Quakers continue quiet diplomacy
Generations of Quakers have worked to build peace in areas of violent conflict. Confidentiality is essential therefore the work is little-known. Now a new book, launched this week, Dining with diplomats, praying with gunmen captures the experiences of international conciliation for a new generation of peacemakers.
Without betraying trust, some historical examples are shared. More recent ones are only spoken of in general terms so as not to jeopardise ongoing situations.
Quakers were involved in helping to mediate in the Biafran war in Nigeria in the 1960s, and providing spaces where all sides could meet during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
We are building on the traditions and witness in the world of many generations of Quakers. An inspiration ─ but also quite daunting.- A Quaker conciliator
Dining with diplomats, praying with gunmen follows an inspiring conference in September 2019. Experienced conciliators and younger peace activists came together to share learning and consider possibilities to continue the work with renewed energy. They explored other ways of empowering communities to create peace and justice for themselves.
The faith-based Quaker approach is distinctive. They only become involved when invited by someone involved in the conflict and they stay involved for the long term.
One deeply committed conciliator said, “I feel I am the steward of a long Quaker legacy of work to stop wars and to end violence and to support people to resolve conflict in a different way. Really it is the legacy of the historic Quakers' peace testimony and a feeling we are building on the traditions and witness in the world of many generations of Quakers. An inspiration ─ but also quite daunting."
The launch, (12 March) in Friends House (opposite Euston station) features a short film followed by a talk by the author, Anne Bennett, illustrator Lynn Finnegan and conciliator Martin Macpherson.
The launch is fully booked and will be livestreamed on Facebook from 6:30pm.
Meanwhile, watch a short film or read a blog from Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain.
Dining with diplomats, praying with gunmen is published by Quaker Books. ISBN: 9781999314156 and eISBN 9781999314163. Available from Friends House bookshop