First National Quaker Week

 The First National Quaker Week starts this Saturday. Quakers are planning a huge range of events around the country to inform people about their faith. "Quakers sing a different song," read the posters designed for the Week. Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed has added an inspirational dimension to the Week. People who think carefully about the Quaker way of life can win a T-shirt printed with a design he has created exclusively for the Week, which runs from 22-30 September. Martin Creed says the Quaker way of life has influenced his work. Raised in a Quaker family, he said: "It's something to do with the way that everything is important and meaningful. Silence is not empty room is not empty." His graphic drawing for the T-shirt has simple diagonal lines, neither horizontal nor vertical, more or less half dark and half light. The competition to win the T-shirts can be found on the Quaker website listed at the end of this story. Entrants are asked to sum up the essence of the Quaker faith in ten words or less. Anyone who visits the site can download the design and print their own T-shirt. On the site, readers can follow the diaries of three Quakers during the Week, download wallpapers for their computers, ask questions about the Quaker way and find a local meeting. Tom Harris, Outreach Officer points out that the real gift of Quaker Week is not material or digital. Instead it is the opportunity to discover more about the Quaker way, which offers: *A space of stillness within busy lives *Opportunities to reflect on and discuss the larger issues of life *Action for world peace and social justice *A sense of fulfillment and inner peace *All of this in a welcoming inclusive environment Tom Harris said: "National Quaker Week is a great opportunity to share that the Quaker way of life is simple, contemporary and radical. Quakers worship in stillness, seek out the light of God within us all and work for peace, social justice and the environment." To back up local initiatives there is a national and regional advertising campaign, the microsite and a toolkit of colourful posters, stickers, badges and leaflets. Around the country Quakers are rising to the challenge of sharing their faith. Many local meetings are responding imaginatively: there's some creative advertising on London Underground, a human library, a vigil in Manchester entitled: "Let's cut the carbon for peace", cycling pilgrimage, teddy bears' picnic, poetry evening, market stalls and many Quaker Quest meetings to help newcomers explore the Quaker way and to share Quaker stillness. Visitors to Preston Local Meeting's open day from 10.30am to 4pm on Sunday 23 September can listen to Carol Wise from Ilkley QM speaking about the Ecumenical Accompaniers Programme in Palestine and Israel, which seeks to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the Occupation. In Bradford on Avon there will be an exhibition about the Quaker Tapestry in the town library from 24 to 28 September, an open day at the meeting house from 10am - 3pm on Saturday 29 September, with a ceilidh in St Margaret's Hall the same evening. Glasgow are starting early with an open day from 10am - 4pm on Saturday 15 September. The Glasgow Library scheme is spreading the word that there's a 'human library' at the meeting house on Saturday 22 September when visitors can "borrow a Quaker" for 40 minutes for a chat and cup of coffee. Maidstone Meeting on Saturday 15 September will focus on prison work when Quaker prison minister Jill Inskip and Maidstone and Weald MP Ann Widdecombe will both speak at an open day at the Meeting House, 170 Union Street, Maidstone from 1pm - 4pm. Quakers in Yorkshire are planning a cycling pilgrimage, which will visit all meeting houses in the area. For more information see:

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