Meeting for Sufferings April 2011
At a Meeting for Sufferings
held in London
2 April 2011
S/11/04/ 1: Worship
Section 24.35 of Quaker faith & practice has been read in our opening worship, and we have remembered former members of this meeting who recently died.
S/11/04/ 2: Adoption of Today's Agenda
We have amended today's agenda at Item 4 so that 4 i will read: Sympathetic awareness of the experience and views of Jewish Israeli Peace Groups, and 4 ii, where it refers to disinvestment, will read: divesting investments in companies that maintain the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
S/11/04/ 3: Clerk of BYM Trustees report
Jonathan Fox, Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees, has reported on the meetings of Trustees held on 4 February 2011 and on 11-13 March 2011.
We have heard the reasons for the reconfiguration of Friends House office space, which will be phased in between March and August 2011. Although the staff will experience great disruption during this period, they are committed to keeping up the momentum of our centrally managed work, and we thank them for this. We trust they will benefit in due course from more efficient work space which will lend itself to collaborative working between departments.
The Trustees reported that the sale of the lease of Courtauld House is now completed, releasing net proceeds of £6.65 million. Trustees will report to us further in June about the appropriate use of this capital asset which is only available for property and capital investment.
The Trustees wish to to present to Meeting for Sufferings the plans for the design and cost of the refurbishment of the Large Meeting House. They will share these with us at the proposal stage in June.
Jonathon Fox has replied to our questions. Trustees will be monitoring and reviewing the affect of the reconfiguration of the staff office space. We are assured that staff are being consulted through a specific staff group, and that the working space for staff can be adapted to meet future use.
Ron Barden answered a question relating to Courtauld House. The new lease is restricted to student accommodation.
S/11/04/ 4: Boycott, divestment and sanctions (Israel/Palestine)
Further to minute S/11/02/ 4 of 5 February 2011, we receive minutes on this matter from the following Area Meetings: Southern Marches (paper S/11/04/mc i a), Sussex East (i b),
Surrey & Hampshire Border (i c), Swarthmoor (i f), North London (i g), Cambridgeshire
(i h), East Cheshire (i i), Ipswich & Diss (i j), North West London (i k), Bristol (i, l), Hampshire & Islands (i m), Devon (i n) and Manchester & Warrington (i o) and North Cumbria (i p).
Our assistant clerk has summarised the Area Meeting minutes received, and we have returned to our consideration of the issues raised in the papers received at our last meeting (paper S/11/02/A prepared by Marigold Bentley, Assistant General Secretary of Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW), the Kairos Palestine Document A moment of truth ( paper S/11/02/B), and the Quaker Council for European Affairs Discussion Paper entitled Responses to the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (S/11/02/C).
We have heard of the responses of Jewish Peace Groups within Israel. We hear these Israeli citizens risk being criminalized by their own government if they actively support the Palestinian call for cultural and economic boycott. We were informed that most Jewish Israeli Peace Groups support the boycott of settlement goods, and only some support a boycott of Israel.
A just peace for Palestine means security for Israel too, and nonviolent protests by both Israelis and Palestinians for the end of the occupation are heartening to observe.
For nine years Quakers have been witnessing individually and through the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) to the human rights abuses of the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Today we have considered whether we should add nonviolent action to our witnessing – not as punishment or revenge, but as an external pressure to achieve change.
We understand the history and the trauma of the past, but it is the Israelis who are the stronger and they need to make the changes.
John Woolman's words (Quaker faith & practice 26.61) remind us of the powerful sense we have of being brothers and sisters with people of other faiths. There are three main faiths in this part of the world, and we want to proceed in ways which allow dialogue to continue. We consider we should now act publically and, well-informed, be able to explain our action to others - because people matter more than territory, and because we approach others with a desire for peace.
Difficult decisions taken by us today can be reversed. The request for boycott comes from those who will suffer most, but a decision for boycott will give hope to Palestinians and support to those in Israel who are working for peace.
In face of the armed oppression of poor people and the increasing encroachment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, we cannot do nothing.
Our hearts are full of compassion for Israelis and Palestinians, all of whom are suffering from the effects of the occupation.
We are clear then that it would be wrong to support the illegal settlements by purchasing their goods. We therefore ask Friends throughout Britain Yearly Meeting to boycott settlement goods, until such time as the occupation is ended.
We are not at this time proposing to boycott goods from Israel itself, being unwilling to jeopardise continuing dialogue with Israelis and British Jews.
We pray fervently for both Israelis and Palestinians, keeping them together in our hearts. We hope they will find an end to their fears and the beginning of their mutual co-existence based on a just peace. And so we look forward to the end of the occupation and the end of the international boycott. We envisage our future relationship with both peoples as one of loving and generous co-operation.
