Search results for Quakers and Peace
Peace and Nonviolence
The Peace Testimony has remained at the core of Quakers belief for over 350 years. Every Quaker translates this into action in his/her own life, and three responses are commonly found – a refusal to bear arms or to take part in military service, an obligation to help the victims of wars and conflicts, and a commitment to active peace making.
For Quakers, Human Rights are a natural extension of the belief in ‘that of God in everyone’. A Quaker understanding of human rights goes back to the seventeenth century and is rooted in the testimony to equality.
Individual Quakers have been and are involved in political processes sometimes as politicians, and more often as citizens. Friends are also involved collectively, through a variety of agencies, including QUNO at the UN, and QCEA in Europe.
Friends have often tried to help those suffering as a result of war, poverty or natural disaster, or because of their beliefs. As well as dealing with immediate needs, they have often done what they could to help build futures that make such suffering less likely. They have sought to do this without discrimination and in ways that respect the recipients’ beliefs and way of life.
Quakers around the world work in many different ways towards a sustainable world for all of humanity. In this they recognise that while it is vital to work on key environmental issues such as climate change, it is also important to work on underlying factors such as inequality and economic justice.
Education for Peace
Education for peace aims to empower individuals to handle violence in themselves and others, and to help them to build peace wherever they can.
Eliminating Slavery amongst Quakers
In the early days of Quakerism, there were Quaker slave owners and slave traders. As the unacceptability of slavery became clearer, the first step for Quakers was to root it out within their own communities.
Quakers and early Anthropology
In C19 several Quakers were involved with the early development of anthropology as a scientific discipline. At a time when there was still controversy as to whether all human beings belonged to the same species, these Quakers were powerful advocates for the unity and equality of all humanity.
Quakers address disarmament issues at two levels. Internationally they have helped weapons experts to meet across political divides. In their own countries, many Quakers are part of peace movement campaigns in favour of disarmament and non-military approaches to conflict resolution.
The Peace Testimony has led many (though not all) Quakers to refuse to bear arms or to play any part in military action. Many conscientious objectors have undertaken alternative forms of service during wartime, and others have been imprisoned.
Community Mediation and Conciliation
Quakers have often been caught up in communities involved in violent conflicts. In many cases they have been able to make a contribution to community reconciliation and to building peace for the future.
Environment and sustainability
Like many others, Quakers’ understanding of environmental issues has developed over time, and continues to do so. Quaker actions have changed too, in response to this. Today planetary sustainability is a key focus, often known as Earthcare.
Alternatives to Violence (AVP)
Alternatives to Violence (AVP) was initiated by Quakers in the United States but is now an international movement independent from Quakers. AVP is based on the belief that everyone has within them the creative power to transform violent situations. Local AVP groups work mainly through workshops. Many groups are working in prisons, the context in which AVP originated, but AVP is now used in many other settings, such as schools.
Anti-Slavery: Raising the Moral Issue
Many Quakers wrote well-informed and moving books and articles about the evils of slavery, and its immorality, and many others spoke movingly about it.
Friends have tried to help to build a peaceful world through Quaker ‘good offices’ at international level. They have often done this by acting as trusted hosts for quiet off the record meetings between diplomats.
Business in Africa
Several yearly meetings have business ventures, raising funds for Quaker work. There are micro-finance and other small loan schemes in several countries. Capacity building for entrepreneurship is a developing strand.
A fundamental belief in the equality of all people has led Quakers to campaign actively against racism in many parts of the world.
The belief in equality led Quakers to aspire to good treatment of anyone who worked in a Quaker enterprise. As well as workplace conditions, many were also concerned with general welfare. QUNO works at the UN towards international labour standards.
The repudiation of violence as a means to an end has led many Quakers to espouse various forms of nonviolent action.
International Mediation and Conciliation
Quakers have mediated, and worked for reconciliation, in several violent international conflicts. Their approach has been described as ‘balanced partiality’ – they do not take sides, but care about both parties.
Studying the Mind: Psychology and Mental Health
The Quaker concept of God in Everyone has inspired Quakers from the 18th Century to today to strive for more humane treatment of the mentally ill. Quakers have been involved in some significant breakthroughs in the study of psychology, but also in some significant controversies.
Missionaries and philanthropists over the centuries did much to develop the communities in which they lived. Much community development nowadays integrates peacebuilding with economic and other initiatives.
Institutions of Relief and Service
Although Quakers were involved with relief work from their earliest days, it was not until the late nineteenth century that the first ‘official’ institution for relief was set up. Even then, such bodies tended to be disbanded when the immediate need was over. Only in the 20th century did Friends in several countries set up permanent Quaker service agencies, with relief as part of their work. Many Friends are also active in broader relief organisations such as Oxfam, which Quakers helped to establish.
The interest of 18th and 19th Century Quakers in observing the natural world led to a flourishing of Quaker scientists in both Britain and North America, including a number of ornithologists.
Quakers see action on climate change as a moral imperative and have said so in public statements. Many Quakers round the world are involved in climate change actions, and there are several initiatives focussing on disseminating their stories and encouraging collaboration and mutual learning.
