The inclusion of children and young people in decision-making and worship will be an important focus of the Yearly Meeting of Quakers in Brisbane this week. Around 200 members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from around Australia and overseas are meeting on the Nathan campus of Griffith University in Brisbane from 4 to 11 January.
A public address by Tracy Bourne, a Quaker from Victoria, on Monday night, 6 January, focuses on bringing up children to prepare for the difficult time ahead and to work for a peaceful world. ‘Children carry the energy of new life and reveal the greatest gift of the Spirit: Love. If we do not fully include children, we are missing out on the life-affirming joy of intergenerational worship and play,’ she says.
‘Quakers are also pleased to welcome a newly appointed coordinator of children’s activities in Quaker Meetings around Australia,’ said Presiding Clerk Julian Robertson.
‘Many people know us for our pacifist principles and our silent worship,’ he said yesterday, ‘and it is important to pass that on to the next generation.’
Nelson File, the Principal of the largest Quaker school in the world in Hobart will also take part in the discussions.
‘We will, of course, be concentrating on our central concerns of peace, the environment, sovereignty for our First Nations Peoples and support for others who need help, here and overseas,’ added Julian Robertson.
‘In particular we will hold a silent Vigil for Peace in King George Square in Brisbane at 4 pm on Wednesday 8 January. We hope that members of the public might join us and give extra thought to how they might bring peace into their own and others’ lives.’
There will also be a display of several panels of the Australian Quaker Narrative Embroidery Project. This is a Quaker community project to produce 40 large panels illustrating Quaker beliefs and our history in Australia. Quakers at the Yearly Meeting will be able to add their stitches as a witness to their involvement.
Visitors from Christchurch in New Zealand and Bhopal in India will inform Australian Quakers about Quaker activities in their own countries.
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia
Around 2000 Australians identify as Quakers. The Society began in Britain in the 17th century and has taken root worldwide. Quakers believe in personal experience of the Spirit; that there is 'that of God' in everyone; that all of life is sacred; and aim to put their faith in action by resisting injustice and working to improve social institutions. Quakers are best known for their stand against war. In Australia Quakers' faith in action includes support for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prisons and in communities, and Quaker Service Australia, an international aid organisation. The Society is a member of the National Council of Churches of Australia. The Quaker form of worship is based on silence, in the belief that silence gives us greater opportunity to move closer to God.
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