Central America Week involved an array of speakers, films and programs at many L.V. Colleges. LEPOCO members actively supported the Sanctuary Movement. The January Party was a square dance or a “Counter-Inaugural Ball”. In October the LEPOCO Chorus held a concert at Godfrey Daniels. In November we joined with the IPRC to once again sponsor a Bright Morning Star concert at NACC (a third time for Bright Morning Star to be in the valley).
We worked with several other organizations in the valley to sponsor several events. The organizations included L.V. Action for Nuclear Disarmament (AND), IPRC, Jobs with Peace Coalition (of which we were a member), Anti-Apartheid Committee of the L.V. We collected medical supplies for Central America.
The Annual Dinner featured Sonia Sonchez. We held a 10th Anniversary gathering since the end of the Vietnam War with a poetry reading by W.D. Ehrhart, a Vietnam Vet. We organized a bus to go to D.C. in April for the March for Peace and Justice. We sold lemonade again at the Bethlehem City Fair. In June, Congressman Don Ritter held a $150/plate fund raiser at Stabler Arena. We held a Peasant Banquet outside with 125 people attending. The White Peace Bird flew, and we offered beans and tortillas for 150 cents.
The Peace and Justice work organized, co-sponsored, publicized and endorsed by LEPOCO in 1986 covered a broad range of issues through a wide variety of ways and means. Efforts were as follows:
Disarmament: Worked with the local peace coalition for The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament; Participation in The People’s Summit; Hiroshima-Nagasaki Days observances.
Anti-Apartheid: Co-Sponsored Anti-Apartheid Lobbying Day in Harrisburg and public education programs on divestment; began South Africa Education Project with assistance of a grant from RESIST; Worked to urge Lehigh and Northampton Counties to divest pension funds of companies doing business in South Africa.
Central America: Three month long drive for Medical Aid for Central America; Organized against Contra aid funding in Congress; Organized support for the Nicaragua Travel Fund and for Lehigh Valley Travel to Nicaragua with many follow-up events; Co-Sponsored a play “Peasant of El Salvador”; Worked with Lehigh Valley Sanctuary Support Group on refugee support and toward making Allentown a Sanctuary city; “No More Lies Campaign”; Sponsored weekly fasts in solidarity with fasting veterans in Washington, DC; Demonstrations in DC and at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station.
Fundraising: Annual Dinner with Richard Falk as speaker; Yard Sale; Lemonade sales at Christmas City Fair; Bike-a-Thon (co-benefitting Bikes Not Bombs in Nicaragua; Peace Boutique sales; and a Phone-a-Thon.
LEPOCO Peace Chorus: Spring Sing at Godfrey Daniels; Eleven other performances throughout the valley.
We organized some opposition to a proposed incinerator in Bethlehem; Held a retreat in the fall to plan future activities; Coalition work with several local and national organizations.
For the peace community, 1987 brought no surprises, only a continuation of the work in Central America. The problems of Nicaragua dominated the efforts of LEPOCO in 1987.
The year’s local struggle for peace in Nicaragua opened with Nancy Tate and Joe DeRaymond standing trial in Washington, DC. Nancy and Joe, with 16 others, had opted to fight the charges stemming from the August 4, 1986, demonstration against contra aid in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. They spent six long weeks travelling to D.C. every week. Also returning were LEPOCO members who had joined a journey to El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua organized by the Rev. John Hall.
We raised money for Salvadoran earthquake victims with a fiesta featuring a performance by Grupo Panamericano. Another celebrant was Father Bernard Survil and he was joined by a sit-in at Rep. Don Ritter’s office when he refused to make a commitment to vote against further contra aid.
In April it was back to Washington on buses organized by LEPOCO. About 100 participants from the valley joined the thousands there. From May on we focused on drawing attention to opposition to contra aid via a letter writing campaign to everyone in Congress: A public forum, “Secrecy Versus Democracy”, in Bethlehem City Hall; Participation in the Pledge of Resistance demonstratin in Philadelphia; A public celebration of the Central America Peace Plan, held November 7th with over 100 people in downtown Bethlehem. Nancy Tate returned to Nicaragua in a Witness for Peace delegation; Rev. Norman Bent, Sr. from Nicaragua, spoke at a clergy breakfast; and Blake and Sue Ortman gave an update on their work in El Salvador.
