All Change! Making paths on shifting ground

The Closing Minute of the Living Witness Gathering at Woodbrooke, 26-29 August 2022


We are 63 Quakers gathered from across Britain, with a sense of urgency and under concern.
Addressing all Friends, as far as we can reach. We will outline our experience, own our own response, and issue a call to action.


We have heard clearly, with hope and excitement as well as fear and grief, an acute sense that this is an extraordinary time – a time of enormous challenge which can change us profoundly in ways we need to change. It is the great, holy work of our time, it is our privilege to be part of it and we must prepare our spirit for what is coming.


The climate and ecological crisis changes everything.


We value the work which is being done by Yearly Meeting staff and Woodbrooke on climate justice and encourage Friends to participate. We also see clearly that there is a need for grassroots action/response to the climate and ecological crisis in addition to that currently embodied in YM and Woodbrooke structures.


Local and area meetings are aware of the urgency and much is happening, both within Quakerism and beyond. Meeting for Worship isn’t just a place to feel comfortable, but a crucible in which we scrutinize our lives and see how they can be aligned more closely to our faith.


Arising from this gathering we know that there isn’t one right thing to do, the important thing is to do our best, and not give up. We each commit to listen to each other, love and support each other, work and worship together. We will find ways to ground ourselves and heal ourselves, and build resilience and inclusion wherever we can.


We carry forward from this gathering many strands of work, both large and small. We recognise that injustice in the ownership and control of resources raises questions about our entire political and economic system. We commit to work with children and young people; we have a concern to address the current cost-of-living crisis, including offering our meeting houses as warm refuges; we make a commitment to support those taking direct action; we will respond to promptings to work more on food and biodiversity; and we are led to support local communities in becoming carbon neutral, alongside many other ideas and actions.


We believe Faith groups can take a lead which will help the nation listen, and Quakers must play our part in this. We would like to see an Interfaith commitment to climate justice leading up to the next general election so that incoming government is clearly focused on this issue.


The last time Quakerism renewed itself was the 1895 conference which became the basis of 20th century liberal Quakerism. Quakers had to reorientate their faith.


Today, we are a similar position. Rather than evolutionary science tearing up our sense of the past, we hear the prophetic voice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is tearing up our sense of the future and ending the notion of the inevitability of growth.


The science and the events it chronicles, together with our increasing awareness of the legacy of extractive colonialism, are once again calling on us to renew our faith. This is the context of our gathering. We open ourselves to this pregnant sense of the present. Quakers and Living Witness can be midwives of the spirit.


The universe is participatory, there are no bystanders. Our commitment to climate justice encourages us to see everything we do as something which is of god or against god. We are called to be whole with creation and act on the Truth which we find.

Quaker Institute for the Future prepares inspiring EPISTLE for Friends worldwide

Background:

The Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) was established in 2003 inspired by Kenneth Boulding’s Quaker Studies on Human Betterment and his call for a research institute focused on the future. QIF has sponsored a series of collaborative research projects, including an annual Summer Research Seminar, and published research findings in thirteen books <quakerinstitute.org>. In cognizance of humanity’s (and our planet’s) current climate emergency, QIF’s Board of Trustees recently approved an inspiring epistle using the following language: “As the world has gone from climate change to climate crisis to climate emergency, we, the QIF Board of Trustees, find that climate change affects every aspect of our work. The time in which nations and citizens of the world can yet act to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is rapidly vanishing. In the spirit of Quaker tradition, we have prepared this epistle in the hope that it may inspire Friends in solidarity with truth seeking and in their discernment on witness and action.”

The Epistle [LINK]

Magpie Art Collective’s Quaker Peace Doves

Magpie is the Barrydale based art collective by artists and social entrepreneurs Scott B. Hart and Shane A. Petzer. Working in their studio and gallery in the Western Cape of South Africa, Scott and Shane produce art, craft and bespoke creations centred around their commitment to “meaningful commercial and social entrepreneurism, integrated with environmental concern.”

During the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, Magpie developed a new project on the Quaker Peace Dove. The collective ran online making workshops in collaboration with Cape Western Monthly Meeting, during which Friends joined together via Zoom to create “#QuakerPeaceDoves” using a template created by Magpie. The doves are made of recycled milk bottles, hence the title of the series: “Turn Your Lockdown Trash Into Art.” Shane writes that the doves were conceptualised as:

“a unifiying symbol around peace and environmental/climate justice concerns [and provide] an example of how we can use art as a social tool.”

The workshops also created an online space for Friends to gather and share during the pandemic, an opportunity that was important for the artists who have long been involved in creating work that places social concern and community at its heart. For more information, and contact details visit http://www.magpieartcollective.com. Images of the work featured above can also be seen via Magpie’s social media channels.

Loughborough Quakers Sustainability Handbook

Quakers in Loughborough, UK have published a Sustainability Handbook, advising Friends on lifestyle changes they can make to live more sustainably.

