|As part of the Global Change Consultation, FWCC collected minutes and statements from meetings and organisations around the world.|
Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) Vision and Witness Statement
WE ARE CALLED to live in right relationship with all Creation, recognizing that the entire world is interconnected and is a manifestation of God.
WE WORK to integrate into the beliefs and practices of the Religious Society of Friends the Truth that God’s Creation is to be respected, protected, and held in reverence in its own right, and the Truth that human aspirations for peace and justice depend upon restoring the earth’s ecological integrity.
WE PROMOTE these Truths by being patterns and examples, by communicating our message, and by providing spiritual and material support to those engaged in the compelling task of transforming our relationship with the earth.
QEW Minute on Ecological Sustainability
FRIENDS have long-standing testimonies on Peace, Simplicity, Equality, Community, and Integrity. These testimonies have been proclaimed not in words but by the way Friends have lived out the details of their lives: in plain speech and plain dress; in refusal to do hat honor, swear oaths, or gamble; in the avoidance of violence as a means of dealing with conflict; and in prison ministry and myriad other ways.
In this century, rapid growth in population, technology, and industry have been accompanied by resource depletion and environmental pollution. These societal changes lead us, members of FCUN, to express our deep concern for Ecological Sustainability, or sustainable living, as an emerging testimony, and to seek the Light as to how to carry it out in the details of daily life.
There is overlap in the meanings and practices of our Quaker testimonies. FCUN believes that Sustainability is a concept that relates to all our Testimonies, relates each of them to the future, and helps to weave them together in our lives. Peace without Equality…or Community without Sustainability…or Sustainability without Simplicity, tend to become meaningless; each enriches the others in a prophetic way that challenges our work in society and our care for the earth.
On a spiritual level there is abundance to sustain us: abundance of compassion and love, abundance of giving, healing, and thanksgiving. On a physical level, we can start moving toward a recognition of this by working toward Sustainability.
Sustainability as a concept has recently acquired new spiritual depth of meaning to include a resolve to live in harmony with biological and physical systems, and to work to create social systems that can enable us to do that. It includes a sense of connectedness and an understanding of the utter dependence of human society within the intricate web of life; a passion for environmental justice and ecological ethics; an understanding of dynamic natural balances and processes; and a recognition of the limits to growth due to finite resources. Our concern for Sustainability recognizes our responsibility to future generations, to care for the earth as our own home and the home of all that dwell herein. We seek a relationship between human being and the earth that is mutually enhancing.
Let us ask the Spirit for the clarity to recognize the ways we may be nourishing the seeds of ecological destruction, and for the strength to make the choices that will nourish seeds of change, so that Sustainability and the Integrity of Creation will be a visible aspect of Friends’ testimony everywhere. We encourage Friends to proceed with Divine guidance, with love, and with a commitment for action on the above principles in our daily lives. Let us be called to take meaningful steps to respond to the disproportionate distribution of the earth’s resources; to minimize the effects of cultures of affluence and over-consumption; and to strive for ecologically and economically regenerative communities with a creative simplicity: to be a Peace in this sacred place, our Earth. With humility, we invite Friends and their Meetings to join in this transformation. “Let our lives speak…”
QEW Minute on Community
AS Quaker Earthcare Witness works to deepen understanding of our spiritual relationship with the earth, increasingly we recognize the need to nurture and affirm the human and non-human communities of which we are a part.
Our life depends upon and involves many communities. There is the community of living soil, from which we come, and to which we will return. We are part of the living fabric of plants and animals upon the earth. We are also members of our human communities, challenged as never before to reestablish living patterns that are healing to the earth and to the human spirit.
Friends’ experience with inclusive decision-making and our testimonies of simplicity, right sharing, equality, and peace provide a spiritual core from which to contribute to the healing process. We encourage Friends to help reestablish sustainable and regenerative relationships with the earth, relationships which, through our living faith and practice, will embody balance and harmony.
Quaker Earthcare Witness seeks to support and nourish Friends and Friends’ institutions as we develop ways to put this faith into practice in a spirit and life of faithful, loving kindness toward all Creation. We seek ways to uplift and nurture, rather than be overwhelmed with environmental despair. Our witness is a celebration of life and of the power and beauty of the Light within and around us.
QEW Working Position Statement on Population
SOMETHING has happened to God’s beautiful Creation. We are experiencing a rapid growth in world population that is threatening the life support systems of the earth.
We are compelled to take a position on this based on a developing consensus that the human population already approaches or exceeds the carrying capacity of the earth. If this rate of population growth continues, it will threaten a viable and just human/Earth future for all of us.
We in Quaker Earthcare Witness ask you to join us in a search for God’s will. We urge Friends everywhere to examine openly and fully the problem of world population growth, overconsumption, and the resultant disruption of the entire Earth community. We ask you to consider how further damage can be prevented.
After long and prayerful consideration, we share with you some actions which seem to us to be timely:
We ask for your prayers to help us find other solutions as well. No matter what steps are taken, the nature of population growth is such that eternal vigilance will be necessary.
Friends United Meeting
Care of God’s Creation
GEORGE FOX “….lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars and [he] knew from whence all wars did rise, from the lust, according to James’s doctrine” (Journal, 1651). It is the same lust (cravings, desires, self-centeredness) that causes violence in war, and which causes us to do violence to God’s creation. The “life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars” also takes away the occasion for violence against the creation.
The concern for the care of God’s creation has long been implicit in our Christian testimony. We recognize that our historic peace testimony is a testimony to living in harmony with the world in a covenant among God, humanity, and the creation (Genesis 9:8-13), a covenant the renewal of which was foreseen by the prophets as in Isaiah’s vision of the peaceable kingdom (11:1-9), by Paul (e.g., Romans 8:12-17), and in the great commission when the risen Christ told the eleven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15 NRSV, the AV has “all creatures”). Implicit in our testimony on simplicity is the understanding that we will not take more than we need, particularly if it means depriving others, including future generations, of their basic needs (and here we move into the testimony on justice).
