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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 35
3 Religious groups lead the way on ‘green’ challenges 4 Gordon Barclay Vietnam Fund laid down 5 The Quaker memorial Anthony Wilson 6-7 Exploding the myth of money creation by the banks John Schmid 8-9 Letters 10-12 Developing Friends schools in Kenya Roger Sturge and John Welton 13 The reflective mindset David Boulton 14 What do nontheists not believe in? Dorothy Searle 15 Poem: Oblivion Hugo Finley 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: Children at Kikai Friends Primary School. Photo: Roger Sturge. See pages 10-12.
The Quaker understanding of concern
Throughout the history of the Religious Society of Friends we have recognised that to anyone may come, at any time, a special inward calling to carry out a particular service. It is characterised by a feeling of having been directly called by God and by an imperative to act.
The ministry which has been carried out ‘under concern’ is a remarkable record of strength and perseverance in adversity. Many speak of the peace that came to them with the certainty that they were working with God. Recognising concern has also placed an obligation on the meeting which tests and supports it. Friends have on occasion been released from financial considerations and in some cases their families have been cared for whilst they carried out the service required of them.
A concern may arise unexpectedly out of an interest or may creep up on one out of worshipful search for the way forward. It may be in line with current desires and projects or it may cut across them; it may lead to action which is similar to that undertaken by others or it may require a brave striking out into the unknown.
Quaker faith & practice 13.02
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the Friend, 2 September 2011 News
Religious groups lead the way on ‘green’ challenges
Britain’s Baptists look set to be the first religious group in the UK to use solar-powered electricity at their national headquarters. They have begun to install nearly two hundred solar panels at Baptist House, based in Didcot. The arrival of the panels marks the latest step in an increasing trend for ‘green’ adaptations to churches, mosques and other religious buildings.
Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), the formal organisation of British Quakers, recently committed themselves to introducing solar panels and energyefficient lighting at Friends House in London (see ‘Proposed “green” refurbishment at Friends House’, the Friend, 22 July).
Richard Nicholls, general manager of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), said that the decision to fit solar panels arose from a commitment to ‘creation care’. He told the Friend that the change ‘gives us the opportunity to reduce our consumption of energy considerably over the next twenty-five years’.
Dismissing fears about the cost of the project, the BUGB have said that the panels will generate more electricity than the building needs, meaning they can sell it back to the national grid. ‘We expect a return on that investment very quickly,’ said Richard Nicholls.
A number of Quaker Meeting houses have been among the religious buildings taking up the challenge of ‘green’ development. Settle Meeting have introduced heat exchange systems, Oxford Meeting have insulated their walls and a number of changes to Cotteridge Meeting house in Birmingham have reduced energy consumption to less than twenty per cent of its 2004 levels.
Some faith groups have found imaginative ways to integrate green technology with worship. Heaton Baptist Church in Newcastle uses solar panels to heat the water used for baptisms. Muslims in the German city of Norderstedt are planning a new mosque with rotary blades on the minarets to generate wind power, which is expected to fuel a third of the mosque’s electricity.
For others, the buildings are homes as well as places of worship. Nuns at a Benedictine convent near Helmsley in North Yorkshire use a woodchip boiler fuelled by locally sourced trees and collect rainwater to flush the toilets. Meanwhile, visitors to the Vatican can now see solar panels on the roof of a building used for papal audiences with pilgrims.
Pam Lunn of the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, who focused on sustainability in this year’s Swarthmore Lecture, said she was ‘delighted’ by the Baptists’ decision. She explained: ‘It’s excellent witness – quite literally, everyone can see religious groups putting their money where their mouth is’.
Such changes often have spiritual motivations. St Mark’s Anglican Church in Sheffield will fit solar panels this autumn. Jelly Morgans, a member of staff at St Mark’s, told the Friend that they were motivated by Psalm 24: ‘The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’. She added: ‘The church should be at the forefront in looking after it’.
BYM has made a commitment to become ‘a low-carbon sustainable community’. Other groups to explore the issue at a national level include the Methodist Church, who have pledged themselves to environmental standards that are binding on their local churches.
The Big Green Jewish Website, supported by a number of national Jewish organisations, advises Jews on how they can make their synagogues more sustainable. The Church of Scotland used a session of their recent general assembly to consider solar panels on church roofs.
Pam Lunn would like to see many more take up the challenge. She said: ‘Just think of the impact if every church, mosque, Meeting house, synagogue, temple or gurdwara did this’.
Symon Hill the Friend, 2 September 2011