Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

France Assemblée Annuelle 2012

2012/08/06

Assemblée de France

Assemblée Annuelle 2012

A la Gardiolle, près de St Hyppolyte du Fort, Languedoc Roussillon

Thème « Faisons notre avenir ensemble »

Epître,

Aux Amis de par le monde,

Nous nous retrouvons encore avec plaisir à l’Accueil Montfortain, rassemblant une trentaine d’Amis, amis et nos visiteurs de EMES, de Britain Yearly Meeting et un membre de Moscou, qui nous ont apporté les salutations et les nouvelles de leurs assemblées respectives, ainsi qu’un Ami qui était au Kenya pour la conférence mondiale, dont il nous a parlé.

Il a fait un temps splendide, à part une nuit d’orage qui a allégé et rafraichi la chaleur du soleil au ciel intact de toutes nos journées.

De par la volonté de tous à participer aux partages de notre assemblée, nous avons ressenti un rapprochement profond et le sentiment que nous avions vraiment appris à nous connaitre «dans les choses qui sont éternelles». Prenant notre thème au sérieux nous avons vraiment travaillé ensemble dans un esprit de coopération et de responsabilité, même pour toutes les petites tâches quotidiennes, ce qui a créé une ambiance d’amitié.

C’est pour les Amis, habituellement isolés, une joie de pouvoir assister aux assemblées de recueillement étoffées et au silence profond. Nous avons institué depuis 6 mois, en particulier à leur intention, et pour tous les membres et sympathisants, un système expérimental de ‘boucle’ par téléphone/ e-mail/poste. Chacun peut être en contact régulier avec quatre autres personnes. Cela a été apprécié et nous avons décidé de continuer cette expérience.

Cette année notre programme a introduit un travail de rénovation de ce qui va être le livre de référence, des Quakers en France à l’avenir:-

a)        pour rassembler les textes et témoignages de vie des Quakers francophones, choisis par les membres actuels, pour former la base de ‘Foi et Témoignages’.

b)      pour l’adoption, comme document de travail, d’une ébauche de notre Pratiques et Usages à revoir d’ici un an.

Pour mieux nous connaître, en binôme, nous avons invité chacun à expliquer à l’autre, qui en prend note, son cheminement spirituel, ce qui l’a amené aux Quakers et ce qu’il y a trouvé. Ces écrits avec ceux des autres qui n’étaient pas présents, seront publiés, avec une photo de chacun, dans un livret.

Une innovation cette année a été de voir les ‘interviews’ spontanées des membres du groupe de Paris, devant la caméra d’un membre qui est journaliste professionnel. Les réponses aux questions telles que :-  « Pourquoi es-tu Quaker ? », « Qu’est ce qu’être Quaker veut dire pour toi ?», nous ont révélé combien notre appartenance nous touche au plus profond. Nous remercions cet ami d’avoir introduit ce qui est pour nous un nouveau medium de communication.

Comme à St Girons, l’année dernière, la jeunesse n’a pas été oubliée. Dans notre Assemblée annuelle la petite Maëva, 9 ans, a été accompagnée dans des travaux de peinture, lecture, musique et même dans la construction d’une cabane.  Elle s’est bien amusée à l’atelier pratique de ‘patchwork’ avec les grands.

Les Assemblées générales de nos trois associations [nécessairement distinctes, selon les exigences de la loi française des associations] se sont déroulées dans la sérénité et nous découvrons que la vie de nos groupes et les finances sont en bonne forme.

Notre fête du samedi soir, qui a fait ressortir beaucoup de talents insoupçonnés, était une occasion joyeuse pour tous.

Plus tard, le poème de l’épilogue nous a rappelé toutes les souffrances de notre monde, en nous incitant à faire appel à notre lumière intérieure pour y répondre. Ceci afin de trouver les moyens de mieux agir dans le monde, pour nous et pour nos gouvernements qui doivent s’adresser aux graves problèmes qui nous font face.

Nous vous envoyons notre amour avec notre amitié.

