In campaigning for minority rights, Quakers were the first faith group in Britain to recognize same-sex marriage. Here in our bilingual society in Wales, language equality is also very important to us. Quaker Meetings across Wales seeks to create an atmosphere that is respectful and welcoming to speakers of all languages, as well as to people of diverse backgrounds, religion, race and gender.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Quakers were very prominent in the campaign for the abolition of slavery . However, we must also acknowledge the fact that there were Quakers who were involved in the slave trade who profited from the labour of enslaved people. Quakers today recognise that many of us are still benefiting from a legacy of wealth and privilege, and are actively looking for ways of making reparations for past harms and working for racial and climate justice in the present. For further information about current Quaker work in this area, please see the reparations page on the Quakers in Britain website.
Here, Ruth, a friend from North Wales, shares her experience of serving as a Quaker Chaplain in prisons in the area.
Quakers have always supported people in prison and worked towards reforming the justice system. This work began at the beginnings of Quakerism and the work continues today.
‘Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.’
This was written by a prisoner in Launceston Gaol, Cornwall in 1656. The prisoner’s name was George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends.
“One day a mate asked me if I wanted to come along to a Quaker group. I asked, ‘what’s it about?’ and was told it’s relaxing and you get a cup of tea and biscuits. I was sold, and attended.
WOW! That session was out of this world for me, and I’ll tell you why – because the impact, for me, is that it has changed my direction for life, pointed me in the right direction, and given me faith for humanity.
It felt like I was connected to everyone else’s energy and was transported somewhere brighter than the dark hole I had been in for ages. I was excited in my mind. My thoughts were reorganised and didn’t feel like problems anymore. I felt a closeness I had not felt before to the visitors and men in the room. My paranoia dissipated and I felt 100% positivity for all in that room.
There is so much I can’t describe or put into words, but I know that for the rest of my life I’m a Quaker and a Friend.”