SA Quaker News — March 2024 — Issue 254

The new edition of SA Quaker News is now available for download. Is is available below and via the “Publications & Resources” page.

SA Quaker News — March 2024 — Issue 254

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Statement by Southern Africa Yearly Meeting of Quakers on Israel and Palestine

14 December 2023

As Quakers it is both our experience and belief that there is a Divine Light (or “That of God”) within each person, regardless of their faith, creed or race.  From this, stems our commitment to stand against violence in all its forms, and to nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions through peaceful means.

We are horrified, pained, and saddened by the ongoing war between the Israeli army and Hamas, ordered by the political leadership of both, and inflicting death, unspeakable injury, suffering, and pain on innocent civilians in Israel and in Palestine. This has intensified to hellish levels since October 7, first in Israel and then – and now – in Gaza and, increasingly, the West Bank. 

The stirring up of hatred is both cause and effect of the violence. We are mindful of how we, as humans, habitually ‘other’ groups of people in a multitude of ways, based on language, belief, social status, complexion and more. This ‘othering’ dehumanizes them and their humanness then ceases to exist for ‘us’, so that we visit all manner of violence against them because we no longer see them as human.  The process of rehumanisation means valuing all human lives as equally sacred and resisting all ideologies and mechanisms that subject one group of people to the violence and oppression of another.

We acknowledge the history of violence perpetrated from many “sides” and we do not think that an exercise of accounting all the atrocities committed over the years will be helpful. We do, however, believe that acknowledging the impact that this ongoing violence has had on individual and communal psyches is a crucial step on the path towards peace. The first-hand individual and group experiences of trauma, as well as the intergenerational and epigenetic patterns of trauma that are present in all groups living in the “Holy Land”, are the seeds of the current violence, which promises, in turn, to sow its own seeds to continue the vicious, VICIOUS cycle. Only through the acknowledgment of, and the large-scale communal healing from, this trauma can true, deep peace be realistically hoped for.

War is a choice. It is clear to us as Quakers, that there are always other ways to resolve conflict, that are not reliant on violence and warfare, and we are convinced that the time for truly exploring these alternatives is NOW. We can attest from lived experience that in South Africa’s darkest hour, with civil war imminent, it was possible for negotiations to start, which led eventually to the first democratic elections. We know that there is another way. 

There are many permutations of political solutions that have been proposed. We believe that any number of these could work provided that the leadership on both sides commit and bring their supporters to commit to the peace process. We know that this will not be easy, perhaps may even feel impossible, but it is the only way. Taking this path requires a deep commitment to “stay at the table” even when things get tough. With this commitment, binding agreements that secure the rights, security, and freedom of Israelis and Palestinians alike and the self-determination of both people may be reached.

Amidst the ongoing violence over the last 75 years there have been numerous examples of close friendship and neighbourly living with those on the “other side”, and recognition by Israelis and Palestinians of how much they have in common with each other, how much they need each other. We are also aware of many organisations who have worked over the years to encourage dialogue and to gain a deep understanding of the healing and reconciliation that is needed, and have begun that peace-making together. It is apparent that the seeds of reconciliation are there, and that healing of the divide is possible. We encourage the political and spiritual leaders of both Israel and Palestine, as well as the international community, to draw on the insight and experience of these groups in the proposed peace process.

We believe and we are confident that, if an appropriate path is followed towards reconciliation and healing, a vision for the future which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians alike will become possible.

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SA Quaker News — September 2023

The latest edition of the SA Quaker News is available on the Publications page, or it can be downloaded here:

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Namibia Quaker Community Statement on Same-Sex Marriages

Media statement

No embargo 

Enquiries: email

We, the Namibian Quaker Community, feel it is important to raise our stance on the rights of the LGBT+ community, in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions, and statements in Parliament and on social media.

The Quakers, also known as the Society of Friends, is a spiritual group rooted in Christianity. We are devoted to the principles of peace and justice. 