Peace Brigades International
Peace Brigades International is a non-governmental organisation operating in conflict zones around the world, promoting non-violence and protecting human rights. It is not a Quaker organisation, but its work is grounded in Quaker and Gandhian principles, Quakers were instrumental in its establishment, and many Quakers still work with the organisation today. In 2001, PBI was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee.
Peace Curricula in Kenya
Kenyan Friends’ first peace education manual, ‘Mulembe’, was produced in 2000. It was primarily intended for church leaders. In 2009, work began on a peace curriculum for secondary schools, with implementation in Friends schools beginning in 2011. A primary school peace curriculum is also under development.
Friends Peace Teams
FPT focuses on long-term peace building in parts of Africa and Latin America, and in Indonesia. It is a network of partnerships between US Friends and communities in the countries concerned. Reconciliation of conflicting groups, and peace education are key activities.
AFSC and Peace Building
Peace building is a key concern for the American Friends Service Committee. Starting from a conviction that peace and security can never be achieved through violence, AFSC advocates for economic and social systems grounded in nonviolence. Currently their main areas of work are in Peace Policy Advocacy, including campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons and against the use of drones, and community peace building, healing and reconciliation, both at home and abroad.
Friends Peace House, Kigali, Rwanda
Friends Peace House is in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It was opened in 2000. Its fundamental purpose is to help rebuild Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. It aims to bring together all parts of Rwandan society in everything it does, so they can build peace together.
Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW)
Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) is the central peace and service department of British Friends, and represents them at national level on issues of peace and social justice. It works with Quaker and other partners on a variety of projects within Britain and around the world.
Peace Witness and Relief Efforts during the Vietnam War
Quaker action during the 1954-75 Vietnam War focused on three different areas – peaceful protest against the conduct of the war itself, counselling for American conscientious objectors of all faiths, and humanitarian aid to both North and South Vietnam. AFSC was also involved in many diplomats' conferences aimed at ending the war.
Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB)
The Northern Friends Peace Board was founded in 1913 following a Quaker peace conference held in York. For the last hundred years, they have campaigned against militarism and the arms trade, advised conscientious objectors, and have worked actively as peace builders in the widest sense.
Grindstone Island: Quaker Peace Education Centre
From 1963 to 1976, Canadian Friends Service Committee operated a Peace Education Centre on Grindstone Island, on Big Rideau Lake, south of Ottawa. The aim was to explore how nonviolence could be practised in hostile, threatening situations.
Kenya Friends Church Peace Teams: Resolving Conflict in Kenya After the 2007 Elections
After the violence surrounding the Kenyan elections of 2007, many Kenyans fled from their homes to refugee camps. Kenyan Quakers quickly set up a Friends Church Peace Team, led by Quaker Joseph Mamai. Early work concentrated on basic needs for food, water and shelter, but was soon followed by painstaking peace-building work: this eventually enabled many refugees to return to their homes in peace.
Quaker Peace Network - Sierra Leone, West Africa (QPN-WA)
QPN-WA was founded in 2009, in post-conflict Sierra Leone, to help ex-combatants reintegrate into their community. Employment opportunities were created and community facilities improved. In 2014 the Ebola epidemic struck, and the small Quaker community undertook health education and founded an orphanage for Ebola orphans.
Quaker Peace Network – Africa (QPN-Africa)
QPN-Africa brings together Quakers from many African countries, and other international participants, to learn from each other about their peace building experiences, to acquire new peace building skills, and to plan and evaluate joint initiatives such as election observing.
Quakers in Ireland
Quakers have had a presence in Ireland from the early days in the 1650s. They have a long history of activism in many areas, notably relief, peace building, social justice, and philanthropy, and, more recently, sustainability.
Quakers in Aotearoa / New Zealand
Quakers were among the first European settlers in New Zealand. Known from the start for their concern for the Maori people, in 1993, they were given the official Maori name of Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri, ‘the faith community that stands shaking in the wind of the Spirit.’ Today they continue support the Maori people’s right to have the Treaty of Waitangi honoured, while also working in the areas of Peace, Social Justice, and the Environment.
Quakers and Sexuality
Quaker recognition that there is that of that of God in everyone has led them at times to challenge conventional thinking about personal relationships and sexual ethics.
Quakers in Korea
Quakers first came to Korea to provide humanitarian aid after the Korean War (1950-53). Several local Koreans became interested in Quakerism, including notably Ham Sok Hon, the ‘Gandhi of Korea’. Seoul Monthly Meeting remains a small but flourishing group.
Quakers and the Doukhobors
The Doukhobors were a Russian dissident sect who shared the Quaker commitment to pacifism. They also preferred to live as far as possible without interaction with external authority. Persecuted by the Russian authorities, they were helped by the Quakers to emigrate to Canada at the end of the 19th C.
Quakers and the Boer War
Quakers were vociferous before, during and after the Boer War, defending the rights of the Black African population, deploring the treatment of Boer women and children and expressing concern after the war for the rights and welfare of non-whites. They raised money and provided clothing for those interned in concentration camps, and afterwards helped to return looted Boer Bibles.
