Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 10th December 2023

Dear Friends, When I was a younger man, all I knew about Quakers was that they were a peace church and that Wandsworth MfW started at 10.45. It was the Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 10th December 2023

Dear Friends,

When I was a younger man, all I knew about Quakers was that they were a peace church and that Wandsworth MfW started at 10.45. It was the time of the first Gulf War and I was upset and angry about the jingoism around me and some peoples’ desire to punish Iraq and Iraquis. I was led to my first Quaker meeting to find I was half right – in fact it started at 10.30. But it started my Quaker journey. I found the sonorous language of the Friends Peace Testimony addressed to Charles Stuart in 1660:Our principle is, and our Practice have always been, to seek peace and ensue it and to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the good and welfare and doing that which tends to the peace of all.All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.I also found the more pointed, personal challenge of Advices & Queries 31:“Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God.”But most importantly I found a community of Friends who were not daunted by the violence of the world, the seeming never ending succession of wars and other conflicts, and who were on a path of peace.Pete Seeger the American folk singer and social activist tells a little story:Back in the 1950s there was a tiny peace demonstration in Times Square. A young Quaker was carrying a sign. A passer-by scoffed “You think you’re going to change the world by standing here at midnight with that sign?” “I suppose not” said the young man “but I’m going to make sure the world doesn’t change me”It would be too easy for me to accept the judgement of the world, that some wars are just, that conflict is inevitable and I just need to pick a side, that violence solves problems, that victory is absolute. Friends know this is not true and I want to be like that young Quaker, not allowing the world to persuade me otherwise.In peaceJohn Thurleyon behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)