Northern Friends Peace Board reflect on politics and witness for peace

By staff writers
June 18, 2015

Members of the Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB) met in Glasgow on 13 June to discuss issues from peacebuilding in diverse communities to the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system.

The NFPB was set up by Quakers in 1913 to "advise and encourage Friends in the North, and through them their fellow Christians and citizens generally, in the active promotion of peace in all its height and breadth."

The general election results in May formed the backdrop to a sharing of views and reflections on the current state of politics on both sides of the border. Friends heard both of despair at the outcome of the election and the fears of some in their communities, but also of optimism that alternative voices can now be heard in the Westminster parliament, particularly in relation to Trident.

Mairi Campbell Jack, the recently appointed Parliamentary Engagement Officer for Scottish Quakers, described her work programme and priorities for the coming months.

Young people were part of the focus; those who feel marginalised as result of their religion or ethnicity, those who are engaging in politics in new ways and those who are subject to the now-persistent promotional efforts of the military as it finds more ways of getting into schools.

Two short videos, which Quaker Peace and Social Witness played a lead role in producing, were shown. These highlighted key concerns about attempts to increase military influence in schools. The forthcoming launch of the film The Unseen March will offer a different perspective during the week leading up to Armed Forces Day. (27 June).

The Board expressed a strong hope that it would be able to continue to find new ways of taking its work forward on the theme of Building Peace in Diverse Britain.

Friends were keen to see how dialogue and the conditions of peace can be developed across very varied communities. The Board also returned at several points in the day to the role of news media in framing political debate and how minorities are perceived, and heard of plans for a conference in the coming months that will seek to support Quakers and others in addressing aspects of this.

The meeting closed with silent worship, reflecting on the forthcoming 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The worship continued the following morning as some NFPB members joined with local Friends in a Quaker Meeting outside the gates of Faslane, the naval base for Trident weapons system.

* More information about The Unseen March here: http://www.quaker.org.uk/unseenmarch

* Northern Friends Peace Board http://nfpb.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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