We continued our work on apartheid in South Africa with the Lehigh Valley Coalition to End Apartheid but working on divestment. Hiroshima-Nagasaki days were commemorated with a special memorial service with attention on a boycott G. E. products campaign. Ann Hunt, our Conscientious Consumer correspondent, was bringing attention to this since January; This involved a store to store campaign to find alternate sources and to alert stores to the boycott.
We held a write-a-thon at South Mountain Park. Over 100 letters were written. We again raised money with a yard sale and the sale of lemonade at the Christmas City Fair. The annual dinner heard the Rev. Paul Washington of Philadelphia as our speaker. We gave a special Peace and Justice award to John Brennan. We changed treasurers from Margot Hillman to Marion Gupton (Thorne) at the dinner.
In January, a group of 20 people attended a LEPOCO retreat at Kirkridge Retreat Center where a consensus was reached to continue LEPOCO’s work on Central America, South Africa, war toys opposition and to renew work against the mass burn incinerator while encouraging recycling.
On January 29th, Nina Ravitz, Joe DeRaymond, Valery Turner, Barbara Lloyd and Nancy Tate were arrested at Rep. Don Ritter’s office in Bethlehem for a sit-in opposing his vote on contra aid. Later Rep. Ritter, to everyone’s surprise, dropped the charges.
During Central America Week in March, the Byler family and Barbara Lloyd reported on their trips to El Salvador in 1987 and 1988. We placed an ad in The Morning Call in March, directed at President Reagan and encouraging him to support the Central American Peace Plan. The ad was placed by Lehigh Valley residents who had travelled to Nicaragua and disagreed with Rasgan’s policy there. Also in March over 50 people gathered on short notice to protest the 3500 U.S. troops who invaded Honduras. In May we welcomed the Veterans Peace Convoy to lunch in Allentown as it was on its way to Nicaragua carrying food and medicine.
June was busy as LEPOCO had joined other peace, community and church groups to fill a cargo container with humanitarian aid for shipment to Nicaragua on September 10th. There was state-wide action against the PA National Guard involvement in Central America and LEPOCO brought out over 30 people for a demonstration at the National Guard Armory in Allentown. Also a rally was held in Harrisburg that LEPOCO members attended in support of a proposal that PA National Guard never be allowed to train in Central America. In October local activists joined a peace action at the Pentagon to take a stand against U.S. policy in Central America. Also in October the east coast of Nicaragua was devastated by Hurricane Joan and we gathered materials to send there. The U.S. government refused to send any aid.
Also in June a busload of local residents joined thousands in New York City to call for worldwide disarmament. In August we once again held our annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki program at the Tondabayashi Serenity Garden in Bethlehem.1988 saw even more L.V. residents traveling as citizen diplomats. Among them were John Wallach, Denise Prowell, Lenny Flank, Jr., Rob and Ann Winston, Barbara Lloyd and the Byler family who all spent time in Central America. In December we saw off Maxine Alper and Tom Cole for a planned year in Guatemala. Chris Ney spent three months in Chile and Nancy Tate traveled to Chile and Mexico as a quest of Service for Peace and Justice chapters in those countries. New L.V. travelers visited the Soviet Union while others visited here from the Soviet Union.
Dave McReynolds spoke of hope and commitment to nonviolence at our annual dinner. The LEPOCO Chorus continued to sing at several venues. Third World Crafts and peace boutique items were sold. We held several Potluck and Politics and we supported the annual Peace Pilgrimage.
LEPOCO’s continued struggle for peace and justice broadened in scope in 1989.Central America activities expanded to include Panama, as well as expanding further into Latin America to include Chile. New interest in nuclear disarmament and feminism came into the foreground.
Environmental issues were also of importance.
