SOUTH BELFAST QUAKERS

That of God in everyone

Faithfully maintaining our testimony against war

On 6 March the national, representative Quaker body, Meeting for Sufferings, gathered in worship. Oliver Robertson shared this prepared ministry on the complex web of issues as major armed conflict has arisen again in Europe.
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Friends, let us hold in the Light the people of Ukraine. Let us hold in the Light the people of Russia. Let us hold in the Light the people of Afghanistan. Let us hold in the Light the people of Ethiopia. Let us hold in the Light the people of Myanmar. Let us hold in the Light those affected by conflicts we have forgotten or have never even heard of, because the consequences of war will scar lives just as they are doing in Kyiv. Let us hold in the Light the people working for peace. Let us hold in the Light the people who are not.
Prayer can be a great comfort, and a powerful spur to action. But what will comfort us and what will comfort others may be very different. We need to hear the voices of people affected by today's wars, so that their lived experience can help us better understand how God is leading us in that situation. But whose voices are we hearing? Pay attention to the news you notice and the events that move you, as it can be a window into your priorities and your prejudices.
Making connections
So how do we connect with people living close to armed conflict? During worship last weekend, one meeting put up on their walls the names of Russian and Ukrainian peacemakers. Many Friends have joined the online meetings for worship of Quakers in Kyiv, and of Friends House Moscow, which has been quietly building peace since the end of the Cold War. Whose voices should we be raising up? Which stories should we be challenging?
Oftentimes taking a pacifist stance, of faithfully maintaining 'our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ', is itself a challenge to a dominant narrative. Its value is often to remind people that there is another way, that even when war may seem the only answer there is still a choice and an alternative.
Nonviolent resistance
That alternative is not passivity. Friends and others have long experience of nonviolent resistance. People may nonviolently demonstrate, as thousands of Russians have been this past week, and being arrested for it – including children. People may refuse to support occupiers, both passively – such as not going to work – and actively – such as damaging the weapons they are forced to make. Many of the most powerful acts of nonviolent resistance manage to both challenge the oppressive action and assert the humanity of everyone involved. When Syrian protestors gave flowers and water to soldiers, it showed both that they were not a threat (so making it harder to shoot them) and meant that the soldiers could see them as people like themselves. Such actions are not about victory over an enemy, but about turning an enemy into a friend.
Upholding people
One of the ways Quakers have often acted on our conviction that we are all God's children, that everyone has value and worth, is to support the people shunned by others. This can be about practical support, and it can also be about reminding the rest of the world that these are people too.
When I think of the people who may be shunned, I think of conscientious objectors. It will take some considerable courage to be a conscientious objector to military service today in Russia and in Ukraine, though for different reasons. Quakers have long upheld the right to refuse to kill; how can we support those who are holding firm to that stance even in the most trying circumstances? Would we support COs who come to Britain? If we didn't, are we confident others would?
When I think of people being shunned, I think of those people fleeing Ukraine who are not white. People of colour in Ukraine, students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, have been reported to have been hampered or attacked as they tried to flee, denied support and accommodation in Ukraine and neighbouring countries because they are not Ukrainian. How can we support them, and in so doing uphold the notion that all refugees should be treated equally?
And when I think of people being shunned, I think of Russians around the world. It's probably very lonely being a Russian in a lot of countries right now. Are we helping to ensure that any outrage over the Russian government's actions does not turn into hatred of all Russians, those with no links to the government, no influence over its actions?
Opportunities for action
Many of us may be feeling, that's all well and good, sharing stories and holding in the Light and so on, but what can we actually DO? How can we stop the bloodshed or at least mitigate its impacts?
We may be able to give money, to give time, to offer hospitality, to undertake relief work, to use our resources and our riches as individuals and as communities. But the reality is that the role we can play from here in Britain, at this time of war, may be more limited than we would like. Friends may be familiar with the hourglass model of peace work, where there is space before war and after war to carry out many actions for peace, but at the time of conflict itself, where the hourglass pinches in the middle, there is very little opportunity.
There can sometimes be a temptation to think of what great thing we can do, on a par with the times past when Quakers organised the Kindertransport or advised the Russian Tsar. But those things could only happen because of groundwork being done, relationships being built, for years beforehand. Have we built the foundations we need for such work today? Has someone else, so that our role is to support? We aren't necessarily called to be amazing. We are called to be faithful.
Building the commonwealth of heaven on Earth
One of the things we can get from our faith and our long-established testimony against war is a clear vision of the world we want to see, the divine commonwealth that God is calling us to live in. Some of the greatest strides towards that world have come after very dark times. What are the changes that are needed? What work do we need to do now to clear the way for such changes to happen? What are the existing institutions and practices that need to be celebrated and maintained, even if they are imperfect? What would need to happen for Russia's neighbours not to see it as a threat? What would need to happen for a military alliance in Europe to feel unnecessary?
As Paul Parker was quoted last month, "war today is the failure of yesterday that leads to unimaginable human suffering on all sides. Imagine what could happen if we were willing to invest as much in peace as we currently do in preparing for war."
Just imagine Friends. Then let us get to work.
(Taken from BYM website - Written by Oliver Robertson - Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain)

