Category Archives: Events

EcoQuakers booklet to help Meetings become more sustainable

EcoQuakers Ireland has produced a booklet to help Quaker Meetings in Ireland become more sustainable in line with the commitment made at Ireland Yearly Meeting in April 2016 that each Meeting would develop a sustainability plan before January 2017.

Responding to IYM 2016 booklet coverThe booklet, Responding to IYM 2016: Living sustainably and fairly on this earth, aims to help each Meeting answer the call to live peacefully and sustainably, with a vision that emerges from their own Meeting.

What does your Meeting feel led to do? What does love require?

The Quaker testimonies of equality and peace are witness to our vision of a world grounded in love and in answering that of God in each other. They call for a transformation of the economic and political system, as well as the ending of the misuse of the Earth’s resources, which we recognise creates inequality, destroys community, affects health and wellbeing, leads to war and erodes our integrity.

Friends all over the world are – in the Quaker tradition – stepping out of their comfort zones to see where their lives may contain the seeds of war in relation to sustainability. As part of this, the 2016 Friends World Committee for Consultation World Quaker Gathering in Peru called on Yearly Meetings around the world to initiate at least two concrete actions on sustainability by January 2017. In response, IYM in Spring 2016 committed to divest from fossil fuels, and has asked all Meetings to develop a sustainability plan, no matter how simple, before January 2017.

The booklet, which you can see here, outlines two example sustainability plans to demonstrate how different they can be, and contains some possible actions under the categories of Energy and Transport, Food and Biodiversity, Consumption and Finances, Cultivating Community and Speaking Truth to Power. This process needs to be joyful and spirit-led, and the booklet contains only promptings to help you create your own vision for sustainability within your Meeting.

We hope you find the booklet inspiring, comforting and challenging, and we look forward to exploring each others’ experiences at IYM 2017. In the meantime, please get in touch if you’d like a member of the EcoQuaker committee to come and talk with your Meeting. More importantly, we must remember to be compassionate with ourselves and others as we hold each other accountable to this task. This challenge is as much a spiritual call as a material one, to act not in fear, but with hope and love.

EcoQuakers Ireland – Richard Bloomfield (Cork), Alice Clark (South Belfast), Lynn Finnegan (Coleraine), Fiona Murdoch (Rathfarnham), and Jane Touhey (Churchtown). The IYM representative to Eco-Congregation Ireland, Gillian Armstrong (Rathfarnham) is an ex-officio member.

Minute 40 of Ireland Yearly Meeting 2016:

Call to action on Sustainability from Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Plenary in Peru Claire Conboy-Stephenson has read the minute agreed at the FWCC Plenary in Peru urging the worldwide Quaker community to re-double its efforts in relation to sustainability. It calls on Yearly Meetings to initiate at least two concrete actions on sustainability by January 2017.

The Special Interest Group facilitated by Eco-Quakers Ireland has reflected on this and has proposed a number of actions. We agree to the following two actions:

1.To commit to making all the Meetings within Ireland Yearly Meeting as sustainable as possible, considering such factors as accessibility by public transport, energy efficiency, use of Fairtrade tea and coffee and use of organic and locally sourced food when possible. We ask Meetings to develop a sustainability plan, no matter how simple, before January 2017. We ask Ireland Yearly Meeting to take its sustainability plan into consideration when planning for its next Yearly Meeting.

2.To follow in the steps of FWCC by developing an investment strategy, by January 2017, to ethically invest all the funds within the Yearly Meeting in sustainable and peaceful companies, and divest from destructive industries, including fossil fuels.

We also ask all Meetings to consider how truth prospers with regard to sustainability, taking care to relate this to all of our testimonies – peace, simplicity, truth and equality.

 

 

‘More effort is now needed to find ways to keep peace in Europe’ – QCEA

The Quaker Council of European Affairs issued the following statement on 27th June 2016:

Comment on UK referendum decision

The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) has commented on the result of the UK’s EU membership referendum. QCEA has also provided a quiet space for reflection in Brussels since the result was announced.

Leaving the EU

“The UK has decided to step away from an organisation which acts as a mechanism for dialogue, and which is a pillar of peace in Europe and the world. More effort is now needed to find ways to keep peace in Europe and to preserve the positive. In particular we should endeavour to ensure that the UK does not withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights”, said Andrew Lane, Representative at QCEA.

