Friends General Conference

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Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Quakers and the Crisis in Ukraine

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Edward Hicks, Peaceable Kingdom (detail), c1834 (Washington: National Gallery of Art)

While we trust that individual F/friends are finding ways to support the victims of the war in Ukraine and work for peace, we continue to look for opportunities for the Meeting to collectively respond, and we offer the following three articles as resources for reflecting on how the peace testimony of Friends remains relevant:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shaken us all. Innocent civilians have been killed, suffering has worsened, negotiations have failed. Governments around the globe are condemning this depraved military maneuver and are collaborating to defuse it...We hold the citizens of Ukraine and all victims of war in the Light....
Quakers are clear on their obligation to wage peace, serve those in need, and pursue diplomatic channels...But what happens when diplomacy fails, justice is breached, aggression persists, and lives are endangered?
—Bryan Garman, “The Peace Testimony and Ukraine”
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Since the 1660s, when English Quakers decided to abstain from wars, Quakers have used non-violence as a powerful tool for seeking peaceful solutions to conflict. This doesn’t mean that Quakers are passive in situations of injustice. Instead, Quakers resist with nonviolent tools rather than outward weapons. From George Fox onward, they have directly challenged authority, laws, and customs they disagreed with through non-violent tactics....
While Quakers can all agree that war is not the answer and that nonviolent solutions to conflict are ideal, some moments test our values. Today we are facing one such moment.
—Emma Hulbert, “Quaker Pacifism in the Context of War”
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I am not exempt from infection by the spirit of war. The daily documentation of atrocity against civilians in Ukraine brings forth universal revulsion but also pushes toward a desire for revenge and punishment. None of us may be far from “righteous anger” and the desire to rally around the “good guys to defeat the bad guys.”...Facing the present war in Ukraine, Quakers among other good people may move beyond their impulse to provide relief to the suffering, and fall into cheerleading for the oppressed and for their military victory....
I hope to remind fellow Quakers that—then and now—ours is a corporate witness, which goes beyond any call to individual conscientious objection.
—David Hadley Finke, "The Spirit of Christ and Our Historic Peace Testimony"
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In the Light,

HFM Peace & Outreach Committee