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November 2020

This is the last edition of the newsletter for this momentous year.  It's the first edition to use the new name, following the decision to change the name of Canberra Regional Meeting to Canberra & Region Quakers, reflecting more accurately the extent of the Meeting.
Some good things have emerged through the COVID19 pandemic, some of which are covered here.  We have also become aware of the many blessings that we enjoy, just through being lucky enough to live in Australia.  
Canberra is on Ngunnawal Ngambri lands, and we pay our respects to the elders, past, present and emerging.

Our Friend Malcolm Whyte celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday 26 October! 
On 1 November a large online celebration was convened by Malcolm's family and friends, which well over 100 people attended.  The Australian Chamber Orchestra played Happy Birthday from the Sydney Recital Hall!    Malcolm received congratulations from Her Majesty the Queen, The Governor-General David Hurley, and Linda Hurley, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Andrew Barr, Chief Minister of the ACT,  the Hon Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and several others.  Prof Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of the ANU, also spoke to Malcolm's many and diverse achievements in a long and "astonishing" life, a "bridge from the past to the future.".  Malcolm won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1947, and the qualities required describe our friend Malcolm:  truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship, moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.  Malcolm quoted Epicurus:  It should not be the young man who is considered fortunate but the old man who has lived well, because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbour, having safeguarded his true happiness.  If Friends would like to see the two hour celebration, contact Malcolm for the link.  A short biography of Malcolm's life so far is here.
You are invited to a Canberra and region Quaker Community (re)gathering at the Canberra Meeting House on Saturday 28 November 1.30-5.30pm
In addition to reconnecting Friends, we are looking for ways to strengthen our community during COVID. Amongst other things, we will reflect on What has been hard for me this year, and What has energised and/or surprised me during this time of COVID?
We are keen for Friends from around the region to come to Canberra. If you want a Canberra Quaker/attender to stay with, or if you can billet an out-of-town Quaker/attender on Friday and/or Saturday evening, please contact Ronis Chapman soon on /0402 745 548. We have several offers of beds available already (as of 9/11).
Due to COVID restrictions, unfortunately participation is limited to 25, and we’re wanting to give priority to people from out of Canberra and those new to our Quaker community.  However, we have plenty of spaces left (as of 9th November). So if you are interested in joining this ‘regathering’ please let us know as soon as possible.
CONTACT Jonathan Benyei         0412 624 774
or Christine Larkin               0431 830 457
To keep everybody safe and compliant with good practice, we are appointing two ‘COVID Carers’, and up to date information will be given to attenders before the event.  We ask you to attend from the beginning  (1.30 pm) to assist the sense of community for the day.
The First Nations People Concerns Committee of Quakers Australia and the Committee of Racial Equality (ACT) invited Friends to an on-line forum on Australia's Indigenous Heritage at 8pm AEST on Thursday 15 October and 66 people attended from around Australia.
There have been ongoing examples of Indigenous heritage sites being damaged or disturbed by development, urbanisation and adverse use of land. This has occurred sometimes as a result of deliberate government policies, sometimes by insensitive and ignorant intrusion by corporations and councils, and sometimes by accident. There is a strong sense of exploitation and despair among First People for the loss of significant sites and disruption of cultural practices.
This Forum arises from the view that Indigenous heritage is a vital part of Australia's heritage and needs to be valued more fully. Policies need to reflect this respect for what Indigenous people have given to our shared heritage.  A report on the forum by Margaret Clark and David Purnell is here.
Friends were invited to contribute their personal experiences of this time, and to address these questions:
  1. What has surprised and energised Friends in this time?
  1. What has been lost that Friends would want to regain?
  2. What have we learnt from this experience generally and specifically in how we worship, how we do business, how we meet and act together, how we care for each other, how we learn from each other and how we welcome newcomers? What financial implications may result for Regional Meetings and Yearly Meeting?
  3. What does this mean for how to go forward? i.e. What do we want to recover of what we ‘used’ to do? What new ways do we want to make sure we include?
CRM Co-Clerk Lorraine Thomson shares her thoughts here.
Ronis Chapman has been learning to garden in a small space, and shares her COVID insights here.
Strong support for Bernard Collaery and Witness K
The rally to support Bernard Collaery and Witness K on Monday 9th November at 12.30pm at the ACT Courts drew a crowd of vocal supporters of approximately 180. The prosecutions arose as a result of the Government's actions of bugging the Timor-Leste government offices during Timor Sea oil and gas negotiations. Speakers included the organizer Kathryn Kelly, Janet Hunt, Jack Waterford, and Mark Kenny.
All speakers criticized the secrecy of the proceedings and lack of accountability of those responsible for the bugging, and called for the Attorney-General Christian Porter to drop the prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K immediately.             
The campaign is supported by Justly, and more information can be obtained here

