Quakers to consider privilege and power at Britain Yearly Meeting

By agency reporter
May 23, 2019

More than one thousand Quakers head to London this week for a four-day meeting of witness and worship. With politics and society in a state of flux, this is a pivotal moment to consider privilege and power and how that impacts on the ability to make a difference.

Climate justice and inclusion are likely to be chief concerns. Quakers hold that all are unique, equal and made in the image of God. That leads them to put faith into action by working locally and globally to change the systems that cause injustice and conflict.

Siobhan Haire, first assistant clerk for Yearly Meeting, the annual decision-making meeting of Quakers in Britain, said, “At first, inclusion and climate justice don't seem to be connected. However, bring the idea of privilege into the mix, and you see that imbalances of power and 'othering' are what stand in the way of us being able to act with compassion on both issues."

Meetings for church affairs follow the Quaker business method. This is a discipline in which all present listen together and to each other. In communal stillness they discern how best to respond to the world's needs. A recent meeting concluded, “Although we do not know yet exactly what we must do, we must go forward with love that is active, fierce and focused."

Record numbers of children have registered for imaginative programmes for babies to 18 year olds.

Two lectures are traditionally held alongside Yearly Meeting:

The 2019 Salter Lecture at 12.30pm on Friday 24 May is under the auspices of Quaker Socialist Society. Catherine West MP will speak on 'Solutions for a divided society'.

The 2019 Swarthmore Lecture at 7.15pm on Saturday 25 May will be given by Eden Grace, a member of New England Yearly Meeting. As Global Ministries Director for Friends United Meeting, she is responsible for shepherding their programme of work in 11 countries on four continents. Her theme is 'On earth as it is in heaven; the kingdom of God and the yearning of creation'. She reflects on the theological, spiritual and biblical grounding of Quakers' witness on climate breakdown, relates experiences of people whose lives are impacted by climate crisis and asks how Quakers can act in solidarity with them in responding to climate emergency.

The Swarthmore Lecture is part of the work of Woodbrooke Centre and supported by the Swarthmore Lecture Committee, which is appointed by the trustees of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.

* Watch the lecture live here  at 7.15pm on Saturday 25 May.

*  Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

* Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/

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