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Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW)


Abstract Rooted in the Quaker tradition, the Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) is a member-supported, non-profit organization dedicated to transforming human attitudes toward the Earth through spirit-led responses to environmental problems. Drawing on the Quaker testimonies of peace, simplicity, and equality, and urging the adoption of “conscientious protection of the planet,” QEW invites both Quakers and other interested people to bear witness to the Earth and the entire community of life. Along with its bimonthly newsletter, BeFriending Creation, QEW offers a variety of educational resources linking spirituality and environmentalism, including literature, speakers, workshops, and religious education curricula for children and adults. In addition to encouraging Unity with Nature Committees at the local Meeting level, QEW sponsors a number of large projects. Through its support of La Bella Farm, a sustainable agriculture project in Costa Rica, and its Agri-Cultural Exchange Program between Costa Rican and North American farmers, QEW promotes sustainability and fair trade on an international level.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location North America
(Administrative Office: Burlington, Vermont)
Duration of Project 1987–Present
History

Although officially founded in 1987, QEW’s origins date back to 1985 when Marshall Massey, a Friend from Colorado, challenged Friends at the Pacific Yearly Meeting to address environmental concerns as part of their faith commitment to serve as witnesses for peace. When Massey spoke again at the Friends General Conference Gathering in 1987, his call for greater environmental accountability on the part of Friends was reiterated by a Quaker couple who led a workshop on human-Earth relations. In response, a special meeting was called to discuss the need to incorporate care for the Earth into Quaker belief and practice, and the decision to establish QEW was made. From the start, the intent was to awaken Friends to the connections between world peace and environmental sustainability and to accept responsibility for the protection of the planet as God’s creation. Soon after its founding, QEW began publishing its newsletter, BeFriending Creation, and in 1988 the Pacific Yearly Meeting Committee on Unity with Nature published the first issue of Earth Light, by now the leading magazine on spiritual ecology. QEW’s sustainability projects in Costa Rica, La Bella Farm and the Agri-Cultural Exchange Program, began in 1993. Until General Secretary Ruah Swennerfelt was hired at the end of 1994, the organization consisted solely of volunteers (at present there are only two paid staff members, Ruah and her husband Louis Cox, who run the administrative office of QEW out of their solar-powered house in Vermont). In 1998, QEW established a relationship with Quakers in Cuba following a sustainability conference in Havana, organized by the American Friends Service Committee and several Cuban organizations. The Ecological Public Policy Committee was formed in the late 1990s, and in 2002, four members of this Committee attended the World Summit on Sustainability in Johannesburg.Recognized as a non-governmental organization (NGO) on sustainable development, QEW has a representative at the United Nations (UN).

Mission Statement Seeking to draw attention to the spiritual dimensions of the ecological crisis, the Quaker Earthcare Witness applies Quaker testimony and practice to environmental issues. Its main goals are to affirm the unity of all Creation, to live in deep communion with all Life Spirit, to be guided by the inner Light in healing the Earth, and to serve as a forum with the Religious Society of Friends to foster spiritual unity with nature.
Partner Organizations

Friends’ Committee on National Legislation
Various other Quaker organizations
La Bella Farm
Santa Elena Coop
Monte Verde Institute
National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)
Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)
Christian Peacekeepers

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Quaker Earthcare Witness
173-B N. Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401–0308
Ph:       802.658.0308
Fax:     413.714.7011
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)