Secrétaire nationale

Britain Yearly Meeting 2009

2009/08/03

Epistle from Yearly Meeting Gathering, held at the University of York, 25 July-1 August 2009

To all Friends everywhere:
We send our loving greetings from the campus of the University of York. For the first time, we have held a combined Yearly Meeting, Summer Gathering and Junior Yearly Meeting. This has enabled a wide range of people with links to our Society to be present: 1,700 altogether, including 300 children and young people. Yorkshire Friends and many helpers made us very welcome.
We have been both a spiritual and physical community. At the heart of our Gathering lay the lake around which the buildings of the University are grouped. Like the surface of the water, our work was sometimes ruffled by the stiff breeze of change. At other times the waters lay still, reflecting the quiet strength of our gathered meetings.
We have participated in a wonderful variety of groups, sessions, and creative activities. Vivid images of connections and community will remain with us. All-age opportunities were particularly appreciated. The breadth and value of projects undertaken by Friends has been evident. This has all been a cause for celebration.
We have found our community of loving Friends to be a fellowship of smaller communities and groups, each arising from a common interest, each enhanced by listening to and respecting others.
We became conscious of the value of our connections: tender conversations in kitchens and corridors; deep connectedness in large meetings for worship; our complex relationships with Quaker history, traditions and the wider Quaker family; and our response to the beauty and pain of the world.
If we stay in the light, we will find spiritual energy to help us create new relationships and renew existing ones. In our dialogue and connections we are challenged to be inclusive, nurturing and constructive.
We have worked with openness and courage to discern the next stages in the recognition of same sex committed relationships, following the extensive consultations that have taken place over the past three years. Over many years attitudes within our yearly meeting have developed and shifted radically. We are now resolved to make significant alterations to our procedures, whilst remaining sensitive to those who would like us to move at a different pace.
Hearing personal accounts of a variety of patterns of relationships has greatly helped our discernment. We have heard moving examples of experiences of meetings for worship to celebrate committed relationships.
We are led to enable same sex marriages in a meeting for worship under the care of a meeting as we currently do for opposite sex marriages. We see this as embarking on a new phase of our life together. Registering officers are not, however, asked to step outside the law at this time. Revisions to Quaker faith & practice will be prepared. We are led to uphold this affirmation to the testimonies to truth and equality. Marriage is God’s work and we are the witnesses.
We have heard the benefits of the revision of our governance. The sharing of responsibilities between our Trustees and Meeting for Sufferings is working well. The document, A framework for action 2009-2014, is giving us structure and focus. The impact of the current economic situation is affecting many Friends and their meetings, yet may create opportunities for fresh approaches to our work. At all levels we can continue improving our stewardship.
Sustainability and caring for the environment have been amongst pressing issues raised. Looking for what each one of us can do has been emphasised. We welcome the public statement, A Quaker response to the crisis of climate change, in advance of the UN Conference in Copenhagen in December and urge Friends to take up its recommendations.
We return to our local meetings and daily lives strengthened by our experiences here. God called us to make the most of what we have; always to remember the good, the true and the beautiful; to be inspired and inspiring.
Signed in and on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting
Martin Ward, Clerk.

CENTRAL EUROPEAN FRIENDS GATHERING 2009

2009/06/04

CENTRAL EUROPEAN FRIENDS GATHERING 2009
EPISTLE

The gathering of Friends in Central Europe was held at the Don Bosco Haus in Vienna from Friday, 29 May to Monday 1 June, the weekend of Pentacost. There were 30 people from Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary,Poland, Slovakia and the UK. Among us there were Friends who had attended every gathering since the beginning, and F/friends for whom this was their first gathering. For some this was their first contact with Friends.

Among the new attenders, Tony and Agi Frei from Tolna, Hungary, represented 2000 Evangelical Friends whose community reaches from Hungary to Romania, Croatia and Serbia, including Roma as well as Hungarians, Romanians, Croats and Serbs. Their participation expanded our collective understanding of the roots and branches of our common Quaker beliefs and practices.

The theme of the gathering was ‘Challenges and Blessings of Small Meetings’. One of the real joys was to see – and hear about – the growth of the Prague Meeting. We reflected on the idea of Friends’ commitment to a spiritual path and to community.

Nancy Irving, Executive Secretary of FWCC, led us in a workshop on the history of the evolution of Friends, beginning with the teachings of George Fox. It’s in the teachings of George Fox and other early Seekers where we find the common ground shared by Evangelical Friends, Conservative, Programmed and Unprogrammed Friends. This includes the unmediated relationship between people and God, reflected in experimental learning; the principles of human equality, simplicity and non-violence. Where we diverge is over the question of authority: Evangelical Friends are unequivocally Christocentric and hold the Bible as the literal word of God and the authority by which personal revelation is tested. For the Unprogrammed/Liberal Friendpersonal experience or leadings have the highest authority and may be supported by the Bible or other significant writings and Christocentrism is not a given.