We call upon Friends to examine their own lives to see if their own patterns of consumption reflect self-centeredness and greed rather than a concern for living harmoniously in the creation, that we might witness to the world that harmony. We call upon the nations of the world, and in particular our own governments, to enact laws and reach agreements which will protect the creation from the effects of human exploitation, greed, and carelessness.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Part IV of the FCNL Policy Statement
“THE EARTH is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”(Psalm 24:1) We believe that humankind must respect the ecological integrity and the sacredness of the natural world. People must choose activities, create institutions, and establish policies and laws that are beneficial to the earth and will help protect and regenerate its ecosystems.
We recognize that issues regarding the use and protection of the earth’s resources are global and require mutual respect and cooperation with every community on Earth. Environmental degradation and resource scarcity are among the underlying causes of violence and war. We believe that Friends’ testimonies on peace and simplicity have deep relevance to the global environmental crisis.
Humanity must commit to curbing excessive and destructive consumption and pollution. We believe that these responsibilities are urgent and must be acted upon globally, nationally, locally, and individually.
THE HEALTH of the earth’s ecosystems and their ability to support life has been and is being seriously impaired by human activities. We deplore the pollution of the earth’s land, water, and atmosphere; the decline in biodiversity and nonrenewable resources; and the increase in deforestation and desertification. The world is in the midst of a mass extinction of species, primarily human in cause.
We urge that national legislation promote ecologically sound and safe agricultural, extractive, industrial, and commercial enterprises. Ways must be found to meet the needs of human beings without doing violence to the rest of creation. Specifically we advocate that the U.S. government develop policies that encourage regional and international cooperation for solutions to environmental problems, including environmental standards in trade agreements that assure nations and local governments of their right to establish more stringent environmental protections and standards.
We call for adequate funding of the UN Environmental Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Regional and international cooperation is also required to conserve and allocate diminishing water resources and natural ecosystems. We support efforts to protect open spaces, wilderness areas, and productive farmlands from urban sprawl and development. The military and all government agencies must comply with the same environmental laws and regulations as the private sector.
The federal government must support the expansion of research, development, and implementation of appropriate technologies and strategies to minimize waste and prevent pollution, including a comprehensive recycling program and economic incentives that encourage both the use of recycled materials and the creation of markets for the use of recycled products.
We advocate the development and enforcement of regulations to safeguard biological diversity and international cooperation to abate the loss of biodiversity worldwide.
We advocate the prohibition of brutal and inhumane treatment of animals in food production and animal testing. We support the careful evaluation, regulation, monitoring, and product labeling of synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms and products.
WE BELIEVE it is impossible to improve the lives of all the peoples of the earth if the population continues to grow. The failure to confront the problems of population growth and over-consumption will endanger the finite home planet that all people share. We support government policies to promote the education of children and adults on the impact of global population growth and over-consumption.
We support access to, and adequate financial and institutional support for, effective, universally available, safe, and noncoercive family planning in the United States and throughout the world. (See challenge under Health Care in Part III.)
Although most population growth is occurring in the developing world, the average person in the United States consumes and pollutes many times more than does the average person in these developing nations. Massive corporate advertising and many federal policies promote unhealthy levels of consumption. This over-consumption not only threatens the global environment, but also sows the seeds of war and reduces the resources available to meet the world’s needs. We urge the federal government to develop economic policies which will sustain general prosperity without high levels of consumption and the associated exploitation and pollution of the environment.
We urge the promotion of life cycle cost analysis, environmental cost analysis, or a similar process to bring the environmental impact of raw materials, production, packaging, use, and final product disposal to the forefront of manufacturing and purchasing decisions for companies and consumers.
WE BELIEVE that the right use and sharing of the world’s resources for energy are crucial to human survival and welfare. We realize that land and energy use are inextricably linked to greenhouse gas generation and climate change. We urge that energy policies be based on global humanitarian and environmental concerns rather than narrow commercial, military, or national interests, and that the price of energy reflect its full cost.
All people need equitable access to sources of energy for personal needs and the development of their communities. The great risk to the environment and to future generations posed by increased use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires a shift to renewable and less damaging energy sources, increased efficiency, and conservation.
We urge the U.S. government to assume leadership in addressing global warming by ratifying and implementing international agreements; developing strong, fair, and effective policies to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases; promoting energy conservation through federal standards and regulations that reduce fuel consumption and increase efficiency for stationary and mobile emission sources; and instituting taxing and pricing policies that more fully reflect and publicize the economic, environmental, and social costs of energy production and use. We support the promotion of research and development of sustainable energy technologies for domestic use and export, adopting incentives for the production and use of renewable energy, and removing regulatory barriers to renewable onsite power generation and distribution.
We urge an explicit moratorium on the construction of nuclear fission power plants and the transportation of nuclear wastes until methods for safe transportation and disposal have been demonstrated. We support policy against reprocessing spent nuclear fuels in the United States and elsewhere.
RESTORATION of the earth requires healing the places damaged by the release of nuclear and other toxic substances. We expect the Departments of Defense and Energy, other government agencies, and private companies to take responsibility for the damage they have caused and work to redress it. We believe the cost of cleanup should be borne by the responsible parties; however, cleanup should proceed promptly and not be delayed by litigation over who ultimately will bear the cost. The dangers of pollution and waste disposal should not fall disproportionately on the world’s poor or marginalized peoples. These dangers should be fully disclosed and addressed in consultation with affected communities.
We urge that our federal government participate in this environmental restoration. The government should monitor, limit, and reduce toxic build-ups in both humans and wildlife; enforce penalties for hazardous discharges in excess of legal, risk-based limits; prohibit the export of toxic products; and work to destroy or safely dispose of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials stockpiled in the United States, Russia, and other countries.
We also call for the strengthening and enforcement of laws and regulations to protect and clean up water resources, with sufficient funds earmarked for implementation.