Quakers in South Africa
Quakers in South Africa have always been a small group, but with an influence that far outstrips their size. Today they are still actively concerned with justice, peacemaking, development, education and political activism.
Quakers in Germany since 1918
Many German Quakers protested openly against Nazi treatment of the Jews, and helped some of them leave the country. Quakers from elsewhere worked with German Quakers in the aftermath of World War 2. There are now about 400 active Quakers in Germany, and an important activity is their service agency, Quäker-Hilfe.
Quakers in Costa Rica
The small Quaker community in Costa Rica was founded in 1951 by a group of eleven Quaker families from Alabama. Working with the local community, they set up Monteverde Friends School, a thriving dairy farm and other community farming projects, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and a Peace Centre.
Quakers in Jamaica and Barbados
The first phase began with Britain, colonial America, early Quaker mission work, and the slave trade. But by 1750, there were few Quakers left. The second phase was originated in 1881 by US missionaries.
Quakers in Central and South America
Seventeen percent of the world’s Quakers live in Latin America, with roughly half of them in Bolivia, with the majority of the rest in Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. Many are indigenous Andean people.
Quakers in Germany 1657–1918
Quaker missionaries first came to Germany in 1657. Later many German Quakers went to Pennsylvania, and some were early antislavery campaigners. Quakerism also persisted in Germany itself.
British Quakers in Parliament in the Nineteenth Century
Quakers were able to enter Parliament from 1832, and in the rest of the century there was a disproportionally large number of Quaker MPs. They were vigorous campaigners on social issues, and were not always popular with their fellow MPs.
Quakers and Whaling
Quakers once dominated the whaling industry in Massachusetts. They employed many black sailors and escaped slaves. Whale oil was the main fuel for lamps, until fossil oil was discovered.
Quakers in Bolivia
Over 8% of the world’s Quakers live in Bolivia, making it the world’s third largest Quaker population after the USA and Kenya. The majority of Bolivian Quakers are indigenous Aymara people living on the Altiplano – small villages in the Andes over twelve thousand feet above sea level. Most belong to the Holiness Mission Evangelical Friends Church.
Quakers in Madagascar
Quaker missionaries, mostly from Britain, served in Madagascar for a hundred years. They founded, and worked in, schools and hospitals, during a period of great change for the country. Malagasy Friends today are part of a wider Protestant church, and Quakers from elsewhere support their work financially and as volunteers.
Quakers in China
Friends first went to China to trade in the 1700s. From the 1880s Quaker missionaries were involved in schools, hospitals and a university. During the war with Japan, Friends undertook significant relief work. Few Chinese ever became Quakers, but their service was valued. Foreigners all left in 1951, and links today are mainly through visits and exchanges.
Quakers in the Sanctuary Movement
Between 1980 and 1991, nearly one million Central Americans fled political repression and violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua and sought asylum in the US. For much of that time, however, asylum was refused. Founded in 1980 by two Quakers and a Presbyterian minister from Tucson Arizona, the Sanctuary Movement provided legal, financial and material aid to these refugees.
Quakers and Business Group
The Group was set up in 2002. It is a charity under British law. Its purpose is ‘to promote Quaker principles particularly in the context of business and the workplace’. Membership is international.
Quakers in colonial Pennsylvania
(1681 - 1783) William Penn established Pennsylvania as a Holy Experiment enshrining Quaker principles of religious and political liberty. Quakers and many others flocked to the colony, and it prospered. Quakers were soon in a minority, but they played a prominent part in colonial public life.
Influential Quakers in Crime and Justice in North America in modern times
Four North American Friends – Larry Apsey, Steve Angell, Ruth Rittenhouse Morris and Marc Forget - are singled out here because of their known, and major, contributions. AVP, nonviolent training, campaigns for prison abolition, and restorative justice, are key themes.
Quakers and the American Women’s Suffrage Movement
The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the USA is widely considered to date from the First Women’s Rights Convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York State in 1848. This meeting was instigated by five women who had been closely involved in the abolition of slavery, all but one of whom were Quakers. In 1920, it was the actions and treatment of another Quaker woman – Alice Paul – which led at last to the passing of a Women’s Suffrage Bill by the US Congress.
Influential Quakers in Crime and Justice in the early days
Many early Quakers were imprisoned, and often had their property confiscated. Three of them made particular contributions to Quaker thought and action concerning criminal justice, George Fox (the founder of Quakerism), Margaret Fell, and William Penn. The fourth, John Bellers, was an early thinker about social and penal reform.
Influential Quakers in crime and Justice in the UK in recent times (1)
From the early part of the 20th century, there has been a resurgence of Quaker input into criminal justice systems in the UK. The five Friends featured here are in chronological order by date of birth. A second article features eight later ones.
Influential Quakers in crime and Justice in the UK in recent times (2)
From the early part of the 20th century, there has been a resurgence of Quaker input into criminal justice systems in the UK. The eight Friends featured here are in chronological order by date of birth. Another article features five earlier ones.
