Yearly Meeting considers privilege and power

More than one thousand Quakers are heading to London this week for a four-day meeting of witness and worship. With politics and society in a state of flux, this is a pivotal moment to consider privilege and power and how that impacts on the ability to make a difference.

YM in session view from clerks' table
Yearly Meeting in session: the clerks' view (Photo: ©Mike Pinches 2018)

Climate justice and inclusion are likely to be chief concerns this time. Quakers hold that all are unique and equal and made in the image of God. That leads them to put faith into action by working locally and globally to change the systems that cause injustice and conflict.


We must go forward with love that is active, fierce and focussed.

Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee


Siobhan Haire is first assistant clerk for Yearly Meeting, the annual decision-making meeting of Quakers in Britain. She said, “At first, inclusion and climate justice don't seem to be connected. However, bring the idea of privilege into the mix, and you see that imbalances of power and 'othering' are what stand in the way of us being able to act with compassion on both issues."

Meetings for church affairs follow the Quaker business method. This is a discipline in which all present listen together and to each other. In communal stillness they discern how best to respond to the world's needs. A recent meeting concluded, “Although we do not know yet exactly what we must do, we must go forward with love that is active, fierce and focussed."

Record numbers of children have registered for imaginative programmes for babies to 18 year olds.

Two lectures are traditionally held alongside Yearly Meeting:

The 2019 Salter Lecture at 12.30pm on Friday 24 May is under the auspices of Quaker Socialist Society. Catherine West MP will speak on “Solutions for a divided society".

The 2019 Swarthmore Lecture at 7.15pm on Saturday 25 May will be given by Eden Grace. She is a member of New England Yearly Meeting. As Global Ministries Director for Friends United Meeting, she is responsible for shepherding their programme of work in 11 countries on four continents. Her theme is “On earth as it is in heaven; the kingdom of God and the yearning of creation". She reflects on the theological, spiritual and biblical grounding of Quakers' witness on climate breakdown, relates experiences of people whose lives are impacted by climate crisis and asks how Quakers can act in solidarity with them in responding to climate emergency.

Watch the lecture live here at 7.15pm (British Summer Time) Saturday 25 May.

The Swarthmore Lecture is part of the work of Woodbrooke Centre and supported by the Swarthmore Lecture Committee, which is appointed by the trustees of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.

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Arriving at Yearly Meeting