We are convinced that all on this Earth are interdependent, and we cherish the sacred value of the natural world as God’s creation. Impelled by both the sacred and the practical, and inspired by Friends’ testimonies, we seek an earth restored.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Minute on Global Warming
PROTECTING God’s Earth and its fullness of life is of fundamental religious concern to the Society of Friends. The links between human activity, the dramatic rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and the rise of average global temperature are now of sufficient concern to lead us to action. Climate change is apt to affect everyone and everything: food, water, air quality, biodiversity, forests, public health, social order and world peace. It is therefore an issue of great importance for ecological sustainability, social and economic justice, and international diplomacy.
Because the United States uses much more energy per capita than any other nation, our policies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions will be crucial. We must consider not only the kind of fuels used directly but also the energy embodied in all material goods we use. Our nation has long set a standard for others with its high levels of consumption; we must now provide an example by taking responsibility for the consequences of past and current behavior.
Involvement by religious communities in education and advocacy will be needed if policies to address global warming are to succeed in politics or in practice in the U.S.We unite in urging individual Friends, Monthly Meetings, and other Friends organizations to seek Divine guidance in understanding how to:
These are essential steps to protect life on Earth as God creates and sustains it.
BYM Minute on Population
WE RECOGNIZE rapid population growth to be an important human and environmental problem.
While causes and solutions are complex, we endorse the concept of family planning and efforts to make family planning, education, and services widely available. We feel a special concern for the status of women. We acknowledge disunity among Friends on abortion. We are united in opposing coercion in family planning programs. We urge Meetings to study further the problem of rapid population growth and discern how we are to act on this concern as individuals and Meetings.
Canadian Yearly Meeting
To Live in Harmony with All Life on Earth
FRIENDS believe we are all manifestations of the Creator, the Divine Spirit, God. As our knowledge has grown, we have come to realize that indeed all life forms are exquisitely interrelated and independent. We envision a Religious Society of Friends in the twenty-first century that includes in its testimonies a clear call of responsibility to live in harmony with all life on Earth.
We see that our traditional peace testimony of nurturing peace with each other must be clearly expanded to include nurturing peace with all the created world. We are inspired to do this with a renewed respect for Creation which goes beyond self-interest. We envision a relationship with Earth that allows us to see ourselves as an integral part of God’s creation and not as the sole inheritors of it, to use as we will. We seek nonviolent ways of meeting the needs of other species with whom we share the earth. While Friends respect science as a useful tool for understanding aspects of reality, we recognize that there are divine mysteries that remain beyond our ability to understand.
While evidence of ecological disaster is all around us, we can and must make changes now which will heal our spiritual and physical connections with the earth. In the tradition of First Nations Peoples we work to ensure a better future for at the very least, the next seven generations. We see that significant changes in the way we live our day-to-day lives are necessary for life on Earth to survive and flourish.
Illinois Yearly Meeting
Minute on the Condition of Human Population and the Earth
TODAY, we are confronted with interacting problems unique in their magnitude. Among the major problems are increasing numbers of people, excessive use of resources, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and the growing disparity between rich and poor. All of these contribute to social and economic tensions at home and abroad.
We recognize that education and understanding are the foundation for improving lives and empowering women and men around the world. We encourage our governments at every level as well as private groups, to make family planning accessible to all.
As Friends we recognize that we are part of these problems, and therefore we need to contribute to their solutions. On a personal basis, we seek a leading regarding the number of children to have and raise. This includes alternative ways of parenting, including adoption. We also strive to live lives of simplicity and responsibility in our own use of resources. We search for solutions to these problems based on love and spiritual care for humans, all other creatures, and the earth itself. As a community of faith, we seek to honor, protect, and nurture all of God’s creation.
Netherlands Yearly Meeting
Sustainable Development as a Quaker Testimony?
IN 1988 Netherlands Yearly Meeting agreed on a Minute in which our representative to the 1988 Triennial was asked to request the Triennial in Japan: as a matter of urgency, that the theme of the ecumenical Conciliar Process—Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation—will be given priority in the activities of FWCC in the next few years.
At our 1997 Yearly Meeting we reconfirmed this minute and elaborated on it. Of the theme—Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation—two elements, social justice and peace, have been Friends Testimonies throughout Quaker history.
Although individual Friends and Friends Meetings, past and present, have been concerned about our need to care for creation on such a way that we preserve this God-given web of life, as well as about the ecological issues involved and the way in which we use or abuse natural resources, we believe that now is the time that Friends everywhere should speak out on this issue and consider it a testimony on an equal footing with the testimony on peace and social justice.
Given the scale and possible even the irreversibility of the changes that humankind is inflicting upon creation (depletion of non-renewable resources, pollution, climate change, rapid extinction of endangered species) “there is not time but this present.”
At our Yearly Meeting we were reminded that our Friend John Woolman “looked upon the works of God in this visible creation” and learned that “as the mind was moved on an inward principle to love God as an invisible, incomprehensible being, on the same principle it was moved to love him in all his manifestations in the visible world; that as by his breath the flame of life was kindled in all animal and sensitive creatures, to say we love God as unseen and at the same time exercise cruelty towards the least creature moving by his life, or by life derived from him, was a contradiction in itself.” (Journal)
In this, Woolman’s testimony, we may recognize one of the Psalms: “To the Lord belongs the earth and everything in it, the world and all its inhabitants…” (Psalm 24) An indeed, throughout Friends history we were reminded not only of the “Words of God” but also of the “Works of God.” Both may inspire us and fill us with awe and respect.
Who are we to put these works of God at serious risk? They do not belong to us! Rather, we belong to them, we are part of this God-given web of life we call Creation. We are called to sound stewardship on order to care for its integrity!
