Quaker insights in the context of ecological crisis

Testimony: doing the truth

11/03/2020, 10:30 am - 11:30 am

at Bournville Quaker Meeting House, Bournville Birmingham

A study group held at Bournville Friends Meeting House on the second Wednesday morning of each month from 10.30 – 11.30 from October 2019 to June 2020. This month’s topic: Testimony: doing the truth

The meetings will begin with around 20 minutes of Quaker worship, and then a further 40 minutes exploring how the ecological insight for the day can help us in our daily lives.

Tea and coffee from 10.15 and again afterwards.

Based on a nine-part framework devised by Stuart Masters, Senior Programme Leader for on-site learning at Woodbrooke.

All the sessions can be downloaded here.

This month – Testimony: doing the truth

The choice of the word ‘testimony’ is instructive. The testimonies are ways of behaving but are not ethical rules. They are matters of practice but imply doctrines. They refer to human society but are about God. Though often talked about they lack an authoritative formulation…  (QF&P 20.18)

Quaker testimony is a matter of ‘doing the truth’ as we have experienced it while attending to our Inward Teacher. Testimony is a fruit of the Spirit, and the way we feel compelled to act in response to the revelations or ‘openings’ we have received. It involves a commitment to consistency, so that our words and actions are bound seamlessly together. In her book Testimony: Quakerism and Theological Ethics, Rachel Muers characterises Quaker testimony in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Interruption and Refusal – Testimony is an act of interruption and refusal. It is a double-negative because it acts as a denial of a lie.
  • Holy experiments – Testimony is also positive, because in denying a lie, it also opens up space for new positive forms of practice or ‘holy experiments’.
  • Communicates and Provokes – Testimony pursues change by persuasion rather than coercion. Testimony communicates something and seeks to provoke a response in others.
  • Risky and Uncertain – Testimony is concerned with faithfulness more than effectiveness. It is inherently risky because its impact is uncertain and may well be unsuccessful and misunderstood.

Ecological Reflection

From an ecological perspective, there are many lies that need to be denied. For example, the idea that humans can own the rest of the creation, the idea that we are somehow separate from it and in control of it and the idea that there should be no limits to our wants and desires. We need to seek the guidance of our Inward Teacher to discern how the Spirit is calling us to respond to these lies. What kinds of ‘holy experiments’ are emerging that might communicate a new and healing relationship with the rest of creation, and provoke others to respond too?


What concerns is the Spirit prompting in you at this time? How might you seek to disengage from unhealthy and destructive ways of living and join with others in exploring ‘holy experiments’ that communicate new possibilities to those around you?

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Bournville Quaker Meeting House
65 Linden Rd
Bournville Birmingham
B30 1JT