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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