Open House 2020

Once again we are taking part in Open House London.  This is an opportunity to learn more about the history of our beautiful Meeting House and experience the tranquil and peaceful surrounding garden and burial ground.

It continues to be a place of Quaker faith and practice for Winchmore Hill Meeting, who have also embraced 21st century technology by holding virtual meeting for worship during the recent challenging times.  You are assured of a warm welcome as we open up our doors again with all the necessary safety measures in place. We look forward to meeting you on Saturday 19th September. Opening time 2pm to 5pm.

For more information click on our Open House London listing here.

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Openings to the infinite ocean: A Friendly offering of hope

This is the title of the annual Swarthmore Lecture, delivered in August 2020 by the disability rights activist, academic and broadcaster Tom Shakespeare.

In the lecture Tom asks how we face all the very real, terrible things that happen in our world and still have hope. How did Friends in the past have hope in dark times and how can we have it today? He reflects on the nature of hope, our reasons to hope, and how we can preach hope through the way we live our lives.
You can access the lecture here.

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Guidance for Friends re Coronavirus from Winchmore Hill Quakers Premises Committee

GUIDANCE TO FRIENDS RE CORONAVIRUS
13 March 2020

Dear Friend,

Coronavirus and the Meeting

We are writing to you to let you know what we can do to keep ourselves and the Meeting House as safe and hygienic as possible during the coronavirus outbreak.  This guidance is based on advice from Friends House and from the government.  The “Updated Guidance for Quaker meetings on Coronavirus” from Friends House dated 13th March 2020 is also being emailed to you as a separate document.

Hand washing – we are providing hand washing facilities as usual, now with anti-bacterial soap, and we will also get hand sanitizing gel to put in the rooms as soon as supplies become available again.  We should all wash our hands thoroughly on arrival at the Meeting House and before leaving, and as necessary while we are there.

Washing up – When we are drying up we should use the kitchen roll provided instead of the usual cotton towels, and use paper towels for drying hands.

Handshaking – Elders have recommended that for the duration of the epidemic we will not shake hands when arriving on Sunday morning or at the end of Meeting for Worship.  It is suggested that we smile or bump elbows.

Coughs and sneezes – we are providing boxes of tissues and are putting a pedal bin in each room.  The latest advice from Friends House, based on government guidance, is: “If someone has a new and persistent cough lasting at least four hours, or has a temperature of 37.8°C or above, they should stay at home (self-isolate) for seven days”.  Please let an Elder or Overseer, or a member of your Threads group, know if you are not well so we can keep in touch and do what we can to provide practical help if it is needed.

Travel from abroad – If you are returning from overseas travel in one of the countries listed by the government as high risk, please let an Elder or Overseer and do not come to the Meeting House for two weeks after your return.

In case of infection – Please let an Elder or Overseer know as soon as possible if you are diagnosed with coronavirus.  We shall try to support you in any way possible.

Cleaning – Our cleaner John Dale is using disinfectant on all surfaces including taps, door handles and bin lids.

We hope that it will not become necessary to close the Meeting House for worship and for other activities.  We will follow guidance from the government on this.  If you can think of anything else we can do, or if you have any queries, please let us know.  We have between us great resources and many ways to uphold each other.

As well as sending this letter to Friends, we have emailed our hirers with similar guidance, and have had conversations with those who work for us about keeping safe and healthy.

In love and Friendship,
Bob Newsom

On behalf of Premises Committee

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Guidance for Quaker meetings on Coronavirus from Britain Yearly Meeting (Quakers in Britain)

Guidance for Quaker meetings on Coronavirus 13th March 2020 from Britain Yearly Meeting (Quakers in Britain)

As the coronavirus situation develops, Quaker Meetings need to consider how best to keep members and attenders, employees, and building users, informed and protected.

Quaker communities are open and welcome everyone. Some of our members and visitors are at particular risk, including the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. So that we can care for each other, we all need to take care. Meetings are encouraged to take sensible precautions, while not increasing levels of anxiety.

