The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the Friends Service Council (FSC). The organisations were honoured for the continued contribution of the Quakers, as the members of the Religious Society of Friends established in 1647 in London were ironically at first called, in humanitarian work and contribution to world peace. The AFSC, established in 1917 by American Quakers as an organisation for peace and social justice, was aimed at helping young Quakers and other people objecting to military service for religious reasons by giving them an opportunity to perform a “service of love” in wartime. Over the years, the AFSC has become known mainly for assistance provided to war victims. In 1917, upon AFSC’s initiative, young people travelled to France where they worked with British Quakers, caring for refugee children, founding a maternity hospital, helping to rebuild homes and offering help to returning refugees. In 1918, AFSC activity was extended to include Russia, Poland and Serbia, as well as Germany and Austria, where Friends established orphanages, helped to rebuild agriculture and cared for undernourished children. Later on, AFSC helped refugees in France and victims of London bombings. Following WWII, AFSC spread its relief efforts also to India, China and Japan. In 1948, Quakers helped Arabs fleeing the Gaza Strip; then they helped victims of other conflicts in the world: the Korean War; the Hungarian Revolution; the Algerian War; in 1966 they took care of Vietnam children and veterans; they helped both sides of the Nigerian-Biafran War. The AFSC gradually turned its attention to programmes aimed at relieving tensions that provoke wars. Following WWII, the Committee focussed on social and technical assistance in developing countries; in the US, Quakers were involved in matters concerning American Indians, Mexican-Americans, migrant workers, prisoners, the black and the poor.

Representing AFSC Conferences at the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is Phil Lord, the clerk (chairperson) of the Board of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). He is also a full time practicing attorney who began his career by organizing low-income tenants and representing more than 70 community based development corporations in complex real estate transactions including housing cooperatives. He currently serves as the Executive Director of TURN, a non-governmental service and advocacy organization that works on behalf of low-income tenants in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. A longtime member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Phil has had more than twenty years of experience volunteering for AFSC. He is also one of the founding members of the Quaker group known as the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent and has served on the boards of the Germantown Friends School Committee, and the Friends’ Rehabilitation Program, as well as many other nonprofit Boards.


Posted on

July 6, 2014