We enhanced our capacity to reach across these differences with an evening of active listening exercises, and we applied some of that learning to a simulation of a Quaker Quest process led by Kathy Butler.

After a free afternoon we met in our geographic groups and prepared collages of the past and present situation of our meetings. What fun! We concluded the evening with an epilogue literally filled up with lullabyes from our countries.

We departed enriched and inspired by our fellowship and by the opportunity to know and learn from each other.

The next gathering will be held the weekenf of 23/24 May – Pentacost – 2010 in Hungary.

Central & Southern Africa Yearly Meeting 2009

2009/04/26

CENTRAL & SOUTHERN AFRICA YEARLY MEETING 2009

EPISTLE
To Friends everywhere:
Yearly Meeting was held this year at Kadesh Barnea near Johannesburg from 8th to 14th April. Our theme was Living Quaker Concerns in Africa.

We were blessed by having Rex and Catherine Ambler to lead us in seven sessions spaced over the time of our meeting. We were taken through an ‘experiment with light’. This was a guided meditation directed at revealing the light within and what it shows us. It related to the individual, the world and the meeting. Courage is needed to find and accept the truth one knows about personally from experience. Books and CDs were available, as were the Amblers themselves, for help and advice.

In line with our theme, the Richard Gush lecture by Dudizile Mtshazo was not only inspirational but also prophetic. She outlined the pain she had experienced in growing up in apartheid South Africa and how that had affected her life and family. We were told lies about each other and ourselves, and she had discovered with great pain how she had been complicit in propping up an evil system by conforming and complying. However, the challenges she faced in her journey through those dark days paint the picture of a courageous and determined woman who, through her resilience, managed to improve her condition and that of others. She owes her spiritual growth to many southern African friends and has in turn nurtured many more through her prayer and insightful ministry. As Quakers today, in a world of violence and injustice, our task remains the same as it was for early Quakers: to be so moved by the light within us as “to let our lives speak” in the cause of peace. We can all look for and find reconciliation by being truthful and mindful of the light. Do what God does, and what God instructs us to do: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Zimbabwe continues to be a major concern for C&SAYM. The inclusive government may have brought with it new players, but friends’ humanitarian concerns persist. Land grabs continue, as well as abductions, imprisonment and intimidation by law-enforcement agencies. The economic meltdown has caused untold suffering to the ordinary citizen, crippling service delivery and threatening the lives of millions. Hlekweni has not been spared these hardships, but continues to operate under the innovative leadership of its coordinator David Jobson. Currency changes have negatively affected training programmes, putting training fees out of reach for many. Rampant theft has left Hlekweni with power shortages following the invasion of its farm, and power poles have been lost to woodcutters. Adequate supplies are critical for the centre and an appeal is made for financial resources to meet the costs.

24 participants, largely young friends, went through the Alternatives to Violence Programme under the guidance of three facilitators, Marie Odendaal, Nokuthula Mbethe and Kumbirai Muzangi. A well chosen mix of brainstorming, listening, role-playing and reflection was used to raise awareness on the importance of effective communication and cooperation as vital for community building, when done with trust and respect for oneself and others—an approach that affirms oneself while promoting nonviolence.

We have been reminded during C&SAYM that there are differing views on the subject of same-sex relationships. Friends at C&SAYM understand the difficulties that some African friends may have with such relationships. We affirm those friends’ desire to live by values that reflect the truth. Antagonism to same-sex relationships may derive from the prejudices of those who colonised and evangelised us. It may also derive from our own cultures. It may be fostered by a reading of scripture that appears to confirm this antagonism. In the past, friends have condoned slavery and colonialism, but in the spirit of love and truth we have overcome these errors. So now we seek, in the same spirit, to affirm and respect each other’s sexual orientation.

Margaret Roper presented the first edition of African Quaker Faith & Practice. This will be an immensely valuable resource to our friends and meetings. Appreciation was expressed to Margaret and Justine White for their dedicated work on this project and for the inclusive process they followed.

We are grateful to Betsy Coville who rose to the challenge of overseeing the children’s programme at short notice. There were eight young young friends, ranging in age from 3 to 12. Betsy not only mentored them as they learned through play, but actually provided all the materials used, thus creating a very stimulating environment for the children. The crowning moment was the meeting for worship with a special concern for children and to welcome newly arrived babies in Yearly Meeting. Alex Kuhn and Edwin Ritchken brought their newborn twins Lila and Gabriel, and Justine and Daniel Limpitlaw brought their newborn baby Kate. In both cases, our friends’ pregnancies had been difficult and we rejoiced at this happy outcome.

