Wooster Friends Meeting

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Welcome to the Wooster, Ohio Quaker Meeting

We of the Wooster Friends Meeting believe that the Quaker Way is a spiritual path for our time.  We worship in silence waiting expectantly for the Divine to speak to each of us.  Sometimes one of us is given a thought to be shared aloud with the worshipping group.  We try to the best of our understanding and ability to live our lives in ways that express the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship of the earth.  We hope you will visit our meeting and join us for discussion or for shared meal and experience for yourself the Quaker path.

This letter to the editor was written by a member of Wooster Friends and was published in the Wooster Daily Record on Feb. 14, 2014

To the Editor:

A recent editorial from the Los Angeles Times (“Sentencing reform”), reprinted here on February 8, makes a good argument for rethinking our approach to criminal justice.

It’s time for us to stop looking at crime from an “us versus them” perspective – “us” being good, law-abiding citizens, and “them” being evil, alien criminals.  It’s time we considered a scenario that focuses on “all of us.”

It’s in the interest of all of us to have an educated, responsible citizenry.  People who obey the laws and vote.  People with basic literacy.  People with skills to trade in the economic marketplace.  People who feel they have a stake in protecting children (yours, mine, and their own) and in keeping our streets safe.

Crime doesn’t come out of nowhere.  No baby is a born criminal.  No child wants to be a pariah, alienated from family and society.  Criminals are not born but made, by the interaction of complex factors that we only partially understand.

In this scenario, it is simply impossible to address crime effectively through the criminal justice system alone.   We need to put more of our resources into prevention, emphasizing education, socialization, and health (including mental health).  And when crime does occur, we need to shift our focus from retribution and revenge to restoration and restitution.

The United States currently has the highest prison incarceration rate in the world.  Locking individuals up for decades is a huge economic burden.  It costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to incarcerate one prisoner.  How much more good could that money do if more of it were invested in prevention and rehabilitation?  

If and when prisoners are released, our social networks do not consistently do a good job of integrating them back into society.  As a result, we see high rates of recidivism and endless cycles of crime, concentrated primarily among minority and disadvantaged communities.

So it’s not soft-hearted, or soft-headed, to argue that we need a new approach.  Alternatives to imprisonment, including closely-supervised and supportive release programs, should be expanded.  We need to think creatively about finding ways for offenders to make restitution to victims, their families, and the community.   So that they can rejoin “us.”

We cannot wait for crimes to occur, and then become a vengeful “us” determined only to punish an alien “them.”  It’s irrational, immoral – and it doesn’t work.


Sharon L. Shelly




Another recently published letter to the Editor

Diplomacy Offers Better Way to Peace

This season--when Christian congregations are celebrating the Prince of Peace and singing "Let there be peace on earth", we hope that people will reflect that Peace on Earth is not just an ancient sentiment, a song, or a Christmas card greeting.  It is a genuine possibility for which we should all be striving.

We local members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) commend the United State of America and our government for forgoing the plans to strike Syria militarily and for instead engaging in diplomacy.  At this point it appears that diplomatic efforts are succeeding in dismantling the arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria.  Likewise, we support engagement with Iran.

The world has become a global community that is filled with unrest.  But military action does not solve problems;
 indeed, it widens differences into chasms, hardens positions, and sows the seeds for more violence.

Negotiating with Syria and Iran does NOT reflect some sort of "defeat" or surrender or naivete` about the leadership of those nations.  We know that they are negotiating in their own self-interest, which is all the more reason why we should seize this opportunity to nudge them toward being more responsible world citizens.

We support our government seeking ways to lessen the tensions and resolve conflict through dialog.  The United States should strive for diplomatic solutions for both economic and humanitarian reasons.  It does not save a country to send bombs raining upon it.  It does not serve our country well to send our courageous young people  away to kill and die or suffer life-long disabilities.  It does not serve our country well to use our resources for the machinery of war.

We call upon our leaders in congress (Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, Representatives Bob Gibbs and Jim Renacci) to support the administration's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.

We Friends reaffirm our conviction in the viability of nonviolent resolution to disagreements.  Let us truly honor the Prince of Peace by being peacemakers.

Submitted by Louise Hamel, Co-convening clerk
on behalf of Wooster Friends Meeting (with members in Ashland, Holmes, Medina, Richland &Tuscarawas counties)


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