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Irish Quakers commit to sustainability and ethical investments

Quaker Meetings in Ireland are set to become “as sustainable as possible”, following a resolution made by Ireland Yearly Meeting (IYM) on 3rd April 2016.

Each Meeting is asked to develop a sustainability plan before January 2017, taking into consideration factors such as accessibility by public transport, energy efficiency, use of Fairtrade tea and coffee and use of organic and locally sourced food, when possible (EcoQuakers are drawing up a template plan to help Meetings in this process).

IYM is asked to take the same factors into account when planning the next Yearly Meeting.

A commitment was also made to develop an investment strategy by January 2017 to ethically invest all funds* within Yearly Meeting in sustainable and peaceful companies, and to divest from destructive industries, including fossil fuels.

These two commitments were made following the call to action on sustainability that came from the Friends World Committee for Consultation’s Plenary in Peru in January 2016, urging the worldwide Quaker community to re-double its efforts in relation to sustainability.

*this includes all funds invested for growth or income by Yearly Meeting, Quarterly Meetings, Monthly Meetings and Preparative Meetings

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.

Epistle – IYM 2016

April 2016

To Friends Everywhere

We send warm greetings from Ireland Yearly Meeting, held from 31st March – 3rd April 2016 at King’s Hospital School on the western outskirts of Dublin.   The theme of our Yearly Meeting was “Who is my Neighbour?,  underpinned by a quotation from C. Winifred Lamb written circa 1954: “How can we, such a small insignificant group of people as the Society of Friends help to stem the tide of evil and hate, and greed and fear that is so widespread in the world today?” (Quaker Life & Practice: A Book of the Christian Experience of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, paragraph 4.13).

To read the full Epistle – click on the link below

Epistle IYM 2016

‘Who is my neighbour?’ IYM Public Lecture 2016

Will HaireMore than 180 people attended the Public Lecture at this year’s Ireland Yearly Meeting.

Addressing the topic, ‘Who is my Neighbour? What is our Testimony on Inclusion?’, Will Haire of South Belfast Quaker Meeting, called on us to consider how we can include those most in need in our society through a broader social contract, responsible participation in the economy, social service and by leading inclusive personal lives.

“We are challenged to create a counter-culture, challenging the mainstream and consumerism of our society and to argue in what we say, and in what we do, for a different way of life,” said Will.

“We have to argue for a fair tax system, fair pay for all, and for a fair welfare system,” he said, adding that taxes should be progressive, with the weight falling on those who can afford them.

DSCN1657“We have to argue for good, transparent governance of businesses, the economy, the state and indeed all institutions – ourselves included. That fits with our testimony to integrity, to our use of plan language.”

“We have to build better links with those who are experiencing poverty. We have to understand their views, their concerns. We have to include them in the process of our thinking, our action, to create a real dialogue.”

Will concluded: “We have to be the good neighbour, the neighbour to everyone who needs our help.”

You can read the full script of Will’s lecture here – IYM Public Lecture 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Gift of Conflict’ – Marisa Johnson

“Conflict brings with it the potential for deepening relationships, for learning, for transformation and spiritual development.”

Marisa Johnson, FWCC-EMES Secretary
Marisa Johnson, FWCC-EMES Secretary

That was the view expressed by Marisa Johnson, Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation – Europe and Middle East Section, when she addressed Ireland Yearly Meeting’s Ministry and Oversight session on 31st March 2016.

Marisa said that if we welcomed creativity, energy, connection and relationship as gifts, we needed to welcome conflict also, “as being intimately connected with all of these”.

“Just as we welcome the gift of fire to keep us warm and cook our food. Yet we are always aware that, out of control, fire can and does destroy,” she said.

Marjorie Lamb, Margrit Grey, Marisa Johnson

“In order for a conflict to become apparent, it is necessary for someone to care very deeply about something – most people do not seek conflict lightly, so need or passion are necessary to provide the required motivation and energy for conflict to become active. Caring and passion are gifts too.”

Marisa said we should encourage the emergence of many possible solutions, and try them on for size: “Do they meet the needs of all involved? Are they aligned to God’s gracious generosity and loving compassion?”

You can read the full text of Marisa’s talk here – Gift of Conflict – Marisa Johnson.  

Newtown Junior School marks Ireland 2016 by creating a peace garden

DSCF4012
Artist Ciara Harrison and Newtown pupils making poppies for the    Indoor Garden of Peace

Newtown Junior School in Waterford (Ireland’s only Quaker national school) has chosen to mark Ireland 2016 by creating an Indoor Garden of Peace.

Artist Ciara Harrison, a Rathfarnham Quaker and a past pupil of Newtown Secondary School, came up with the idea for the collaborative and educational art project and helped the children bring the peace garden to life.

“As a national school, Newtown Junior School was required to commemorate the anniversary of the 1916 Rising,” said Ciara, “But, as a Quaker school, it was important for them to respect the Quaker ethos of peace, pacificity and non-violence.

“We took on the approach of looking to the future – to the next 100 years – to promote a world of peace. We decided to use the symbol of a white poppy to do this.

Peace Garden_1“The initiative of the white poppy began in Britain in 1933 by a women’s pacifist group as a symbol of peace and non-violence. This symbol is widely used among Quakers in Britain and also in Ireland.