‘Loving care is not something that those sound in mind and body ‘do’ for others but a process that binds us together.’ (Quaker faith & practice 12.01)
Health advice

Britain Yearly Meeting has no public health expertise. We suggest referring to relevant sources for further information:

· Public Health England leads the response to new and emerging threats to health for all nations of the UK and Crown Dependencies https://www.gov.uk/…/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-t…

· The National Health Service has advice for individuals https://www.nhs.uk/c…/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/

· The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government also have information

· AM Trustees who are responsible for employing staff may find it helpful to refer to advice from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations https://www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-s…/information/coronavirus

These websites provide advice about actions to take in order to prevent the spread of the disease, and situations in which people should self-isolate. Quakers and Quaker meetings should follow this guidance in relation to most activities.
Below are responses to some ‘Quaker-specific’ queries.

Should we hold meeting for worship?

Meetings can continue to hold meeting for worship. Current advice is that most people can continue to go to public places (including religious gatherings), though in Scotland the government says public gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.

If someone has a new and persistent cough lasting at least four hours, or has a temperature of 37.8°C or above, they should stay at home (self-isolate) for seven days

What about people who cannot attend meeting for worship? Or if our meeting venue has closed?

BYM and Woodbrooke are working to support Friends to set up online worship for their local communities and are putting together resources to help people set these up. Anyone interested in hosting or eldering an online meeting should email qladmin@quaker.org.uk explaining their interest and their meeting. Woodbrooke is also hoping to expand its online worship which anyone can access. ​
Should door-keepers shake hands? Should we shake hands after meeting?

There is currently no specific advice from public officials about shaking hands. However, people are advised to wash hands when they get home or into work, and this should probably apply to arriving at meeting also.

As a precautionary measure, we suggest you do not shake hands. Shaking hands is not a core part of our faith; rather, it is a way to indicate that the meeting for worship has finished and a visible expression of our equality.

Think about the best way and time to let people in meeting know about not shaking hands. This might be as they arrive, at an appropriate point during worship, or at the close of worship (before people start shaking hands). Consider how any announcement can be heard by latecomers, people preparing tea & coffee, or those in children’s meeting.
What about lettings?

Groups that use spaces in meeting houses will need to take their own decisions about whether to continue their activities. Venues, and the organisations that use them, should monitor government advice, which will affect decisions about issues such as travel, staffing and insurance.

What about national Quaker events?

Britain Yearly Meeting is following public health advice. At present, we’re continuing to prepare for planned events. We’re encouraging Friends to consider their own situation and if they feel at risk, or they might pose a risk, to make their own decision not to attend. We’re monitoring the situation carefully and if public health advice changes we will make decisions and inform participants at the earliest opportunity.

What about BYM staff?

We’re working hard to support all our employees and to maintain their health. Some staff may need to work from home or not attend work but, of course, we’re committed to paying salaries.

During the outbreak we hope to be able to sustain as much work as possible, but there is a chance that staff sickness will have an impact on some programmes – if so, we’ll appreciate Friends’ understanding.
What other practical steps should we take?

Practical decisions should be taken on the basis of expert medical advice (see the links above) and local circumstances. This could include whether to provide hand sanitisers, and bins for tissues; or to post notices about hand-washing; cleaning arrangements; and the provision of refreshments. AM trustees should take steps to ensure the health and safety of any employees.

Pastoral care

Some of us will be particularly worried – perhaps due to existing health conditions, issues at work, or close connections to people affected around the world. Some Friends will need to self-isolate, and some may contract the disease. Although it’s not sensible to visit those who are unwell or self-isolating, there are other ways to support people – on the phone, by email, with practical help ,like running errands or bringing food to their door and through prayer.

“The spiritual welfare of a meeting is greatly helped if … its members take a warm personal interest in one another’s welfare. The pastoral work of the Society is specially committed to the overseers, but our members generally should not allow themselves to feel that they are relieved from responsibility. In the greater events of life … it is our duty and privilege to share in one another’s joys and sorrows; and sympathy thus shown is a potent means of binding us in closer fellowship.” (Quaker faith & practice 10.17)

 

This is our advice on 13th March 2020. We will distribute updated advice if needed by further developments.

 

in Friendship

Paul

 

Paul Parker

Recording Clerk

Quakers in Britain

Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.
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Building understanding and tolerance in a divided society

Our Friend Oliver Robertson, previously a member of our Area Meeting and now Head of Worship & Witness for Quakers in Britain (BYM), has written a helpful blog article about living with difference.

