Quakers to make reparation for slave trade and colonialism

Quakers have agreed they will make practical reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and economic exploitation.

Quakers in large room
Quakers at Yearly Meeting. Photo by ©Jane Hobson

At their annual gathering last weekend, Quakers asked all their meetings and trustees to examine their resources and consider how to make reparations by financial and other means.

Over 1,000 Quakers met for their Yearly Meeting at Friends House in London and online. Their decisions build on work already begun to understand how to make reparations for the actions of the past and their enduring consequences felt in lives today.

[QUOTE-START]

We need to take urgent action as individuals, in our local, area and yearly meetings.

- Yearly Meeting Epistle, 2022

[QUOTE-END]

Quakers were led to this decision after hearing powerful evidence about Lancaster Quakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who profited from the enslavement of people. They also heard about the personal experience of racism of some of their own members.

Quakers summarised their thinking in a statement they call an epistle. Siobhan Haire, Clerk of Yearly Meeting, reading from the epistle said: "Britain Yearly Meeting resolves to build on our decision last year to be an anti-racist church, working with partners, including churches and faith groups, to look at ways to make meaningful reparations for our failings."

Image of Yearly Meeting clerks by ©Jane Hobson

Earlier in the meeting Quakers agreed: "Just as our Quaker forebears were sometimes on the wrong side of history, so we all are complicit in systems of oppression today, including exploitative labour practices in the creation of the technology that enables this blended Yearly Meeting, and in the clothes that we wear."

The epistle will be shared with all Quaker bodies nationally and locally, so they can consider how to respond with practical and meaningful action.

Read the full epistle here