Meeting for Sufferings June 2011
At a Meeting for Sufferings
held in London
4 June 2011
S/11/06/ 1: Worship
Sections 23.86 and 1.35 of Quaker faith & practice have been read in our opening worship, and we have remembered former members of this meeting who recently died.
S/11/06/ 2: Adoption of Agenda
We have reflected on issues to be considered during our meeting and agreed to the draft agenda.
S/11/06/ 3: Clerk of BYM Trustees report
Jonathan Fox, Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees, has reported on the meetings of Trustees held on 2 April 2011 and on 12 May 2011, and has replied to our questions.
We heard concern about the financial losses incurred by the restaurant, and the current need to spend on improving the restaurant. It is hoped that improvements will in time increase the use by non Quakers and the income from that.
Jonathan has also described the intentions behind the suggested designs for the Large Meeting House at Friends House. He has emphasised flexibility for use of the space inside the hall and improvements in the surrounding areas to serve the needs of those using it. In the lunch break there will be an opportunity to see redevelopment design concepts and a model for the Large Meeting House and to ask questions about these. Friends are asked to send comments and suggestions to the Project Board via the Trustees. Detailed costs of the different designs are not yet available.
The Trustees and the Recording Clerk are planning improved line management of staff through systems of communication, training, support and accountability for all staff. The Recording Clerk's own accountability is to the Clerk of Trustees who will carry out the necessary reviews with him.
The Trustee Body itself is devising ways to measure its own effectiveness so that BYM can clearly evaluate how well Trustees carry out , on our behalf, the responsibilities entrusted to them. The Trustees want to consult with Meeting for Sufferings more closely and receive its guidance. Their accountability is to Yearly Meeting in session through the Trustees Annual Report.
We welcome these developments, particularly their even handed application and the transparency of the accountability.
S/11/06/ 4: Radical Resistance and the State
Steve Whiting (Programme Manager: Turning the Tide, Quaker Peace & Social Witness) and Sam Walton (Programme Manager for Peace & Disarmament, Quaker Peace & Social Witness) have introduced the issues raised in their paper Radical Resistance and the State (paper S/11/06/A).
Our attention has been drawn to passages in Quaker Faith & Practice which remind us that peace is not the absence of conflict. When conflict arises between the promptings of love and truth and the demands of the State, nonviolent direct action is a response. It is a costly option, but it can be effective for positive and political change without perpetuating cycles of retaliation. It keeps open the possibility of negotiation, whilst radically resisting injustice. It always holds out the aim of co-operating for a better future.
Steve Whiting explained that nonviolent resistance is one of three complementary approaches. However, Friends in general are more comfortable with the other two approaches - reforming institutions from within, and building the alternative so as to bring the future into the present. Resistance carries risks of confrontation and conflict but strengthens those who are working for reform and for alternatives by creating the political space they need.
Sam Walton has told us of his experience under personal concern in a variety of political protests and how he has committed himself to providing legal observation and advice to nonviolent protesters. He told us the police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest and not to prevent it. He has observed a build-up of repression in the policing of protests.
The personal witness brought by Steve and Sam has made a strong impression on us today.
We affirm our Quaker commitment to bearing public witness against injustice and our democratic right to hold the government to account.
Our plenary session included personal experience from Friends. We reflected on the fact that there is a variety of styles of policing in this country. At demonstrations a contrast has been observed between policing that accepts protest and policing that is repressive, and that over the years a repressive style has become stronger. This needs to be challenged.
We are concerned that the media narrative can distort the experience of participants by selective reporting, and that this encourages exaggerated responses from the police. It is inappropriate if there are no other means for police accountability than that provided by the media.
We plan to return to this topic at a future meeting, and invite Friends to encourage further thinking on this matter.
S/11/06/ 5: Membership and Appointments
a) Membership of Meeting for Sufferings
Elizabeth Bailey Manchester & Warrington AM
Margot Lunnon London West AM
Vernon White (with effect from 6.8.2011) Cornwall AM
Simon Ewart (with effect from 6.8.2011) Cornwall AM
Simon Risley London West AM
Angela Seddon Manchester & Warrington AM
To note new Management Meeting membership
Gina Fenton Interim Head of Quaker Communications and
Paul Parker Recording Clerk
Vincent Poupard Interim Head of Quaker Finance & Property
We duly appoint and note those named and thank the Friends released for their service.
b) Central Nominations Committee
brings forward the names of the following Friends for service or release as indicated:
Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations
(already notified to and agreed by the Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings on the between meetings basis)
To serve from 1.5.2011 until 30.4.2014
Peter McCaffery nomination General Meeting for Scotland
Quaker Finance & Property Central Committee
To serve from 1.9.2011 until 31.8.2014
John Cope renomination Craven & Keighley AM
(appointed 2007, second renomination)
John Marsh renomination West Weald AM
(appointed 2008, first renomination)
Delia Suffling renomination Cambridgeshire AM
(appointed 2007, first renomination)
Representative to Netherlands Yearly Meeting (13-15 May 2011)
(already notified to and agreed by the Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings on the between meetings basis)
Judith Thurgood Devon AM
Representative to Switzerland YM (10-13 June 2011)
Christina Birch Swarthmoor AM
Representative to Norway YM (30 June-3 Jul 2011)
John Melling North Scotland AM
France YM (14-18 July 2011)
Helen Rowlands Central England AM
German YM (13-16 Oct 2011)
Gordon Matthews Banbury & Evesham AM
Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee
Meeting for Sufferings appointments
To serve from YM 2011 until the rise of YM 2014
Colin Billett nomination Worcestershire & Shropshire AM
Heather Rowlands nomination Central England AM
Anna Sharman nomination Kingston & Wandsworth AM
To serve from YM 2011 until the rise of YM 2013
Linda Wood nomination Luton & Leighton AM
We duly appoint the Friends named.
