Thirty seven Friends gathered for our first full NFPB meeting of 2021. Just over a year earlier Derby Meeting House was our venue; this time we came together courtesy of zoom, warmly welcomed but without the handshakes and cups of coffee on arrival. We have a number of new members this year and we were pleased to have them with us.
A central part of our meeting was hearing from Grace Da Costa and Andrew Tomlinson, both working for Quakers in Britain on parliamentary engagement in relationship to Westminster and Holyrood respectively. They gave an informative presentation on the range of issues and opportunities for Quaker engagement, from the review by government and parties of defence policies, asylum and migration policies, peace education, to addressing the climate crisis in the lead-up to the UN climate conference – COP26 – taking place in Glasgow later this year, and the forthcoming May elections. They encouraged us to keep presenting our concerns to politicians, working on building relationships when possible as well as drawing on our own experiences and expertise.
The NFPB nuclear weapons abolition working group had met since the 22 January entry-into-force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They will be continuing to develop the information and resources to support Friends in taking further action in promoting the Treaty. Encouraging cities and towns to support the UK adoption of the treaty, and working individually and collectively to divest from business involved in nuclear weapons financing were amongst the examples suggested for action. Other Friends gave accounts of actions they had taken and planned to take locally on this issue.
Trustees gave a report and financial update, noting some of the changes to our income and expenditure that had occurred as result of the pandemic; whilst NFPB remained within its 2020 budget there were further challenges ahead. New Trustees had begun service at the start of 2021. The NFPB Coordinator reflected on the ways in which our work has developed and changed in the past year, with new openings in terms of networking alongside the limitations of not being able to meet together in person. We also had an informative update report from Quaker Peace and Social Witness, outlining a number of ongoing and new strands of work.
In sharing news of other peace action and concerns across the NFPB area, Friends reported on witness, acts of care and solidarity, learning and preparation for action and new developments in peace organising. Links and references to some of these are given below.
In reflecting on the experience of a family from Yemen now finding safety through becoming refugees in this country, a Friend shared in ministry during our closing worship these two verses from the longer poem – Say ‘No’ to Peace by Brian Wren at
Say “No” to peace
if what they mean by peace
is the quiet misery of hunger,
the frozen stillness of fear,
the silence of broken spirits,
the unborn hopes of the oppressed.
Tell them that peace
is the shouting of children at play,
the babble of tongues set free,
the thunder of dancing feet,
and a father’s voice singing.
Some related links:
Quaker Peace Educators Exchange Network – set up to involve individual Quakers as well as the voluntary Quaker and peace education projects around the country. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Arms trade / Military spending
Peace News article about the 2021 census https://peacenews.info/blog/9861/demilitarise-2021-census