On 15 June NFPB members met in Carlisle for their second meeting of 2019. Twenty-seven Friends attended, with a number of local Friends – who made us very welcome – being amongst them.
A stimulating morning saw us hearing firstly from Julia Aglionby about Penrith Meeting’s activities around sanctuary concerns. As a small market town, the context and type of support for sanctuary seekers is very different from that in more urban and densely-populated communities in which other Friends are taking action. Julia reminded Friends that there are now 97 Sanctuary Meetings within Britain, each working towards the three principles in different ways, but each giving practical support and friendship to those seeking sanctuary and building new lives for themselves in this country.
Also from the Area Meeting, Dorothy Crowther described the establishment of a peace centre and related initiatives in Sierra Leone. Dorothy had been supporting Abdul Kamara in this endeavour over a number of years; he had become a Quaker, having experienced the brutality of war in that country and subsequently coming across Quakers and then studying peace studies in the UK. There have been many challenges since, not least the ebola outbreak of 2014. We looked forward to hearing more about this work in the future.
Moving our focus to a different region, Ellis Brooks from QPSW described how the experiences and knowledge from Ecumenical Accompaniers in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) had been drawn on in producing a new peace education resource. Razor Wire and Olive Branches looks at the human rights and conflict in Palestine and Israel through a number of case-studies. Ellis led us through an exercise using these, and encouraged interested Friends to obtain a copy of the pack and to make it known to schools.
Before and after lunch, we heard from Friends about peace concerns and activities acrosss the NFPB area and then also had workshop discussions about the type of activities we (as individuals) decide to undertake. Questions of effectiveness, companionship, inspiration, challenge and the importance of nonviolence were all considered. We were also reminded that rest and self-care cannot be neglected in the midst of busy and active lives.
Before closing our meeting in worship, Friends heard a brief report from the Board’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Group. In the light of growing tensions between the US, UK and Iran, the Board agreed that an open letter should be sent to the Foreign Secretary to raise our concerns about the dangers of a drift to war.
Finally, Friends heard an update from the Treasurer and Trustees. The latter asked the Board for support in reviewing our governing documents. In considering the request, it was also suggested that greater clarity might be helpful regarding the roles of Clerk, our Executive (Trustees) and the Board.
The meeting finished with a period of worship, as it had started. During that opening worship, we recalled Bobby Locke, a former NFPB member from West Scotland, who had died recently.