on Saturday 28th September 2013
Our NFPB meeting in Edinburgh was attended by nearly forty Friends and Attenders, our numbers being boosted by invited local Friends. As with our other events this year, this had a centenary theme to it, as well as a further opportunity to display our materials and distribute resources.
The meeting was also, and as importantly, an opportunity to catch up on Friends’ current peace concerns and activities and to begin to map out our coming priorities. In the Board members’ forum, we heard of a range of events, from public meetings on Afghanistan, to a course on forgiveness and opportunities for outreach and communication on peace concerns.
We often have representatives from Quaker Peace and Social Witness at our meetings, and on this occasion Izzy Cartwright joined us. As manager of the QPSW Peace Education Project she described the main areas of her work
1. Supporting Quakers & others to do peace education work
2. Creating peace education resources
3. Supporting the peace movement
4. Challenging the militarisation of Children and Young People
NFPB members were pleased to see the new ‘Teach Peace’ resource pack that Izzy has been involved in producing with the Peace Education Network. This arose as a result of a concern of NFPB member Celia Davies.
The Board considered proposals for a new development plan, outlining a framework for our activities for the next 3 to 4 years. Key elements from the previous plan were seen as ongoing and forming the foundations for our further work. New and continuing areas of concern – from general work on the peace testimony to more current issues of militarism, the culture and conditions of peace and specific work on the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war – were suggested. Alongside these, good governance, nurturing the Board as a community, being realistic and work to promote peace and non-military security before and after the independence referendum in Scotland were goals around which the Board found itself able to unite. Friends saw the plan as a good springboard for taking our work forward.
In thinking about our role in relation to the centenary of the outbreak of war in 2014, the Board considered some proposals. These acknowledged that our own centenary materials would be a valuable resource, as will the range of other peace and cultural organisations’ plans for the centenary. Our particular role, it was suggested, would be in the area of networking, producing some of our own resources, supporting Friends and others in telling the stories of those who took a conscientious stand against war and making links with the current need to resist militarism and to promote alternatives. The proposals were supported. The Board also agreed to add its support to a petition that Pax Christi has initiated, urging an end to military recruitment of sixteen year-olds, making a link in the text with military recruitment during the first world war.
Centenary – past activities and looking forward
The first half of the year has been a busy one for NFPB and we reflected on the conference, walk of witness and resources that have been produced to mark our centenary. Brief reports of some of these were presented at our meeting.
Our centenary work has been about drawing inspiration from the past for our current and future work. With this in mind, a number of Friends from Scotland were invited to share reflections on the nature of peace work, of Quakers’ role and on the specific context we will be facing in the coming years. The importance of working with others and of telling and remembering the stories of peace work was emphasised. Inspiring people and inspiring events are important. There is great value in making our peace presence visible, but we were also reminded that we each have different levels of energy and will be able to contribute different things at different times.
The particular opportunity, created by the independence referendum, for raising and exploring the nature of peace and security, was returned to again. In small groups, we also considered how to work well as a united body of Friends concerned for peace and justice in Scotland, England and Wales.