Influential Quakers in crime and justice in Britain from 1750 to 1950
Five Quakers are singled out here, though many others played their part. William Tuke (provision for mentally ill prisoners), Stephen Grellet (preacher and advocate of improvements), Elizabeth Fry (prison conditions for women), William Tallach (prevention and rehabilitation, and the first secretary of what became the Howard League for Penal Reform), and Margery Fry (also secretary of the Howard League, and advocate of compensation for victims of crime.
Quakers against racism: Catherine Impey and the Anti-Caste Journal
Anti-Caste was Britain’s first anti-racist journal. It was published from 1888 to 1895 by Catherine Impey (1847–1923), a Quaker woman from Somerset. It included reports on anti-lynching campaigns in the southern states of America, and the work of prominent African American campaigners, as well as confronting issues of racism within the British Empire.
Les Secours Quakers – relief work in the south of France 1939-1945
When WWII broke out in 1939, the American Friends Service Committee was already active in the south of France. When America entered the war in 1942, Americans had to leave France, leaving behind a multinational group of volunteers – Les Secours Quakers - who fed and housed many refugees, helping many of them to escape France.
QUNO: Quaker United Nations Office
Quakers/Friends have been active behind the scenes at the United Nations from the beginning, and in the League of Nations before that. Each of the two main UN centres - New York and Geneva – has a Quaker House, staffed by a small team. They listen, they contribute, and they facilitate quiet dialogue and solution building, especially with regard to peace, justice and human rights.
Education for Adults: Quaker Centres and Friends Universities
There are two Quaker centres - Woodbrooke, in Birmingham, UK and Pendle Hill, in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, US. Both run rich programmes of courses and retreats, and both host conferences and other events. Woodbrooke was founded in 1903, and Pendle Hill in 1930. There are several universities founded by Friends, nearly all in the US, and Quakers have been instrumental in establishing Peace Studies departments in UK and US universities.
Project Muinda, in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a peace project founded in 1993 by Congolese Quakers, and supported by Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) and by the Mennonites. ‘Muinda’ comes from the word for light in three of the four national languages of the DRC.
African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI)
AGLI is based in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda). It was established in 1999 as a partnership between African Quakers and the US-based Friends Peace Teams. AGLI works on peace-building activities in all five countries, with many different partners.
Quaker International Centres
The network of Quaker bases around the world that became the Quaker International Centres were originally intended to work to build peace after WW1. Initially they were organised from London and Philadelphia, but after WW2, when QUNO was set up to represent Quakers at the UN, the network gradually evolved into locally led centres/ Quaker Houses.
Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC)
Canadian Friends Service Committee (CSFC) is the peace and service agency of Quakers in Canada, founded in 1931. It works with a wide range of partners at international, national and community levels, seeking to bring about long-term sustainable changes in our world.
Margaret Fell or Margaret Fox (c. 1614 - 23 April 1702) a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, is often called the "mother of Quakerism". Her home at Swarthmoor Hall in the Lake District was a key hub for the first Quakers, and she was one of the 'Valiant Sixty' early Quaker preachers and missionaries.
George Fox (1624 - 91), began the Quaker movement soon after the turbulence of the English Civil War. He came to believe that everyone could encounter God directly, so priests were not needed. He spread these ideas with much success, at home and abroad, despite several imprisonments.
Britain, Ireland and America in C17,and early Quakerism
This was a time of great political, religious, and social change in Britain and Ireland. British colonisation of North America and the Caribbean took off, and the transatlantic slave trade with it. This was the context in which Quakerism began.
Quakers have always been committed to education. They believed from the outset that it could nurture ‘that of God’ in everyone. There are Quaker schools on all continents, and some universities/colleges too. All aspire to a Quaker ethos, and all welcome Quakers and non-Quakers.
Crime and Justice
The effect of crime and justice in society has always been important to Quakers. Quakers have been concerned with prisons and offenders from the beginning. Many early Quakers spent time in prison, so had first hand experience. The belief in 'that of God' in everyone led to work on rehabilitating prisoners and on prison reform.
Restorative justice is based on repairing the harm done by wrongdoing. Offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for what they have done. Quakers are active in this, because this speaks to the good in everyone, and can bring about healing for victims, offenders and the community.
Commentators on Criminal Justice
There is a strong Quaker tradition of writing about criminal justice issues, though there are many diverging views.
Meeting for Sufferings
Meeting for Sufferings (MfS) is British Friends’ key strategic body. It was established in response to the sufferings Quakers experienced in the early days, hence its name. Its role was soon broadened and it has played an important part in British Quakers’ responses to the needs of their time ever since. The name has never been changed.
(1681-1759) campaigned for abolition amongst Quakers in 18th century Philadelphia. His methods were often dramatic, such as standing barefoot in the snow to illustrate the conditions under which slaves lived.
(1720-1772) John Woolman is thought by many to be the central figure of 18th Century Quaker faith and social reform. His ministry still speaks to us today through his journal and other writings. He was very influential in the abolitionist movement in America.
