Friends General Conference

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Witness

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A "Minute" in Quaker jargon is a documented statement of witness and/or concern that has been approved by members of a Meeting. The following Minutes are a representive sample of some of the Minutes our Meeting has approved in the past 10-20 years.

Earthcare Minute
Minute on Gun Violence

Minute on Diversity
Minute regarding Torture
Minute on White Privilege and Against Racism

Earthcare Minute

Human activity is causing a range of catastrophic effects including habitat destruction, pollution of air, soil and water, resource depletion, species extinction, global warming, and new forms of disease, including some that cross the human – nonhuman barrier.  With reverence and respect for all Creation, Friends must bring the full weight of our history and engagement with the world to help stop and, where possible, reverse these effects in order to leave a habitable planet to future generations of all species, plant and animal as well as human.

This calls us to live differently, including what we choose to buy, to eat and to invest in and to seek additional ways to reduce our negative impact on the health and well-being of our planet. But as important as these changes to our individual and household habits are, they are not enough to assure a better future for future generations.

Therefore, Friends are urged to discern if they are called to support collective as well as personal responses to the climate crisis. These could include group tree planting, stream and river cleanups, establishing community gardening and/or composting centers, to name a few. Friends are urged to stay informed of pending government legislation at all levels that are favored by Quaker earth care groups and other environmental organizations and to contact their elected representatives regularly to express their opinions. (1)

Wide-spread civic action virtually or in real space, as appropriate to conditions, may sometimes be deemed appropriate.

In contemplating collective actions, care should be taken to include the input of marginalized and frontline communities that suffer first and worst from global warming and environmental degradation. A just transition for workers who may lose their livelihoods in the transformation to a more earth-friendly economy must also be given considerable attention.  Approved in Meeting for Business May 17, 2020

(1) A comprehensive digest of potential state and federal legislation may be found at ClimateCrisisPolicy.org.  A respected source of scientifically and financially validated climate solutions is “The Drawdown Review,” available at www.drawdown.org

Minute on Gun Violence

As members of the Religious Society of Friends of New Brunswick (Quakers), we revere life and believe that there is that of God in every human being. We mourn the loss of life of more than 30,000 people who die by firearms each year in the United States, and we are saddened by the injuries suffered by more than 70,000 people each year. Gun violence continues to claim innocent victims and spread suffering, sorrow, and fear.

Many Americans buy and carry weapons, and many Americans call for gun control.  Conversations about guns involve well-meaning people who want safe, secure lives for themselves and their families. However, our national conversations often devolve into hostile name-calling, disregarding shared values of community safety, liberty and common sense.

Guns don’t guarantee safety (2). Widespread availability of guns in America's homes leads to deliberate and accidental shootings and deaths of family members and others, including children, and guns provide a particularly lethal method to attempt suicide. Other disturbing instances of gun violence in America include mass shootings and shootings of civilians (including bystanders) and police during police interventions.

We recommit ourselves to following the Friends' Peace Testimony which, after 350 years of evolution in a variety of social contexts, now speaks to the need for peaceful and nonviolent solutions to personal and social problems at all levels.  We wholeheartedly commit ourselves to seek peaceful solutions to end gun violence in our communities.

Gun safety laws help reduce gun violence. We support laws and legislators who work to strengthen gun safety laws. Approved in Meeting for Business March 23, 2014

(2) According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in one year on average, 31,537 people die from gun violence (11,583 people are murdered; 18,783 people kill themselves; 584 people are killed accidentally; 334 are killed by police intervention; and 252 die but intent is not known); and 71,386 people survive gun injuries (51,249 people are injured in an attack; 3,627 people survive a suicide attempt; 15,815 people are shot accidentally; and 694 people are shot by police intervention), as of 12/30/12. http://www.bradycampaign.org/sites/default/files/GunDeathandInjuryStatSheet3YearAverageFINAL.pdf and https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/

Minute on Diversity

Our experience as Friends, that there is that of God in every person, is the basis for our clear understanding of the equal value of all persons. We treasure our diversity. We are called to love one another, accepting our differences in all its forms: in race, theology, sexual orientation, manner of worship and financial means. We specifically affirm that homosexuality and its expression in same-sex relationships is neither inherently sinful nor is it inherently a sickness or abnormality. We know that the richness of our different experiences gives us a strength and vitality we hold as a blessing and as a sign of God’s manifold expression. Approved in Meeting for Business, January 17, 2010

Minute regarding Torture

New Brunswick Monthly Meeting strongly supports the Quaker Initiative to End Torture, focusing on our responsibility as Friends to address the issue of torture from our spiritual center.  We believe it is important that all of us lend our voices to break the silence on this issue.

We are deeply dismayed that actions of the United States government have served to legitimize practices of torture.  Torture is abhorrent.  It can never be excused or justified.  The rehabilitation of both victims and perpetrators must occur to stop the cycle of violence.  We endorse the goal of strengthening United States and international laws and policies banning torture. Approved in Meeting for Business, September 21, 2008

Minute on White Privilege and Against Racism

Friends Testimonies since the inception of our Society have always maintained that there is “that of God” to be found in all people.

We recognize that the concepts of race and racism are created by society at large, to which we belong. We affirm the necessity of examining white privilege and racism. We regret the damage these practices have caused, whether intentional or through ignorance, to others and ourselves. We will move with the Spirit to seek justice, healing and reconciliation within our meeting and the larger body of Friends. Approved in Meeting for Business, December 19, 2004

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