Quaker Vigils for Peace
With the war in Ukraine dominating the news it seemed appropriate to highlight one of the many Quaker Tapestry panels which touch on the subject of peace, Quaker Vigils for Peace
For Quakers a peace vigil is a way of expressing a visible commitment to peace. Many Quakers do this at times of acute international crisis. Coming together as a community with a shared purpose can be a special and moving experience. Quakers often conduct peace vigils with others who share their concern.
‘Quaker Vigils for Peace’ depicts the vigil of 1980 in Trafalgar Square, London. Thousands of Quakers walked in pairs, in an exceedingly long crocodile line, from Friends House on Euston Road. As the last people arrived in the square, a supporting group of saffron robbed Buddhists ceased their drumming – creating an impressive silence.
The posters, so minutely embroidered, are all vivid and readable. Embroiderers chose to do the one that they particularly liked. Along the bottom of the panel are the words of the Quaker Peace Testimony.
‘We utterly deny all outward war and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end whatever…This is our testimony to the whole world’
As well as refusing to bear arms, or to play any part in military action, Quakers are committed to active peace making. They received the Nobel peace prize in 1947 for their relief work in both world wars. During the Cold War and proxy wars in colonial countries, Quakers actively opposed the arms race and worked as mediators and as trainers in non-violence, as they continue to do today. Quaker United Nations in Geneva and New York work for peace behind the scenes – including hosting meetings where diplomats and leaders, publicly sworn enemies, may discuss in secret how to resolve their differences.
Earlier London vigils include a response to Pope Paul VI’s call to prayer for peace in Vietnam in 1966. And, in 1968, the Quakers held a witness for peace outside Westminster Abbey, joined by some of the clergy.
Here are just some ways in which we can help Ukraine
Apply to be a sponsor as part of the governments Homes For Ukraine appeal. Welcoming refugees into your home, providing accommodation.
Social Media Share messages of support on your social media using the hashtags #standforukraine #standwithukraine
Register for an online support session, on 16th March, offered by Quakers in Britain. ‘This is an opportunity for Friends to come together for a time of stillness, solidarity and prayerful reflection. This will be a time to think of those who are affected not only by the current situation, but for all those affected by conflicts around the world, some of which are already generations long. It will also be a chance to talk about how we are responding in practical terms to the crisis and to share ideas.‘