(1793-1880) was a prominent abolitionist and advocate of rights for women. She sheltered many runaway slaves and boycotted items produced by slave labour. She founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and in 1848 co-organised the first women's rights convention in the US.
William Penn, Criminal Justice, and the Penn-Mead Trial
William Penn’s influence in justice matters was considerable. As a lawyer, he was well equipped to resist the unfairness of many of the laws of his day. Nevertheless he suffered imprisonment himself several times. The historic Penn Mead trial established a clear legal precedent on both sides of the Atlantic, for the right of a jury to make its own decisions, whatever the judge’s advice.
Freedom of Conscience
For Quakers, the belief that there is ‘that of God in everyone’ leads to a deep conviction that conscience should not be coerced. Freedom of worship, freedom of speech, and conscientious objection are aspects of particular concern to Friends.
Testimonies and Education
Quaker testimonies to equality, truth and integrity, community and peace have a profound influence on Quaker approaches to education. They affect what is taught and how it is taught, and they affect the ways in which all involved interact with each other.
US Universities With Quaker Origins
There are fifteen colleges/universities in the States with Quaker origins. All but two of them began in order to provide higher education in a Quaker environment, often for Quaker students only. They have evolved into a diverse set of institutions, open to students from all backgrounds, but some Quaker influence can still be seen. The two others were open to all from the outset.
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre was founded in 1903, and is based in Birmingham, UK. It offers many opportunities for the study of Quakerism through courses, retreats, private study, and a postgraduate programme. Many groups, Quaker and non-Quaker, hire its peaceful facilities for meetings and events.
Testimonies and Crime and Justice
Friends seek rehabilitation of offenders and restorative justice for those affected by crime. Prevention is also a key concern. The simplicity, peace, truth/integrity, community and equality testimonies all speak to this in different ways.
Quakers were instrumental in setting up Amnesty International, in 1962. In 1961, Quaker Eric Baker wrote a newspaper article calling for the amnesty of all political prisoners. This began a campaign, involving many others, that culminated in the founding of Amnesty the following year.
Crime, Community and Justice Group (CCJG)
CCJG has two functions. One is to connect various Quaker activities, both local and central, and distil them into policy statements and discussion documents. These in turn can inform new initiatives. The other is to serve as a voice for British Quakers in wider networks of related organisations, and in responding to government consultations.
AVP in the Training of Gacaca Judges in Rwanda
Gacaca courts played a key part in Rwandans’ truth and reconciliation process. Friends Peace House ran many AVP workshops for gacaca judges, which made a major contribution to this work.
Hendrik van der Merwe
Hendrik van der Merwe was a South African Quaker academic and peacemaker. For 27 years, he was head of the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cape Town and was the founding president of the South African Association for Conflict Intervention.
Restorative Justice work in Thames, New Zealand
Philip Macdiarmid writes about the restorative justice work of a small charity in Thames, New Zealand, in which he and his wife are closely involved.
Involvement in the Middle East
The Quaker presence in the Middle East goes back to the 1860s, when the first Quakers from Maine, USA arrived in Lebanon and Palestine. A community of Friends grew around the schools in Ramallah and Brummana. The community has lived through many changes of rulers in that time, but has always striven to be a beacon of hope for the future.
Mary Brown is a Quaker prison chaplain in Aylesbury. She spends a day a week working in a prison as part of a chaplaincy team. She describes her experience of her work, and what she has learned from it.
Sally Mason is a ‘Quaker chaplaincy volunteer’ in Usk prison, in Wales, UK. She goes there with the Quaker prison chaplain every 3 or four weeks, along with two or three other Quakers. The main activity is participating in the Quaker meeting for Worship.
AVP in Kenya
AVP activity started in Kenya in 2003 and has been growing steadily. AVP teams have worked in slums, in prisons, in schools, with church communities and with refugees. Since the post-election violence in 2007, AVP approaches have been extensively used in rebuilding communities.
Lisa Shend'ge recounts her experience as a magistrate in England. She describes herself as a 68-year-old Quaker and a "jobbing adjudicator". She is a magistrate or Justice of the Peace (JP) and also performs a whole host of other judicial roles.
Maureen Miller was a Quaker Prison Chaplain in Lancashire for ten years from 1995. She used AVP (Alternatives to Violence) workshops with much success. She found kindness and wisdom amongst the prisoners, as well as many problems, and values the experience of working with them very much.
Maggie Hunt is a Quaker prison chaplain (QPC) and has worked in two very different prisons. She describes it as a joy, a privilege, a challenge and a frustration.
Immigration and Refugees
Quakers believe that the testimony to equality should determine our treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. They have worked with refugees fleeing conflict or persecution, and have campaigned for fair treatment for migrants and refugees.
Testimonies and Human Rights
For Quakers, Human Rights are the secular counterpart to the religious recognition of that of God in everyone. Conscience should not be coerced, and all should be treated equally.
Bronwen Gray is Resident Quaker at The Retreat, in York, England. The Retreat is a Quaker foundation, working on mental health. She describes her role.