We live in a society where political and economical choices are more often dictated by greed than by need. What choices do we make as individual Friends? If the dominant life-style, if the dominant economic model, is causing the above-mentioned detrimental effects, even the extinction of many of God’s creatures, should Friends not question it? How do we let our lives speak in answer to the love of God? We asked ourselves these questions at our Yearly Meeting. The keyword for a solution seems to be sustainability. If we live by our traditional testimonies as a God and truth-loving people, seeking justice, peace and simple life-styles, “living simply, so that others may simply live,” adopting sustainable development as an additional testimony seems to be the necessary next step. Isn’t it a living tradition we take part in?
If we consider sustainability a testimony, we must confess, however, that we very often fail to live up to it. But we have committed ourselves to come back to these questions and explore ways to let our lives speak more effectively in this respect.
We know about the work that is done to promote sustainable development by environmental movements as well as by the (world-wide) ecumenical movement, such as the work on climate change by the World Council of Churches. Some of our members are involved in these activities, using silent diplomacy much like e.g., Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) representatives do in the fields of social justice and peace.
We therefore hope and pray that Friends gathered at the Triennial will unite with the concern of Netherlands Yearly Meeting that it is our responsibility to help preserve the Integrity of God’s Creation by adopting sustainability as a testimony to live by.
We hope that this will be expressed at international, national, and local levels. FWCC, with the QUNO’s as our international instrument, should make it one of its priorities for the twenty-first century.
New England Yearly Meeting
Awareness of Our Connections with All Creation
CULTIVATING a deeper awareness of our connections with all of Creation enables us to live more Spirit-filled lives. Such awareness brings us great joy, reminds us of God’s presence in everything around us, leads us to greater clarity and acceptance of ourselves as God’s creatures, and helps us avoid the traps of busyness and striving after material things. Failure to respect the sanctity and interdependence of all Creation is a root of war, social oppression, and environmental destruction. The recent war in the Persian Gulf is a visible and painful example of such failure.
As we strive to live in the awareness of connectedness we become more sensitive to the consequences of our words, deeds and attitudes; and we enter a deeper, more joyous relationship with God. We ask Friends, individually and corporately, to affirm our connectedness with all Creation, and to consider how “the Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided,” can help us live in a more loving association with the earth and its inhabitants.
Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting
WE of Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends believe that the web of life, and each being within it, are expressions of the Spirit. We further believe that all our actions resonate throughout the symphony of Creation, flowing through space and time. We affirm the inherent worth of the natural world and all its beings, beyond their economic value for humans.
We recognize that the Earth community is in a crisis that is increasingly visible. We witness the decline of world resources, and especially biological diversity. With great concern, we witness an increase of toxic contaminants in our soil, air, and water. This exploitation is not in accord with good stewardship, which calls for us to care for, protect, and preserve the earth.
As we search for the roots of these problems, we keep coming back to ourselves. We see industrial production spiraling out of control and personal consumption increasing at an intolerable rate. These are not in accord with our testimony of simplicity.
The disparity in right sharing continues to grow. We know that the poor of the world bear the greater hurt. Toxins find their way far more often into the lives of the poor. As increasing production and consumption amplify the impact of continuing population growth, the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. This is not in accord with our testimony of equality.
We are therefore called to walk more gently on this Earth. The right sharing of the world’s remaining resources requires that we in “overdeveloped’ nations reduce our present levels of consumption and pollution, so people in non-industrial nations may live better, and so ecological systems may heal. Living more simply can be a source of enrichment for ourselves as well, as it opens us to more direct and grateful contact with the mysteries of life and therefore with the Spirit.
But our individual efforts toward simplicity are not enough. For deep changes to occur in our corporations and governments, we must also speak and act as a religious community. We especially want to stop blind expansion, beginning in our own neighborhoods and home region. We must instead support ecologically sustainable activity, that which will allow future generations to flourish. The route to sustainability is not clear. Historically, we have misjudged the results of our actions. But for any activity to be sustainable it must, at the very least, withdraw renewable resources no faster than their natural sources are replenishing themselves. It must also replace the use of non-renewable resources with renewable alternatives, and release pollutants no faster than they are being recycled by nature.
We take these first steps toward speaking truth to power, even when it is to ourselves. We will seek further leadings as the light guides the way. We will strive for sustainable lives in order that all living beings, as well as those yet to be born, might flourish.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Care of the Earth as a Religious Concern
THE world is God’s creation. How we treat the earth and all its creatures is basic to our relationship with God, and of fundamental religious concern to the Society of Friends. What we are learning about the destructive effects of affluence and technology in our society gives new urgency to Friends historic testimonies on peace, simplicity, equality and stewardship. Reducing negative human impacts on the earth’s air, water and soils, and right sharing within the human family and with all God’s creatures, have become ecological necessities.
We unite in urging individual Friends and monthly meetings to seek Divine Guidance in considering the limitations and actions this concern requires of us. We encourage the Environmental Working Group to pursue, with other Friends’ organizations and other faith communities, ways of bearing witness to the ecological and spiritual imperative that our society transform its relationship with the earth.
Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting & Association (SAYMA)
Minute Regarding Global Climate Change
SAYMA Friends recognize that unprecedented rate of change in our global climate is causing rising global temperature, diminishing polar ice, changing local weather patterns, and increasing frequency of severe storms. We also recognize that human activity, largely the combustion of fossil fuels, is a major cause of these changes.
Further, this global climate change is destabilizing many of our planet’s ecosystems, reducing their production of foods, medicines, and other products for humans, and accelerating species extinction.
Human refugees from droughts, floods, and rising sea levels, and the human suffering caused by crop failures and the spread of infectious diseases from warmer climates are stressing societies and governments, setting the stage for violence, oppression, and conflict. Our peace testimony leads us to find ways to remove these potential causes of war.
Friends’ concerns for simplicity, right sharing of resources, and equality, and our recognition that the effects of global warming desecrate God’s creation, lead us to issue an urgent call for Friends to make substantive changes in their lifestyles including:
We urge Friends Meetings and individuals to act on these urgent concerns. We call on Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups to report on such actions at the next Yearly Meeting. We ask Friends to consider how to develop social supports that enable us to move into spiritually informed daily efforts to change our lives and act on our concerns.
