Patterns and examples: more visibility and new expectations

The war gave Quakers new visibility among the churches and among social and political organisations. Many on the War and Social Order Committee felt that there was a new responsibility on Quakers to take the lead on social issues, and to show what a society without war should look like.

  • In 1919 the Committee said in its report: “If we refuse to fight, it is even more incumbent upon us than upon others to work out a form of society which will take away the occasion of all war”.
  • In 1924 the Committee reported that “kindred organisations of other churches often look to us to lead” – for example, in organising a conference on unemployment.
  • Sometimes Quaker “leadership” was about being able to offer processes of dialogue and mutual listening – as was attempted during the General Strike in 1926.
  • This work continues into the present day, where the long Quaker tradition of work on peace and social issues is felt to give that work a credibility and a long term perspective not available to everyone.
  • People we interviewed for this project pointed out that sometimes this means that Quaker voices are heard, and at other times that Quakers can offer a “neutral space” for dialogue to take place.