Friends Schools in Kenya from independence in 1963 to the present day
At Kenyan independence in 1963, Friends mission schools became part of the state system, though Quakers still have an important role. Many new Friends schools have grown up. A rich discussion is developing between them, focusing on the Quaker ethos and teaching quality. The new Quaker Education Council has been set up to progress this
Brummana School, Lebanon
Brummana High school was founded in 1873. It pioneered a unique multi-faith co-educational approach in Lebanon adapting the English Quaker boarding school model. The curriculum is international. Students work in the community, and support charities. The school motto is "I Serve", and many alumni testify to its enduring effect on their lives.
Meeting for Worship in Usk prison
Meeting for Worship is currently held weekly at Usk prison in a pleasant ante-room adjoining the Chaplain’s office. Sally Mason describes a typical meeting. All prisoner names have been changed.
Quaker Schools in Rwanda
Quakerism came to Rwanda in 1986, just 8 years before the genocide. Quakers and their schools are playing a crucial role in rebuilding Rwanda. There are 4 secondary schools, 5 primary schools, and 4 nursery schools, with about 6500 students between them. The students and teachers come from all ethnic and religious backgrounds and learn to live and work together.
Indigenous Affairs Committee in Canada (QIAC)
The Canadian Friends Service Committee set this up in 1974, in response to an armed confrontation between the Ojibway people and the Canadian government. The initial aim was to enable concerns to be heard and resolved in a nonviolent way. Since then QIAC has worked on many other issues to do with the human rights of indigenous peoples in Canada.
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) was a black Civil Rights activist and a close associate of Martin Luther King. He advised King on nonviolent protest, and organised the historic 1963 march for Jobs and Freedom. He was also an advocate of gay and lesbian rights.
Rights of the Child
Children were seen from the outset as having ‘something of God’ within them, which should be respected and nurtured. They are entitled to education and to be heard, and to freedom from exploitation and ill treatment in the workplace and the home.
Rights of Women
The notion that ‘God in every man’ applies equally to women stems from the earliest days of Quakerism. Equal treatment for women was seen to follow from this belief, both among Friends and in wider society. Quakers have worked towards this in many different contexts.
The James Nayler Foundation
For nearly fifteen years (1997-2012) the James Nayler Foundation was a Quaker inspired charity, named after an early Quaker. It worked with people suffering from severe personality disorders, n the belief that all can be helped.
Ham Sok-Hon (1901-1989) was a Korean Quaker, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by American Friends. His commitment to non-violence earned him the name, ‘the Gandhi of Korea.’
Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, (1952- ) is perhaps the only Quaker and pacifist to have found themselves second in command of their country’s defence forces. She is a longstanding member of the ANC, and served as an MP and later in the Ministries of Defence and Health. She currently campaigns against the sex-trafficking of women.
Horace Alexander (1889-1989) was a Quaker who contributed significantly to the peaceful transfer of power from the British to the independent governments of India and Pakistan, and afterwards worked to limit the terrible communal violence that followed.
(1885 – 1954) Agatha Harrison was a British Quaker and a close friend of Gandhi. She contributed significantly to the peaceful transfer of power from the British to the independent governments of India and Pakistan.
(1836 – 1925) built up the Rowntree family business, and later used his personal wealth to set up four charitable trusts. Throughout his lifetime he was concerned with social issues, and the trusts take forward these concerns.
SEEDS, a non-profit venture in Kenya
SEEDS is designed to generate income to support education in Quaker schools. Planning began in 2009, and corn is now being grown on 100 acres in Western Kenya. The first harvest was in September 2011.
Joseph Elder is an academic and lifelong Quaker peace activist with experience of mediating conflicts in Kashmir, Vietnam, Korea and Sri Lanka. He is currently professor of Sociology and Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin, USA.
HROC (Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities)
HROC is a programme that aims to heal trauma in individuals and communities. Friends in Rwanda and Burundi developed it in 2003, in the context of Hutu/Tutsi civil conflicts in both countries. It has been adapted and used in many other contexts since.
AFSC and Just economies
Building just economies is a key concern for the American Friends Service Committee. They believe that, for lasting peace, everyone needs access to education, adequate food and shelter, and safe, sustainable livelihoods. They address this through campaigning to shift US federal budget priorities, challenging the role of large corporations in the democratic process, and supporting projects at home and abroad that reduce economic inequality
Jerusalem and Gaza 1947 – 1950
Following the UN vote for a Partition Plan in 1947 to create independent Arab and Jewish states within Palestine, open war broke out in 1948. The war created a refugee crisis, both within Jerusalem and in Gaza. Quakers were at the forefront of relief efforts, and were among the first NGOs to work on behalf of the UN.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
AFSC was founded in 1917. It works with many partners, in the US and around the world, on peace building and issues of economic, social and criminal justice. AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, jointly with its British counterpart.
Elizabeth Hooton (1600-1672) may well have been the first person to be ‘convinced of the truth’ by George Fox. Certainly she was the first of the great Quaker woman missionaries, and one of the group known as the Valiant Sixty. She travelled several times to the New World and endured persecution well into her old age.