SAYMA Minute on Population
IN ACCORDANCE with Friends testimonies of equality, simplicity, and harmony, we recognize the sacredness of all life, the interconnection of all living things, and the balance required to sustain an acceptable quality of life for all inhabitants of our planet. We are committed to providing all children with a safe, loving, nourishing, and habitable world in which to live.
In October 1999, world human population surpassed 6 billion, having doubled since 1960. At the present rate of growth, it is likely to double again within the new century. The effects of this rapid population growth, exacerbated by excessive consumerism, threaten all of Earth’s creatures, placing insupportable demands on her finite resources, creating unmanageable problems of waste disposal, and intensifying environmental degradation.
While remaining sensitive to the needs and values of all cultures, we acknowledge our responsibility to become informed about world population growth and the concerns it raises. Through our leadings and sharings, we will seek knowledgeable, loving, and creative ways working towards effective and realistic solutions. These include providing education on and means of contraception for both sexes, encouragement of adoption as an alternative to having biological children and open support of those who choose not to procreate. And it is essential that those who have more than they need strive toward a simpler, less wasteful life-style.
We also recognize that special emphasis must be given to measures to reduce poverty, provide security for people as they age, and empower women. Literacy, equal social status, and the general education of women to broaden their life choices are measures that not only improve their lives but help delay childbirth and limit family size.
We urge our government to renew contributions to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, and we urge meetings to study further the problem of rapid population growth and to discern how we are to act on this concern as individuals and as meetings in our own communities, in our country, and in support of countries throughout the world.
Acadia (Maine) Friends Meeting
AS members of a religious society that has been evolving for 350 years, we believe the time has come for us to develop a testimony on living in unity with nature.
Friends, like other faith groups, are entering an era of conscious empathy with the unity and diversity of life on Earth. We are beginning to view every form of life as an expression of universal love. We are glad to welcome this new era as a time of expanded faith and action.
We see now that our well being depends on the well being of Earth as a living community. How does such an insight fit with our exploitation of that same community? How does the quest for unity with nature fit with our habitual attempt to dominate nature itself? Has the time come to turn the focus of human attention away from unnecessary consumption of natural resources toward living simply with our earthly neighbors in the biblical spirit of loving them as we love ourselves?
We would not be here without the help of other forms of life—the plants that give us oxygen and nourishment, the microbes that digest our food, the fungi and bacteria that break down our waste, and the myriad species contributing to the functioning and wonder of the paradise in which we live, including those we have never seen or don’t know exist. Instead of being born to dominate the earth, we now see ourselves born to a partnership with the plants and animals that sustain us. Our understanding is incomplete, cultural habits are hard to change; but that does not mean we should not strive to bring in the new era. We can only proceed from where we are revising our efforts in light of our growing experience. The coming era can be an era of new challenge and fulfillment. Human understanding of life processes is expanding rapidly. Faith is not diminished but is nourished by that larger understanding. Living in unity with nature means living simply and lovingly with the blessed Earth community in light of continuing revelation. In witness of that revelation, we will do all we can to be worthy of the life spirit wherever and in whatever form we find it expressed.
From now on, every day offers us opportunities for living out our renewed faith. Are we ready to act lovingly toward all parts of Creation, as we would have others act toward us? Can we reach out to that of God in every one, every creature, and everything? Will we recognize the divine presence in all its myriad forms, seeing our daily lives as a series of sacred encounters? Living in unity with nature is a challenge that invites us to become responsible members of the larger natural community which embraces and supports human society. Starting with ourselves as aspects of nature, some of the ways we might express our wonderment, love, and respect include:
Taking actions such as these, we bear witness to our spiritual faith, and express the creative, responsive love at the core of our existence. That central them gives us a sense of well-being, revealing daily life to be a series of sacred encounters with the universal spirit, and unity with nature to be at the heart of an Earth community that is truly blessed.
Bellingham (Wash.) Friends Meeting
Our Sense of Connected within the Web of Life
In working to reduce the causes of wars, Friends realize the need to address factors which bring about international tensions and violence, such as energy policies, inequitable distribution of resources, expanding human population, and economic and monetary structures which exacerbate these problems. These same forces are degrading the natural world, with pollution, overconsumption, climate change, and species extinctions.
If we realize at a very deep level, as we must, that humans are an integral part of the earth, then we know at once that we share Earth’s fate. Lauren deBoer, editor of EarthLight, says, “The imperative of our time is to move beyond our delusional sense of human primacy. The most profound political insight we can have is to look inside and remember our roots in the earth… (H)onoring those roots is what will give our children, and those of all species, a future.”
Robert Hillegass of New England Yearly Meeting suggets Vaclav Havel’s term, “cosmic holy ground; it is to know that everything we do has a spiritual dimension and matters in the ultimate analysis. It is in this awareness and this spirit that we of the Committee on Peace and Social Concerns will attempt to carry on our work for peace and justice.
Chena Ridge Friends Meeting, Fairbanks, Alaska
Minute on Sustainable Economics
WE APPLAUD the efforts of Federal and State governments to address the current deficit problem. However, we fear that, in their haste to cut budgets, they have focused on programs critical to the well being of millions of Americans. Budget cuts in the areas of social services; health, education, housing and nutrition disproportionately impact the lower middle class and poor, especially women, children, and the elderly. The targeted programs do not represent major portions of the overall budget of the government. For instance, welfare is only about 1.5 percent of the federal budget; AFDC is about 2 percent of the Alaska State budget. In the United States today, one in four children lives in poverty. Two thirds of welfare recipients are children. In Alaska, there are, on average 1.9 children in an AFDC family. Young women head eighty-one percent of these AFDC families. We need to evaluate our priorities in cutting programs so that we can preserve the public good.
