Tag Archives: epistle

Ireland Yearly Meeting Epistle 2009

To Friends everywhere, Greetings!

Irish Friends have met from 22nd-26th July in 2009, rather than at our customary Spring-time. It has been a residential Yearly Meeting, in the Kings Hospital School where the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Triennial was held two years ago, and in similarly wet weather.

We have welcomed Friends from other Yearly Meetings including USA, Britain, Germany and Netherlands and Quaker international agencies, also particularly two Friends from Kenya and Georgia who have spoken eloquently of life in their country and their work as Quakers.

The Theme of Ireland Yearly Meeting was from Galatians 5, vv 22 & 23: ‘The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control’. Our morning worship each day began with a meditation on one or two of these ‘fruits’, and it was inspiring to see how frequently throughout the Meeting the words of Friends on various topics related back to the guiding Theme.

The public lecture was given by John Dunston, Headmaster of Leighton Park, the Quaker School in Reading, UK. The title was ‘The Stranger who lives within thy gates’ and the speaker drew on particular insights from his Jewish background as well as his understanding of the practical application of Quaker testimonies.

There was evidence of the guidance of these testimonies in the eighteen Epistles received from Yearly Meetings world-wide. Likewise, much of the work being undertaken by Irish Friends at the present time shows the palpable inspiration of one or more Testimony, in particular the overseas work of Irish Quaker Faith and Action, the Peace Committee, the aims and ideals of the newly-formed EcoQuaker Ireland committee, and the beautiful handworked quilt which is but one outcome of the continuing cross-community work of Quaker House Belfast.

Regarding the ‘Why Violence’ campaign, we can report that the initial concern of a small number of Friends has become a catalyst for a much bigger Irish movement against violence, involving other churches and peace organisations.

During Yearly Meeting there have been nine well-attended special interest groups, healing group meetings, bible study and worship sharing, swimming and guided relaxation sessions. Excursions to places of interest filled a free afternoon and we enjoyed an evening performance of the thought-provoking Quaker play about John Woolman ‘On Human Folly’.

Before Yearly Meeting began we sang together the Quaker poet John Whittier’s beautiful hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’. We take our leave from you, dear Friends, with his words :

‘Take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy Peace’.

Signed on behalf of Ireland Yearly Meeting on 26 July 2009

Alan C Pim – Clerk

World Gathering of Young Friends – Epistle

To all Friends everywhere,

Greetings from the World Gathering of Young Friends 2005. 226 Friends gathered together in Lancaster University, United Kingdom, from 16th – 24th August 2005. Our theme was ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Now, what fruit shall we bear?’ taken from John 15; and William Penn’s challenge ‘Let us then try what love will do’. Among us, 58 Yearly Meetings and 9 monthly meetings and regional groups were represented, with speakers of more than twenty different languages. We were called to be gathered together at the place where our Quaker movement first bore fruit, the heart of 1652 country. We returned to our shared roots, to the birthplace of our collective spiritual identities. Through climbing Pendle Hill as a community, to live out George Fox’s vision of a great people gathered together, we found a unity with the place and one another, among the bright green hills, surrounded by grazing sheep.

We felt great joy in being together and many Friends gave thanks for being here. However, our hearts were filled with sadness too. In the hall where we met there were many empty chairs, and we were always aware of those Friends who could not join us here in Lancaster. Many were absent because they were denied visas, others because they found when the time came that they could not join us after all. Their loss is our loss as well, for without their presence we could not feel their truth reflected in their words, their experiences, their faces and their smiles. However we could feel their presence in our hearts. We have selected 2 representatives from each region to go to a post-WGYF gathering in Kenya to share with these brothers and sisters the Love and Spirit that we felt in this gathering.

Twenty years have passed since the last World Gathering of Young Friends, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. To what purpose were we summoned once more?

Here we tried each other’s forms of worship, silent and programmed, songs in many different languages, scriptural readings, hand holding. We were open, amazed, stretched and blessed. We learned that the great presence in our lives can be called by many names, Jesus, Christ, God, Inner light, Spirit, Love or many others. Ultimately, through listening to the Spirit that moved us, not the words in which we expressed our movement, we strived to become one organism, one body made up of many different parts (1 Corinthians 12:13).

We were united not so much in the expression of our faith as in our common desire to be unified and by the power of the Spirit amongst us during these 9 days. We were challenged to put aside the labels we hide behind, programmed, unprogrammed, liberal, evangelical, and come together as Friends of the Truth, seeking together for the common truth behind our language. We have not finished this process. We are only at the beginning of a long path, but the love and joy we have felt in being in this place together have allowed us to come this far, and we pray that they will lead us further yet.

The time here has been a chance to reflect on our lives. We have been challenged to recognize ourselves as God’s children, and respond in willing devotion. The love we have found here is not for us to own but to share. We desire to show our love by doing good and avoiding harm to all people and to all the Earth. We must let others see this love and know its source so that they may come to share it.

The Spirit present in our gathering summoned us to be a gathered people, and spoke through the many different people and cultures here to remind us of its glory, power and purpose. The Spirit is at work in all of us, and it is calling us not to judge one another’s forms of worship but to examine our own hearts, find our own calling. We are called to take what we have experienced here and give it back to our communities.

Far away meetings now have faces, stories and friendships that make them real to us. Bridges have been built at our Gathering which we call on Friends everywhere to nurture and support. We will keep this contact alive through exchanges, more frequent gatherings and opportunities to work together. Through this contact we will give strength to each other and share our gifts. We must face the future challenges of the Religious Society of Friends together.

Where we explored the theme of the vine and the branches we found that its fruits are born from love. We have experienced what Love can do in this Gathering, now let us try what it can do in the world.