“We were inspired by this group and decided that we would produce a garden of peace where each pupil would produce a poppy (using recycled white fabric) that would then be installed in an area of the school, creating an Indoor Garden of Peace that would invite visitors, staff and pupils to walk among it and, at the end of the exhibition, to take a poppy of peace home with them.”

The Citizen’s Role in Building Peace, 30th March 2016

Militarisation and International Agreements
The Citizen’s Role in Building Peace

Friends Meeting House,
4/5  Eustace Street, Temple Bar (beside Irish Film Institute)
on
Wednesday, 30th March at 7.30 pm

All are welcome to a seminar on how we, as citizens of this country and the European Union, can influence policy makers and governments to promote alternatives to violence in this difficult time. It will also consider how small groups can give their advocacy real impact at UN, EU and local level.

The contributors to the seminar are:

  • Andrew Lane of Quaker Council for European Affairs, Brussels
  • Tony D’Costa of Pax Christi
  • Siobhan O’Donoghue of Uplift (Coordinated Action for Progressive Change)

They will explore their peace building and campaigning initiatives at UN, EU and grass roots level respectively.

  • Prof John Doyle, Director, Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstrcution, DCU who will consider recent developments in Irish Neutrality.

This free event is hosted by the Dublin Quaker Peace Committee.

Places are limited, so please let us know if you plan to be present.

Email Martin Leavy at martin.leavy@dcu.ie or text 087 648 8586 or Sean McCrum at smccrum.1949@gmail.com or text 087 947 4459

 

Safeguarding trainings for youth & children’s leaders – Dublin & Belfast

Youth Leaders – Sunday School Teachers….. This is just for you!!!!!

keeping safeIYM Education Committee and Youth Coordinator are hosting  worthwhile trainings which will help us support our Young Friends better.

We would really like to see you there if you are volunteering with our young people in any way!

Where? Rathfarnham  Meeting House  Date?14/04/16

South Belfast Meeting House  Date? 21/04/16

Time? 6:45-9:45pm  Cost? Free

What is the training about?

This accredited training is based on the principles of good practice in safeguarding children and young people as outlined in ‘Our Duty to Care’. This half-day certificated training programme covers:

  • awareness of safeguarding children and young people;
  • procedures for reporting concerns; and
  • code of behaviour for staff and volunteers.

Who delivers the training?

Keeping Children and Young People Safe training is delivered by qualified and accredited trainers who work for Volunteer Now . They have experiences of safeguarding issues

If all Sunday school teachers can’t make it, please encourage one or two to come. They can then share their learning with others in their Meeting.

Youth Leaders: this is really important for you!!! Please let me know if you (and others) are coming. There are 25 place available.

Carolyn  McMullan  iym.youth@outlook.com  Mobile Number 07834571117

Rathfarnham Friends shine a light on climate justice

Rathfarnham Quaker Meeting invited members of the local community to join them in a candle-lit vigil to mark Earth Hour on 19th March.

Almost 20 people took part in the hour-long vigil, which included several contributions on the theme of the environment and the need for climate justice.

DSCN1587
Gillian Armstrong, Member of Rathfarnham Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends representative on Eco-Congregation Ireland, pictured after the Earth Hour vigil with Aubrey Flegg of the Dublin Unitarian Church

It is the third year in a row Rathfarnham Meeting has marked Earth Hour in this way and they were pleased to be joined once again by a number of visitors from nearby churches.

Earth Hour is the world’s largest global day of environmental action, which sees millions of people throughout the globe switch off their lights for an hour at 8.30pm local time. Lights are switched off at landmark buildings throughout the globe, including this year at Áras an Uachtaráin.

The Meeting was pleased to host a special Shine a Light on Climate Justice candle for their event. The three-foot tall candle, which was commissioned late last year by Eco-Congregation Ireland (an ecumenical environmental project of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting), is travelling throughout Ireland visiting a different church or faith community each week.

Fairtrade makes a huge difference, banana farmer tells Rathfarnham Friends

Buying Fairtrade products makes a huge difference to the lives of farmers and producers, a banana farmer from the Dominican Republic told  Rathfarnham Friends when she visited their Meeting on 6th March.

DSCN1572Maria Genao, who undertook a speaking tour of Ireland to mark Fairtrade Fortnight, said that the impact that Fairtrade had on the lives of small producers were many. “It ensures our work as producers by protecting the market throughout the year, by helping us in many ways to keep growing and by being there through tough times when we are in need,” she said.

Maria, who works on her mother’s 3.5 hectare farm, said that the premium Fairtrade farmers received gave them stability during fluctuations in the market, like when there was no rain for 18 months, which drastically impacted the amount of bananas produced. It also enabled communities to put money into health and education and allowed farmers to live with dignity.

Maria has also set up a handcraft business, which sees local women and young people making baskets and table cloths from banana fibres. She hopes to find an export market for these items in the near future and to explore the possibilities of making other products from banana fibres.

DSCN1579Rathfarnham Friends were pleased to be joined by Friends from other Meetings – adults and children – to hear their special speaker.

The twelve children present were interested to hear that Maria and her family eat bananas at every meal and that, as well as eating ripe yellow bananas and banana pancakes, they cook green bananas, which they mash like mashed potatoes.

Rathfarnham Meeting made a commitment some years ago to only buying Fairtrade tea and coffee. To find out more about Fairtrade, see www.fairtrade.ie.