Quakers commit to becoming an anti-racist faith community

Stirring and sensitive ministry describing how racism feels, led Quakers in Britain to commit to becoming an actively anti-racist faith community.

laptop screen shows Epistle plus red Qf&p and mug
Reflections and decisions from YMG 2021, summed up in the Epistle. (Photo Nik Dadson)

Together online, hundreds of Quakers listened to each other's experience. Quakers refer to each other as Friends. A Friend of Colour spoke in ministry: “All I have ever wanted for the longest time is to feel equal, and again, here in this room, I don't. I hear people talk all week about George Floyd but we are here now, in the UK, in your meetings, feeling like outsiders every day. This is not the experience I was promised."

Earlier, trustees and senior management had made a statement that “Tackling racism is a spiritual imperative of our time and this affects our understanding and communication of Quaker history, and how Quakers live now."


All I have ever wanted for the longest time is to feel equal, and again, here in this room, I don't.

- A Friend ministering at Yearly Meeting 2021


And, “We are committed to grounding our anti-racism work in the Quaker faith: listening to the spirit; recognising each person is unique, precious and a child of God; praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand."

Quakers around the country related their experience of responding to racism.

Junior Yearly Meeting recorded a minute which said, “As Quakers we need to understand that we are not exempt from racism because we wish to be anti-racist – it is our actions that will make a difference, not our intentions, since racism is so systemic that it's often subconscious."

Acknowledging current failings, a minute from Yearly Meeting Gathering 2021 recorded, “As a religious society we are still failing to live up to our testimony on equality and we have been deeply moved by honest ministry about these failings. There is white privilege in our community, and there is work to do. As a body we must seek to inhabit feelings of shame and discomfort."

“We declare our commitment to becoming an actively anti-racist faith community. We are still wrestling with what this means for us."

More than 2,000 registered for Yearly Meeting 2021, the annual governing body of Quakers in Britain. Events over three weeks moved online because of Covid-19 regulations. Quakers in Britain considered the theme of “For our comfort and discomfort; living equality and truth in a time of crisis" and made key decisions:

  • Made a commitment to becoming an actively anti-racist faith community
  • Lovingly acknowledged and affirmed the trans and gender diverse Friends in Quaker communities and
  • Committed to redoubling their faith-based action for climate justice.

The full Epistle of the Yearly Meeting 2021 can be read here.