“Europe, including the UK, will be in greater need of Quaker values as an antidote to an emboldened far-right and to increased division and volatility that will be felt worst by the most vulnerable.” he said.

“The UK has voted to leave the EU, but cannot leave Europe, and nor can it walk away  from very real global challenges. Without the EU, the UK needs to find other ways to work in an integrated way with countries in Europe and beyond to address war, poverty and climate change”, Andrew said.

Reflection at Quaker House

Immediately after the result was announced QCEA opened the doors of Quaker House Brussels for anyone affected or worried about the UK leaving the EU. QCEA recognised that many UK nationals working within the EU institutions will have the course of their, and their family’s, lives and careers changed by the referendum result. QCEA set aside space for quiet reflection, but also welcomed visitors who wanted to share their shock and sadness.

Notes:

The Quaker Council for European Affairs brings a Quaker vision of just relationships to the 28 member European Union and to the 47 member Council of Europe.

In February 2016 QCEA’s governing Council discerned that the UK should remain a member of the EU.

 

Quakers in Britain call for ‘bridge-building’ following Brexit referendum result

Quakers in Britain are calling for “bridge-building” and the healing of divisions following the result of the Brexit referendum.

In a statement issued on 24th June, Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) says “there is now a great need for bridge-building, for reaching out to one another in love, trusting that below the political differences lie a shared a humanity and a wish for flourishing communities”.

Acknowledging that the outcome of the referendum, and the campaigning that led up to it, had shown up and sometimes exacerbated divisions within and between communities, BYM says that Quakers in England, Scotland and Wales are committed to working together and with others – including Quakers across Europe – for a peaceful and just world: “In the coming year our Quaker Yearly Meeting will focus on building movements with others locally and globally. We refuse to prejudge who is or is not an ally.”

The statement continues: “Turbulent times can be frightening, but the Spirit is a source of strength for all, guiding us in who we are and what we do. We take heart from the knowledge that with change comes opportunity. We will look for creative ways to find common cause, to listen, to influence and to persuade. As the status quo is shaken we and our neighbours must look to one another for support, wisdom and above all ways of healing divisions.”

The full statement can be read on the BYM website.

EcoQuakers make submission re how Ireland should adapt to climate change

EcoQuakers Ireland have made the following submission to the public consultation on plans for how Ireland should adapt to climate change. This is the first phase of consultation which will eventually result in the first National Climate Change Adaptation Framework by the end of 2017.

Submission to Climate Change Adaptation Framework

EcoQuakers Ireland, a Committee of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland, has two outstanding concerns to bring to the consultation:

  1. We are called to respond to vulnerabilities in our communities to the increasing effects of climate change. What is needed is nothing less than a transformation in how government responds. We believe the next Framework should contain specific actions to help local communities to understand what is happening, to make decisions, and to take actions to adapt to climate change, rather than to experience climate change as helpless victims of climate events. Communities must be enabled to:
    • engage creatively with how they can respond to climate change;
    • build networks that can inform government decisions; and,
    • design and engage in efforts to prevent potential conflict around climate change impacts.

This is only possible in communities that are resilient. Resilience must be actively nurtured where it is present and developed in communities where it is lacking. We believe community resilience should be an overarching theme in the next Framework.

2. It is nonsense to set adaptation/mitigation policies towards 2050    carbon reduction targets without working to specific and measurable milestones. We need a clear map. It follows that to become a zero carbon nation, mitigation and adaptation mechanisms are required across all sectors, without derogation.

As Quakers, we are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole Earth, in right sharing with all peoples. We recognise a moral duty to cherish our planet, not only for our own sake, but for the millions of people in developing countries already affected by climate change, and for the sake of future generations. As we build sustainability in our Quaker communities, we hope to be part of the change in our local communities to become places of mutual support, collaboration, challenge, laughter and celebration.

Thank you for taking our views into consideration.

~ EcoQuakers Ireland

 

 

Friends participate in Ecumenical Bible Week 2016

Thinking Allowed - Ecumenical Bible WeekRachel Bewley-Bateman of Churchtown Meeting, Dublin (pictured second from right), delivered a talk on the theme ‘Thinking Allowed – What Bible passages inform and challenge my response to climate change?’ during Ecumenical Bible Week.

