Category Archives: Members’ News

QCA is always happy to hear of members’ news and initiatives on animal issues.

AGM 2017: Notes on our members’ forum

We hope that Friends who were unable to attend the AGM on 20th of May will find the below report from Committee Member Julie Hinman of interest…

Description on QCA website:  An active group aiming to add a Quakerly voice to the animal advocacy movement, Quaker Concern for Animals witnesses to the divine in all creation and works for the protection of animals and the promotion of their rights.

The question of “What Made You Join QCA”?  introduced the discussion. It was confirmed that although people may have been interested in animal issues before joining Friends, the Quaker approach gives us a guide in how we act, being love based and grounded in practical action.

There was usual discussion as to how we could encourage more attendance at AGM. With 150 members, where are all these Quaker animal advocates and what are they doing? Suggestions were made about introducing more variety, alternate AGM and gathering meetings, different location eg  Birmingham or at Vegan Fair or other similar venues which may provide added interest.

QCA covers a wide geographical area and one can sometimes feel isolated in a world where others do not have the same awareness about animal exploitation etc. Meeting up can bring connection and mutual support within the context of Quaker values.

Members are doing so much for animals in various ways. Although some feel they don’t want to brag about it, sharing information about what we are doing, encourages each other and also demonstrates to the Friends organisation what we can all do for animals, however little, in our daily lives. Members were invited to send in items for the newsletter.

It was stated that we ourselves can be an active testimony to compassion for animals solely in the way we lead our lives.

Specific Suggestions

  1. One member sent an email  suggesting:

a). Comments be sent to the Book of Discipline Revision Preparation Group concerning the addition of more quotes on animal issues in Faith and Practice  (if members wish to do this, there is a survey on the Reading Faith and Practice section on Friends website.)

  1. Challenge meetings by mention of animals in MfW and Afterwards.

It was offered that we all as QCA members need to produce more material to make a wider pool for inclusion in Faith and Practice  Whether there be a separate animals section or not, was also discussed.

  1. Could we add reference to animal concerns to be added on the yellow card   “What Do Quakers Say”?

The discussion could have gone on, but by the end, there was a feeling from some people that more cohesiveness in QCA would facilitate a voice for animals within Society of Friends. However, QCA can work for everyone in whatever way they wish.  It may be that some members prefer not to engage with QCA as such, but to continue their good work for animals as individuals, and give support with subscriptions.

Let us offer prayers and thanks to each other in the work each of us does for animals, in whatever way is appropriate to our situation.

Julie Hinman

AGM 2017: A Reflection

It was my first actual Quaker Concern for Animals Annual General Meeting.  Although being a member of QCA for (probably) 5 years I have never made the journey from darkest Wales to the metropolis for the AGM at Friends House.  But I made it this year, mainly because I had another meeting in Milton Keynes which got me well into England, expenses paid, with only a short and therefore cheaper train journey to London.   It was worth the trip.  It was lovely to meet the other QCAers: likeminded people who appreciate the spiritual connection with the natural world and other species. Friends who believe there is that of god in every living creature.  Likeminded in their shared concern for all species but, like any other Quaker gathering, diverse in so many other aspects including the theist/non-theist dichotomy.  It was good for me to be able to put faces and voices to email addresses.  The only Friend I had met previously was Thom Bonneville, the clerk.

The room we were allocated in Friends House smelt vaguely of new paint and gave a generally business-like impression.  Rigidly set out chairs and a large central table placed us in board room formation.  Nevertheless, the meeting, conducted in the Quaker business manner, managed to be both friendly and interesting.  Hopes that, following registration at Sufferings and a flurry of letters in The Friend would increase attendance numbers, were dashed and much of the meeting was focused on why this was and how we could encourage Friends to attend.  If, as Thom confirmed, our main objective is to bring more Friends to awareness of the importance of the lives we humans share the planet with, then we have a long way to go.

The meeting was planned in an interesting way with the usual reporting of events, appointments, budgets and financial matters and decisions, the previous year’s activities and minutes; then there was an open forum where free discussion took place.  I liked the informality of this and it took the edge off the corporate atmosphere of the room. How we might increase attendance was the main topic of this part of the meeting with veganism as the second major topic.  It kept coming up in the discussion, which makes sense, of course, because it is hard to say we love animals and yet cause them pain and suffering because of our eating habits.  And habit is all it often is.  However, the meeting recognised that we are all at different stages of the journey.   I am well enough aware that I have been stuck at a rather comfortable vegetarian, pre-vegan stage for more than a year now, reluctant to give up one of my comfort foods: cheese.  It reflects the truism that, as we develop a vegan consciousness we each of us have to take those steps for ourselves and make the necessary shopping and cooking changes.  In the afternoon there was a speaker from The Mayhew Animal Home in London, which was quite uplifting.

I came away from the meeting wondering if veganism is just a step too far for many Friends unable to break that habit of a lifetime and make the change that would save an animal from suffering, benefit their own health and sustain the planet by undermining the need for so many undesirable farming practices.  They may be animal lovers with caring connections to their own companion animals, they may pay their subscriptions because they generally approve of the aims of QCA but they can’t stand the discomfort of the guilty knowledge that a non-vegan diet encourages so enabling cruelty and suffering.  We, those of us who have not taken that step, may simply be avoiding the company of Friends who have and who might, most painfully, point out to us our hypocrisy.  Take it from me, it is uncomfortable, but I am a Quaker and have been challenged before and probably will be again.

In case you are wondering, Friends, I arrived home tired and grumpy after the long 5 hour journey to an ecstatic greeting from Cat, opened the fridge and shared some of the cheese with Cat.  So, not at the vegan stage yet but determined not to let my guilt prevent me from doing what I can to help QCA achieve its aims.

 

Liz McDermott

Lampeter Quaker Meeting