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Area peace and justice league honored by Fellowship of Reconciliation

Liz Moore and Shar Lichty, co-directors, show plaque with Mark Hamlin, who received it in New York.

As part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in New York City in November, Mark Hamlin of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) was on hand to receive FOR’s Local Hero award for PJALS as one of its affiliates.

PJALS is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015-2016.

Mark not only gave an acceptance speech on the importance of PJALS work for peace and justice in the region, but also learned about FOR’s history at a centennial exhibit at Union Theological Seminary’s James Chapel.

Before the end of a 1914 ecumenical conference in Switzerland seeking to prevent war in Europe, World War I had begun.  Participants pledged to work together for peace.  That December, Christians met in Cambridge, England, and founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The U.S. FOR was founded in November 1915 in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y.  The FOR is an international, interfaith movement with affiliates in 50 countries.  Its members include Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’i, people of indigenous and other faith traditions, and no religious affiliation.

Mark also visited the FOR offices in Nyack, N.Y., north of New York City, where he saw a memorial to contributions of members and supporters.

The main event, he said, was a multi-faith service at the Riverside Church, including an address by Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, and the presentation of three awards.

The Local Hero Award recognizes FOR-related groups that work tirelessly for justice and reconciliation in their communities and regions, engaging people to build a just nonviolent world.  Douglas Mackey of Olympia had nominated PJALS.

Laurie Childers, the FOR National Council president and member of the Western Washington and Oregon FOR, spoke of attending a PJALS Action Conference in Spokane.

In a recent interview, Laurie said she was impressed how PJALS involved young people as speakers, musicians and workshop leaders, with older people listening to their ideas.

“As a culture, we do not spotlight young people enough,” said Laurie, who lives in Corvallis.

She has been a donor for 30 years and has been involved for 24 years in planning for the July FOR conferences at the Seabeck, Wash., Conference Center.

Mark, a former PJALS Steering Committee member and chair, is now on the committee as an advisor.  He began connecting with PJALS 14 years ago, after the push to go to war in Iraq following the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was looking to be involved in local actions and found PJALS a home, a place with people of common beliefs,” said Mark, who has worked in construction and computer consulting, and now is focusing on sustainable building.

He recently completed online studies in social work and teaches nonviolent communication to prisoners at Airway Heights.

“I am convinced that nonviolent communication is the basis for developing a more nonviolent world,” he said.

At the awards event in New York City, Mark said there were two other awards.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award went to two women from the Spirit House Project in Atlanta, Ga., for racial justice and multicultural coalition work.  The Pfeffer International Peace Award went to two young men, a Palestinian and a former Israeli soldier, who urge non-violent action against the occupation and violence in their lands through the organization Combatants for Peace.

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