Nancy Meek Pocock
Nancy Pocock was a Canadian Quaker and Peace Activist whose home in Toronto became a shelter for refugees for over three decades. In 1987, the United Nations Association in Canada awarded her the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in disarmament, development and feminism.
Quaker House Belfast 1982-2010
Quaker House Belfast was set up in 1982 ‘to further the work of reconciliation and of befriending all parties in Northern Ireland’ at a time of great communal tension. It played a unique role in cross-community dialogue and peace-building for many years. By 2010, this work had been taken up by many others, and the centre was finally wound up.
Mediation During the Nigerian Civil War 1967-70
In 1967, following communal violence, an area of Eastern Nigeria calling itself Biafra, sought independence. In the civil war that followed (1967-1970), the area was cut off from the rest of the world and its population suffered starvation. Three Quakers took part in mediation with the leaders on both sides. The American Friends Service Committee ran relief programmes.
Mediation in Zimbabwe 1965-1980
Quakers were heavily involved in mediation and relief work in Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) during the war for independence and majority rule (1965-1979). They acted as election observers during the first free and fair election in 1980 and afterwards continued to work on race relations issues.
Rufus Jones (1863-1948) was a highly influential American Quaker academic. For many years he was professor of psychology and philosophy at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He was one of the founders of the American Friends Service Committee. His influence enabled the two divisions of American Quakerism, which split in the mid 19th Century, to reunite after his death.
Philip Noel-Baker was a British Quaker. An academic and politician, he was involved in the establishment of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. In 1959, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on disarmament.
Corder Catchpool (1883-1952) was a British Quaker and an absolutist conscientious objector who served time in prison during the First World War. He worked in Berlin between the wars, initially in relief and reparations, and later providing support for Jewish families persecuted by the Nazis.
Quaker Election Observing in East and Central Africa
One of the major causes of violence in Africa has been elections themselves. In 2004 Quaker Peace Network-Africa began a programme of election observation in East and Central Africa, in collaboration with Mennonites. Citizen reporters play a key role.
Turning the Tide
Turning the Tide is a training programme run by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (British Friends). It aims to help people use the power of nonviolence to ‘turn the tide’ of injustice, oppression and disempowerment and to build an inclusive, sustainable and fair world. They offer workshops, speakers, advice and resources. They also publish a periodic journal, Making Waves.
Transformative Mediation in East and Central Africa
The interaction between the parties to a dispute is the central focus. The mediator draws out the many layers of conflict underlying the current issue, and then the disputants work out a solution, usually in the silent presence of witnesses from family and/or community.
Floyd Schmoe (1895-2001) was born in Kansas but lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. He was both a forest ecologist and a marine biologist. In the course of relief work carried out in six separate wars, he was shot at, but never carried a gun.
31 Hours: the Grindstone Experiment
From 1963 to 1976, Canadian Friends Service Committee operated a Peace Education Centre on Grindstone Island. The most famous exercise they carried out was the ‘Grindstone Experiment,’ which took place over 31 hours in August 1965.
HROC-Burundi Bio-Sand Water Filter Project
HROC –Burundi is helping to rebuild communities recovering after the Burundian civil war, by training groups of people in essential skills for their communities. They learn to construct, use and sell bio-sand water filters that produce a steady supply of clean water, using simple technologies and locally available materials.
Quaker Service Australia (QSA)
Quaker Service Australia is an aid and development arm of Quakers in Australia. Founded in 1959, it now works in countries such as Cambodia, India, East Timor and Uganda. QSA aims for long term partnerships that work towards the goals of economic self-sufficiency and environmentally sustainable living.
H Leslie Kirkley
H Leslie Kirkley, known as HLK, became General Secretary of OXFAM in 1951, and transformed it from a small local Oxford Committee into a leading national and international organisation, and one of the most widely respected aid agencies in the world. He was involved with many other charities, all supporting his vision for a fairer world.
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
FCNL was founded in 1943, and is a Quaker lobby organisation in the USA. It seeks to bring Quaker values and testimonies to bear on public policy decisions at the Federal level. Priorities are decided by wide consultation among US Quakers.
Mission work and Quaker settlement in colonial New Jersey
(1674 - 1783) In the 1650s there was a vast tract of sparsely populated Indian land between the northern and southern colonies. William Penn and others seized the opportunity to acquire the land as a place where Quakers could live freely. West Jersey was the first, in 1674, followed by East Jersey, and then Pennsylvania.
(1793-1859) was a corn merchant and philanthropist in Birmingham. He worked for peace, the abolition of slavery, education and temperance. He helped revive the Adult School Movement.
Interaction with Tsarist Russia
(1698 - 1919) Several Quakers met Russian Tsars and their diplomats, and discussed many topics. There were significant impacts on Russian education, agriculture and health. Towards the end of the period Friends’ focus was on relief - for victims of wars, for communities suffering famine, and for minorities suffering because of their beliefs.
