Quaker Regional Gathering (with Teenage General Meeting)
Peace is not a fairy tale: Rediscovering our Peace Testimony in our personal and corporate lives, in an age of uncertainty, conflict and chaos.
Introduced by Paul Ingram
Consultant, British American Security Information Council
I don’t very often manage to get to Regional events, but was so glad that I did so last week. The place was Liverpool Meeting House and the theme was the Peace Testimony. It was good to see representatives and literature from The Northern Friends Peace Board and also from Peace Pathways, an East Cheshire initiative working in schools on conflict resolution. There were two plenary sessions led by Paul Ingram, and also discussion groups and art and singing workshops throughout the day, as well as the children’s programme and teenage general meeting. I was a little bit worried if Elainer (aged 9) would be okay as she isn’t always 100% keen to let me out of her sight for children’s activities, but my worries were needless. She had a great time with the excellent children’s team and took part in making a lovely peace banner (image attached). The day was valuable, interesting and thought provoking for both Elainer and myself.
To summarise as it seemed to me, Paul looked at the Peace Testimony not just in terms of the valuable work that he spoke about, and that he has done and continues to do on the international stage, but he related that to the hundreds of tiny decisions that we all have to make every day, how we manage our relationships with other people who don’t agree with us, or may want to do different things than we want them to, or even want us to do different things than we want to do. What he suggested about active listening, and how he has developed over time a way to bring himself to meetings and difficult situations as a Quaker, brought to mind to me Advices and Queries no. 17, which ends, “think it possible that you may be mistaken”. During the discussion group that I joined we looked more closely at Active Listening, and explored how the Peace Testimony speaks to us. We wondered if it might be better expressed as a “Peace Challenge”. After lunch (which was excellent – thank you catering team!) I took part in the singing workshop, and we then led the whole group in some singing at the closing session, as well as viewing some creative artwork from TGM.