Quakers believe in putting faith into action. There is a well-loved Quaker saying, “Let your life speak.” As individuals and as Local Meetings, Friends support a wide range of causes, at home and abroad. Quakers advocate for peace, equality, truth, simplicity and the environment. Historically and presently, we have let our life speak through regular bodies and groups like the ones below.
Meeting for Sufferings
Friends representing Meetings around the country gather for what is called Meeting for Sufferings five times a year. Meeting for Sufferings was originally established in the 17th century to assess and seek redress for the persecution and suffering of Friends, some of whom were imprisoned for their faith.
Meeting for Sufferings is the standing representative body entrusted with the care of the business of Britain Yearly Meeting through the year.
Meeting for Sufferings has a visionary and prophetic role for the whole Society in Britain. It decides the priorities and sets the direction of the Yearly Meeting in the Long Term Framework. Meeting for Sufferings also plays a vital role in fostering communication throughout the Yearly Meeting and in reviewing and testing concerns referred to it by area meetings. It also gives guidance on policy issues referred to it by BYM Trustees.
- Southern East Anglia Quaker Meeting gives annual funds to support the work of Quakers in Britain. Over the years we have given special support to Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) peace workers .
- Alternatives to Trident – a group meets regularly at Colchester Meeting House; for more information, see Quakers and Trident. For information about the Quakers in Britain campaign, visit Don’t Support Trident.
- Economic justice –
“We agree to work together with others of goodwill to achieve a better economic system. However, we know that this will be a long journey with an, as yet, unknown outcome. We stand in this light and wait to discern what the new system could be. It is an enormously hard and transformative thing to pray for the emergence of a good economy – isn’t this the Kingdom of God which we pray for?”
Minute 17, Yearly Meeting of Quakers in Britain, 2012
Friends in Southern East Anglia Quaker Meeting are interested in ways our society can achieve a better, fairer economic system, such as suggested by Positive Money which campaigns for the power to create money to be used in the public interest, in a democratic, transparent and accountable way, rather than by the same banks that caused the financial crisis.
- food bank – each Local Meeting collects food and funds for their local foodbank: Colchester Food Bank, Clacton Food Bank, Sudbury Food Bank.
… and Concerns
Quakers have a specific understanding of the word “concern”, which may arise unexpectedly out of an interest or develop through worshipful search for the way forward. There is a feeling of being led, with a strong sense of doing the right thing, to take a course of action. When a Friend brings a personal concern to a Meeting, it is tested through a process of discernment, to see if the Meeting can unite behind the concern. This has led Southern East Anglia Quaker Meeting to support the following:
- Glebe House – Friends Therapeutic Community Trust. Underpinned by 50 years successful provision of therapeutic care, Glebe House offers an emotionally secure and monitored environment, which supports adolescent males who are at risk (emotionally and physically) to themselves, to children, to their families and to the wider community.
- Past concerns include supporting parliamentary advocacy work based at Friends House.
- Housing for those at risk of becoming homeless. This is a concern that dates back to the 1960s – see our separate page about Housing as a concern.
Britain Yearly Meeting
BYM is the annual meeting of Quakers across Britain. Held once a year in the Spring, we come together to discuss, make connections, and minute our most important issues and concerns.
Britain Yearly Meeting 2015 (1-4 May 2015, Friends House, London) is the first of three YMs with the theme ‘living out our faith in the world’. One focus this year is housing as a particular example of a tested concern in the areas of inequality and injustice.
You can hear the 2015 Swarthmore lecture by Diana Francis here.
You can read the 2015 Salter Lecture by Judith Kirton-Darling here.
It has been the experience of this yearly meeting in the past to know that Friends have met in division and uncertainty, and that then guidance has come, and light has been given to us, and we have become finders of God’s purpose. This gives us ground for confidence. We shall not be held back by the magnitude of the questions which are to come before us, nor by a sense of our own unworthiness.
London Yearly Meeting, 1936, Quaker Faith and Practice 2.91, 5th edition online