In reports from our meetings we have again been struck by the remarkable range of social witness in which friends are engaged throughout our region. The seven-minute talks gave an opportunity for friends to share some of these, viz.:

David Andriamparison on Madagascar;
Sipho Nsimbi on the Matabeleland Widows’ Community Initiative;
Bridget Nomonde Scoble on the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Initiative;
Gustave Wembo on an HIV/AIDS game;
Jeremy Routledge on the transforming power of reconciliation between women and men;
Polaki Polaki on sustained symbiosis;
Pauline Mitchell on working with the blind;
Nicholas Goodale on a 1652 country pilgrimage; and
Marie Odendaal on politics and Quakers.
– Les Mitchell on discourses on the abuse on non-human animals

An evening of Taizé worship was led by Winty Thomson with candles, chants, Bible readings, prayer and periods of silence.

In a special interest group, Dereje Woldorfa, Simon Fisher and Hollyn Green explained the curtailment of the work of the American Friends Service Committee to Zimbabwe, Somalia, DR Comgo and Burundi, and the removal of their office to Nairobi. This was due to financial constraints and a review of their priorities. We shall miss their presence in Pretoria, but we are pleased that their work in Zimbabwe will continue.

Another special interest group helped us to sharpen our understanding of the issues surrounding the production and use of energy in South Africa.

Journalling and visual chronicles was led by Betsy Coville. She showed us how we can enhance our journalling by sketches, paintings and collages. Visual material can be prepared in advance. We all wrote for ten minutes on what we do, what we love and what our hopes are. Journalling has been a traditional form of reflection for Quakers through the years.

Julie Povall led us through a presentation on different aspects of loss, from babyhood to old age. We agreed that this is a hugely important area, which we as Quakers need to consider in depth; for example, the questions of living wills, funerals and grief work. We shared our experiences of these themes and came to understand that loss involves a wide range of life experiences, and can even have positive aspects. We held a second session, where we each individually drew our lifelines with ups and downs, and shared them. This was a fascinating and moving experience.

Richard Aitken gave us an overview of Phoenix Zululand, working in the ten prisons of Zululand.

A video was shown tracing Barack Obama’s origins and his campaign leading to the White House.

An award-winning documentary entitled Taking Root, featuring the work of Kenya’s Nobel prizewinner, Wangari Maathai, who has been repeatedly arrested and detained. By 2007 the Green Belt Movement, which she started, was 30 years old and was credited with planting 35 million trees in Kenya.

Another documentary shown and discussed was Inside Out, which was filmed at Pitseng in Lesotho and focuses on Phelisamong (“living together and helping each other live”), a centre for people with multiple disabilities in which Caroline Mohapi is involved.

As usual, worship sharing was a highlight for many, and this practice continues to grace our yearly meetings with surprises from the spirit among us. Singing also continues to inspire our gatherings, and our celebration was occasion for ministry in music, drama and humour, particularly from young friends, young young friends and grandmothers, who entered into the spirit of that event with great verve.

We are grateful that Geoff Harris, who was taken ill during yearly meeting, is on the road to recovery.

Early morning exercise activities were in the form of Yoga with Rory Short and walks with Neil Brathwaite.

Trees were planted to compensate for carbon emission caused by travelling to the meeting.

We ask Friends around the world to continue praying for Southern Africa at 9pm.

Epistle writers: Lucille Kent, Sipho Nsimbi, Neil Brathwaite and Rob Thomson

EMEYF Spring Gathering 2009

2009/04/23

17 April 2009, Syria

To All Friends Everywhere,

Twenty-eight Quakers and friends of Friends met for the Europe and Middle East Young Friends (EMEYF) Spring Gathering 2009 in Syria from April 10 to April 17. We travelled from nine European and three Middle Eastern countries, coming together to consider and reflect on the theme “Faith, the Divine, and the Other” through small group discussions, Meetings for Worship, walks, and exploration of other religions. The group grew closer through these spiritual activities and communal living, music, dyeing Easter eggs, bonding in the hammams (baths), and watching a sunset over Damascus.

Our time in Syria was marked by moving between stillness and busyness, between quiet and activity. Our accommodation near rural Sednayah allowed us the opportunity to appreciate the open space and tranquility, contrasting with the old city of Damascus with its bustling ancient market full of colourful cloths, spices, soap, and sweets. In the historic Umayyad and Sayyida Zeinab Mosques we encountered prayer interspersed with lively family activity, an insight for those of us who worship in the tradition of a silent meeting and an opening to discourse on how our faiths interrelate. Many of us were deeply moved by the tenderness and unreserved emotion in prayer as well as the overwhelming warmth and love offered to us by individuals.

