The Friend - 27 April 2007
Honours for York Quaker
A problem-solving Quaker woman who believes in the power of the individual has been recognised for her work in social justice. Joyce Pickard (pictured above) has been admitted as an honorary freeman of the City of York at the Mansion House in York. As the Lord Mayor of York told the assembled company, ‘It is a very rare honour to be admitted as an honorary freeman of the City of York. It is even rarer for the nomination of this honour to fall to a Quaker.’ The tribute explaining her service to the City, read by one of York’s Green councillors who had nominated her, mentioned her headship of the Mount School for
seventeen years; her work with Churches Together for innumerable causes for social justice; her work in founding the York Samaritans, York United Nations Association, York Peace Centre, International Meals, Family Mediation; her work on other committees such as school governing bodies and that of the Retreat. He also mentioned her support for the World Development Organisation and many other groups working for international justice. As the assembled guests heard, Joyce was a familiar sight in York cycling to all these events with a challenging slogan firmly attached to the carrier of her bike. Joyce, he continued, was a person ‘who got
things done’ by thinking of a way round problems, always believing that the individual has power to change things for the good. Replying to the town clerk, Joyce said how often she had previously been in this room introducing foreign guests, and how amazed she was to find herself here for this honour. She mentioned that she had only applied for the headship of the Mount at other people’s insistence, but had been offered it and so found herself here – since when she had ‘never felt the slightest temptation to move anywhere else’.
Brenda Tyler Friargate PM
Call for Quakers to back St George’s Day as ‘a national day of dissent’
A rallying-call has gone out to Quakers and others who are socially active to inject new meaning into St George’s Day in future. The call comes as a report by the religious think-tank Ekklesia urges that the patron saint of the English should be rebranded – and St George’s Day should become a national day of dissent. The report has received a mixed reaction in the press, with some papers ridiculing the idea, and others calling it ‘politically correct’. ‘It would be lovely to have support from that [the Quaker] direction. One of the things we have flagged up is the time during the English Civil War when Fox and others were active,’ the report’s co-writer, Jonathan Bartley, told The Friend. ‘St George was a nonconformist. He appears to have
left the army – something early Christians faced a dilemma over. Jesus says “turn the other cheek and forgive”.’ The report points out that the original story, which dates from the fourth century AD, told of St George offering hospitality to a refugee, defending the marginalised and challenging the persecution policy of the emperor. This image has since been grossly distorted: replaced by one of a dragon-slayer who backs the Crusades. ‘Re-branding’ is about reconsidering what is important about the story and telling it afresh. The report suggests that the values of the older story could form the basis of a national holiday for England which is inclusive, hospitable, and avoids the dangers of proud nationalism, offering instead a hopeful vision of Englishness as global and outward-looking.
Such a day would celebrate: The role of the English as global citizens, not narrow nationalists; the need for dissenters to call power to account; black Britons as vital contributors to our culture; the shared values of social justice arising from the past; welcoming migrants in an interdependent world; and promoting exemplars of faith, hope and love – not ‘thin celebrity’. Under the proposals St George’s Day would become a ‘Day of Dissent’, celebrating the noble, alternative English tradition of rebellion against the abuse of power. This might include: the prodemocracy Putney Debates, the equality-seeking Levellers, the antislavery abolitionists, the women’s suffrage movement, conscientious objectors and peacemakers, antiracism campaigners, human rights activists and those struggling against debt and poverty.
the Friend , 27 April 2007
Part of the display. P hoto:Jo Fisher
Slavery exhibition ‘a golden outreach opportunity’
Huntingdon PM’s long-term planning for an exhibition on slavery paid off handsomely, with a presence in six county libraries, three secondary school libraries and the foyer of Huntingdon Regional College. Exhibitions were also placed in All Saints Church in Huntingdon and in the Meeting house. The exhibitions, planned since October, were designed to highlight slavery issues from the 18th through to the 21st century. The Meeting, with the help of Churches Together, arranged a joint Quaker/Church of England Sunday service and a Prayer Meeting. On the Sunday there was a presentation by Quakers on the early history and work of the abolitionists and another by a Church of England curate who works as a lawyer for Churches Against Sex Trafficking in Europe (CHASTE). Both
extremely powerful presentations were followed by a period of silence, and after the second presentation, by the lighting of candles, together with a space for the congregation to share their own personal prayers. The following Friday, the Information and Prayer Meeting was held at the Meeting house. Similar presentations were given, followed by questions and then a period of prayer. Jo Fisher, a member of the Meeting, commented: ‘This was a golden outreach opportunity, and we feel that this has been a very valuable piece of outreach work. Working with Churches Together has been a long-standing tradition in Huntingdon.’
Epistle from Europe & Middle East Section of FWCC
To Friends everywhere, Greetings from the 59th Annual Meeting of Europe and Middle East Section (EMES), held at Woodbrookershuis, The Netherlands, April 5-8 2007. Forty of us have come here from seventeen countries ranging from Palestine to Finland and from Russia to Ireland. What do we value about EMES and the annual Easter Gathering? We value the opportunity to strengthen and deepen our Quaker community. This week-end we have looked at the theme ‘How do we make manifest the Glory of God that is within us while being part of a broken world?’ In a moving testimony Jean Zaru (Ramallah MM) spoke of finding a connectedness beyond the cultural differences that inflame the Middle East. She also witnessed to the unique way in which each of us receives and reflects the Light of God. Diana Lampen (Britain YM) spoke of Meeting for Worship as the source of sustaining strength for those undertaking to serve and to witness. Franco Perna (Italy) recalled questioning why Quakers acted as they did and discovering
the three part interdependence of the individual, the group and God. We re-affirmed that the divine within each one of us enables us to respond faithfully wherever we encounter brokenness. We are excited by the prospect of building on the Visiting Friends’ programme which has already done so much to support isolated Friends and small meetings. The new project on Ministry and Outreach, funded by a Quaker Trust, will explore the needs of Friends in Europe and the Middle East. It will look particularly at communication and spiritual nurture through visits and online study groups. Many Yearly Meetings and worship groups have in their care widely dispersed Friends for whom such contacts are invaluable. EMES includes in its membership Middle East YM. Sadly, Brumanna Friends were not represented this weekend. From Ramallah, we have heard news of the refurbished Meeting house which has become a centre to build peace and non-violence. Amidst the oppressive restrictions of life for Palestinians, there is hope. The practical and prayerful support
offered by Friends in EMES helps to sustain Middle East Quakers in their witness. Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), of which we are part, is about to celebrate its 70th birthday during the Triennial meeting in Dublin in August 2007. World gatherings open our minds and hearts to the variety of theology and practice among the world family of Friends – eight days of deep sharing, building friendships and shared worship. Beyond the celebrations, there is continuing uncertainty about the way forward for FWCC. EMES too is concerned about its future. It exists ‘to encourage and strengthen the spiritual life within the Religious Society of Friends and its outreach in the world.’ As we joyfully commit ourselves to giving more help and support, we hope opportunities to further these aims will continue to be available in future years. We hope that this epistle will help us to share with you how much we are uplifted by encountering the diverse expressions of the Glory of God. Signed on behalf of EMES
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