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David Johnson at PYM

Sandy Kewman
On Control (July 2019)

Dear Friends Everywhere:

Pacific Yearly Meeting 2019 Annual Session attendees have the opportunity to hear David Johnson, our keynoter, speak on Saturday, July 13, at 11:15 AM.  David Johnson is a seasoned Friend, an activist, and a pragmatic man who is being worked by the Divine. He lives in North Queensland, Australia, with his wife Trish, who will also be at Annual Session.

David grew up in Australia.  As a young person, he loved rocks and fossils and worked most of his life as a geologist in industry and in academia at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He wrote The Geology of Australia, which is now co-authored in its third edition. He left the university in 1998 to concentrate on the work of peacemaking. 

David has a long history of peace and justice activism.  In 1991, motivated by the first Gulf war, David – with his wife Trish and several friends – started the Australian Campaign Against Arms Trade (ACAAT).  He worked extensively with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and with other weapons issues.  Growing up in a culture of patriarchy and colonialism, David has come to understand the damage of bias and white privilege.  For many years he has been walking with Australia’s First Peoples and learning from them. When David travels, he makes it his practice to visit with the descendants of the indigenous peoples and respectfully requests the opportunity to be present on the land of their ancestors.

In 2005, David was invited to give the James Backhouse Lecture, a public talk on contemporary issues, delivered at the annual gathering of Quakers in Australia.  The title of this lecture was “Peace is a Struggle.” [Search for the talk  in Western Friend’s online library.] David spoke about peace in our world, as well as within each one of us, and he described how the outer search for peace and the inner search for peace fit together.  He offered practices to experience this truth.

In 2008, David was one of the founders of the Silver Wattle Quaker Centre in Australia.  This spiritual and practical venture arose from a concern that the modern Quaker faith is more fragile than many might believe, and not sufficiently grounded for us to carry the witness that will be called from us over the next decades.

More recently, David has been called to serve the Quaker community through writing and speaking.  He is the author of A Quaker Prayer Life (2013), and Jesus, Christ, Servant of God:  Meditations on the Gospel According to John (2017), boh from Inner Light Books.  In May, he led a retreat on John’s Gospel at Pendle Hill.

As our keynote speaker this year at Annual Session at Walker Creek Ranch, David will be speaking on the workings of the Light of Christ within each of us.  Drawing on the spiritual perceptiveness of the first Quakers, he will ask us to encounter the spirituality under their seventeenth-century language. He is an example of a Quaker activist who finds his spiritual sustenance in private prayer and worshipping in community.  It will be a gift to welcome him to our gathering.

– Sandy Kewman, Presiding Clerk, PYM

David Johnson Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Session

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