What are the roots of Quaker work for children and peace?
John Woolman on tending to the spirit of the child
"To watch the spirit of children, to nurture them in Gospel Love, and labour to help them against that
which would mar the beauty of their minds, is a debt we owe them; and a faithful performance of our
duty not only tends to their lasting benefit and our own peace, but also to render their company
agreeable to us. A care hath lived in my mind, that more time might be employed by parents at
home, and by tutors at school, in weightily attending to the spirit and inclinations of children, and
that we may so lead, instruct and govern them, in this tender part of life, that nothing may be omitted
in our power, to help them on their way to become the children of our Father who art in heaven."
- John Woolman, 1758, reprinted in Quaker Faith and Practice, 23.81, BYM, 1995
Barbara Windle on the potential in every child
"We seek to affirm in each child at school, each member of the meeting, each person we meet in
our daily lives, the person that he or she may with God's help grow to be. We are all the merest infants
in God's world, struggling to stand upright and walk unaided, trying in vain to articulate our halting
thoughts and feelings. We stumble and fall. We give way to self-pity and shame. God hauls us to our
feet again and makes sense of our childish babble, never ceasing to believe in what we may ultimately
become. Do we do the same for our children and one another? We have a responsibility to follow Pierre
Ceresole's dictum: 'Speak to every child as if you were addressing the utterly truthful upright individual
which under your guidance he may one day become'. Our Quaker witness demands of us that we
'respect children very much more than they respect themselves'."
"When we find ourselves teaching - as we all do in our relationships within meeting - can we draw
upon that respect for one another that will enable the other to feel taller and more capable? At Rufus
Jones's memorial meeting one of his students simply said 'he lit my candle'. That is a high aim for
us all to aspire to in educating ourselves and our young people."
- Barbara Windle, 1988, from Quaker Faith and Practice, 23.78, BYM, 1995
Canadian Yearly Meeting statement on creating an environment for children
"Children enrich the Meeting as well as challenging its resources. We would like to provide an interesting
and accepting environment for them and at the same time enable them to develop qualities of caring and
faith. Silence is a relative term when babies are present in Meeting for Worship. Yet excited young voices
can indicate that First Day School is going well."
- Extracts from Canadian Yearly Meeting Minutes, 1984, 52, CYM, 1994
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