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Quaker groups meet in Kortenberg

From 6th to 8th November 23 Friends representing 20 different Quaker organisations and groups active in Peace and Service across Europe and beyond, met in the lovely old abbey at Kortenberg to share news and concerns, to reflect on their work and its challenges, to support each other, and to look for ways of working together in the future.

We drew inspiration from Micah 4:4 – “And everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree shall leave in peace and unafraid”. In meditation, songs and dance we explored the emerging themes of:

  • fruitfulness
  • support
  • protection
  • steadfastness
  • faithfulness

We considered the impact of inequality on the prospects for peace, and exchanged news of work and witness in Israel-Palestine, where Friends will celebrate the centenary of the dedication of the Meeting House on 6-7th March 2010, and heard about the new programme of advocacy for a just peace which QCEA has committed to following its study tour of the area last June, and of the work retreat organised by Quaker Voluntary Action to help with the olive harvest in October.

We also made proposals for the management of the Am’ari Play Centre, which we hope will secure its future.

We heard about German and Swedish Friends’ plans to celebrate next year the 350th anniversary of our Peace Declaration of 1660, and of an event in September 2010 to commemorate William Penn’s studies in France, and the Quaker presence in Copenhagen for the Climate Summit. We also learned that Friends House Moscow is hoping to take an Alternatives to Violence programme to South Ossetia (the disputed territory that sparked the war between Georgia and Russia in 2008), if funding can be secured.

We contemplated the dark clouds that continue to haunt our world – the threats of global change, high tech wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing tensions in many parts of Africa and, closer to home, the rise of intolerance, xenophobia and violence towards immigrants.

In worship, we drew strength from George Fox’s own experience that the Ocean of Light flows over the ocean of darkeness, and that, when we let our life speak, we can be like crystals in a chandelier, letting the Light shine through, reflecting it and refracting it to the world around us.

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