Central America: Letter writing, press conferences, rallies, meetings and delegations were done all year. A number of people, including Blake and Sue Byler-Ortman, Kori and Larry Leaman-Miller and Barbara Scott shared their recent Central American experiences. Other LEPOCO members showed support in other ways: Jeff Vitelli joined a caravan to El Salvador to ensure delivery of medical, school and food supplies to earthquake victims; John Wallach went to Nicaragua to help again with the all-important coffee harvest. Nina Ravitz, Chris Ney and Margaret Wilde made trips to Nicaragua. During Central America week in March a fiesta at the Unitarian Church was held to raise funds for humanitarian aid. A Stations of the Cross walk was held in Allentown to connect problems of the homeless with the war in Central America.. An additional protest calling for the “PA Guard out of Central America was held. In October Roberta Bacic, of SERPAJ-Chile visited sharing hopes in Chile.
Due to the presence of Miguel Antonio Bernal, a Fulbright professor at Lehigh Univ., a study group was formed to learn about the situation in Panama. We held a call-in to George Bush to protest the invasion of Panama. A service was held to commemorate the murder of six Jesuit priests and their housekeepers in San Salvador. 100 People rallied in Bethlehem for peace in El Salvador.
Anti Apartheid work continued as support for various organizations such as the Progressive Student Alliance at Lehigh and the Lehigh Valley Friends in hosting a talk by Rommel Roberts, a South African Quaker as well as the Bethlehem NAACP in a letter writing campaign. A number of LEPOCO members participated in a March for the Children of South Africa in Washington, D.C. in June.
Thanks to new LEPOCO staff member Jim Shackelford work on Nuclear Disarmament began with several actions.
Several Potluck & Politics programs were held throughout the year on areas such as Chile, South Korea, the Soviet Union and the Middle East. The LEPOCO Peace Chorus sang at several functions during the year. The incinerator was finally defeated, due in part to the efforts of LEPOCO members on the Ad Hoc Committee for a Clean Environment.
Fundraisers included the Annual Phonathon, the Lemonade Stand at City Fair, Super Sunday in Allentown, the Bucks County Peace Fair, the Bike-a-thon, the Southside Fair, a Yardsale and the Annual Dinner and Art Raffle with W.D. Ehrhart as speaker. We looked to the future with plans for a summer peace camp and special ways to celebrate our 25th year.
In early January Jim Shackelford attended the Mobilization for Survival and Weapons Facilities Network conferences in Orlando, FL. LEPOCO held another retreat at Kirkridge in January. 18 people attended. The feminist discussion group continued for several months.
Panama: Miguel Bernal and Gary Olson gave a talk about the invasion of Panama. In December 30 people gather for vigil in Bethlehem to remember the Panama invasion. In July Nancy Tate goes with delegation to Panama and Guatemala with short visit to El Salvador.
Guatemala: In May we held a send-off for Winnie Romeril to a dangerous mission with Peace Brigades International in Guatemala. In June several LEPOCO members attended a National Conference on Guatemala.
Nicaragua: In February there was a send-off service for Margaret Wilde to go to Nicaragua to join U.S. church leaders observing their election. In February the Central America Working Group of LEPOCO passed out leaflets concerning the election in Nicaragua.
El Salvador: March was the 10th Anniversary of the assassination of Bishop Romero. There was a march and rally in D.C. which had over 500 people were arrested including 12 from LEPOCO. In July Guy Gray’s video about this demonstration was aired on local cable TV. In November at a commemoration of the murder of the 6 Jesuits and 2 women in Allentown, John August and Blake Ortman gave a talk about their trips to El Salvador.
Disarmament Working Group: In March the was a press conference on Federal Budget priorities. In April there was a new emphasis on the G.E. Boycott. Jim Shackelford started a monthly article in the Newsletter called Do It At Home giving ideas that members could do from their homes.
Middle East: August 9th Bush sends troops to Saudi Arabia. LEPOCO holds first of many vigils. In September LEPOCO organizes a Middle East event in Bethlehem. Margot Hillman, Barbara Lloyd and Gary Olson give talks. In November 11 people speak at press conference about Middle East organized by LEPOCO. We announce Ron Kovik antiwar ad on CNN. Vigils are started several days a week in November.