We were fortunate enough to learn from Sunni and Shi’ite Imams and in turn share our faith with them. These meetings allowed us to explore some common stereotypes of Islam. Many of us still struggle with concepts of gender roles in Islamic societies. In response to our lingering questions, we arranged to speak with a female women’s rights advocate. Her experiences as a teacher, lawyer and mother challenged our earlier conceptions and presented some of the complexities of male and female roles.

We also had the opportunity to share in our differing experiences of faith with figures in the Byzantine Catholic and Maronite Catholic traditions. We attended Easter Mass at Mar Sarkis, a 4th century Byzantine church in a village whose residents speak modern Aramaic, a language which has its roots in the Aramaic spoken by Jesus. During the service we were particularly moved by the haunting beauty of a lone female singer echoing throughout the stone sanctuary. Following Mass, we were welcomed at the monastery of Deir Mar Musa, where we were humbled by both the spirit of hospitality and the power of the mountainous landscape. Their friendliness and openness was characteristic of the hospitality and generosity of our Middle Eastern hosts throughout the week.

Through several group discussions, we have gained a better understanding of the reasons behind some of the violent conflicts in this region whilst maintaining our faith in the common humanity of all. A representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) highlighted the desperate situation of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees currently living in Syria. Two Friends with experience in the Middle East shared their witness of Quaker work in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. These seminars on Quaker history in the Middle East and the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) in Amman, Jordan opened discussion about nonviolence, definitions of peace, and how conflict with ‘the other’ can be better addressed.

Throughout this Gathering we have felt the erosion of the boundaries between ourselves and “the other”. With this in mind, we would like to close with a Surra from the Holy Qur’an (24:35):

Surra-Holy-Qu'ran-24:35

Surra-Holy-Qu'ran-24:35

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is a niche and within a lamp: the lamp is in a glass: the glass as it were a shining star kindled from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor west, whose oil is nigh luminous though fire scarce touched it. Light upon light! Allah does guide whom He will to His light: Allah sets forth parables for men: and knows all things.”

In Friendship,

EMEYF Spring Gathering, 2009

EMES 2009 annual meeting

2009/04/13

FWCC-EMES Annual Meeting 2009, Moyallon Centre, County Armagh, Northern Ireland

To Friends everywhere,
We have a vision of a flourishing garden and we are called to realise that vision and sustain it.

Our gardens are our Meetings and our concerns. We have been busy planting seeds, patiently waiting and tenderly caring, nurturing what we already have, harvesting our fruits and making plans for the future, mindful of right ordering and good governance. Friends in the European and Middle East Section of Friends World Committee for Consultation are using online communication to deepen Quaker experience and to share it with others in an increasing number of languages.

We have a flourishing Visiting Friends programme, which began with one Friend, then it was expanded to six. Now a pool of Friends is being equipped to travel within and beyond geographical, cultural and language areas, making connections and giving support. We are grateful for funding to develop the scheme.

We have reaffirmed our commitment to the Amari Play Centre near Ramallah. Friends have long had a concern to witness in the Middle East. The scheme continues to this day thanks to the dedicated staff on site, Friends in Ramallah and loyal donors from the Middle East, the US and Europe. Please join us in holding Swedish Friends in the Light as they develop meaningful proposals to strengthen the governance of the programme. The consolidation of this project in Amari is particularly important in view of the continuing violence in the area.

We have shared with each other about the actions and responses of our Meetings to environmental challenges and have learned about global energy security and peace issues that are being addressed by the Quaker Council for European Affairs. The need for a new international accord has caused us to examine how we can unite in a corporate concern to act together on the issue.

Forty-five of us travelled from seventeen countries to be at our annual meeting, at the Moyallon Centre, in the heart of Ireland Yearly Meeting. The 2006 opening of the Centre alongside the eighteenth century Meeting House was the fulfillment of a longstanding vision to encourage young people to walk closely with God.

The theme for our annual meeting was ‘Movements of the Spirit: reflections on Martha and Mary’. Like Martha and Mary when they opened their home to Jesus, we have been reminded, with movements of the spirit, to shed the cumber and distractions from our lives: to take inspiration from what we hold dear, the riches of our faith.

We missed our dear Friends from the Middle East and elsewhere who were unable to join us and hope that we will all be able to meet next year at Bonn-Venusberg in Germany.