There are real moral issues involved in how we choose to reduce the budget deficit while preserving the public good. The decisions we make now will define us as a nation and a state long into the future. We advocate a shift from an economy based on military and corporate subsidies to one which benefits the general public, and looks to the future. We believe that the idea of creating a healthy economy through unlimited growth and rapid development is no longer viable. It is simply not sustainable over the long term. We have already reached the point at which a standard of growth for growth’s sake is now becoming a threat to the well being of the world’s population. In the United States, our present economic philosophy promotes rapid growth in all areas: economic expansion, resource extraction, human population increases, development of wild and open lands, privatization and development of public lands, etc. This type of economic system no longer serves as a viable model to carry humanity into the next century. We advocate slow, careful development of resources to maximize the public benefit, especially to local populations. We oppose large-scale projects to extract raw resources for sale to large out-of-state or foreign corporations. This system degrades the environment and keeps local economies from reaching their potential. This perpetuates a false system based on unlimited growth, driven by an unstable market. This type of system also removes resources from the public trust for the benefit of a few corporations and their owners.
We mentioned above the fact that public welfare programs do not make up a major portion of the federal or state budgets. There are other types of “welfare” which constitute a much larger portion of these budgets, yet these programs are not slated for reduction. These “welfare” programs include corporate, military and bureaucratic subsidies. There are many examples of these types of subsidies: tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals; cost over runs for contractors; military research and development; cost inefficient roads and building construction; subsidized logging and mining operations; farm subsidies, etc. The current budget reduction efforts at both the state and federal level do not consider these larger “welfare” programs in their discussions. In fact, the current congressional budget proposal includes an additional $7 billion dollar appropriation for the Department of Defense. This is on top of the increase already proposed by President Clinton. No one discusses this money as part of the deficit reduction solution, yet it could pay for the cuts proposed for programs for the poor, the unemployed and underemployed, and the elderly.
We urge our state and federal representatives and senators to rethink their current policies. What has happened to the “Peace Dividend” we were told would arrive with the end of the Cold War? At a time when the government is closing military bases, more money than ever pours into the military budget. There are not even plans to transform these military bases into public facilities, in most instances. We feel it is time to legislate for the public good with an eye towards the future. Medicaid and Medicare, AFDC and welfare programs, education, and housing programs must be preserved. This can be affordable by doing such things as: retaining taxes for the wealthier families and corporations; keeping the capital gains tax; decreasing the purchase of military hardware; investing in basic research; limiting resource extraction subsidies, etc.
We also urge our leaders to re-think their energy policy and develop a rational program based on efficiency, conservation, and alternative technologies. The market price of commodities such as oil, coal, timber and fisheries must include the cost of pollution, loss of wilderness and depletion of resources. By including all these costs, the price of resources will rise, and their value will increase. Conservation and re-use of materials will follow as the commodity rises in value. Environmental safeguarding actually creates jobs while improving the quality of life for all.
We urge each citizen to take his or her place in creating a sense of public benefit for all by becoming active in advocating a sustainable economy for the future. This requires involvement in community decisions regarding resource use, the quality of life, and the health of the community and its environment, education for our children and care for our elders. We support tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution and peace efforts on local, state, federal and world levels. In an era of “belt tightening, let us each start within ourselves to work towards a sustainable future for our well-educated, healthy children. Speak out so that our leaders know that we value each person and his or her needs. Housing, food, education and health care will define our future, and should be our priority.
Community Monthly Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio
WE of Community Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends believe that the web of life, and each being within it, are expressions of the Spirit. We further believe that all our actions resonate throughout the symphony of Creation, flowing through space and time. We recognize that the Earth community is in a crisis which is increasingly visible. We witness reliable reports on the decline of world resources, and especially biological diversity. Equally profound reports on the increase of toxic contaminants in our soil, air, and water give us cause for great concern. We are seeing the results of a war we are waging with Earth and with ourselves. This is not in accord with our testimony of peace.
As we search for the roots of these problems, we keep coming back to ourselves. We see population growing rapidly, industrial production spiraling out of control, and personal consumption increasing at an intolerable rate. These are not in accord with our testimony of simplicity. The disparity in right sharing continues to grow. We know that the poor of the world bear the greater hurt. The rich are getting richer, and the poor, poorer. Toxins find their way far more often into the lives of the poor. This is not in accord with our testimony of equality.
We are therefore called to walk more gently on this Earth. The right sharing of the world’s remaining resources requires that we in “overdeveloped” nations reduce our present levels of consumption, so people in pre-industrial nations may have more, and so ecological systems may heal. Living more simply can be a source of enrichment for ourselves as well, as it opens us to more direct and grateful contact with the mysteries of life and therefore with the Spirit. But our individual efforts toward simplicity are not enough. For deep changes to occur in our corporations and governments, we must also speak and act as a religious community. We especially want to stop blind expansion, beginning our own neighborhoods and home region. We must instead support ecologically sustainable development, that which will last for many generations.
We will take these first steps toward speaking truth to power, even when it is to ourselves. We will seek further leadings as the light guides the way. We will strive for sustainable lives in order that all living beings, as well as those yet to be born, might flourish.
Hartford (Conn.) Monthly Meeting
Endorsement of the Earth Charter
HARTFORD Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends joins with other groups throughout the world to jointly work toward a just, peaceful, ecologically sustainable earth community by endorsing the Earth Charter. The principles of the Earth Charter 1) ecological integrity, 2) social and economic justice, and 3) democracy, nonviolence, and peace closely parallel the traditional Quaker Testimonies of peace, simplicity, equality, harmony, and community. The Earth Charter further emphasizes the interdependence of these concerns and the importance of the shared responsibility of the world community to work toward these goals. Hartford Monthly Meeting will use the principles of the Earth Charter as a guide in our lives and will encourage others to become acquainted with the Earth Charter and to adopt its principles. A commitment by individuals, local communities, and civil society to ecological integrity and peace is essential before governments can be effective in working toward these goals.