Photos:  Susan Rockliff
Thirty people from Britain and Australia gathered online for Meetiing for Worship, followed by four brief responses to the question, "What does it mean to be a Quaker today?" and discussion.   Peter HIllery is the Co-Clerk of the Friends Online Recognized Meeting, and his report on the gathering is here.
Australia Yearly Meeting
AYM Earthcare Committee meets regularly to listen and respond to our local natural world, as well as tending to national considerations. We are aware that so many are doing so much to learn and teach about the earth's troubles, that everyone is responding with care for our earth's concerns, and we seek ways to bring about healing, and support earthcare initiatives.  The Earthcare Committee issued the recent invitation in October 2020.  Read it here.

AYM Peace and Legislation Committee has published a new Watching Brief 20-21:  Slipping through our fingers - peace through diplomacy
"This Brief looks at the origins of Quaker diplomacy and peacemaking, the current trends in global diplomacy, and the prospects of its re-emergence as a major means for achieving peace."  Read it here.
Doug Everingham Annual Lecture
24 October 2020
Presented by Kevin Rudd AC
One of the benefits of COVID19 is access to online webinars and workshops, most of which are free.  Kevin Rudd gave the Doug Everingham Annual Lecture on Saturday 24 October, to help celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, and the UNAA Queensland chapter hosted this online event.  Read a report here
Treaty to ban nuclear weapons made official with 50th signatory
It was announced in late October that Honduras had become the 50th country to sign up to the United Nations Treaty, which will come into force in February 2021.  The major nuclear powers have not yet joined, however the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes this milestone as "a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations."  Read the story in The Guardian here.
A Friends Friday Online CRM's Climate Emergency and Species Extinction Proposal
30 October 2020
At the September Meeting for Worship for Business the Co-Clerks were asked to arrange a meeting to discuss the proposal developed by a group of Canberra Friends, Margaret Clark, David Shorthouse and Kay de Vogel, as requested by YM 2020, for a two-year AYM Working Group on Climate Emergency and Species Extinction.
Eighteen Friends attended the meeting, the purpose of which was to help CRM Friends to ascertain our response to the proposal in more detail.  All regional meetings have been advised of the proposal, and individuals are encouraged to put themselves forward for the Working Group which will be sharply focused for two years.    Bob Douglas spoke about the Commission for the Human Future.  The next five years are crucial to the future of humanity.  Bob asked, "How widely do we realize that we are playing with extinction?  Andrew Glikson commented that humans put themselves at the centre, and are overlooking animals.  David Shorthouse asked where a small organisation like Friends could have an influence in the political and economic system?  David says that Quakers could be supportive of a proposal that the International Criminal Court creates a fifth war crime: ecocide.  Alvina Hill reminded Friends of the need to reach out to young people who are working for the environment, and will be faced with the consequences of a catastrophe.  Margaret Clark stated that a specifically Quaker group would carry the weight of Australian Friends, and be a link to the Quaker United Nations Office, Friends World Committee for Consultation, the American Friends World Service Committee, and other groups.  Ronis Chapman spoke about the FWCC World Office, which has a dedicated worker on sustainability and climate issues, funded by Britain Yearly Meeting.  The inspiring YouTube video of the FWCC online gathering, with presentations by QUNO Geneva Director Jonathan Woolley and Lyndsey Fielder-Cook QUNO Representative for Climate Change is here.  The November Meeting for Worship for Business endorsed the proposal, which will go forward to Standing Committee in December.
Respect, inclusion and welcome are more important to us than labels, so if you would like to worship with us, we’d love to spend the time with you.
For more information, click on here.
Friends World Committee for Consultation
is hosting an online discussion on Saturday 28 November at 6.00 pm AEST.  
Quaker Conversation 6: What is mine to do? Quaker journeys in AWPS (the Asia West Pacific Section). The speakers will be Jo Vallentine of Australia Yearly Meeting and Gerry Yokota of Japan Yearly Meeting.  Read more about this, and register here.
While you contemplate what may be yours to do, read Thomas Kelly from his book Testament of Devotion here.
Telopea speciosissima x oreades, White Waratah   Photo:  Susan Rockliff
Copyright © 2020 Canberra RM, All rights reserved.

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