Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 30th October 2022
Dear Friends, When I had just joined an Explorer’s Group, I was given a little booklet entitled ‘The Quaker Testimonies’. The date on it was 2003. It seems to me … Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 30th October 2022
When I had just joined an Explorer’s Group, I was given a little booklet entitled ‘The Quaker Testimonies’. The date on it was 2003. It seems to me that this passage meets our situation now.
The Peace Testimony is probably the best known testimony, both within and outside the Religious Society of Friends. It derives from our conviction that love is at the heart of existence. Again, there is no set form of words, but Friends are deeply attached to the Declaration made to Charles II in 1660, which begins: “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretense whatsoever”. It has been the Quaker experience over the centuries “to live in the life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars”.
We do not assume that we can escape from the realities of a world in which violence appears so deeply rooted. We are, however, constantly challenged by the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the number and intensity of violent conflicts, the cycles of poverty, alienation and violence that destroy peace in many deprived communities, and apparently random acts of terrorism. Whatever the discouragement, it is essential for Friends to be true to their principles and to show that there is another way of conducting human affairs and resolving conflicts non-violently. In many cases this will involve difficult choices and Friends may find themselves troubled in conscience in trying to discern what is right in such areas as peace-keeping.
Seen in the long sweep of history, however, much has been achieved. The Peace Testimony involves thinking and uttering the unthinkable, in the conviction that this may lead to a fundamental shift in attitudes. What is idealistic in one generation becomes a cherished right or precept in the next.
On behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (Bob Harwood, David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Theresa Samms, Nancy Wall)