Potluck & Politics: In March Hans Wuerth gave a talk about the German reunification. In April Tom Lloyd gave a talk about the chemistry of pollution. In May Bonnie McDonald from Turning Point spoke about violence in the home. In June Father Tom Hagan gave a talk about Haiti. At the beginning of October Nancy Tate spoke about her trip to Central America. Later October Miguel Bernal returned from Panama and gave an update on the situation there.
In July LEPOCO held its first Peace Camp at which 75 young people from ages 6 to 12 attended.
Fundraisers: In February the LEPOCO Peace Chorus sang at a concert at Godfrey Daniels. In March was the Annual Dinner marking the beginning of LEPOCO’s 25th year featuring Howard Zinn, who gave a message of hope for change. In June we once again held a Bike-a-Thon which we shared with the Environmental Project of Central America. In July we once again sold lemonade at the Christmas City Fair. In September we had a booth at Super Sunday. In September we held a yard sale. In November we held our Annual Phone-a-thon.
In April LEPOCO held another “Stations of the Cross” walk in Allentown. Tax Day activities involved passing out leaflets at various post offices in Bethlehem and Allentown. We had Earth Day booths in Bethlehem and in Kutztown. 180 people sign up for the newsletter. Once again we held a Hiroshima-Nagasaki program in Tondabayashi Gardens in Bethlehem. In November Michael Marsh from WRL teaches locals about draft counseling.
War clouds gather. Middle East peace vigils continue every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Middle East: On January 12th 250people march and rally for peace in Bethlehem. Congress votes to authorize use of force against Iraq. January 16 President Bush orders the bombing of Iraq. On January 17th 100 people protest at Rep. Ritter’s office. 12 refuse to leave and get arrested. In march a hearing was held. Cong. Ritter does not show so case was dropped. Late in January 100 Students Against the War” march in Allentown. Om January 25 LEPOCO had 3 busloads from the L.V. and join 250,000 for demonstration in D.C. In mid-February 150 people attend M.E. peace vigils in 14 local communities. On February 24th 100 people attend hill-to-hill bridge candlelight vigil in response to ground war. On 2/28 Bush orders a cease fire. In March Veterans For Peace join “Support the Troops” parade in Phillipsburg. COCOME (Committee of Concern on the Middle East) hosts a panel on censorship at Moravian College. Joe Reedy, who was fired from the Kutztown Patriot, speaks about articles against the Gulf War. July 4th saw about 100 LEPOCO members march for peace in the L.V. Welcome Home Parade in Bethlehem. In September our own “Marching for Peace” video was shown at COCOME meeting. Stephanie Atkinson, a Gulf War resistor, speaks at Lehigh, sponsored by the Draft & Military counseling Group and the Progressive Student Alliance from Lehigh.
Latin America: Gladys Carter and Nancy Tate attend “Changing the Face of America” conference in May in Oakland, CA. In September Monica Somerville reports on her trip to Panama and Nicaragua. CAWG sponsors a series of talks by Winnie Romeril on her work with PBI in Guatemala.
Peace Camp was again held the last week of July and 88 children with 35 volunteers sharing the week.
Potluck and Politics: In February Kenichi Nagane of Japan brings “Never Again Campaign” to LEPOCO. He also spoke at several schools and other groups. In April Alan Streater talked about bicycling as a way of life in the Netherlands. Also in April Father Bernie Survil spoke about actions in Guatemala. In May Rev. Francisco Francheschi speaks on Puerto Rico. In October Sadee Pyne speaks on Problems in Burma. In November Carla Messinger and Susan Carty spoke on Lenni Lenape Native Americans. In December four Latina/o guests spoke about the current situation and history of Latin Americans in the L.V.
LEPOCO Peace Chorus: 60 people hear the Chorus in a concert at Godfrey Daniels in May. LEPOCO Chorus sings at a vigil marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Chorus sings and Alice Rader leads Dances of Universal Peace at Open Space Gallery in Allentown to benefit 6th Street Shelter.
