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Updated: 2 years 40 weeks ago
Martin Weegmann urges Friends not to idealise tradition or the early Quakers Gerald Hewitson’s 2013 Swarthmore lecture was beautifully delivered, personal, historically illuminating and full of pathos. Many were moved by his account of personal transformation. His direct, South Yorkshire tone certainly added to my enjoyment, but I had a mixed reaction to the content.
Marc Morgan writes about his decision to fast as a form of protest Every year an international fast is held between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (6-9 August) in Burghfield, Paris and Büchel, the last NATO base in Germany at which nuclear weapons are stationed. I will be participating for the third time this year, and for the first time in Burghfield. The yearly fast is organised by the NGO Maison de Vigilance, in collaboration with the Sortir du Nucléaire Network, a gathering of over 900 French anti-nuclear NGOs. The fast was initiated in 1984 by Solange Fernex and Théodore Monod. It was initially held at Taverny, which was until 2010 the command and control centre for French nuclear weapons, and in Germany.
'The things which kill' by Guy Graybill When blinded Polyphemus chose a rock To hurl at bold Odysseus in his flight, His weapon was as one from cave-man’s stock; Its simple function: death to expedite!
From pinky subversion to a piece of peace Pinky subversion Wool Against Weapons has sparked ‘a whole subculture of pinky subversion, knit-ins, protests, cake and nattering’ says Jaine Rose, organiser of the campaign. A seven-mile pink peace scarf will be unrolled as part of a direct action protest on 9 August, between the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites of Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire. With the date of the protest fast approaching, knitters are industriously working to get the scarf completed and lapsed knitters are being inspired to get their needles clacking once more.
Friends are celebrating 200 years of continued Quaker presence in Norway Norwegian Quakers gathered in Stavanger last week for their Yearly Meeting. This year’s event was special, with Friends celebrating 200 years of continued Quaker presence in Norway. While the first Quaker visits to Norway are believed to have taken place in 1657 or 1658, Quakerism really took root there when freed Napoleonic war prisoners returned from London in 1814.
Jill Allum reflects on Friends as a community in the world ‘You are a community in the world.’ Who else remembers those words? They were spoken to us at the end of an ‘Equipping for Ministry Conference’ in 1991 by the Roman Catholic observer, who was asked to sum us up in five minutes. The Anglican observer did the same. Do we still invite outsiders to our conferences to tell us how we look to them? ‘A community in the world’ – does that sum up who we are as Quakers now as we head towards Bath?
The International Gathering of the Alternatives to Violence Project will take place in Maynooth More than 160 delegates from forty countries are gathering in Maynooth in Ireland from 13 to 19 July for the International Gathering of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). The theme of the Gathering, which has been strongly supported by Quakers in Ireland, is ‘Diversity and Sustainability’.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation supports a new journalism prize The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is supporting a new prize for in-depth journalism. ‘The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils’ will be awarded for the first time in 2015. The name is taken from the task given to the JRF by its founder: ‘to search out the underlying causes of weakness or evil’ that lay behind social problems in Britain.
Bootham School students volunteeredat The Retreat Quaker burial ground On Tuesday 1 July some 400 Bootham School students, aged between eleven and eighteen, took part in a ‘whole school service day’. Inspired and organised by history teacher and deputy housemaster, Robert Hudson, the service day saw the students work on a range of projects within their local community.
Quaker Social Action has gained the certification from the Living Wage Foundation Quaker Social Action (QSA) has gained the Living Wage Foundation’s certification. This means that every member of the east London charity’s staff, including contracted workers, earns not just the minimum but the living wage. This is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually, according to the cost of living in the UK.
Janet Scott writes from the meeting of the World Council of Churches Central Committee What does it mean to embark on a pilgrimage of justice and peace? This question has been occupying the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee meeting in Geneva from 2 to 9 July. It has been approached in two ways. One is how it is to be carried out in the WCC programmes; the other is the encouragement of churches working together for justice and peace in their local contexts.
Eric Bramsted reflects on culture, religion, identity and Israel As the son of a German Jew who fled from Frankfurt to the UK with his family immediately after he was dismissed from his grammar school teaching post when the Nazis came to power in 1933, I strongly disagree with the anti-Zionist views of Andree Ryan (27 June). My mother was a German gentile and I was brought up an Anglican and joined Friends in 1963. My wife is an active member of Wimbledon Reform Synagogue and I have worshipped there regularly for thirty years. I am also a member of the Kingston Quaker/Jewish Dialogue group.