Quaker Earthcare Witness
QEW (Quaker Earthcare Witness) is a network of Friends and other like-minded people seeking to address the ecological and social crises of the world from a spiritual perspective, emphasizing Quaker process and testimonies. They seek emerging insights into the nature of humankind’s ‘right relationship’ with the Earth.
Ada Salter (1866-1942) was a pacifist and a socialist. She was the first woman Labour mayor and spent her life working for the people of Bermondsey and London. Her husband Dr Alfred Salter worked tirelessly among the poor of Bermondsey.
Friends War Victims Relief Committee in WWI
The Friends War Victims Relief Committee was revived at the outbreak of the First World War with the aim of relieving civilian distress. It worked with refugees in the Netherlands and in France. After the USA entered the War, it worked with the newly-formed American Friends Service Committee in France, Serbia, Russia and Poland.
Quäkerspeisung (Quaker feeding)
Quakers working in Germany during and after the First World War described children as desperately malnourished. British and American Quakers, supported by thousands of German volunteers, set up feeding centres across Germany. At its height in 1921, the Quäkerspeisung (Quaker feeding) programme provided food for one million children a day.
(1809 -1872) was a pin manufacturer. He was also a philanthropist and set up a school for the children of his employees and supported other schools. He also lectured on Quakerism and temperance.
AFSC in WWII
From the outbreak of WWII until 1942, the American Friends Service Committee provided relief in southern France. When the US entered the war, American COs were prevented from serving abroad. They worked instead in Civilian Public Service Camps, some of which were run by the AFSC. AFSC gave considerable support to Interned Japanese-Americans.
Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN)
In the UK, the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network has worked on behalf of Refugees and Asylum Seekers since 2006, providing support, practical help and advocacy. They campaign nationally on the issues of indefinite detention of asylum seekers, detention of children and destitution.
Quaker Action Against Torture
Since the publication of Amnesty International’s first report on torture in 1973, Quakers around the world have declared themselves utterly opposed to the use of torture in any circumstances. Through groups such as Q-CAT in the UK and QUIT in the USA, they continue to campaign against its use and seek to help its victims.
QSA – English Language Training in Cambodia
QSA's biggest project to date has been the Cambodian English Language Training (CELT) Program. In 1985, they began working with the Ministry of Education in Phnom Pehn to provide English language training to government officials and to improve secondary school teachers' language abilities. The project was managed by QSA until 1993, during which class intakes grew from 15 to almost 150. The project was then handed over to Australia’s International Development programme, who continued to fund it until 1996.
Diana and John Lampen
Diana Lampen (1940 -) and John Lampen (1938 -) have worked in peace and reconciliation in spheres ranging from a therapeutic community for young boys, via Derry in Northern Ireland in the lead up to the Good Friday peace accord, to their present work as peace educators with the Hope Project, which they set up in 1994.
(1803-1893) was a Quaker tea merchant. He ensured that his tea was sold as an unadulterated product, safe to drink. He supported many charities, and endowed a children’s trust whose work continues to this day.
Quaker International Centre, Dhaka (Dacca) 1950-1964
The Quaker International Centre in Dhaka, in what is now Bangladesh, was set up by the American Friends Service Committee in 1950, and was jointly funded by the Friends Service Council of Great Britain. It was a centre for reconciliation work between India and Pakistan, as well as providing poverty relief and urban development. The centre was handed over to trained local staff in 1964.
Friends House Moscow
Friends House Moscow (FHM) – known in Russian as Дом Друзей (Dom druzei) – supports Quakers and seekers locally, maintains a Russian-language website for outreach, and works with local partners on projects in line with Quaker testimonies.
AFSC and Ending Discrimination
Ending discrimination is a key concern for the American Friends Service Committee. The AFSC believes that all forms of discrimination are barriers to building a just and peaceful world. AFSC works with communities in the U.S. and across the globe to foster diversity, inclusion, and equality.
The Pease Family
The early Quaker Peases were wool producers/merchants in Yorkshire. Later the family became prominent in newer industries - railways, banking and mining. The first Quaker MP, in 1832, was a Pease, and others followed.
Kathleen Lonsdale was a Quaker chemist who was instrumental in developing the science of crystallography. She was a peace campaigner and a prison reformer, and also served as President of the British section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1956 she wrote, Is Peace Possible?, exploring the relationship between world peace and world population needs.
Quaker Service Sweden (QSS)
QSS is part of the Religious Society of Friends in Sweden, but is financially independent of that body. QSS supports various organisations and projects in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Georgia and Palestine.
Mildred Creak (1898-1993) was a ground-breaking child psychiatrist who helped to develop nine-point criteria for the diagnostics of autism. Creak maintained that autism, far from being caused by parental inadequacies, as was believed at the time, was primarily due to genetic factors. She was a member of a Quaker peace degation to Russia in 1951.
T. Edmund Harvey
Thomas Edmund Harvey (4 January 1875-3 May 1955), commonly known as Edmund Harvey, was a pacifist social reformer and politician who had a lifelong interest in prison reform and rehabilitation.