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Quaker Peace and Social Witness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW), previously known as the Friends Service Council, and then as Quaker Peace and Service, is one of the central committees of Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends - the national organisation of Quakers in Britain. It works to promote British Quakers' testimonies of equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth. It works alongside both small local and large international pressure groups.

In 1947, the then Friends Service Council received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the American Friends Service Committee, on behalf of the Quakers.

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  • ✪ The Unseen March
  • ✪ The Jewels of Quakerism 4 - Witness and Testimony
  • ✪ 'Faith, Power and Peace' The 2015 Swarthmore Lecture with Diana Francis (sub-titled)
  • ✪ The Jewels of Quakerism 7 - Contemporary Friends and Theological Diversity
  • ✪ Joseph Smith Lecture 2: Joseph's Personality and Character | Truman G. Madsen


There is increasingly a sense to what we're seeing in Britain is an official move towards deifying the military. Now there’s a sort of celebration of militarism and the armed forces and I think it’s Iraq and Afghanistan that was used to turn it around. What we’ve seen in the last 5-10 years is the British military being pushed into the public eye on a regular basis. This is a really worrying trend There has been an increase in the visibility of the armed forces within our society in the visibility on forces within our society and this isn't a coincidence. This is a strategy that has been worked out. The government and the military need the public to support their wars, to support military spending and they also need a small number of young people to be keen to join the military. <News voiceover> A package of measures has been announced to help school instil character in pupils including extra funding for projects run by former armed service personnel... Michael Gove MP: We will be launching our Troops to Teachers Programme so that we can draft gifted individuals from the armed services into the classroom from the armed services real into the classroom. Nicky Morgan MP: … that finding the right role-model for a young person and that’s what these military ethos programmes particularly offer: a particular- a group of young people themselves at risk of being disengaged- or of course for some people it might be that actually a career in the armed forces… The military would say, and maybe the government would say, that military ethos is about teamwork, discipline and duty. The military is selling that idea- selling that idea that that’s what military ethos is- to gain access to schools. Why do they want access to schools? They want to recruit children into the military but they also want to recruit the rest of those children into the idea that the British military is this noble institution that we should all honour. It’s always been the case, actually, that a lot of public schools had young armed forces groups- well now we’re getting those kind of initiatives in mainstream state schools, and I think it’s just a pivot of British society being moved towards militarism and celebrating warfare. The military ethos is that somehow this is character building. Who’s character? What character? It doesn’t mean a character as in a person- a full sense of a person. An enquiring person, learning about the things they like and want to engage with. What they actually mean is character as in someone who will follow orders without getting too upset about it, Those are completely different things. To me education is about teaching young people how to think: how to be rational, how to look at evidence, how to weigh up different points of view. When the military published its British Armed Forces learning resource, I was shocked at the claim this was a 'teaching pack'. This is little more than a glossy promotional booklet As a teacher, I find it fascinating to see lessons based upon the armed forces that are that seem vaguely celebratory. It certainly isn’t something I would allow- I would endorse it to be used in the school. We are told that military ethos is about team work and discipline, but actually military ethos is about obeying orders without question, removing the barrier to kill and creating a sense of loyalty to an institution, usually through the formation of a gang mentality. The risk of allowing a military source to infect our schools is that we'll have generation of children growing up and becoming members of society who do not question authority and who do not question orders. An increased military involvement in education is really skewing the education system in one particular direction. I think that schools need and learning ethos not a military ethos and by that I mean the whole environment within the school is about enabling every young person to learn effectively and there're all sorts a place for achieving that and a military ethos is certainly not the only way to achieve it and in many ways I'm not convinced that it's the right one . I think we should be concerned about this because there's something incredibly subtle and almost underhand about this. Any situation that involves the spending of taxpayers' money on my promoting a military ethos should be at best questioned. The government and the military are not being open as to why they're doing this. They're not being open as to how they're doing this. I think most people don't know and I think a lot of people would be very angry if they did know. They don’t want anyone to be criticising British soldiers as such but they don’t want the glorifying of war and militarisation, and that’s what’s going on quietly, and people need to know.


UK Peace Work

Peace Campaigning and Networking: aims to encourage a wider and deeper understanding of the peace testimony and to promote disarmament and work against militarism.

Turning The Tide: promotes positive social change and helps groups to increase their effectiveness using active nonviolence.

Peace Education: supports a range of initiatives for peace education in schools through advising and supporting teachers involved in conflict resolution and peer mediation programmes.

Social Witness

Economic Issues: works with grassroots organisations to bring change to UK government, IMF and World Bank policies. QPSW also aims to influence the environmental and social policies of UK based transnational companies.

Crime & Community Justice: works to promote the concept of restorative justice, responds to government papers and oversees the "Circles" Scheme.

Circles of Support & Accountability: works with groups of trained volunteers and recently released sex offenders. It aims to reduce re-offending and enable the ex-offender to integrate into society in a healthy way. In 2007-8, the initiative has been passed to, and while Quakers may continue to be involved as volunteers, the organisation has shifted into a new phase as an emerging national network of volunteers of all faiths and none.

Quaker Prison Ministers: work within multi-faith prison chaplaincy teams to offer spiritual support and friendship to prisoners of all faiths and none.

Quaker Housing Trust: is Britain Yearly Meeting’s own housing charity. QHT helps local Quaker-supported social housing projects through advice, loans and grants.

Parliamentary Liaison: seeks to express the values of the Society of Friends in the context of current political discussion.

The Friends Educational Foundation: is a group of charitable funds, which QPSW administers on behalf of Meeting for Sufferings.

Global Work

Uganda: the role of QPSW in Uganda is to support, train and offer consultancy to groups and organisations working on peacemaking and peacebuilding.

Post Yugoslav countries: working on the background facilitation of real truth and reconciliation and dealing with the past, QPSW has workers in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

Middle East: QPSW manages the UK/Ireland Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, sending human rights observers to accompany peace activists in their nonviolent actions.

Quaker United Nations Office: QUNO in Geneva concentrates on three areas; Disarmament and Peace, Human Rights and Refugees and Global Economic Issues. QUNO works in Geneva and New York City to consult with the United Nations Economic and Social Council on behalf of the Friends World Committee for Consultation.

South Asia: QPSW works to strengthen the nonviolence movement in the Indian sub-continent by helping to link peace and social change organisations.

QPSW and AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, as representatives of the Quakers.


The roots of QPSW are in the missionary work done under the name of Friends Foreign Mission Association (1868–1927). With the decline of the missions, the Mission Association merged with the Council for International Service (1919–1927) to form the Friends Service Council (1927–1978). Which was renamed Quaker Peace and Service (1979–2000), known as Quaker Peace & Social Witness since 2001.

See also


External links

This page was last edited on 24 November 2018, at 11:12
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