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Backhouse Lectures

(Image from QuakerSpeak: Jon Watts, 2023 Backhouse Lecturer)

The Backhouse Lectures are public lectures on contemporary issues delivered annually at the national gathering of Quakers in Australia. See HERE for further information.
They were initiated by Australia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) on its establishment in 1964. Friends from both Australia and overseas have presented lectures. 

  • Print copies of the Lectures from 2008-2022 (excluding the 2017 and 2021 Lectures) can be purchased at Quaker Publications.
  • Most can be downloaded in pdf format (excluding the current year's lecture and the 2017 Lecture). 
  • You can view the 2016-2023 Backhouse Lectures on the Quakers Australia YouTube channel here.
  • Several of Backhouse Lectures can now be ordered in Large Print format through a company called Read How You Want. Just enter the title of the lecture or the author, and begin your search.

2023 Lecture -  Backhouse Lecture 2023, presented by Jon Watts, looks at how Early Quakers embraced the printing press as a means of extending their vocal ministry, similar to how modern Quakers use digital media to share their messages, providing opportunities for encounters across theological and cultural divides. Video available here.

2022 Lecture -  Creating hope: Working for justice in catastrophic times, presented by Yarrow Goodley, looks at the critical issue of climate justice, and at how our responses to the climate emergency have the potential for great suffering, as well as great redemption. Video available here.

2021 Lecture - The 2021 Australian Backhouse Panel Discussion: Searching for Truth: Friends in a 'post-truth' - world.

  • the video recording of the presentation can be found here
  • a transcription (in PDF) of the presentation can be found here 
  • a study resource entitled "Going Deeper", developed by Pamela Leach of Tasmania Regional Meeting (who was one of the Backhouse 2021 presenters) can be found here. 

The Backhouse Panel Discussion was held on 5 July 2021 at the annual gathering of Australian Quakers, which was held online 3-9 July 2021. In response to the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, the format of the Backhouse Lecture for 2021 was given by a panel rather than by a single Lecturer, and delivered via Zoom. The panellists were: Dorothy Broom, Gerry Fahey, Duncan Frewin and Pamela Leach. The moderator was Jennifer Burrell.

2020 Lecture - Seeking Union with Spirit: Experiences of Spiritual Journeys, was presented by Fiona Gardner via Zoom. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our Yearly Meeting plans were altered, so Yearly Meeting 2020 was a virtual event, held via Zoom and other technology. Video available here.

2019 Lecture - Animating Freedom: Accompanying Indigenous struggles for self-determination - by Jason MacLeod. Jason shared what he has learnt about accompanying West Papuans – and to a lesser extent Aboriginal people, Bougainvillians and East Timorese – in their struggle for self-determination. Video available here.

2018 Lecture An Encounter between Quaker Mysticism and Taoism in Everyday Life - by Cho-Nyon Kim. Cho-Nyon Kim explored his spiritual journey in the Korean religious environment, in which Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity have all influenced cultural practice and been integrated into daily life. A transcription (in PDF) of the video can be found here and can be opened and read whilst listening to the video version (found here).

2017 Lecture - Reflections on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in the context of two Aboriginal life stories - with David Carline, supported by Cheryl Buchanan (Please note that there was no printed version of the 2017 Lecture, rather an extended report was written by the Backhouse Lecture committee.) Video available here.

2016 Lecture - Everyday Prophets - by Margery Post Abbott - Video available here

2015 Lecture - This We Can Do: Quaker faith in action through the Alternatives to Violence Project - by Sally Herzfeld and Alternatives to Violence Project Members

2014 Lecture - Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; Bringing children into the centre of Quaker life and worship - by Tracy Bourne

2013 Lecture  - A Quaker astronomer reflects: Can a scientist also be religious - by Jocelyn Bell Burnell

2012 Lecture  - From the inside out: Observations on Quaker work at the United Nations - by David Atwood 

2011 Lecture  - A demanding and uncertain adventure: Exploration of a concern for Earth restoration and how we must live to pass on to our children - and their children, and all living things - an Earth restored - by Rosemary (Rowe) Morrow

2010 Lecture  - Finding our voice Our truth, community and journey as Australian Young Friends

2009 Lecture - The Quaking Meeting Transforming our selves, our meetings and the more-than-human world - by Helen Gould - MP3 available here (65.5KB)

2008 Lecture  - Faith, hope and doubt in times of uncertainty Combining the realms of scientific and spiritual inquiry - by George Ellis - MP3 available here (65.5KB)

2007 Lecture - Support for our true selves - Nurturing the space where leadings flow - by Jenny Spinks - MP3 available here (6.63MB)

