Letters - 13 September 2019

From a precious resource to the Friend's history

A precious resource

I hope the article by Rex Ambler (30 August) will be deeply and unhurriedly considered. I too have been troubled that the way Friends are determining important questions may be changing from a traditional to a more secular model.

Rex is right in suggesting this is partly due to changes in management to meet the expectations of the Charity Commission. I think it is also because the way we explain our traditional practice in Quaker faith & practice (3.02, 3.06 and 13.01-07) uses a traditional religious language that some Friends today do not find convincing – or even perhaps intelligible.

Yet our traditional path of waiting in worship to be led into action is based on rich and fruitful experience, and is not dependent on the language used to describe it. It has led to achievements in which we take pride: the abolition of the slave trade; the work of Quaker House, Belfast; and the treaty banning the use of child soldiers are examples.

There are times when our Society has held a truth in trust for the world which others find old-fashioned or impractical. Through our Peace Testimony we witness to the universal church in this way. I believe that our practice of waiting in worship for guidance and strength to act is another precious resource for which we are responsible, and I know people of other faiths and churches who are grateful for our witness to its power. I hope we shall not throw it away.

John Lampen

Proper governance

This letter is prompted by Rex Ambler’s article.

Trustees, whether for Britain Yearly Meeting or Area Meetings, have the responsibility to uphold the core insights and practices which distinguish the Society from other business organisations. Our decisions should arise from the discernment of the leadings of the Spirit in Meetings for Worship.

Trustees should not be directly involved in making policy, but in ensuring that matters for discernment are properly considered by Meeting for Sufferings, Area Meetings and other relevant Meetings for Worship for Business.

To do otherwise is to undermine the Society’s decision-making tradition described in the current edition of Quaker faith & practice, which is also the Society’s governing document. An inspired proposal, such as the Vibrancy project, is spoilt if it has been arrived at or implemented in the wrong way.

John Shinebourne

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