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Quakers for Britain
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Quakers for Britain
World News

Quakers in Britain to stop using 'overseer' as a title due to racist connotations

by Kelly Valencia

Quakers in Britain will stop using the term 'overseer' because of its connotations of oppression and slavery. 

The term has been used since 1753 to represent Quakers who provide pastoral oversight, support and care.

But during a recent meeting, leaders decided to change the term to 'pastoral friend' instead as part of the Quaker's commitment to make "practical reparations" for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and economic exploitation.

Quakers are also receiving equity, diversity and inclusion training to understand how values feed into behaviour and creating spaces to learn.

Deputy recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, Siobhán Haire, said: "There is no external scale of anti-racism which we can measure ourselves against, no impact dashboard for the personal and corporate epiphanies which are required of us if we are truly to embody anti-racism and know ourselves to be anti-racist. 

"We'll have moments of clarity and progress, where a new insight is given to us, but we'll have many more moments of trying our best and feeling unsure about whether it's contributing to progress."

The word overseer is a literal translation of the Greek Episkopos (usually translated by the established church as 'bishop') used in the bible.

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood," reads Acts 20:23.

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