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Speaking truth ‘A
s representatives of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain, called Quakers, we offer our congratulations on the occasion of your Diamond Jubilee. We give thanks for the commitment you have shown through six decades as monarch and for your steadfast upholding of the value of faith to our nation’s wellbeing. We recall your speech to the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010 when you reflected on the leadership required in the waging of peace. Quaker tradition from the days of Charles II has led our Society to stand for conscientious action to find new ways to create peace, to seek equality, justice and active nonviolence and now to address the urgent work needed to sustain the earth for future generations. We lament the resort to armed conflict as an instrument of policy. We welcome your personal commitment to peace, such as you have shown in relation to Ireland.
Our commitment to equality led us in 2009 to seek a change in the law to provide for same sex and opposite sex marriages on an equal basis. This is because of our deeply held belief that we see the light of God in everyone which leads us to respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship. We see the recent move to allow the celebration of civil partnerships on religious premises as a step towards full equality in marriage.
Last year, Quakers in Britain met in the worshipful stillness that is our tradition, and made a strong corporate commitment to become a low-carbon, sustainable community. Quaker John Woolman’s words in 1772 still sound clearly to us today: “The produce of the earth is a gift from our gracious creator to the inhabitants, and to impoverish the earth now to support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age.”
This concern grows from our faith, and cannot be separated from it. We have long been aware that our behaviour impoverishes the earth and that it is our responsibility both to conserve the earth’s resources and to share them more equitably. The environmental crisis is enmeshed with global economic injustice and we must face our responsibility, as one of the nations which has unfairly benefited at others’ expense, to redress inequalities.
The global economic system is posited on continued expansion and growth, and in its pursuit of growth it is often unjust, violent and destructive. We must ask the question whether this system is so broken that we must urgently work with others of faith and good will to put in its place a different system where the values of equality, simplicity, peace and truth can flourish. We see all this work as pursuing justice and building peace. We pray that God’s light may continue to illuminate your path. May God’s blessing rest upon you, your family and all people.’
Christine Cannon, clerk, on behalf of Meeting for Sufferings
The address given, on behalf of Quakers in Britain, to the monarch on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee. It was presented at a ceremony on Tuesday 27 March in Buckingham Palace. See story page 5.
the Friend, 30 March 2012