Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Committee on Unity with Nature


Welcome to our web site, wherein you will find a selection of statements on the concept of "Unity with Nature" and our efforts to re-order our lives toward a more harmonious and Spirit-filled relationship to Creation.

One purpose for posting this literature is to enable us to read, comment and add to what has been written on the subject, so that we can come to unity on this "emerging testimony." This is the category under which "Unity with Nature" is found in the latest revision of the book of Faith and Practice of Pacific Yearly Meeting. Will it have fully "emerged" by the time of the next revision 10 or 15 years from now?

"What do Quakers mean by a 'testimony'?" you may well ask. A testimony, most Quakers will agree, is one of the essential principles by which we guide the living of our lives. Each Yearly Meeting examines itself every few decades and decides anew what these principles are ... but by and large, they are the same ones Quakers have tried to live by for 350 or so years:

From these principles we derive "Advices" - time-tested suggestions for our conduct as individuals and as worshipful communities, and "Queries" - questions to ask ourselves (again, many are the same that Quakers asked in the 1600s: "Do we live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion for all war?"). Queries are not the same as a catechism; there are no "right" answers. The goal is to remember to ask yourself the question, and the asking will lead you in the direction of the answer.

Given the short list of testimonies, the addition of a new one is not undertaken lightly. Is "Unity with Nature" truly (or at least ideally) a principle we believe in with the intensity that we hold the peace testimony? Would we lay down our lives for it? Or is it a variant on the testimony of simplicity, in conjunction with advices on stewardship, and therefore not so new as we think? The 1985 Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice queries on stewardship include: "How do we cherish and protect the natural world, of which all people are a living part?" Is this what we mean by being in "Unity with Nature?"

To help us reach unity on the subject of Unity with Nature, we offer writings by Quakers past and present, from within Pacific Yearly Meeting and elsewhere. The first group comprises material written or compiled by PYM-CUN itself, the second and third statements and quotations by individuals, and the fourth letters and minutes from meetings and other Quaker bodies (including Friends Committee on Unity with Nature, FCUN, which spans the North American continent). The latter, being collective works, will have been seasoned and revised until they convey the "sense of the Meeting" of the publishing organization.

Another purpose is to inform each other about ideas and actions that come about because of our sense that unity only within the human species (assuming that is attainable) is still insufficient. There are two new sections to this web site: one on current and prospective service projects undertaken by Young Friends (college age or recent graduates) with the sponsorship of PYM-CUN, and another on assessment of sustainability of Quaker meetings and their members. You may be able to help these new initiatives.

After the directory is a text window in which you may suggest other writings to be posted or write comments on any of the postings. Or copy them (see the notice at the bottom of this page) and make changes before e-mailing them back to [email protected]. Below the text window are suggested readings and links to other web sites for more information about the beliefs and habits of the peculiar people known as Quakers.

-Eric E. Sabelman, Clerk of Pacific Yearly Meeting Committee on Unity with Nature

Contents (click on the highlighted text)

Actions originating within PYM-CUN

Service projects and internships for Young Friends. . . . NEW

Sustainability assessments for Monthly Meetings and individuals . . . . NEW

Notes from PYM-CUN committee meetings . . . . NEW

Reports on PYM-CUN electronic communications & publications. . . . NEW

Literature from PYM-CUN

A report from 2000 Yearly Meeting, including a vision statement about PYM-CUN and its purpose.

"Beyond Stewardship," a 1999 collection describing PYM-CUN's work in nature education and experience, our association with EarthLight Magazine, advices and queries (including some from a Minute approved by Netherlands Yearly Meeting in 1998):, some individual PYM Friends' testimonies, and excerpts from a Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Environmental Working Group letter to FNCL and New England Yearly Meeting Friends in Unity with Nature's letter to Monthly Meetings.

"If we believe that there is that of God in all living things ..." known as the "next step" letter, the 2nd of two letters to PYM Monthly Meetings (2000), preceeded by the "Light within" letter (1997).

Testimony on the Sacredness of Creation - a draft testimony and advices composed in 1993.

The PYM-CUN founding minute, from 1985 Yearly Meeting following an address by Marshall Massey.

Personal statements

Quaker visions of Creation Restored - a selection from Quaker writers from George Fox to the present.

God immanent in all things - two Friends write on the continuity of life and the soul's inward journey.

Notes by Marshall Massey on the origin of PYM-CUN and religious antecedents of our concern for Creation.

Expanded Quaker worship - an idea and practice for inviting non-human creatures into the circle.

How not to serve Earth and Spirit - an advice to avoid excess in the pursuit of environmental justice.

Personal testimonies - what we as individuals believe and act upon .

An e-mail conversation among 4 Friends about what a testimony is and should be

Poems and almost-poems, on knowing trees and other things

A story that will seem familiar

Selections from Harvey House's New Bible (Harvey was a practical visionary in Orange Grove Meeting)

Short statements by individuals in group settings, often "Quaker dialog"

Quotations from 1997 Yearly Meeting plenary presentation (including the words of non-Quaker Albert Einstein)

Young Friends voices at a 1998 Junior Yearly Meeting interest group.

Humboldt Meeting's "Quaker dialog", responding to the "Light within" letter

Santa Barbara Meeting's "Seekers' group", responding to the "Light within" letter

San Diego & Los Osos "Quaker dialogs", responding to the "Light within" letter

Inland Valley Meeting's "Quaker dialog", responding to the "Light within" letter

Collective statements

New Zealand Yearly Meeting's minuted testimony (2000).

Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting's letter on Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) policy (2000).

Minute on the Care of God's Creation approved by Friends United Meeting Triennial (1999).

Sustainable development as a Quaker Testimony? A Challenge to Friends. (FWCC 19th Triennial Meeting, 1998)

Ecological Sustainability as a Witness - Friends Committee on Unity with Nature (1998).

University Monthly Meeting's Minute on Relationship with Creation (1997).

Grass Valley Monthly Meeting's minutes, on on the "Light within" and stewardship (1998).

Use this window for your comments:

Reading List


  • The Religious Society of Friends - links to all things Quaker, plus some who just borrowed the name
  • Pacific Yearly Meeting - unprogrammed, unaffiliated Meetings in California, Nevada, Hawaii and Central America
  • Friends Bulletin - writings by and about Friends in Pacific, North Pacific and Intermountain Yearly Meetings
  • Quaker links and events(Paul Samuel's list) ... updated
  • EarthLight Magazine - an ecumenical quarterly founded by PYM-CUN
  • Friends Committee on Unity with Nature (covers North and Central America)
  • Friends Energy Project - information and discussion on sustainable power policy, originating in PYM
  • New England Friends in Unity with Nature - See "Walking Gently into the 21st Century", a sourcebook on sustainability
  • For spirit-led environmentalism in other faiths, see The National Religious Partnership for the Environment - "We seek to weave the mission of care for God's creation across all areas of organized religion..."

    Individual authors, other than anonymous, have given permission for their material to be posted. Minutes and letters are presumed to have been addressed "to Friends everywhere." Permission is granted for reproduction for noncommerical purposes, with the request that the source be attributed and a copy be forwarded to [email protected]. Please notify the same address of errors in content or problems with the web site.

    -Eric E. Sabelman

    Updated 4/26/2002.

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