Category Archives: News and Events

Ireland Yearly Meeting 2016 overview

Ireland Yearly Meeting 2016 challenged Friends to consider the question “Who is my neighbour?”

The quotation from Quaker Life and Practice which underpinned the theme further probed participants – “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 wide-spread in the world today?”  (C Winifred Lamb, c.1954, QL&P 4.13).

Such a topical theme was very welcome, and it was addressed throughout the three days in the business sessions, interest groups and public lecture.

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

Marisa Johnson, Executive Secretary of the Europe and Middle East section of Friends World Committee for Consultation, presented the Ministry and Oversight session on the first evening with the intriguing title ‘The Gift of Conflict’.

Will Haire
Will Haire, South Belfast Meeting

Will Haire of South Belfast Meeting delivered the public lecture titled ‘Who is my neighbour? What is our testimony on inclusion?’

Andrew Lane from the Quaker Council for European Affairs addressed the question ‘Who is my Neighbour in Europe?’ and there were several speakers on the topic of homelessness in Ireland.

IYM agreed to publish a statement on homelessness, and to write letters to politicians and to newspapers both sides of the border, calling for the provision of good quality social housing.

IYM also made a resolution to become “as sustainable as possible”, with each Meeting asked to prepare a sustainability plan before the end of the year.  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.

For the first time during a Yearly Meeting in Ireland, there were regular updates on IYM’s Facebook and Twitter and Friends who use social media were encouraged to like, comment, share and tweet.

Read the full IYM 2016 Report by Pleasunce Perry of Frederick Street Meeting, Belfast, and Robert Foulkes of Cork Meeting.

 

 

 

 

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/.

 

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)

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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.

 

EcoQuakers & DMM sign Inter-Faith Statement on Climate Change

EcoQuakers and Dublin Monthly Meeting have signed an Inter-Faith Climate Change Statement that has also been signed by many of the world’s religious leaders.

The statement will be handed over to the President of the United Nations General Assembly at a special faith-based ceremony in New York on 18th April 2016.

The Irish Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches have also signed the statement as have religious leaders and individuals of all faiths around the globe.

The purpose of the statement is to follow up on the Paris Agreement.  Right now the agreement is just words on paper. In order to make the world a better, safer place for ourselves and for future generations, it is necessary for world leaders to start taking action – to commit to 1.5°C limit of warming to protect the vulnerable.

Individuals can sign the statement too (until 17th April) here >> http://www.interfaithstatement2016.org/.

Six Key Points within the Interfaith Climate Change Statement:

  1. Urge governments to rapidly sign, ratify and implement the Paris Agreement, and to increase pledges to reduce emissions in line with keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels;
  2. Insist on rapid emissions reduction and peaking by 2020, in order to keep the 1.5C goal within reach;
  3. Strongly advocate for greater flows of finance, especially for adaptation and loss and damage;
  4. Urge the swift phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies and a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050;
  5. Encourage faith communities to reduce emissions in their homes, workplaces and centres of worship and to support and stand in solidarity with communities already impacted by climate change; and
  6. Call for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment in renewables and low carbon solutions, including within our own communities, and/or by engaging companies on climate change.

Irish Quaker records now available online!

Over 1.5 million Irish Quaker records are now available online on the website Findmypast. This is the first phase of a major project to digitise all surviving Quaker records for Ireland.

The collection consists of both transcripts and scanned colour images of original births, marriages, burials, congregational records, school records and migration records held by the Historical Committee of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland Archives.

Spanning over 350 years of Ireland’s history from 1654 to the present day, the collection contains over 1.5 million names and, when complete, will cover all 32 counties of Ireland.

The records form an invaluable resource for those with Quaker ancestors, allowing them to trace their family’s origins right back to the emergence of the faith in Ireland. Despite their relatively small size, the Quaker community left prolific information and have kept the most complete set of records of any denomination in Ireland from the 1660s to the present day.

The collection includes 232 Pedigrees documented by Thomas Henry Webb in the early 20th century to record of ancestry of 232 Irish Quaker families, applications for membership, Disownments, Removals and lists of those who refused to pay tithes to the established Church.

The origins of Quakerism in Ireland can be traced back to the early 1650s when English soldiers, farmers, and merchants who arrived in Ireland after the English Civil War (1641-1651) settled and established communities. These immigrants converted to the new religion from a variety of other nonconforming Protestant faiths and, by 1750, there were over 150 Quaker meetings being held across Ireland within the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster.

Large numbers of Irish Quakers fled to North America to escape religious persecution and today the region is home to 32% of all Quakers worldwide. The inclusion of the Irish Society of Friend’s migration records makes the collection of special significance to those looking to trace their families Quaker origins back across the Atlantic.

Noel Jenkins, Research Assistant at Friends’ Historical Library, Quaker House, Dublin, says:

“Quaker records are continuous, dating from 1654 to the present, and pre-date the Williamite wars of the late 17th century. They provide a rare snapshot of what Irish records could have been if they had not been destroyed in the Four Courts in 1922. This release is a momentous occasion as researchers from all over Ireland and beyond will now be able to readily access these records in their own homes.”

Brian Donovan, Irish records expert at Findmypast, says:

“The Quakers were a small, but very active community in Ireland from the 1650s. They were fiercely independent in religious and all other matters. They were also extraordinary record keepers documenting every aspect of their lives in meticulously kept minutes dating back to the 17th century. They emigrated in large numbers to north America and this migration is often documented. They also recorded their “sufferings” at the hands of the state, the expulsion of members who failed to follow their moral code, the monthly and annual meetings that governed their community, births, marriages, burials, schools, and much more besides.”

 For further information or to register interest for access to the collection please contact:

Niall Cullen, email: ncullen@findmypast.com  Tel: +353 (0)86 0833380

www.findmypast.ie   

 

 

Irish Quakers commit to sustainability & 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 39 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.

Newtown Junior School marks Ireland 2016 by creating a peace garden

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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.”