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EMES Peace and Service Consultation 2014

Theme
Removing Enmity and Suspicion between Countries – a challenge from 1917, a concern for today
The theme is in the context of 2014 marking 100 years since the beginning of World War I, 75 years since the invasion of Poland, and 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Under a deep sense of the need for constructive service for international peace, (we) have united in a concern that Friends should realise more fully the fundamental character of our peace testimony and the essential importance of removing enmity and suspicion between countries. We have been led more clearly than ever to regard total disarmament as the Christian solution of the problem before Europe, and to see that it is especially the work of the Society of Friends to put forward this solution.
London Yearly Meeting’s Service Committee, 1917

We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other… but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound. Edward Burrough, 1659

22 Friends were present, a mixture of Friends who have participated in these events before, and some who are coming for the first time. A range of Quaker organisations are represented. Friends have travelled from Ireland in the West, Russia and Georgia in the East, from the Northern countries of Sweden and Norway, and from Ramallah in the far South, and many points in between.

Quaker work from Europe reaches out to Kenya, the Great Lakes regions of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo/DRC, Uganda, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Friends shared their concerns about:

  • NATO expansion into countries not yet part of the Alliance, particularly in Sweden and Finland, as well as Ireland, and the pressure being put on them to allow weapons and personnel to be stationed there, and the repercussions of such policies;
  • the tensions within countries brought about by immigration and asylum seekers, particularly where there is no prior history of immigration;
  • inter-faith relations, especially in regard to Islam.

Most of the organisations represented are working on peace, sustainability, disarmament, climate change, human rights and economic justice. Friends from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany have joined together earlier this year to protest outside Eurosatory, the largest arms fair in the world, held every two years outside Paris.

The theme “Removing Enmity and Suspicion between Countries”, taken from a minute of London Yearly Meeting’s Service Committee in 1917, seems incredibly contemporary and grounds our determination to dedicate ourselves not only to the commemoration of the events that turned the world upside-down 100 years ago, but to working ceaselessly to prevent such tragedies being repeated in a new world catastrophe.

In epilogue we sang “Not by power or force, but by the Lord’s Spirit” – we shall not put our trust in weapons and human supremacy, but in “chariots of fire” and “Ruach”, the breath of Life, the creative energy that sustains the whole universe.

We made and flew kites that symbolised our hopes and aspirations for a world without war.

In 2015 the Consultation will take place on 20-22 November, also at Kortenberg.

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