Some of our concerns are:

  • As a religious society we support the human rights and inherent dignity of everyone, including LGBT+ people, as it is our belief that there is ‘that of God in everyone’. We believe this is also in line with the principles of Ubuntu.
  • The Quakers have often viewed the Bible as a document to be interpreted anew by each generation bearing in mind its deeper meaning and the social context in which it was written and the different translations available. We acknowledge that respect for heterosexual marriage is important and do not wish to devalue marriages between men and women. We merely would invite faith leaders to consider a more open-minded interpretation of the Christian Scriptures than is often quoted in judgment against those in same-sex relationships.
  • In any secular state, a decision by government to recognize civil marriages does not compel any religious institution to bless same sex marriages among its members, and we accept that each church and faith community will have to make its own decisions in this regard, should same-sex marriage ever be legalized in Namibia.
  • We are saddened by the hate speech that has been uttered at some recent public gatherings and protests in Namibia, on social media, and in Parliament, and would urge our leaders to reconsider these statements. 
  • The language that has been used by some politicians and public figures, for example comparing human homosexual relations to those of animals, or falsely accusing LGBT+ Namibians of spreading HIV or ‘grooming’ children, is especially concerning to us.
  • We do not support the criminalizing of homosexual behavior, and we do not agree with so-called ‘conversion therapy’, which has been shown to be harmful.

Going forward, we acknowledge that communities of faith will have difficult discussions on same sex relationships. Such discussions are a process, similar to those around mixed-race relationships in Namibia’s not too distant past. Hence, these discussions should be conducted with regard for the dignity and safety of everyone, especially of LGBT+ people, and while listening to LGBT+ people within our congregations, families and communities with the intention to genuinely understand and seek ways forward together.

Justin Ellis, Clerk of the Namibia Quaker Community, 10 August 2023

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Quakers urge government to implement a universal basic income or face ‘dire consequences’

This article by the YM Co-Clerks, Gregory Mthembu-Salter and Benonia Nyakuwanikwa, was published in the Daily Maverick at the following link:

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SA Quaker News, April 2023, is out

Download the latest edition of SAQN (Issue 252) from the Publications page.

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Discussion documents on a Universal Basic Income Grant

Below are two PDF files on UBIG. They can be viewed either by scrolling in the block where you see the text, or they can be downloaded by clicking the “Download” button beneath each. If you struggle to access them, please contact Heath and she will email you the PDF files directly.

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SA Quaker News, November 2022, now available

The latest SA Quaker News, Number 251, published in October 2022 is now available from the link below.

SA Quaker News — November 2022

The issue starts with a focus on World Quaker Day 2022 celebrations at the Meetings in SAYM.

The contents are as follows:

Editorial — by the new editor, Bronwen Ellis

Bulawayo celebrations — Sipho Nsimbi
Eastern Cape Quakers — John Blair
Quaker Community of the Western Cape — Photos by Bronwen Ellis and Graham Thomas
Namibia and Blue Idol meeting — Helen Vale and Enid Ellis

Creating a stairway to Heaven – Jennifer Bowler
The Circle of Life – Doreen Bekker Natural money – Rory Short
The Anonymity of Money – Rory Short

The FAU in South Africa, Part 3 — Anthony Barlow

Leafline is Life Line — Bronwen Ellis

Countdown — Alan Weisman — by Helen Holleman, Eastern Cape Quakers
The Battle for God — Karen Armstrong — by Wouter Holleman, Eastern Cape Quakers
How the World really works — Vaclav Smil — by George Ellis, Quaker Community of the Western Cape

Afterword – Closing the Gap — Wouter Holleman

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SA Quaker News, September 2022, now available

The latest SA Quaker News, Number 250, published in September 2022 is now available from the link below.

SA Quaker News — September 2022

The issue has a large focus on Ubuntu, the theme for the SAYM Yearly Meeting coming up in January 2023, including photographs from Susan Winters’ 30-years of capturing images of a Southern African phenomenon for which she did not previously have a word.

The contents are as follows:

Southern Africa’s Gift to the World — Gregory Mthembu-Salter

Testimony: Sheldon Weeks


Caring for Creation — Amanda Gibberd

Blessed be the Fruit — Bronwen Ellis

Poverty in Zimbabwe — Phillemon Chirimambowa

Confession of a reluctant Quaker — Michael Sperger 


River Rescue, Part 2 — Helen Holleman

Young Friends AVP workshop — Kopane Moteane & Ruvimbo Kadungura

The FAU in South Africa, Part 2 — Anthony Barlow

Easter Egg hunt — Cecilia Nkesi & Khosi Sekoere

The Yvonne Pickering Kindergarten — Enid Ellis


Flock to Marion Island — Justine Limpitlaw

More images of Ubuntu — Susan Winters

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Yearly Meeting 2023

The upcoming YM 2023 of the Southern Africa Yearly Meeting will be taking place from 3-8 January 2023 at Good Shepherd Retreat Centre in Hartbeespoort. Please check the Events page for details and to download registration forms.

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