12 April 2009

2008 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage

2008/12/31

2008 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage

To Friends everywhere,

We are rising up like a phoenix from a fire. So brothers and sisters spread your wings and fly higher.

The 2008 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage combined 25 youth and 4 adults, representing 7 different countries, traveling around the United Kingdom and Ireland.
As we reflect on our month long adventure, we continually seek to delve into our experience by using questions to explore ourselves, this community of pilgrims, and this area of the world. This pilgrimage’s theme was a journey through conflict to peace. On every level we have started our journey with dialogue and with cultivating an awareness of listening. This consciousness and intent has guided us as we examine how world, communal, and personal conflict has changed us.
Beginning our time in 1652 country, we were impressed with the accounts of early Quakers’ committed faith in the face of trials and tribulations. We held Meeting in the same space where early Quakers worshipped despite the threat of harassment and imprisonment for living their convictions. Such stories provided incentive and a powerful backdrop for our own testing of our faith and convictions.
We moved to Northern Ireland and began to learn about the historical and current political situation. Our consciousness of early Quakers provided a foundation with which to approach the Troubles with empathy and recognize the truth in the struggle of people to maintain their convictions of faith in the face of violence and politics. Through the efforts of Quakers to create a safe place for people to meet, we were again reminded of the importance of dialogue.
As we began this pilgrimage, some of us faced internal conflict as we questioned our spirituality and identity as Quakers. In gathering together, we were able to explore our own doubts and ideas in a community. While building connections with each other we dipped our toes in the water, testing the level of trust in the community. Individuals were struggling to find truth and wanted a supportive community and a safe place to express themselves. As our shared experiences deepened we grew bolder with our experiments. We were more willing to let ourselves go, put ourselves out there, and trust that people would catch us. This transformed the community into a family who would strive together towards truth and deeper exploration. We cultivated an awareness of listening to each other and striking a balance of holding one’s own center yet not overbearing another’s perspective.
With the miracles and jives of all our time together we felt God’s presence working and moving within the group. Through our dialogues we have created a vibrant and invigorated community. We part ways, in love and ready to continue.

Britain Yearly Meeting 2008

2008/05/31

Epistle from Britain Yearly Meeting
held at Friends House, London, 23-26 May 2008

To all Friends everywhere:

Greetings, dear Friends, from Britain Yearly Meeting, where up to 800 Quakers, diverse in many ways, gathered at Friends House London. Of these over a hundred children and young people enriched our community. Friends House came alive as a place of meeting and greeting, renewing existing friendships and making new ones. As we opened our hearts one to another in the truth of God, we experienced the personal warmth of friendship and passed around infectious smiles that the children gave us. It was good to laugh, to sing, and to join in stretching exercises, yet there have also been times of struggle.

A major theme running through the weekend was that of deepening our spiritual life and discernment as the basis of our action in the world. We have our individual understandings of the source of our Inward Light, but acceptance of our diversity is at the heart of our unity as Quakers. Our spiritual practice enables us to share an experience of the numinous whatever language we may use. Our calling is to foster the divine in all we meet, to say ‘yes’ in a world that frequently says ‘no’.

Our community has considered what it can mean to be ‘the seeds of change’. We recognise a transforming spiritual power in our worship, whether it acts like dynamite or like the force that enables the seed to push slowly, patiently, sometimes overcoming enormous resistance, towards light and growth. When we plant seeds, we know they need nourishment and protection. But seeds also need to break open before they can grow.

This year we are beginning to reap the benefits of recent changes in our structures. Our trustee body has expressed increasing confidence in its role, while members of Meeting for Sufferings are conscious of a growing sense of community. We have faced up to some ambivalence towards the concept of power, so often associated with domination, but have been led to a Quaker vision of power as the energy the spirit gives us to bring about transformation. We affirm our trustees in their exercise of the responsibility which we have freely given them, knowing they are using this power with integrity, clarity and accountability. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’

All our Meetings have been able to take part in creating a Long Term Framework to prioritise the Yearly Meeting’s work. New ways of working from the grassroots are exciting and we welcome the shift to networks of local groups supported by the centre. In order to be an effective prophetic community we all need one another. Perfection is not required of us; but that we walk cheerfully in the right direction, seeking to live sustainably on our earth.

We leave, seeking to practise the discernment that allows the Inward Light to transform us. May we live in God’s will as if it were our own. We send you this epistle with our love and hold you in our prayers as we trust you are holding us in yours.

Signed in and on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting

Martin Ward, Clerk