Although we unite in this decision, we recognize that Friends have different views, and we must treat one another tenderly.
S/11/04/ 5: Membership and Appointments
a) Membership of Meeting for Sufferings
The following changes to the membership of Meeting for Sufferings are proposed.
Beryl Shilton Dorset & South Wiltshire AM
Jane Burn Banbury & Evesham AM
Stella Roberts Central England AM
We duly appoint the Friends named and thank the Friend released for her service.
b) Central Nominations Committee
brings forward the names of the following Friends for service or release as indicated:
Friends Trusts Ltd.
To serve from 1.6.2011 until 31.5.2014
Marion Strachan nomination North Scotland
Steve Pullan nomination Northumbria
Quaker Housing Trust
To serve with effect from AGM 2011 until the end of AGM 2014
Tim Yeomans nomination Banbury & Evesham
Dugan Cummings nomination North West London
Quaker Communications Central Committee
To serve from 1.4.2011 until 31.3.2014
Miranda Bird nomination Cornwall
Kevin Redpath nomination Mid-Somerset
Quaker Peace & Social Witness Central Committee
To serve from 1.1.2011 until 31.12.2013
Ann Limb nomination Luton & Leighton
We duly appoint the Friends named.
S/11/04/ 6: Staffordshire Area Meeting: A memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum
Further to minute S/10/07/ 7 c) of 3 July 2010, we have received a paper from Staffordshire Area Meeting on a proposed Quaker memorial (paper S/11/04/A), asking for endorsement and support of this project under the auspices of the proposed Quaker National Memorial Arboretum Trust.
Following a lunchtime presentation and information-sharing session, the paper has been introduced by Peter Holland, a member of the Staffordshire Area Meeting Arboretum Memorial Working Party and other members of the working party, who have described the memorial.
It will be a memorial to The Friends Relief Service and The Friends Ambulance Unit, in which 17 lost their lives. The design of the memorial reflects our testimony to simplicity, and the text to be engraved on the stone will name our testimonies and express our vision of peace. The memorial will also form a Quaker outreach, being seen by many thousands of people each year, some of whom might never otherwise have come into contact with Quaker thinking.
There has been much support for this project from Friends. Peter Holland has noted our suggestions for consideration by the working party. We endorse and support the project and thank the group for its work.
S/11/04/ 7: Draft Letter of greetings to Ireland Yearly Meeting
We have received a draft letter of greetings to Ireland Yearly Meeting 2011 from Quaker World Relations Committee (Paper S/11/04/B).
We have agreed suggested minor alterations.
We thank Quaker World Relations Committee and forward the letter with our warm greetings to Ireland Yearly Meeting.
The clerk has signed the letter on our behalf in this meeting.
S/11/04/ 8: BYM Trustees’ Annual Report & Accounts
Ron Barden, clerk of Quaker Finance & Property Central Committee, has introduced a
summary of the Trustees’ Annual Accounts for the centrally managed work of Britain Yearly Meeting for the year ended 31 December 2010. The Accounts have been approved by Trustees at their meeting today and will be presented to Yearly Meeting.
We are aware that the unexpected receipt of generous legacies in 2010 has relieved us of the need to curtail Quaker work. One legacy is earmarked for specific support for the Friends House Library, the Friends Historical Society and educational purposes.
Friends should understand that the core work of witness, support to meetings, outreach and sustaining church and faith still depends on the contributions from Friends in our local meetings. The affects of the recession may still have a serious impact. Trustees may need to consider a contingency plan that adjusts the centrally managed work, but to avoid this we ask Friends to regard their contributions not as 'voluntary' but as a commitment.
We received the Trustees’ Annual Accounts for information. We are grateful for the summary version which members can share with meetings.
S/11/04/ 9: Minutes & Correspondence:
i Area Meeting Minutes
a) Central England AM: changes in legal aid arrangements
We receive minute 2011.020.iii of Central England Area Meeting held
10 March 2011 concerning changes in legal aid arrangements (paper S/11/04/mc i d).
We pass this minute to Quaker Peace & Social Witness Central Committee and to Michael Bartlett, our Parliamentary Liaison Officer, for their consideration, and to Mid Thames Area Meeting which is gathering information about the government’s economic cuts, as agreed in our previous minute S/0/12/8 ii b.
S/11/04/10: Strengthening Area Meetings
Further to minutes S/10/01/8 of 15-17 January 2010: ‘Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Meetings’ and S/10/03/ 3 of 27 March 2010: ‘What makes meetings grow?’ we receive minute 28 of North Wales Area Meeting held 8 January 2011 concerning Quaker faith & practice 4.02
We also receive minute 11/107 of Quaker Life Central Committee held 18-20 February 2011.
The clerks have noted the points shared today and will send them out with the minutes.
We will return to this matter at our meeting in October 2011.