In the past few months we have been delighted to receive so many contributions from Friends, sharing a great range of concerns and insights. We begin this issue with articles on Religious Freedom because this has been so much in the news. While recognising that in Australia people are free to worship according to the tradition of their choice, many religious groups feel that they are losing status and influence in the community. Changes in the law such as marriage equality and decriminalising of euthanasia alarm some of them. During the Religious Freedom debate the churches sometimes seem to be dealing with important matters like the freedom to follow one’s conscience – as with the Quaker concern for conscientious objection to war, or the right of Catholic doctors to refuse to carry out abortions. Sometimes they seem to be seeking to keep their institutions outside mainstream law, for example by discriminatory hiring practices. These issues are explored in our leading articles.
The issue of living sustainably is also concerning many Quakers, and we hear how one Quaker is trying to cut her carbon footprint, and how Quaker Service Australia implements the principle of sustainability into its projects. The traditional concern of Peace still flourishes amongst us, and does a concern for the refugees created by war and environmental destruction. And as always, we offer the opportunity to read about the spiritual journeys of Friends. Our paths are so different, yet our concerns and deepest needs are the same.
This brings us to our crucial need to turn to the Inner Light for guidance and refreshment. How are we to minster to each other in Meeting for Worship? How do we distinguish true ministry from a mere exchange of ideas? This issue has one article about ministry. Do Friends have similar or different experiences or understandings? We would like to hear.