Every year on the Saturday evening of Yearly Meeting, our annual conference, a Quaker is invited to deliver the public Swarthmore Lecture. The Lecture dates back to 1907 and is named after the home of Margaret Fell (Fox), who is regarded by many as the “mother of Quakerism”.
This year’s lecturer was Gerald Hewitson, a Quaker based in Wales with a background in education. He chose the above title to share, in places very profoundly, his personal journey as a Quaker as well as the spiritual experiences of his life. It was a very moving story, taking us from his unhappy family life growing up in abject poverty in South Yorkshire. He talked about how his life had been transformed by a spiritual experience at Woodbrooke, the Quaker Studies Centre in Birmingham, and mapped his own experience to early Friends’ experience of spiritual transformation.
He feels that early Quaker writings have so much to offer 21st century Quakers and that we too can attain the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, just as early Friends knew they could when their hearts were transformed. For Gerald “fear has no place in the peaceable kingdom” and that God offers us a healing power with creative energy. The Quaker narrative, he believes, is deeply rooted in Christianity.
I found the lecture to be spiritually invigorating and highly stimulating. I could go on at length but would urge people instead to buy the book. You can read more about him in this profile on the Nayler website and in this interview in The Friend.