Two Quakers with a background in environmental and peace activism have been appointed as the new senior staff at the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) in Brussels.
Gordon Matthews and Alexandra Bosbeer will take up their roles as QCEA's official 'representatives' in October. QCEA engages with the European Union and various European institutions to raise issues of Quaker concern.
Gordon Matthews, who currently lives in Evesham, is well-known as a Christian pacifist, having worked with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in England and the Europe-wide group Church and Peace. He served environmental science at the University of Bradford.
He said he is "passionately committed to working for justice, peace and environmental sustainability, and especially looking forward to engaging in advocacy on behalf of Quakers at the European level”.
Alexandra Bosbeer has supported movements for social justice around the world. She has recently been supporting the Occupy movement in Portland, Oregon, as well as blogging about politics in Central America from a Quaker perspective. She spent fifteen years in Ireland teaching environmental and social forest management. Her childhood was spent in three countries with a mixed-nationality family.
She said, “This opportunity to promote Quaker values is very exciting, and I am very much looking forward to two-way communication with other European Quakers on issues of importance to us”.
Matthews and Bosbeer will replace Liz Scurfield and Martina Weitsch, who have served as QCEA's representatives for the last ten years. They are the longest serving representatives in QCEA's history. Many Quakers have exprsesed appreciation for their work, although they have not been without their critics.
Martina Weitsch said, “A decade of continuous management has put QCEA on solid ground with a heightened profile”.
Quakers, known more formally as the Religious Society of Friends, grew out of radical movements in seventeenth-century England, which emphasised that anyone could encounter the risen Christ inwardly. There are around 400,000 Quakers in the world today.