Other Activities: In February LEPOCO has training for military counseling. For Tax Day 60 people join Tax Day march for a “Peace of the Pie” street theater. In May “Nowhere to Hide” is shown by LEPOCO at the Bethlehem Library. In June a farewell picnic was held for Jim Shackelford as he leaves full-time LEPOCO staff. Mike Lawton and Rose Marie Friedman join the staff at the end of the summer. Later in June a rally for National Healthcare is held in Center City Allentown. Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration is held at the Tondabayashi Gardens and then down at the Monocacy Creek.
Around the same time a weakened Sanctuary City Resolution is passed by the Allentown City Council. In October Amy Shultis attends the Mobilization for Survival National Convention in Wisconsin. Also in October Barbara & Tom Lloyd presented slides discussion of their visit to Yugoslavia. In December many LEPOCO members participated in the annual Peace Pilgrimage from Nazareth, PA to Bethlehem, PA.
January 17-19 once again had LEPOCO members in Retreat at Kirkridge Retreat Center with theme: Letting Trickle Down Give Way to Bubble Up.
Middle East: Vigils held in Allentown and Bethlehem to end sanctions against Iraq.
Latin America: Father Bernie Survil makes a return appearance with two Mayan young people.
Potluck and Politics: In January Union of Concerned Scientist’s Kevin Knoblock speaks to LEPOCO. In April Laura Olson spoke on “Why Not Socialized Medicine”. In May Bobbie trotter speaks and reads from Visions of War, Dreams of Peace. In June Beverly Morgan and others speak on “Civil Rights for Gays and Lesbians”. In July Christine Schweitzer speaks on “struggling for nonviolence in the midst of war: a report from Yugoslavia. In October Jose Basto speaks on “East Timor: Hidden Genocide”. Also in October Al Wurth speaks on “What is GATT”. In November Sylvia Stengle speaks on “Vietnam Revisited”.
Peace Chorus: In early May LEPOCO Peace Chorus sings again at Godfrey Daniels. In late May the Chorus sings at May Fair in Allentown. In October the Chorus sings at Turning Point vigil in Allentown. In November the Chorus and Alice Rader join together at Easton YWCA benefitting Women’s Shelter.
Fundraisers: Annual Dinner held with Rosamel Millaman of Chile as speaker. May 12th and 13th LEPOCO is present at Bethlehem’s 250th Anniversary Community Expo. Also in May LEPOCO holds a Garden Sale of Vegetable and Flower Plants. At the end of May we held our annual Bike-a-Thon. In early July LEPOCO had a booth at the Easton Heritage Days. In mid-July we had a booth at the Christmas City Fair with LEPOCO serving its famous lemonade. In September LEPOCO had a booth at Super Sunday in Allentown and also distributed flyers in the streets about Columbus myths. Shortly thereafter we held a theater party at Touchstone Theatre. In late September we held our annual Yard Sale.
Other Activities: Tax Day activities included a walk from Center City Bethlehem to the South Side for a “Peace of the Pie”. In May we held a People’s Unity March in Allentown. In the beginning of June Greta Browne attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. On June 27th a few members of LEPOCO participate in March for Democracy in Haiti in Washington, D.C. Week of June 29th LEPOCO again held its annual Peace Camp. In early August we held once again our annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki program. In December Nancy Tate participates in Fellowship of Reconciliation Delegation to Ecuador. LEPOCO members once again participate in the annual Peace Pilgrimage.
Middle East: In early January David Shen and Dr. Chris Hansen speak at Friends Meeting. Over $600 raised for Iraqi Children’s Relief..
Latin America: At the end of January Chris Ney and Heather Morris present program at Lehigh titled “In Chile They Torture: The Story of the Sebastian Acevedo Anti-Torture Movement”. We held program in February “Haiti Happening” at Second Street Arts Coop in Allentown to raise money to send Tomas Wolff to Haiti with Clergy and Laity Concerned Delegation. In July we held celebration of Salvadoran Peace Process with Father Omar Calix at Alice & Mark Rader’s home in Allentown. In October there was a “Visions of Haiti” exhibit by Tomas Wolff at the Open Space Gallery in Allentown. In December we organized a letter writing urging U.S. support for the Peace Process in Central America and delivered to Rep. Paul Mchale.
