned first that we shall maintain our peace testimony before the world, and not appear, by any change of attitude, to believe that truth changes with changing conditions.
For most of us this has thus far been relatively easy. We can still affirm our belief in the power of understanding and justice and love. We can still insist that for us war is wrong, and we cannot engage in it.
But while this is relatively easy for most of us, for young men of draft age it is not so easy. They must make a decision personally which may cost them something. Their stand as conscientious objectors makes other efforts to maintain our peace testimony look a bit formal and academic.
One of our members, whose conscience would not permit him to register for the draft, has been for nearly six months now in a federal prison camp. It is hoped that he may soon be paroled, but it is evident that this will be to the civilian public service camp at San Dimas rather than to his work as a teacher on the Pacific College faculty.
The second concern as it relates to our own membership is the case of those who do stand firmly by their Christian and Quaker convictions against war and war preparations, and who at best are assigned to Civilian Public serve camps. In addition to the moral and spiritual support of such as these, there is the problem of their financial support when they take up their work in camp.
In our relationship to others, our task has again been two-fold.
First we have sought to promote peace by helping to keep the United States out of war, not merely that we might save ourselves, but that America might be in position to aid in the restoration of peace. To this end we have sought to influence our representative in Washington, from the president down, by resolutions, petitions, and personal communications.
Our second concern has been to care for the victims of war. Last year one of our members was on leave of absence from Pacific College faculty in the work of caring for German war refugees in Cuba, after spending half a year in war relief in Spain. During the year just closed, another of our members has been in this Cuban work, and has been given leave of absence for yet another year from his duties at Pacific College for other work under the American Friends Service Committee. Clothes for Shanghai have been collected in different parts of the Yearly Meeting, and other efforts have been made to alleviate the suffering that war has caused. One of our members is on the national committee for the relief of the European democracies, of which Herbert Hoover, another member of this Yearly Meeting, is honorary chairman and the most notable worker.
Three of our young men, one from the Pacific College faculty, are leaving this afternoon for the relief of the suffering caused by the recent earthquake in Mexico. These are Richard Binford, George Thomas, and Harvie McCaffree.
Some of these activities are in the field of the newly selected service committee, which will naturally handle them in the future.
In work of this kind, it is difficult to collect statistics. In some cases a quarterly meeting will report less work in a given line than a single individual member of that meeting has done. Here are the figures as shown in the report:
Most of the committee met at the beginning of the year to plan their work.
There were 31 special meetings held in the interests of peace, mass meetings, discussion groups, regular meetings in charge of peace committees, meetings to hear reports of peace conferences, etc.
There were 67 peace sermons and addresses during the year, with the Quaker peace teaching given many times in Sunday schools, in sermons, in connection with other teaching, etc.
Three quarterly meetings report 5,645 pages of peace literature distributed. This is in addition to many letters on the subject—one peace superintendent alone sent out 86 letters to members of the meeting of draft age.
Among the peace periodicals taken by our members, mention was made of the American Friend, Peace Action, the Messenger of Peace, Fellowship. Only one quarterly meeting reported the number of subscriptions, 16.
Three quarterly meetings report $62.15 raised to carry on the peace work of the meetings. This is in addition to the $10.00 appropriated by the Yearly Meeting and much more than that spent by the peace superintendent and others who made to report of their expenditures.
It is reported that none of our members are engaged in military service, except one associate member.
In the matter of communications to government officials, statistics are hard to obtain. One meeting sent 58 copies of our discipline to draft boards, that they might have official knowledge of our peace position. One quarterly meeting reports six communications from meetings, and 500 from individuals. Another quarterly meeting reports “many.”
Young men of draft age were reported from three quarterly meetings. One made no report, another stated that this information had been sent, but failed to state to whom it was sent.
Two quarterly meetings report 32 signed as conscientious objectors. No report from the other quarterly meetings.
Little has as yet been done, certainly nothing on a sufficiently large scale, to provide financially for our conscientious objectors who may be assigned to civilian public service camps. This will be one of the tasks of the newly appointed service committee.
One quarterly meeting report included a very clear and helpful statement of the situation as it confronts conscientious objectors, and of their duties and privileges under existing laws. The quarterly meeting superintendent in this quarterly meeting, and others concerning whom no report was made, as none was asked for, have written numerous and telling articles for various newspapers.
Advisory boards have been formed, some among Friends and others in connection with the other historic peace churches and other peace organizations, for the counseling of conscientious objectors.
Among the other reports and suggestions are the following:
“Pray, and then work in harmony with our prayers. National days of prayer for peace cannot avail very much, if all our energy is spent for war.”
“Our youth should be taught Friends’ methods of dealing, which is Christ’s method.”
“To seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, praying much that God’s will be done in each of us, in these days that are ahead. That we be careful to uphold the peace testimony of our church, realizing at all times the right of the individual to follow the dictates of his or her conscience—But keeping in mind what our church discipline has to say on peace, being careful at all times when giving advice or counsel to others that we do not hinder the will of the spirit—And that we become a more united people in our testimony of peace.”
“The education of the growing boys—age 12 to draft age—on Quaker peace principles.”
With the hope that the Peace Committee and the Service Committee may cooperatively handle adequately the educational and practical peace testimony of Oregon Yearly Meeting, this report is respectfully submitted. —Levi T. Pennington, Peace Superintendent
This report was accepted.
Contributed by Kay Ellison, West Hills Friends