Letters - 14 February 2020

From calling to thanks

Calling charity trustees

In the current vernacular this is a ‘shout out’ to trustees of all the Quaker grant-making charities to see if there is interest in meeting up at Yearly Meeting Gathering in August. The aim would be to: look at the various challenges we are all facing, now and looming; share experiences of best practice; and explore opportunities for closer working. Finding trustees prepared to serve is one such challenge. Keeping up with changing legislation is another.

I am clerk to trustees of The Edith Maud Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust, which provides small grants for activities aligned with our stated Quaker objectives. A year ago we took the decision to reduce the number of our grants, but increase their value. This saves us a lot of time assessing applications, and we now evaluate these in more depth, which provides us with greater reassurance as to their impact and sustainability.

We have also looked closely at how we generate our funds. Investing ethically is nothing new for Quakers. But electing to earmark around ten per cent of our endowment for environmental or social projects (housing cooperatives, small-scale wind turbines) might be. Higher-risk ventures, but ones that are justified in our pursuit of the ‘win-wins’.

We are as interested in learning from others as we are in sharing our own experiences. Do let me know if you are interested, either by dropping a line to the editor of the Friend, or by getting in touch with me direct at: janeanndawson@me.com.

Jane Dawson
Clerk to trustees of The Edith Maud Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust

Fundamental principles

I was challenged when reading the article about Ian Bray (20 & 27 December 2019). Having worked in a prison for three years I was not attracted by the notion of getting arrested and being cast into prison. Often such institutions are under attack from romantic visitors wanting to supply contraband or the criminal fraternity aiming at supplying drugs and items that might afford a prisoner the means of escape.

While full of admiration for the founders of Extinction Rebellion, I wonder if the movement is taking us down the wrong path.

Quakers have been identified with the values of silence and peace. While action is clearly effective in some circumstances, I believe that our principles of peaceful protest are fundamental to our witness to the Quaker way. Silence gives space for the Spirit to effect fundamental change.

To follow the actions of Extinction Rebellion holds the danger that it might result in the extinction of Quaker membership.

Michael Lanigan

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