Quaker Commitment to Peace & Non-Violence

Quakers hold that there is “That of God in everyone”. It is this belief that forms the basis of what is called the Quaker Peace Testimony.

Testimonies are a way the Quakers, or Friends as we commonly call ourselves, express to the world our beliefs, our spiritual insights.

Originally the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are formally known, merely refused to bear arms. However, in 1660, Margaret Fell co-founder of the Religious Society of Friends, expounded on Fox’s Declaration with these words:

We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love, and unity; it is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same, and do deny and bear our testimony against all strife, and wars.”

Of course, the Peace Testimony continues to evolve.

How Quakers Respond to the Peace Testimony

Sidney Bailey, expert in Foreign Affairs, pacifist and a former head of the Quaker United Nations Office, identified the three principle ways that Quakers’ respond to the Peace Testimony:

  1. A refusal to bear arms or take part in military service
  2. An obligation to help victims of war and conflicts
  3. A commitment to active peace-making

For a complete history of the Quaker Peace Testimony, click here.

The Peace Testimony As We Live It

“The Peace Testimony – Deeds Not Creeds”

Canberra and Region Quakers live the Peace Testimony in large and small ways.

Globally and Locally

Canberra & Region Quakers serve on a variety of Quaker and community organisations devoted to peace and non-violence, for example:

“I practice the Peace Testimony in my work as a mediator and restorative justice convenor.”

An ACT Quaker

The Religious Society of Friends is represented at the United Nations in both New York and Geneva. It also heads up a number of bodies with an international peace as well as a social and economic justice focus, for example:

As Canberra & Region Quakers is located in the national capital, we are uniquely placed to represent issues of peace as well as social and economic justice to our Federal Parliamentarians through private meetings and discussions, which we regularly do.

Within Our Meeting

The Peace testimony inspires us to bring the principles of peace, non-violence and mutual respect into our daily lives and relationships, including within our Meeting.

“I aim to be a peacemaker – not just out there in the world but also in my closest relationships.”

An ACT Quaker

Conflicts, misunderstandings and competing interests do occur in all our relationships, including within our Meeting.  When these arise, we have a number of processes that help us to resolve conflict, rebuild mutual trust and restore relationships, for example:

  • Meetings for Clearness. Small group meetings where a Friend seeks a way forward on an issue of importance in their life.
  • Threshing Meetings. Group meetings where Friends work through controversial issues by listening and sharing and without pressure to come to a particular outcome.
  • Meetings for Reconciliation. A formal process for resolution of conflicts and repair of harm based on Restorative Justice principles.

For a comprehensive overview of how we handle conflict within Quaker Meetings click here.

More about the Peace Testimony and Quaker Commitment to Peace & Non-violence:

QPLC Brief on the Peace Testimony – History & Potential Areas for Peacemaking

https://www.quakersaustralia.info/concerns/peace

https://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/111/Peace-and-Nonviolence

http://www.livingpeacemuseum.org.au/s/alpm/page/quaker-opposition-war

https://www.swarthmore.edu/library/peace/manuscriptcollections/Peace%20in%20Friends/Peace_testimony_essay_WEB.htm

https://atlantic.quaker.ca/about/quaker-peace-testimony/

https://qfp.quaker.org.uk/chapter/24/