Rachel, who is former Clerk of the Europe and Middle East Section of the Friends World Committee for Consultation and has an MA in Biblical Studies, was representing Friends in a chaired panel discussion and open forum, which was held on 19th May in St Paul’s, Arran Quay, Dublin.

Other speakers at the event included:

Archbishop Michael Jackson (Church of Ireland)
Gillian Kingston (Methodist Church)
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Roman Catholic Church)
Rev Katherine Meyer (Presbyterian Church)
Pastor Nick Park (Evangelical Alliance)

The full text of Rachel’s talk may be read here.

To find out more about Ecumenical Bible Week, see http://www.bibleweek.ie/.

 

Welcoming Refugees Group (DMM)

Since Autumn 2015, a concern has evolved amongst Quakers in Dublin regarding the refugees (numbering up to 4,000) expected to arrive in Ireland in particular under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) organised by the Government. In January 2016, a group of Dublin Quakers, calling themselves the Welcoming Refugees Group, came together, formed a committee, and have since held a number of meetings to consider possible actions.  As well as pledging support via the Irish Red Cross, individuals in the group compiled a list of ways in which they were willing to assist refugees following their arrival, including by English language tuition/conversation, befriending, arts/culture, work experience and accommodation.

Pending the arrival of the refugees, the group has engaged in efforts to inform itself about the general refugee situation including that of already arrived asylum seekers (over 4,800 in September 2015) in direct provision centres across the country. The group is currently seeking to discern the most appropriate supportive actions to take in relation to refugees already in the country including those in direct provision centres.

The group is represented at meetings of the Government’s IRPP Task Force involving the Red Cross and Religious Representatives.

April 2016

IYM issues statement on homelessness to politicians North and South

Ireland Yearly Meeting has issued a statement on homelessness to politicians North and South of the border calling for urgent action to be taken on the issue of homelessness, including the provision of good quality social housing.

The statement came about as a result of considerable discussion at Yearly Meeting (held in King’s Hospital, Dublin from 31st March to 3rd April 2016), which had been prompted by presentations from several homeless charities.

The full wording of the statement follows:

The Religious Society of Friends in Ireland (Quakers), gathered at its annual meeting, wishes to express its serious concern about the increasing numbers of homeless individuals and families.

In the past Quakers recognised the importance of good quality social housing, and today we believe a home is a fundamental human right.  In this context homelessness is frequently the manifestation of dysfunctional housing provision and weakness of effective policy and regulation.  We call on the authorities in both jurisdictions of Ireland to take urgent action to address the underlying structural causes of homelessness, including –

  • The appropriate provision of social housing
  • Strengthening the rights of tenants in the private rented sector
  • Removing the obstacles to making vacant properties available for occupation.

“A key message for Quakers is the importance of housing as a home, providing a secure place in which to thrive, not merely an individual financial investment.”

(Paula Harvey, Quaker Housing Trust UK)

DSCN1661
Pictured before the session on homelessness at Yearly Meeting from left to right: Dan Sinton, (outgoing) IYM Clerk, Peter Ramsey of Frederick Street Meeting, Nigel Bell of Churchtown Meeting, Fr Peter McVerry SJ of the Peter McVerry Trust and Rosie Castagner, IYM Recording Clerk

The following letter has also been sent to the editors of the national daily papers both sides of the border:

Dear [Editors Name]

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland wishes to express its serious concern about the increasing number of homeless individuals and families both south and north of the border.

At our recent Yearly Meeting in Dublin, we heard presentations from people engaged in several different homeless charities.

In the past Quakers recognised the importance of good quality social housing and today we believe a home is a fundamental human right.  In this context homelessness is frequently the manifestation of dysfunctional housing provision and weakness of effective policy and regulation.

We therefore call on the authorities in both jurisdictions of Ireland to take urgent action to address the underlying structural causes of homelessness, including the appropriate provision of social housing; strengthening the rights of tenants in the private rented sector; and removing the obstacles to making vacant properties available for occupation.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel H Sinton,

Clerk of Ireland Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland

This letter was published in The Belfast Telegraph.