Quaker Testimonies: Equality

What is a Testimony?

A Quaker testimony is an action arising out a belief in something. They are core values that are often used to represent Quakers as a body.

Living beliefs into Action

As we were reminded at Yearly Meeting Quakers have testimonies OF something not TO something. We believe in something and try to live in ways that show those values.
Equality came up most strongly for me during Yearly Meeting as an ongoing echo that underpinned not only the 2023 Swarthmore Lecture but through the concerns of people about power – who holds it, who has responsibility for what and how decisions are made using the Quaker Business Method.
There was a lovely comment from a Friend who explained this was their first Yearly Meeting and they hadn’t known what to expect, ‘but I fell in love with what we are doing here – that each person is listened to and treated with respect’.
That for me is the most important thing – that every person is listened to, and treated with respect. Just as I also want to be treated.

Reasonable Access

As a Quaker involved in managing old listed buildings (which are usually tricky to make accessible for everyone), I’m aware of the tension between ideals and possibilities. When the Disability Act of 2010 was coming into force, there was great relief shown that we only had to make ‘reasonable adjustments’.

My relief was then challenged when I had to tell an enquirer that they couldn’t get into this meeting house in a wheelchair and had to recommended another which was accessible. Or when a long standing Friend stopped attending when they too had mobility needs that made our old building on many levels, impossible for them to use.

In this year’s Swarthmore Lecture, Esther Loukin’s lecture was a challenge for us all to not ignore requests, to think creatively to find ways to adapt our buildings, along with a reminder that the best access is where everyone uses it out of convenience.

If you manage a building or property;

  • Have you focused on legally required ‘reasonable adjustments’?
  • Have you listened to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts?
  • Have you looked at your buildings and grounds in light of an adapted A&Q 18,

How can we make the meeting house and grounds a place in which each person is accepted and nurtured, and strangers are welcome?

Quaker Disability Equality have information and template documents to help you consider accessibility.

Picture of Wendrie Heywood

Wendrie Heywood

MBS Founder

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