S/11/06/ 6: Review Group for Reviewing Meeting for Sufferings & BYM Trustees
We receive minute 31/11 of Mid-Somerset Area Meeting held 11 April 2011 concerning the future role of Meeting for Sufferings (paper S/11/06/mc i i).
Further to minutes S/11/02/10 of 5 February 2011, S/10/10/5 of 2 October 2010, and S/10/07/11 of 3 July 2010, Peter Eccles, convenor of the Review Group for Reviewing Meeting for Sufferings and BYM Trustees, has presented the Group’s paper (paper S/11/06/ B).
Following consideration of the report in home groups at our February meeting and provision of notes from these to the Review Group, we are now asked to consider
corporately the recommendations of the Group regarding the primary role of Meeting for Sufferings, the relationship of the Meeting to Yearly Meeting Trustees and relationship of the Meeting to area meetings.
We commend the role of Meeting for Sufferings both in discerning the vision throughout the whole of the Yearly Meeting and communicating widely. We expect the clerks of Meeting for Sufferings to implement the recommendations in respect of Meeting for Sufferings and in doing so to seek the views of the Meeting for Sufferings Arrangements Group. We ask our Representatives to thresh issues locally, and our clerks to provide agendas that reflect Yearly Meeting concerns from all parts of the Society. Effective communication is necessary to enable us to achieve this.
S/11/06/ 7: Framework for Action Priority F: Crime, community and justice
Further to minute S/08/04/ 8 of 5 April 2008 when a report was received giving a ‘snap-shot’ of the diversity of activity within Britain Yearly Meeting expressing the complex and long-standing concern for criminal justice, we have received a paper giving a similar ‘snap-shot’ three years on. The paper comes within the context of priority F of A Framework for Action (paper S/11/06/ C) and has been prepared by Paula Harvey (Programme Manager: Crime, community and justice, Quaker Peace & Social Witness). It is a collection of current examples of working across the whole range of the concern and the value of working together. It reports on centrally managed projects and also local initiatives by Area Meetings. As a retrospective of an impressive amount of Quaker work, we hope it will inspire and encourage Friends.
S/11/06/ 8: Investment policy and divestment
Further to minutes S/11/04/4 of 2 April 2011 and S/11/02/4 of 5 February 2011, we have received a paper containing questions put to and answers received from Britain Yearly Meeting’s appointed discretionary investment managers, together with minute BYMT/11/05/8 of BYM Trustees held on 12 May 2011 (paper S/11/06/ D).
The paper advises that our investment portfolio has no direct exposure to companies operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
S/11/06/9: Boycott, divestment and sanctions: the experience of Area Meetings
Further to minutes S/11/04/4 of 2 April 2011 and S/11/02/4 of 5 February 2011, we have received further minutes on this matter from the following Area Meetings: Mid-Thames (paper S/11/06/mc i a), Northumbria (i b ), Sheffield & Balby (i c ), Hertford & Hitchin (i d ), Oxford & Swindon (i e), Mid-Somerset (i j ), South East Scotland (i k ), North London (i l) and Hampshire & Islands (i m).
Our assistant clerk has summarised the Area Meeting minutes received. They included requests to consider further what use Quakers should make of boycott, and to seek a bolder minute about the Separation Wall and the illegality of Settlements. Our Area Meetings continue to work on issues affecting Israel and Palestine.
Quakers also have other ways of working:
- place a positive message on the Quaker website
- explain our actions clearly
- encourage industries to locate themselves in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
- teach English in Palestinian Schools
- source Palestinian products
- twin with Palestinian towns
- use the email link with a church in Gaza
- enter into dialogue with Jewish groups
- reiterate our aim to see reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
The minute received from Southern East Anglia Area Meeting (S/11/06/m c i f) asks for Friends to hold a day of prayer For Peace in Israel and Palestine. This could be part of Quaker Week in October. We forward this minute to the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations for their further discernment.
S/11/06/10: Minutes & Correspondence:
i Area Meeting Minutes
a) Cornwall AM: decriminalisation of drugs
We receive minute 7 of Cornwall Area Meeting held
7 May 2011 concerning decriminalisation of drugs (paper S/11/06/mc i g).
We pass this minute to Quaker Peace & Social Witness Central Committee, and will return to this subject at a future meeting.
b) Gloucestershire AM: sale of Courtauld House lease
We receive minute 7 of Gloucestershire Area Meeting held 7 May 2011 concerning the sale of Courtauld House lease (paper S/11/06/mc i h).
Jonathan Fox, Clerk of YM Trustees, has responded, and has explained the considerations that were taken into account by the Trustees in this transaction, including the concern about the purchasing company's tax liability. We are reassured by this response.
We have heard that Christian Aid is already investigating the issue of tax havens, and we need not duplicate their work.
We will forward this minute to Quaker Peace & Social Witness Central Committee for further advice.