A major Quaker gathering plans to take a fresh look at ways to engage in the political process at a time when Britain has a new new coalition government and 'old ways' are being reconsidered.
The Religious Society of Friends' Yearly Meeting takes place in London next week - from 28 to 31 May 2010.
Quakers - who are known for their peace witness, advocacy of social justice and open spirituality - have a long tradition of challenging power and advocating reform.
Other business at Yearly Meeting will include an update on the radical decision Quakers made last summer to treat same sex and opposite sex marriages equally.
The recession has also prompted a session on 'the ministry of giving', with Quakers recognising the need for different forms of giving, praying, paying and acting together.
Gillian Ashmore, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain explained: “Our legacy is the love we create and the work we achieve together. This is an opportune moment to look at how our commitment to simplicity, truth, equality and peace drives Quakers to speak truth to power in love.”
During the four-day Meeting there are two lectures open to the public.
Roy Hattersley, former deputy leader of the Labour Party, and a highly regarded biographer whose subjects have included John Wesley, will give the Salter Lecture (4.00pm Friday 28 May, at Friends House in London) on “In Praise of Equality”.
He will explore economic and social priorities against the background of a changing political landscape. This lecture is being organised under the auspices of the Quaker Socialist Society.
Then at 7.00pm on Saturday 29 May, again at Friends House, the Swarthmore Lecture will tackle the subject of “The Unequal World We Inhabit”.
It is being given by Paul Lacey, until recently Presiding Clerk of the American Friends Service Committee. He will address the roots and fruits of terrorism and fundamentalism and reflect how Quakers and others can live a commitment to peace in the face of them. The Swarthmore Lecture was established in 1907.