Love. Pray. Make Peace

Report of NFPB members’ meeting

[photos: Peace Vigil in Huddersfield and signboard at Carlton Hill Meeting House in Leeds ]

The war in Ukraine was the thread that ran throughout the first full meeting of NFPB in 2022, on 5 March. Thirty Friends gathered online, with new members joining us and most Area Meetings being represented. Some Friends were unable to stay for the whole meeting as they were supporting peace witness in different parts of the country.

In considering Northern Friends Peace Board’s continuing work, we were only too aware of the likely effects on this of the war. From work on nuclear weapons abolition, to challenging military spending to promoting rethinking security, the work goes on but will need to adapt and change. We heard a number of suggestions for what else might be required of us in the coming period and NFPB members will continue to meet to reflect and to develop ideas for action. Trustees reported on a small increase in financial contributions from Friends in 2021, and also presented a revised governing document – which was accepted by members.

In small groups and in the whole meeting, Friends had time for listening to feelings and responses to the international crisis that had developed over the previous ten days, reflecting on the implications for the world and for our work in the world. Friends acknowledged fears, distress and a sense of feeling powerless. We were reminded of the importance and value of finding practical ways of taking action, from supporting young people, to collecting and sorting out materials for refugees, to continuing the work of building peace where we are.

In some ways, what we are led to do is simple: Love. Pray. Make Peace. We heard that these words had been put on display at a Leeds Meeting House. But we also know and were reminded that neither our peace testimony nor pacifism have ever been simple; and they are not now.

There was a concern that the intense media coverage of the war can be emotionally difficult to deal with; we need to look after ourselves and one another. We need to be ready to listen, creating spaces for hearing others, acknowledging the fears and uncertainties. Building empathy and recognising our common humanity, how might we be led to take action to reach across barriers?

We were reminded that this is not the only war nor the only crisis facing the world. Militarism and war are linked to other crises, from climate change to racism, from political corruption to inequality. This gives an added imperative to continue to promote and build change towards a radically different type of security. Sharing our vision and hope can encourage others who are seeking and trying to walk a different path.

The meeting closed in a period of stillness. It is hoped that the next meeting of NFPB – on 18 June – will be in person.

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