You can access it here but the final paragraph reads:
“Relationships are made between people, not with our mirror images. To live alongside other people is to live with difference, and by showing that we can understand and tolerate others we can begin to breathe into being the world we want to see.”

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British Young Friends in the national media

An article in the I newspaper, in which Young Quakers explain why the religious movement works for them, from equality to activism.

The writer bases his article on a visit to Tottenham Quaker Meeting, in our own Area Meeting, and interviews some of our current and ex members.  He concludes “What I found during my time with young Friends wasn’t the archaic and arcane group I was expecting, but something that felt very modern and fluid.”

You can access the article here.

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Introduction to Quakers course at City Lit

Our Friend Bruce Johnson is once again leading an introduction to Quakers course at City Lit in Central London, on Saturday 1st February.

The course is an introduction to the core Quaker experience, that of listening to the voice within, and why an institution with an ‘archaic’ image still has meaning and resonance for people today.

The course will cover :-

- Why Quakerism started.
- How Quakers worship.
- What Quakers believe and what they seek to do in the modern world.

To find out more and book a place please click here.

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Christmas Day meeting for worship

As is our usual practice, we shall be meeting for 45 minutes on the morning of Wednesday 25th December at 10.30am.

Please join us for some simple, quiet worship with refreshments afterwards.

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Churches Together divided over equal marriage

Quakers belong to a number of ecumenical bodies including Churches Together in England.  This body has six Presidents, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster.

Quakers supported by some other churches put forward Hannah Brock Womack for service as one President of Churches Together.  She is a young Quaker, a peace and environmental activist, and she happens to be married to another woman.  Solely because of her marriage, the formal appointment has been blocked and there will be an empty chair at meetings of the Presidency.  This has caused considerable sadness and anger among Quakers, among others. It is also worth a brief mention that the other Presidents are old, white, ordained, men. (Quakers do not have a separate ministry.)

Christians are not united as to baptism, the role of the priesthood, or even whether a Christian can support nuclear weapons.  An ecumenical body is always going to contain deep disagreements, its purpose is to work through them.

It took Quakers a lot of waiting, talking, patient listening, thinking and praying to reach unity on equal marriage in 2009.  One issue was our desire to bring everyone together, which sometimes led to same sex couples feeling that their needs and hurts were considered less important than other people.  Starting in 1988, Quakers agreed meetings could celebrate same sex commitments, the first of these did not take place until 1994, and in 2003 we welcomed civil partnerships.  Across the world some English speaking Quaker bodies were ahead of us, and a great many were behind us.  From about 2000 onward, Quakers became increasingly concerned that some same sex couples felt called to marriage, and that we treated same sex couples and opposite couples very differently.  Early Quakers attached great importance to our marriages, refusing either secular marriage or an Anglican service, which were the only two legal options. Way back in the C17th, we broke the law to get our marriages recognised.  In 2009, at our annual meeting in York, the Spirit surprised us.  We reached unity on offering equal marriage to all, and a campaign to achieve legal equality.

In Winchmore Hill, we had these divisions.  There were those who didn’t want an argument, and those who did not agree with equal marriage on a variety of grounds.  There were those who didn’t understand why we didn’t just do it. The LGBT Quakers did not have a single view either, and it felt far more like a common searching for the right solution.

Quakers understand patience, listening, standing firm, and seeking a way forward. One of our gifts to the ecumenical movement may be the way, at best, we resolve our differences.

Quaker faith & practice 27.12 (offsite link) records Thomas Story writing this in 1737: “The unity of Christians never did nor ever will or can stand in uniformity of thought and opinion, but in Christian love only.”

A final point is that according to the British Social Attitudes survey, only a quarter of Christians believe that same sex marriage is wrong.  Fewer believe loving same sex relationships are wrong.  There will be a great many other Christians scratching their heads today.

Stephen (personal view)

The issue is summarised by the Church Times  and the Quaker statement

 

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Christmas Day Community Afternoon

Once again, the Meeting House will be hosting a social gathering organised by Enfield Over 50s Forum for anybody who wants to come along.  The event runs from 2.30 to 6pm.

It’s free and open to all. With live background music, snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks, board games (bring your favourite if you like.).

For further information phone 020 8807 2076 or click here

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