Know thy Friend: Adrian Glamorgan
Peter Jones, Tasmania Regional Meeting
Adrian was born in South Wales: his first years were on the Gower Peninsula, near Abertawe (Swansea). This ancient, rural and officially designated “Area of Outstanding Beauty” gave him a lifelong closeness to the wild natural world. He says he also felt the mystery of Celtic Christianity around him. A few paces away from his family’s emergency post-war accommodation (a bus with lean-to shack) nestled a neolithic “fairy mound,” and a few steps further was a ruined castle with its own fairy story. At the other end of the long beach was a church built over a 6th century monastic cell. This setting gave him an instinct for Celtic Christianity and its mystic feel, a love of nature and strong egalitarianism.
While his father was an atheist, his mother regularly read the Bible to him. His father was a strong trade unionist with a passion for justice; his mother had felt the grace of the spirit, so between the both of them, Adrian feels that his spiritual life “has been a long recurring spiral” between inner and outer work.
Moving to Australia, he grew up in the Riverina and studied law and history at the ANU in Canberra. Though not a Catholic, Adrian became involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society Social Justice group on the campus. By “chance” he met the Anglican Bishop of Carpentaria, and spent the summer of 1979 on a mission on Cape York. It was a time of structural racism, unrest, and police aggression against the traditional owners: he “learned a lot”. Disillusioned with heirarchical religion, he put his energy into trade union organising, including putting together study tours to the Philippines. The Franklin Dam campaign consolidated his commitment to nonviolent direct action. Later he worked with Phillip Toyne as a lobbyist for the Australian Conservation Foundation, and has worked in international aid and with refugees, and taught sustainability and creativity at universities.
For 15 years as a student and union organiser, Adrian had passed by the Canberra Friends’ Meeting House on his bicycle, with no idea what went on inside. He’d come across Quakers, though, reading of Friends’ assistance to Welsh valleys in the 1926 Miners’ Strike, their earlier opposition to the slave trade, and by meeting then-Senator Jo Vallentine. During an ecumenical meeting in the leadup to the 1991 Iraq War he bumped into Hector Kinloch – a well known Canberra Friend who taught him at university (and later became an MP in the new ACT House of Assembly)– and Adrian felt an inner prompting to go to his first meeting of Quakers. He felt immediately at home amongst Friends.
His involvement with the Society extended over time to include membership of the Backhouse Lecture Committee, taking part in the 1999 and 2021 QSA reviews, and the Earthcare Committee. It’s important to him that meetings welcome newcomers, and support children, as well as build community. Adrian organised three Western Australian Quaker summer schools before COVID, more recently been part of Quaker wildflower bush camps, as in- and outreach. While he lives a busy life Adrian is convinced that Faith in Action needs to be combined with quiet time for Faith itself.
His interest in international issues led him to help organise the Australian Friendship Study Tour to North Korea. Since July last year, he has served as part-time Secretary of the FWCC Asia-West Pacific region. In this role Adrian has been conscious of learning a little of one or two Asian languages, so is consolidating introductory Japanese. Key issues for him for Quakers in Asia Pacific are supporting remote Meetings, language inclusion, access to Worship and Quaker learning, and Friends’ concern for Peace and Climate Justice. He’s been impressed by the grassroots work of Friends Peace Teams in our region. Through FWCC Asia West Pacific, he seeks to promote Friends’ collaboration through peacebuilding, climate action webinars, cultural exchange, as well as connecting with Quaker agencies. In the future, he hopes to travel more in the region, especially to Friends in Central India and East Asia.
Adrian Glamorgan interviewing Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, Nagasaki. Photo by Elizabeth PO’.
Adrian supports himself by teaching Governance, Law and Ethics at a nation-wide university college. In his spare time he extends his concern for peace and the environment, with his beloved wife Elizabeth, through Mayors for Peace, community radio and nuclear abolition work. And just the other week, they became grandparents!
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