Potluck and Politics: In April Ginny Booth and Jim Shackleford presented “Being Allies to Children in a Violent Society”. Curt Keim presents a program about “U.S. Role in Somalia: Humanitarianism or Neo-Colonialism. In early November Janet and Urban Byler present “Jubilee Partners: An Intentional Community that Works”. In early December Nan Buzard presented a program entitled “Investing With Your Heart”.
Fundraisers: In March LEPOCO held the Annual Dinner at Cathedral Church with Brian Wilson as speaker. In late April LEPOCO had booth at Earth Days in Bethlehem. On May 22 LEPOCO held its annual Biking and Walking for Peace & Justice. On July 11th we had booth at Easton Heritage Days. From July 16th to 18th we had booth at Christmas City Fair with righteous lemonade. In mid September we had booth at Super Sunday in Allentown. In late September we held our annual Yard Sale (peaceful goods at non-exploitive prices). In mid November we held our annual Phonathon with hundreds of calls made to members.
Other Activities: In May the Bethlehem Area School Board rescinds its approval of Jr. ROTC after efforts of Youth & Militarism Committee. On July 24th LEPOCO held a Cesar Chavez Memorial Program at the Bethlehem Rose Garden. In late July LEPOCO held its annual Peace Camp once again at First Presbyterian Church in Allentown. On August 6th we held our annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Program at the Tondabayashi Gardens. On August 29th we participated in the 30th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream Speech” walk in Bethlehem. In early October Howard Douglas joins People’s Fast for Justice in Columbus, Ohio. On October 24th we celebrated the planting of the Peace Pole at Bethlehem’s Rose Garden (it was later replaced with a new Peace Pole with more languages). In mid November we had a display at the Conference on Violence in Schools at Lehigh.
Late January retreat postponed because of many snowstorms and later scheduled for April 29th and 30th.
Latin America: Americas Solidarity Group (ASG) does various programs throughout the year to educate members and public on Haiti. In March John Zachmann speaks to members about his trip to Cuba. In April members join 40-Day Fast to close U.S. Army School of the Americas. In September ASG and many other sponsors host the Batahola Youth Choir from Nicaragua for concert at Muhlenberg College.
LEPOCO Peace Chorus: On November 20th LEPOCO Peace Chorus does family concert at Godfrey Daniels.
Potluck and Politics: In late January Mimi Lang speaks of her experience as a Red Cross Volunteer in Armenia. In February Alan Streater speaks about Route 33 and its environmental impact. In May Laura Olson speaks on “Reinventing the Federal Budget”. In early October Janet Goloub and Martin Boksenbaum speak about their trip to Russia. In mid October Howard Douglas reports that Columbus, Ohio passed a resolution observing Indigenous Peoples Day. In early November Abby Reese talks about the Mexican Election. In early December we had a P&P about Gun Control.
Fundraisers: Cora Weiss speaks at Annual Dinner in March. In April Bev Morgan and Carol Thompson perform at House Concert. In June cyclists and walkers raise money for LEPOCO and Sixth Street Shelter. Scores of LEPOCO members help sell lemonade at the Christmas City Fair. LEPOCO has booth at Super Sunday in September. In October our Yard Sale goes well despite heavy rain. On November 6th Bob Dorough performs in House Party at home of Barb & Brad Schultz. November 12th -19th finds members calling to mailing list people for our Annual Phonathon (our biggest fundraiser). On December 4th we held an Open House for sale of Peace Boutique items.
Other Activities: April 15th Annual Tax Day finds members passing out leaflets about the Federal Budget. In May the Youth & Militarism Committee has table at Career Expo at Stabler Arena. In June Bonnie McDonald asks for help with trip to Peru where she will work for Nonviolence and Small Scale Development. Once again during the last week of July young people and many volunteers take part in Peace Camp. On August 5th LEPOCO again commemorates the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Yoko Okamoto of Japan presents gifts to LEPOCO. In October the Youth & Militarism Committee visits local high schools. In December LEPOCO members once again participate in the Annual Peace Pilgrimage. Ray Sommerville keeps members informed on the International Citizens Assembly to Stop the Spread of Weapons.