Pastors for Peace supported by Veterans FOR and Ithaca UU Social Justice Council
The Veterans Fellowship of Reconciliation chapter was part of a gathering on Friday, July 8, 2011 at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, New York, which led to an intimate conversation around the dinner table after an excellent meal. We heard from the Rev. Tom Smith, pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Pittsburgh and co-director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) and welcomed three other caravanistas — Desi Ruiz from NYC, Murray Fulcher from Toronto, and Steve from Ottawa — all traveling together in the small decorated school bus, along with aid, all bound for Cuba.
The theme for the 22nd Pastors for Peace U.S.-Cuba Caravan is “Love is Our License,” referring to the fact that Pastors for Peace will not apply for nor accept a license from the U.S. Treasury or Department of Commerce for permission to travel and carry humanitarian aid to Cuba. A fifth caravanista is Trumansburg artist Dan Burgevin, who leaves this morning for New York, where he will join the caravan, driving another school bus, if all goes well, that Pastors for Peace has just fixed up for the trip.
Anyone wishing to sign the online Guest Book tribute for Lucius Walker — dear friend of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and founder of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, who died on September 7, 2010 — go to this website:
Here’s info from that organization, which for many years has been affiliated with FOR:
Welcome to IFCO / Pastors for Peace
Pastors for Peace is an ecumenical agency whose mission is to help forward the struggles of oppressed peoples for justice and self-determination.
Chico, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Davis, Oakland, Watsonville, San Jose, Oxnard, San Diego and Los Angeles California - Salt Lake City Utah - Albuquerque and Santa Fe New Mexico - Bozeman, Montana — Boulder, Colorado - Ames, Clinton and Sioux City Iowa - Milwaukee and Racine Wisconsin - Rochester and Ithaca, New York - Montclair, and Camden New Jersey - Newark Delaware - Carbondale and Chicago, Illinois - Flagstaff, Arizona - Pocatello, Idaho - Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Bloomington Indiana - Detroit Michigan - Kansas City Missouri - Lincoln Nebraska - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Cleveland and Columbus Ohio - Baltimore and Columbia Maryland - Richmond and Charlottesville Virginia - Shepardstown West Virginia - Asheville North Carolina - Columbia, South Carolina - Gainesville and Miami Florida …
One thing that came out was that the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), for which Rev. Tom Smith is co-director, has extended its tax-exempt status to other organizations which share its mission of standing on the side of love with the world’s peoples, offering support and solidarity while fighting U.S. policy responsible for so much misery, including U.S. policy that negatively affects people in the United States, Hurricane Katrina coming immediately to mind.
One such organization for which Pastors for Peace handled funds when no one else would take the risk, is Viva Palestina, IFCO still has to deal with persistent harassent from U.S. Treasury in this regard. This year’s flotilla, with the U.S. boat to Gaza “The Audacity of Hope,” was organized apart apart from the framework of last year’s Viva Palestina, but the principle remains that IFCO doesn’t cave, and doesn’t shirk in the face of government harassment, including abuse of the federal grand jury system.