Preparing for Peace
The website of the Westmorland General Meeting 'Preparing for Peace' initiative
Westmorland General Meeting
Westmorland General Meeting is a Meeting for Worship and Business of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), comprising Friends from the Swarthmoor, Kendal and Sedbergh, Lancaster and Preston areas in the north-west corner of England. George Fox, founder of the Society, made his first visit to these towns, villages and dales in 1652, and the region continues to be known among Friends as the birthplace of Quakerism.
Quakers seek "that of God" in everyone, worshipping together in silence without doctrine or creed. For three hundred and fifty years Friends’ Peace Testimony has been at the centre of a corporate witness against war and violence, through conscientious objection, conflict resolution, service in the Friends’ Ambulance Unit or alternative paths of conscience. In the 21st Century we face fundamental changes to the ‘engines of war’, and new social and international challenges in a changing world, yet the Peace Testimony of 17th Century Friends still bears powerful witness.
In 1660 Friends declared:
All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.
Today the Society’s book of ‘Advices and Queries’ advises members:
We are called to live ‘in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of wars’. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God.