Report from Medi James, Aberystwyth Meeting

We’re still meeting via zoom, the technology which has transformed our mode of working and our keeping in touch with each other. Twenty-eight Friends attended for most of the day until 3 o’clock. The breaks for a cuppa were welcomed as there was so much to read and digest during the morning session. The important point to remember is that the papers should be read beforehand. Having said that I don’t enjoy any reading from a screen, however it must be done rather than print numerous pages. Persevere I must.

In the usual manner we accepted and noted the various reports. One which excites me is the possible development of Cardiff Meeting House. We accepted the thorough work done on our annual budget and the new communications strategy produced by Gyda’n Gilydd. We are all asked to respond to these fresh ideas.

Whilst reading and considering these various papers, as with all similar groups, there are serious and intense matters that need expressing in order to formulate an opinion. I find this more difficult during a zoom meeting. Facial contact alone is one thing but understanding the depth of feeling from a distance is something else. I look forward to the day when we meet in person in order to get to ‘know’ each other better. I don’t expect it to be for every meeting, but personal contact and being together is so important for us to move forward collectively. Gyda’n Gilydd – Together was a permanent theme running through the day and possibly combining this to our current Moving Forward should urge us to Move Forward Together.

It was noted with disappointment that no one from the Marches was present. We heard that 66% of Friends in Wales hold roles within Quakers in Wales and so our move for simplification is very much needed. It seems that indifference brought on by tiredness is within even Quakers in Wales. I welcome and am grateful that we in Wales, under the broad guidance of Symud Ymlaen / Moving Forward are bravely facing this challenge. We will have to express a ‘Yes’ or ‘No thanks’ in January 2023 if we are to enter into the legal procedures necessary.

Of course, being freed from any voluteering role within Quakers in Wales doesn’t mean that we doff all responsibility. We were all asked to consider our skills and areas of interest and contribute to a data base of skills.

In the afternoon we had a very interesting overview and discussion lead by Ameerah Mai who is the Co-ordinator of Academi Heddwch Cymru working from the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. The Academy Heddwch Cymru is Wales’ first peace institute, funded by the Welsh Government and chaired by Dr. Rowan Williams. Its aim is to extend Wales’ strong tradition of peace-making and peace-promotion. Ameerah certainly explained to us their wide sphere of work and her hopes for future developments.

The Academi aims to see peace reflected in relevant Welsh Government policies and strategies,

both nationally and internationally as well as helping to form a Cross-Party Group on Peace and Reconciliation.

We were asked to define peace and how to translate this definition into the everyday. The Academi have even met with Football Association Wales to voice concerns around the Qatar World Cup and their human rights statement.

On the horizon hopefully is hosting an open forum with the peace movement annually in addition to preparing to celebrate the centenary of the Women’s Peace Petition of 1923-24.

Ameerah asked us as Quakers in Wales how would we like to be involved and any suggestions of subjects that we think need to be focused on. They are always open to new ideas and collaboration with others. One main focus hopes to be Peace Education especially within Higher Education.

So today’s call for us. If we can move forward finding a way of lessening the administrative burden on 66% of our members we can ‘go for it’ remembering our “responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs. Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.” (Advices & Queries 34)