2006 Lecture - One Heart and a Wrong Spirit: The Religious Society of Friends and Colonial Racism - Polly O. (Daksi) Walker

2005 Lecture - Peace is a Struggle - David Johnson

2004 Lecture - Growing a Fruitful Friendship - A Garden Walk - by Ute Caspers - MP3 available here (3MB)

2003 Lecture  - Respecting the Rights of Children and Young People: A New Perspective on Quaker Faith and Practice - by Helen Bayes - MP3 available here (5.1MB)

2002 Lecture - To Do Justly, And To Love Mercy: learning from Quaker service - by Mark Deasey - MP3 available here (66.82KB)

2001 Lecture - Reconciling Opposites: Reflections on peacemaking in South Africa - by Hendrik W van der Merwe -  MP3 available here (65.49KB)

2000 Lecture - To Learn A New Song: A Quaker Contribution Towards Real Reconciliation with the Earth and its Peoples - by Susannah Kay Brindle - MP3 available here (5.34MB)

1999 Lecture - Myth and Stories, Lies and Truth - by Norman Talbot

1998 Lecture - Embraced by Other Selves: Enriching personal nature through group interaction - by Charles Stevenson - MP3 available here (3.4MB)

1997 Lecture - Learning of one another The Quaker encounter with other cultures and religions - by Richard G. Meredith - MP3 available here (65.5KB)

1996 Lecture - Our Children, our Partners A new vision for social action in the 21st century - by Elise Boulding

1995 Lecture - Emerging Currents in the Asia-Pacific - by Donna Kyle Anderton & Barbara Baker Bird Bangkok, Thailand - MP3 availble here (65.49KB)

1994 Lecture - As the Mirror Burns Making a Film about Vietnam - by Di Bretherton

1993 Lecture - Living the Way Quaker spirituality and community - by Ursula Jane O'Shea

1992 - No Lecture given.

1991 Lecture - Loving the Distances Between: Racism, Culture and Spirituality - by David James and Jillian Wychel

1990 Lecture - Quakers in Politics: Pragmatism or Principle? - by Jo Vallentine and Peter D. Jones

1989 Lecture - A New-Born Sense of Dignity and Freedom - by Erica Fisher

1988 Lecture - Creative Conflict - by David Purnell

1987 Lecture - The Vision That Connects - Building The Future We Choose - by Carol and Dougald McLean

1986 Lecture - Looking for Meanings of My A-Bomb Experience in Nagasaki - by Susumu Ishitani

1985 Lecture - For All The Saints - by Gerald Priestland

1984 Lecture - Pilgrims for Justice and Peace - by Peter D. Jones

1983 Lecture - An Adventure into Feminism with Friends - by Sabine Willis

1982 Lecture - Celebration: A Missing Element in Quaker Worship - by John Ormerod Greenwood

1981 Lecture - What Jesus Means To Me: Jesus the Liberator - by Roger C. Wilson

1980 Lecture - Quakers and Sacramental History: Reflections on Quaker Saints by a Quaker Sinner - by Hector Kinloch

1979 Lecture - Quakers in the Modern World: The Relevance of Quaker Beliefs to the Problems of the Modern World - by J. Duncan Wood

1978 Lecture - Wisdom: The Inner Teacher - by Margaret Wilkinson

1977 Lecture - Papua New Guinea: Third World on our doorstep - by Mary Woodward

1976 Lecture - Imperialism Without Invading Armies: peace, justice and the multinationals in Southeast Asia - by Stewart and Charlotte Meacham

1975 Lecture - A Time To Reap, A Time To Sow: Retirement - by Winifred A. M McNaughton

1973 Lecture - Pilgrimage Toward The Fountainhead: Quakerism and Zen Buddhism Today - by Yukio Irie (August)

1973 Lecture - Friends and Other Faiths - by Otto B. Van Sprenkel

1972 Lecture - The Quaker Message: a Personal Affirmation - L. Hugh Doncaster

1971 - No Backhouse Lecture was given this year; instead, David Hodgkin gave an address under the title "Quakerism-A Mature Religion for Today", which was printed but not as a James Backhouse Lecture.

1970 Lecture - Security for Australia? - by Keith A. W. Crook

1969 Lecture - Toward a Multi-Racial Society - by A. Barrie Pittock

1968 Lecture - In The Spirit of the Family - William N. Oats

1967 Lecture - On Being Present Where You Are - by Douglas V Steere

1966 Lecture - Seeking In An Age Of Imbalance - by Rudolf Lemberg

1965 Lecture - The Shaping Spirit - by Clive Sansom

1964 Lecture - The Evolutionary Potential Of Quakerism - by Kenneth E. Boulding