The project includes a range of approaches to sustainable living and contains contributions from almost every member of the meeting. It also includes a Resource section of tips on how to shop locally and sustainably in the surrounding areas. Friends’ reflections are accompanied by illustrations from artist Miriam Bean. Read below for some of the contributors’ experiences and reflections on producing the handbook and view the online version here. Requests for physical copies of the Handbook can be sent to Julian Rees.

“I was invited to a weekend at Bamford by members of Loughborough Quakers, to spend time reflecting on the environment and how we can each contribute positively to sustainable living. There have been many challenges to my thinking and lifestyle, but I really appreciate being able to share these with a group of like-minded Friends, especially as sustainability is becoming more and more prevalent in the news.” – John Bean

“I’ve seen sustainability issues as crucial since I joined Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in the 1970’s.  I’ve been part of various groups including Living Witness in British Quakers, being founder member of Loughborough Transition, facilitator for Carbon Footprint Support Groups, and part of team who set up an Area Meeting One Planet Living Group a few years ago, now laid down. It’s been a particularly heartwarming time in my sustainability journey when Loughborough Meeting developed its active Sustainability Group. There had been previous attempts which withered after a short while. It is so affirming now to be part of a committed group, and with the Quaker ethos.” – Sue Meredith Velado

“The climate crisis is a huge and daunting issue and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it. Working in a group with others to make changes, no matter how small, made me feel less helpless. Creating the Loughborough Sustainability Handbook was such an affirming experience because it brought the Meeting together in a shared project and made me feel we were making a difference.” – Julian Rees

Journey to COP26

We share with you an invitation for those based in the UK to join a “Journey to COP26” event organized by a group of Quakers in Britain on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th April. This community-based event offers an opportunity “for people of all faiths and none to join together remotely and share our belief in the sacredness of all life, ahead of the UN climate talks, COP26” by journeying to a place that is sacred to you and sharing it online.

The initiative puts awareness, understanding and action on climate change at the heart of the community response to COP26. The climate talks, which are scheduled to happen in Glasgow in November 2021, will play a crucial role in determining the global climate response over the coming decade. The organisers of the action, a small group of Quakers supported by Quaker Peace & Social Witness, write:

“This action is a way for us to strengthen our collective sense of purpose in protecting the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Your journey could be to your garden or local park, or a day long hike! If your sacred place is your own living room it could even be a spiritual or virtual journey. It could be taken as a group, perhaps with others from your meeting, or individually.

Anyone can participate in the Journey to COP26.”

If you want advice, support or ideas for what to do for your Journey to COP26, please get in touch! Email Oonagh Ryder, Activism Support Coordinator: oonaghr@quaker.org.uk

The Loving Earth Project

Is there something, someone or somewhere that you know and love which is endangered by environmental break-down? How does your lifestyle contribute to that threat? What could you do, or are you doing, to help reduce that threat?

The Loving Earth Project, started by Friends in the UK and now expanding internationally, invites participants to explore these three questions. The community project “celebrates people, places, creatures and other things that we love but which are threatened by growing environmental breakdown.” It offers online resources and events to help guide through this exploration and welcomes contributions to its community textile project, which encourages participants to create a visual reflection of their response.  These beautiful textile panels feature everything from wild flowers to school strikers to polar bears. The panels and accompanying texts form part of a traveling display, showcasing the many ways in which people find themselves connecting to climate crisis and the natural world. You can see some of them at https://lovingearth-project.uk/gallery/ ; they hope for a big display in Glasgow for COP 26 in November 2021 and to tour widely thereafter.

The project was initiated by members of the Quaker Arts Network in the UK, bearing in mind “the different ways in which Friends can hold spaces for the Spirit to act, including through the arts”. The Loving Earth Project is now run as a partnership involving QAN and Woodbrooke (which is focusing on offering opportunities for Quakers and Quaker groups to engage with the project), and also with a variety of other groups.  Three of the Friends taking it forward are: Maud Grainger who works at Woodbrooke to support Quakers in their engagement with the climate crisis; Linda Murgatroyd who initiated the project and is based in London; and Sue Tyldesley, based in North Lancashire, a textile artist who uses creative embroidery.

The project invites contributions from all cultures, faiths and backgrounds, and welcomes offers from volunteers as local contacts to help this project stretch across the globe. You can find more information, and contact details at lovingearth-project.uk (including an international page) , https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/learn/climate-crisis/loving-earth/  and @LovingEarthProject. To join the e-newsletter mailing list, please contact lovingearthproject@woodbrooke.org.uk

Quakers Release A Call for Action after COVID-19

Quakers in New Zealand have come together to release a call for action after COVID-19 focusing on the moral and spiritual imperative for transformational change. They reflects that “they were inspired in part by the words of George Monbiot about the power of stories.” The Call for Action has been widely shared around New Zealand, joining a range of voices calling for change following the pandemic.

Faiths Unite: Visions for Transformative Climate Action

QUNO joins other members of the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC in the organization of a 3-part online series on faith and climate action. The group welcomes members from different religious communities, alongside scientists and policymakers, to meet and share their visions for faith-based climate action over the next year. There will be sessions every Tuesday between October 27th and November 10th in the run up to what would have been COP26.