Home  |  About Us  |  Events Contact Info  |  National BPF  |  Postings |  Pictures

Rochester BPF Chapter Revived

In Spring of 2001, a group of interested individuals from several Buddhist groups in Rochester began to meet to re-form a local chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, out of a need to respond to assaults being made on the environment (such as the then-proposed drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge), and many other issues. A Rochester chapter was active in the nineteen seventies, but fell into dormancy sometime in the eighties.

BPF board member Ken Kraft met with the group in July 2001, and gave helpful suggestions about the different styles chapters have, ranging from support groups for activists who engage individually in different organizations, to groups which organize their own programs and events.

Early meetings were devoted to building a collective vision for the group, resulting in a decision to focus efforts in 3 areas: human rights, the environment, and capital punishment. These areas of concern were temporarily put aside in the wake of September 11, when a response to the cries for war seemed the most urgent matter on the horizon. The group co-sponsored the Rochester Restraint Coalition, which was formed to encourage the government to respond to the terrorist attacks in ways that would not lead to further loss of civilian lives, and also participated in two interfaith potlucks at the Islamic Center that served both to support the local Moslem community and to learn more about why the attacks occurred.

More recently the group has started to hold public sittings, in which we sit silently in support of non-violent solutions to conlict, with signs explaining our purpose, and volunteers responding to questions from passers-by. We have found this to be a very powerful way of bearing witness that avoids the often strident and even angry quality of more conventional “peace” protests.

Post 9/11 activities have included: sending a representative (the only non-Christian participant!) to the monthly meetings of the Rochester Labor-Religion Coalition, and providing meals to participants of the New York Interfaith Prison Pilgrimage as they passed through Batavia and Rochester (the Prison Pilgrimage was an effort to educate the public about the death penalty and prison conditons). Also in the works is a response to the request of an inmate of Groveland Prison for Dharma instruction – held up by the lack of response from authorities at the prison.

Meetings start with a short sitting and often end with an action, such picking up garbage from city streets, bringing food for a local food cupboard, or writing letters to representatives on a selected issue. These activities are small, and can seem insigniicant in comparison to the many ills of society, but by doing them together we afirm our desire to engage with problems in a spirit of non-separation.

If you would like to add your address to the BPF e-mail list, please send us an email to info@rochesterbpf.org

For information about the national Buddhist Peace Fellowship, go to www.bpf.org.