From the Quaker view on assisted suicide to journalism No to assisted suicide I believe the Quaker view on assisted suicide should be no. The purpose of Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Worship for Business is to seek the will of God. The Religious Society of Friends has a serious purpose; it is not a political forum or place where marginal groups can seek unconditional support. The true nature of a Quaker concern seems to have been missed. For the process of discernment to work, Friends should speak truth to each other. Too often Friends remain silent because of politeness, being in awe of dominant Friends or the desire for a quiet life. In the documents produced by those advocating assisted suicide there is very little mention of the spirit. It is contrary to the teachings and actions of Jesus and his disciples; it is also not in line with Quaker faith practice up to the present. Life and death are serious matters which were discussed widely in the mainstream churches I came in contact with when I was clerk. I am uncomfortable with the idea of encouraging suicide as a means of coping with suffering. Assisted dying – not in my name. Death is a fact of life. We should choose life. Gareth Evans Trident proposals rejected As Helen Drewery so rightly says (4 July), there is no way we can accept the conclusion that the UK must have Trident. If it is ‘necessary’, what on earth for? It is absolutely useless in dealing with terrorists. And we could only use it legally if it was our very very last resort. Most senior military officers have said that there is no place for Trident in a modern arsenal. They would, of course, like the money but I think we could find better uses for it. Recently, Kate Hudson, the general secretary of CND asked James Arbuthnot, chair of the Select Defence Committee and much respected, why the government wanted Trident. He responded ‘for political reasons’. Altogether, it seems as if the Trident Commission is living in a parallel world. We must help them to see things more realistically and realise we have the most horrendous weapons without nuclear ones. Sarah Lasenby
Sybil Harvey-Lago writes in praise of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre Tell some of my fellow citizens of Birmingham that I am going to Woodbrooke and the response will frequently be ‘Where’s that?’ Although it is situated on a corner of the busy Bristol Road and Bournville Lane, it is shielded by mature trees with sweeping lawns, a lake, flower beds and a walled garden, supplying organic fruit and vegetables to the kitchen.
Ian Kirk-Smith writes about The Friend The Friend was established in 1843. It is one of only a handful of weekly magazines in the world that have been published continuously since then. In over 170 years it has failed to appear only a couple of times. This was during the second world war when there was a severe paper shortage. The Friend is not part of Britain Yearly Meeting. It is a completely independent journal. It was established to report on the life and witness of Friends in Britain and continues to do so. The magazine is both a mirror and a window. It reflects, back to Friends, the rich diversity of Quaker faith, in terms of the opinions and beliefs held, and the challenges faced by contemporary Quakerism. It also offers, for non-Friends, an insight into the world of Quakers and their values, concerns and activities.
Three members of Westminster Meeting, London, featured in the recent birthday honours list Three members of Westminster Meeting, London, featured in the recent birthday honours list. Michael Bartlet, lately parliamentary liaison secretary for the Religious Society of Friends in Britain from 1996 to 2013, was awarded an MBE for services to equality and social justice.
FWCC representatives took part in a residential meeting at The Moyallon Centre in Northern Ireland last week Sixteen representatives of the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) took part in a residential meeting at The Moyallon Centre in Northern Ireland last week. The centre adjoins the Moyallon Meeting House in County Armagh and for several of the participants the event offered a first glimpse of Ireland.
Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion of a report that says the UK should retain its nuclear deterrent Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion of a report published this week that says the UK should retain its nuclear deterrent. The report by the independent cross-party Trident Commission, set up by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), states that there is no credible alternative to Trident.
Over 1,200 Quakers are attending this week’s Friends General Conference (FGC) Gathering in Pennsylvania More than 1,200 Quakers are attending this week’s Friends General Conference (FGC) Gathering at the University of California’s Pennsylvania campus. This year’s theme is ‘Let Love Be the First Motion’, a quote from Quaker and eighteenth century abolitionist John Woolman.
A silent vigil was held at Church House to demonstrate against the first of two Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) conferences taking place there Eight Christians, including several Quakers, held a silent vigil at Church House in London on 24 June to demonstrate against the taking place there of the first of two Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) conferences. Among the conferences’ sponsors are some of the world’s largest arms companies, including BAE Systems, Finmeccanica and Lockheed Martin.