Read more about Quaker responses to war in Ukraine

The Artform of Peace Building

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A really wonderful article on peace building with many mentions of Quakers and familiar Quaker and Quaker adjacent names like Diana and John Lampen, Duncan Morrow and Paul Hutchinson

https://aeon.co/essays/peacebuilding-is-an-artform-crafted-by-divided-peoples

Prof John Paul Lederach in conversation with Dr Gladys Ganiel



Reflecting on peacebuilding, conflict resolution and reconciliation

The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University hosts Professor John Paul Lederach of the University of Notre Dame (USA) ‘In Conversation’ via Zoom with Dr Gladys Ganiel (QUB). Lederach, an internationally acclaimed expert in conflict transformation, will reflect on the most significant advances in conflict transformation over the course of his career; his own research and practice; religion and reconciliation; and the prospects for peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and further afield. Ganiel’s research specialises in religion, conflict and reconciliation.

This is an event related to the 4 Corners Festival organised in partnership with the Senator George J Mitchell Institute, QUB.

In Memory of Joan Huddleston

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Today would have been Joan Huddleston's 80th birthday. Joan was one of the original co-founders of this website and worked tirelessly to produce material for it and provide guidance and support to the rest of the website team. One of the aspects of the site that Joan took full responsibility for was sourcing materials for the Musings from a Quaker Bonnet section. The series ran for 77 months, so there is a wealth of material from the old version of the site that we plan to gradually move to the new site, and no better time to start that than on Joan's Birthday. Joan would have often ministered in Meeting for Worship on the subject of peace, which was a testimony very close to her heart. If feels appropriate for this reason to start with the following Musing.

Peace begins within ourselves. It is to be implemented within the family, in our meetings, in our work and leisure, in our localities and internationally. The task will never be done. Peace is a progress to be engaged in, not a goal to be reached.

Sydney Bailey

How Much Are We Spending On The Military?

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For further details on the content of this info-graphic go to
https://howmuch.net/articles/the-worlds-military-spending

War School Screening @ The Meeting House

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War School is a film about the battle for the hearts and minds of Britain’s children. 
 
Set against the backdrop of Remembrance the controversial and challenging documentary reveals how, faced with unprecedented opposition to its wars, the British government is using a series of new and targeted strategies to promote support for the military. Armed Forces Day, Uniform to Work Day, Camo Day, National Heroes Day - in the streets, on television, on the web, at sports events, in schools, advertising and fashion – the military presence in civilian life is on the march. The public and ever younger children are being groomed to collude in the increasing militarisation of UK society.  
 
Interweaving the powerful and moving testimonies of veterans of Britain’s unbroken century of wars with expert commentary, archive and a redolent score, War School’s mosaic of sound and imagery evokes the story of the child soldier who becomes a peace campaigner, challenging the myth of Britain's benign role in world affairs and asking if perpetual war is really what we want for future generations? 

http://powprods.com/ws.html

Tea and Coffee served from 7:00pm Movie starts at 7:30pm

Campaign Against Arms Trade

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Dear friend,

WE HAVE BIG NEWS. THIS THURSDAY AT 10AM, A VERDICT IS DUE TO BE ANNOUNCED ON OUR APPEAL AGAINST THE SALE OF ARMS TO SAUDI ARABIA.

UK policy clearly states the government must deny licences if there is a ‘clear risk’ arms ‘might’ be used in ‘a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law’. In spite of hundreds of alleged breaches of International Humanitarian Law, the government has supplied more than £5 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since the conflict in Yemen began.

We feel hopeful that the Court of Appeal will agree these sales were in fact unlawful. Whatever the result, the worlds media will be watching, and we must use this moment to force change. Government must follow their own rules on arms sales, or rip them up and start again, because theyre not worth the paper theyre written on.

JOIN US AS THE NEWS BREAKS ON THURSDAY MORNING AT 10AM

Follow us on Twitter (https://crm.caat.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=3645&qid=1812553 or Facebook (https://crm.caat.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=3646&qid=1812553 , or if you can, come down to the Royal Courts of Justice on and be one of the first to know the result.

WHERE: OUTSIDE THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE (https://crm.caat.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=3647&qid=1812553 , STRAND, LONDON, WC2A 2LL. NEAREST TUBE/RAIL: TEMPLE, BLACKFRIARS, HOLBORN.

If you cant follow the news on Thursday, well let you know the result by email as soon as we can.

Whichever way this goes, I want to take this moment to thank you for all that you've done over the last four years as we've fought this legal battle together, for every email you've written or donation you've made. Without your support, this work simply couldn't happen.

https://crm.caat.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=3638&qid=1812553

In solidarity

Caroline
CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMS TRADE