Lexington (Ky.) Friends Meeting
Minute on Population and the Environment
THE world is experiencing ecological devastation that threatens the survival of all living things: climate change, ozone depletion, the widespread presence of toxic substances in air, water, and soils, and the steady decline of biological diversity. Human population pressures and wasteful levels of consumption are straining the earth’s capacity to sustain a diverse variety of species. The collective actions of humanity are destroying the intricate fabric and marvelous beauty of Creation. As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we are exhorted by our testimonies to live in harmony with one another and with all of nature. We must live sustainably so that human societies, animals, and the natural ecosystems we all inhabit can survive and thrive together. This requires us to live within limits.
We ask ourselves and other Friends how our lifestyles may contribute to ecological crises. Do we distinguish between wants and needs? Do we consider how the testimony of simplicity may contribute both to our living sustainably to our greater spiritual growth? How do we understand the intertwined relationships between our concerns for the environment and issues of social justice and peace? What is our responsibility for reducing excess consumption in the U.S.? How can we increase access to family planning worldwide? What are the implications of our having more children, given U.S.rates of consumption? Can we broaden our understanding of parenting to include care for all children in our communities? How can we bear witness to this emerging set of testimonies? How can Friends’ institutions better reflect our environmental concerns?
Looking beyond our individual consumption choices, how can we work with others to ensure that corporations and governments operate in ways that preserve the environment, both in this country and internationally? What actions can we take to help prevent the environmental devastation that typically occurs when governments, including our own government, engage in warfare and the preparation for war?
We ask our fellow citizens and public officials to acknowledge these environmental crises. We seek their assistance to reach the goal of sustainable living for all species, to restore the earth, and to foster hope for future generations.
Madison (Wis.) Monthly Meeting
Statement on Biotechnology
WE, Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, believe that all life has a spiritual basis. We believe that as human beings we have a responsibility to contemplate the consequences of our actions by seeking divine guidance individually and collectively. This responsibility is particularly urgent as human kind considers changing the genetic composition of life forms. Therefore we urge the consideration of the following two queries:
Northwest Quarterly Meeting of New England Yearly Meeting
In Support of the Earth Charter
WE, of the Northwest Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, New England Yearly Meeting, find the Earth Charter to be consistent with Quaker Testimonies. We affirm its substance and encourage its application at all levels of social organization (local, global, public, private, and corporate). To all people, and to Friends in particular we endorse the Earth Charter as a guide consistent with our faith for spiritual practice and social action.
For over a decade, diverse groups throughout the world have endeavored to create an Earth Charter that sets forth fundamental ethical principles for a sustainable way of life. Hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals have been involved in the process. The four main commitments of the Charter are:
The goal of sustainable development is full human development and ecological protection. The Earth Charter recognizes that humanity’s environmental, economic, social, cultural, ethical, and spiritual problems and aspirations are interconnected. It affirms the need for holistic thinking and collaborative, integrated problem solving. Sustainable development requires such an approach. It is about freedom, justice, participation, and peace as well as environmental protection and economic well-being. By endorsing the Earth Charter, the Northwest Quarterly Meeting signifies its commitment to the spirit and aims of the document, and will cooperate with others in working for the implementation of its principles.
Palo Alto (Calif) Friends Meeting
Toward a Testimony on Conscious Stewardship
Pacific Yearly Meeting is urged by Palo Alto Monthly Meeting to study the landmark series of articles by Marshall Massey (Friends Bulletin, Vol. 52, Nos. 6-9, March-June, 1984) and then to set about the task of implementing Friend Massey’s recommendations, on which the very surival of life on this earth may depend. Three environmental crises loom before us:
Palo Alto Meeting suggests an umbrella organization that might be called “Trustees for Planet Earth” to carry this concern to the Religious Society of Friends and to other socially conscious groups, who can well unite to carry the message to people everywhere—that we can reverse our present downward spiral if we enlist the positive forces already at work; that we can re-educate ourselves to greater awareness of the consequences of our use of Earth’s resources; that we can put all this forward as a new and vital Testimony, proposing a conscious stewardship of the riches entrusted to us.
Patuxent (Md.) Friends Meeting
Minute on Ecological Sustainability
PATUXENT Friends believe that ecological sustainability should be added to our existing Quaker testimonies—for the following reasons:
As Patuxent Friends, we hereby rededicate ourselves to the above principles. Let us, to the extent of our abilities, respond to disproportionate distribution of Earth’s resources, minimize the effects of cultures of affluence and over-consumption, support voluntary family planning, strive for ecologically and economically regenerative communities with a creative simplicity, and be at peace in this sacred place—our Earth.
Princeton (N.J.) Monthly Meeting
Minute on Sustainable Living
WE, as Friends, are disturbed by the increasingly numerous, and increasingly severe, environmental problems besetting our world. We deplore environmental degradation as well as attempts by groups and individuals to eliminate such protections of the environment as are already in place.
As Friends, we believe that harmony with the world around us is an important part of our service to the divine. By living sustainably, living in a way that the natural systems of the world can support, by seeking to live with nature rather than to control it, we come to deeper spiritual fulfillment and insight. We believe that human efforts should be directed towards the spiritual fulfillment found in a harmonious relationship with God and nature.
The idea of sustainability brings together such long standing Quaker testimonies as simplicity, stewardship, and justice. We believe that seeking God’s will includes accepting limits on our acquisitions and on our demands on the environment. We call upon our fellow Friends, our fellow citizens, and our political leaders to join us in a search for a sustainable and sensitive manner of living.
Reading (Pa.) Monthly Meeting
WE RECOGNIZE that all lives, and the earth and its resources that sustain us, are gifts from God. We reaffirm that our Testimonies, Concerns, and Queries as considered together can help us realize the stewardship needed to sustain our communities as part of the larger world community. We recognize that each of us has a part in seeking ways to sustain our world community and the earth for future generations.
