NFPB members met in Dunblane on the 27th September, the bright autumnal air being filled with the sound of bagpipes as we gathered in worship. The meeting came at a poignant time, being just nine days after the referendum on Scottish indepdendence and at the end of the week in which the UK parliament voted to undertake air-warfare against Islamic State in Iraq. These were major items on our agenda, as we reflected on our priorities and opportunities for action for peace in both contexts. Some Friends were despondent, whilst others had been inspired by some of the new approaches to, and levels of, political engagement in Scotland.
We minuted, in part:
‘Humanity alone is not enough and we need prayer too. Healing requires time and care to heal from within and can be painful: there is a need for tenderness and care. Practical things can be done and the example was given of writing letters asking Israel to pay for the re-construction in Gaza. Arms reduction and removal is so important if we are to make progress with peace. Learning is valuable but it is important to have discernment as we take our work forward. We acknowledge the centrality of religion in conflicts and the we ask the question “what do we mean by faith?” . The root of many issues is guilt, greed and power. We are reminded of the power of non violence which can be effective in stopping violence when people feel strong enough to act together.’
NFPB members were urged to consider carefully how we can best use our resources to give shape to our concerns. We were pleased to make some new appointments for Clerking and project group work, with more needed for the start of 2015. We heard news of Friends who had been affected by illness and held them in our thoughts during the day. The value of people acting both separately and together was affirmed, including the point in our agenda when NFPB members shared news and information of peace activities in their different areas, from the North of Scotland to West Yorkshire. We explored the potential for and urgency of action for positive change, celebrating the vision and witness of Friends and others to this end.
Our final minute concluded:‘Optimism has been defined as wishing something would happen, hope as what we do to bring that vision about, here and now. We gather hope from being, and working together, as a Board.’