We advocate an open, inclusive dialogue among all that use and receive the earth’s resources to find ways of ensuring sustainability. Since many paths may lead to the Light, we recognize that openness to diversity and differing viewpoints can foster opportunities for awareness and revelation. We actively seek dialogue among all sectors of our society, including religious groups, environmental groups, professional groups, agricultural, business and commercial interests, community groups, government agencies, schools, families and individuals. Each of us alone has, at best, only part of the answer. We affirm that, although some things are being done to foster sustainable living, much more is not only possible but essential. Living sustainably as part of the natural ecosystem requires that all of us, no matter what our role in society, examine ourselves, be open to new possibilities, and make positive changes to ways of living that recognize limits and minimize waste.
We believe history can help us achieve positive change if we carefully consider past mistakes and successes in the context of today’s level of science and technology. Knowledge is the key to insuring that we really are effecting positive change, and not repeating past mistakes.
We, as Meetings and individuals, should lend support to the best of our ability:
Further, each of us as individuals should examine our own lives and make whatever changes we can. We believe that corporate sustainability can ultimately be realized if each of us does whatever small part we can to increase our own awareness, and to reduce waste.
Stony Run and Homewood (Md.) Friends Meetings
Minute in Support of Diversity of Life
THE UNIVERSAL processes that establish and maintain the forms we find in nature, including those forms we call “life,” are a manifestation of the Divine in which we are blessed to participate. In the manner of continuing revelation we are becoming aware of the total and sacred interdependence of all things. A new story is unfolding, in which we are an integral part of the pattern of existence rather than its main purpose. We are learning to see the complex patterns of change and exchange that underlie the apparent stability upon which we rely to live, and we are moved to worshipful awe.
Our inherited religious tradition, which states that we have “dominion” over the natural world has been misinterpreted to justify our exploitation and destruction of nature. Our new understanding of the impact of humankind on the rest of nature calls into question traditional assumptions of ourselves, our origins, and our future. The earth’s bio-system is a living web that maintains our own existence and that of all other life forms, both known to us and unknown. Our new understanding of our place in this web calls on us to live sustainably, which means living simply and contributing to the renewal of nature, so that the diversity of life may thrive indefinitely. Sustainability is a concept that relates to all our Testimonies, relates each of them to the future, and helps to weave them together in our lives.
We accept that a faithful response to the Divine moving in us requires that we re-examine our behaviors and actions, our policies and practices, as they affect Earth’s web of life. We need to do this at personal, community, national, international and corporate levels, and to work to change our behaviors that degrade the processes that sustain the diversity of life. To this end we should adopt long-term sustainability as one measure of the rightness of the practices we live by. God has troubled our hearts, and is showing us that the way to a renewal of our peace is to forge a human way of life in harmony with the sacred patterns of nature in which we participate.
Swarthmore (Pa.) Monthly Meeting
THE WORLD is undergoing a number of ecological crises that threaten the survival of many living things, including humankind. Ozone depletion, climate change, the widespread presence of toxic substances in the earth’s air, water and soils are among the better known. Human populations and levels of consumption have already exceeded the earth’s capacity in many parts of the world. The collective actions of humanity are destroying the intricate fabric and marvelous beauty of the natural world.
As members of the Religious Society of Friends, our faith requires that we seek to live in harmony with one another and with nature. Our goal is to live in a sustainable manner so that human societies [and] natural ecosystems can survive and thrive together.
We ask our fellow citizens and public officials to acknowledge this crisis and to invite input from all who can help determine what is necessary to reach the goal of sustainable living.
Wellsboro (Pa.) Monthly Meeting
Living in Harmony
THE HISTORIC testimonies of the Society of Friends concerning simplicity, stewardship, equality and peace are widely recognized. Not so widely recognized are the interrelationships among these testimonies. Overpopulation and the misuse and overuse of resources are inextricably intertwined with poverty, injustice and illiteracy. These conditions are similarly linked to environmental degradation and the causes of random and organized violence. The Peace Testimony requires that we seek to live in harmony both with one another and with nature.
Therefore Wellsboro Monthly Meeting asks that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting:
Pendle Hill Conference and Retreat Center, Wallingford, Pa.
Care for Creation as a Religious Concern
THE WORLD is God’s creation. How we treat the earth and all its creatures is basic to our relationship with God, second only to how we treat our fellow human beings—the traditional fundamental religious concern of the Society of Friends. What we are learning about the destructive effects of affluence and technology in our society gives new urgency to Friends historic testimonies on peace, simplicity, equality and stewardship. Reducing negative human impacts on the earth’s air, water and soils, and right sharing within the human family and with all God’s creatures, have become ecological necessities.
We unite in urging individual Friends and monthly meetings to seek Divine Guidance in considering the limitations and actions this concern requires of us. We encourage all Friends to pursue, with other faith communities, ways of bearing witness to the ecological and spiritual imperative that our society transform its relationship with the earth.
Friends Center Corporation in Philadelphia
Adopting Green Alternatives
PROTECTING the world as God’s creation is of fundamental religious concern to the Society of Friends. The link between human activity, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the rise of average global temperature is proving to be of overriding importance from the standpoint of ecology, social justice and international diplomacy.
Climate change will affect everyone and everything: food, water, air quality, biodiversity, forests, public health, social order and world peace. Because the United States uses the largest amount of energy per capita, our nation’s policies to curtail the emissions of greenhouse gases will be crucial. This involves not only the kind of electricity and fuels we use directly but also the energy embodied in all the material goods we use and consume. The ethical and moral nature of our dilemma requires religious communities and their institutions to lead by example of policies to address global warming are to succeed in politics or in practice in the US.
In view of these considerations, the Board of Friends Center Corporation reaffirms a decision to purchase 100 percent renewable Green-e certified electricity. We expect to consider additional measures in collaboration with our tenants to reduce the energy used directly and indirectly by Friends Center and the activities undertaken here. Using less energy and helping our society convert to renewable technologies are essential steps to protect life on Earth as God created it.