World Quaker Day

For World Quaker Day we asked those involved with the meeting to bring a friend or neighbour to meeting.  It turned out to be a good way to help those who come but rarely to come as well.

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Among the spoken contributions in worship were two of the Advices and Queries (8 and 9)

Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.

In worship we enter with reverence into communion with God and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come to meeting for worship with heart and mind prepared. Yield yourself and all your outward concerns to God’s guidance so that you may find ‘the evil weakening in you and the good raised up’.

Quakers have different views about what words to use about the power that draws us together, and what leads us.  There is a time and place for that discussion.  But more important is that we feel that communion and take it out into the world.  We can feel, like Robert Barclay, a Quaker more than 300 years ago, meeting together raising us up.

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Housekeeping the website

We’re doing some minor refits.  Hopefully nothing will go wrong

Stephen

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Open House London

We will once again be taking part in the annual heritage and architecture weekend.  This will be on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September from 2-5 pm.

The Friends Meeting House is one of the oldest places of worship in Enfield.  Find out about the history of this elegant, eighteenth century building. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the historic garden and burial ground.  ENTRANCE and REFRESHMENTS are FREE!

Meeting House front before we painted the shutters. Photo Neil

Meeting House front before we painted the shutters. Photo Neiland burial ground. Entrance and Refreshments are FREE! 

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Photographs from Celebration event, 14 July 2018

Here are some photographs from our successful event held on 14 July 2018 to celebrate the refurbishment of our meeting house.

It was attended by 65 people; Friends, neighbours, members of local churches, police officers and 3 local politicians (Bambos Charalambous MP, Cllr Christine Hamilton and Cllr Maria Alexandrou).  John Dash from London Quakers Property Trust also spoke as did David Olver, who wrote the history of our Meeting in 2003. We are grateful to all who came to give thanks for our Meeting and to help us look forward to the future. WP_20180714_16_55_45_ProWP_20180714_10_48_13_ProWP_20180714_10_48_05_ProSerner McHugh Dash CarmichaelRP and Chris HamiltonMet Police officers Giladi PageMatthew FeatherMaria AlexandrouJohn DashFeather Page DanielDavid Olver 2Carmichael DashBuck AlidaBambos speaking 2

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Quakers in Enfield look forward in celebration

Sometimes it’s just time to feel the joy.

In 2012, Quakers in Enfield faced a challenge.  Our Grade Two Listed, 1790 Meeting House was cracking up.  We had significant subsidence without a clear idea how fast it would spread; parts of the boundary walls of the burial ground were unsafe; people kept stealing the lead off the roof; and the loos were sub-standard.  We needed to make the building and the site safer, more welcoming, and more sustainable.  We weren’t quite sure we could do it.

We raised money – from Quakers locally and nationally, and from the local community.  We had a plan and lots of people worked hard.  And this weekend we celebrate the end of a long phase of thinking and working.  The next phase of the Friends Meeting House and its community begins,

The Meeting House is historic – the oldest place of worship in Winchmore Hill.  It’s an asset to the community, with local groups meeting there, and local people able to enjoy the grounds the whole year round.

Right from the beginning the meeting wanted to emphasise the spiritual community which led to the Meeting House being built and sustained.  We could let our history  be a weight round our neck, or it could be a sound foundation from which we can leap for the stars.

In 2012 I wrote

  • We try to be an optimistic spiritual community in a divided and materialistic world.  We reject war and the threat of war.
  • Our worship is based on silence and stillness.  It speaks to many in a world overloaded with clamour.
  • We are open to different spiritual insights.  We draw on the strengths of our Christian roots while accepting many paths.  Listening, waiting, and trusting, we connect with a divine which we understand in many different ways.
  • We share responsibility across the whole group, we don’t have professional spiritual leaders.
  • Our concern for equality led us to be pioneers in women’s rights to speak and partake in public life.  We were campaigners against slavery; and now, we offer marriage to same sex couples.
  • In the face of the environmental and economic crisis, we find the traditional Quaker emphasis on simple living comes into its own.   Peace, the environment, the economy, and relations between peoples and countries are all linked together.

Now Quakers in Enfield are looking to a future reaching out, to those of all faiths and none.  Continuing to meet in stillness, and to ‘raise each other up with a tender hand’.  Trying to work with others to heal divisions in our divided borough, reflecting our divided society.  Speaking necessary truths.  And providing a haven for those who need time to reflect, to connect, and to grow.

We will need to think about how we run the meeting for the WhatsApp age.  Younger Friends are dancing down the road ahead of us, towards a kingdom of peace.  But the central truth of the Quaker way still resonates and has meaning.  That the spirit is poured out on all of us, and it makes us all one, if we will listen.

Stephen Cox

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Fancy Fair

Our Meeting House and grounds will be open on Saturday 7th July, between 1 and 5pm, for those attending the Fancy Fair on Winchmore Hill Green.  We look forward to welcoming you.

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Quakers embark on new shaping of their guidebook

Quakers decided at their annual gathering to look again at their handbook Quaker Faith and Practice.  The process follows years of thought and discussion locally, and is likely to take several more to complete.  Revision will be highly inclusive, and appeals for comments and suggested additions are underway.  The final draft(s) will be approved by the Yearly Meeting, a gathering at which every Quaker is entitled to attend.

Considerations raised during the process include:

-the need to reflect the range of current Quaker interests and thought, and draw more on Quaker insights from around the world

-the need to separate out broad principles and the spiritual dimension from detailed guidance, which often changes more rapidly and is best left to separate handbooks

-the need for the book to be more accessible in various ways – at its simplest, it opens well but the chapters are not in a good order for beginners.  It may have images, diagrams, video…

-the need to hear from younger Friends and be fully inclusive

 

I hope Winchmore Hill will feel the challenge and rise to it.

 

Stephen

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Open Gardens 9th and 10th June: all welcome

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Quakers in Enfield are taking part in the London-wide event of Open Gardens.

Free. Come and enjoy the tranquility of the historic garden at the Friends Meeting House, Winchmore Hill. See our Peace Tree and learn more about the historic burial ground. Free refreshments.

Winchmore Hill Friends Meeting House, 59 Church Hill, N21 1LE.

Accessibility: Some ground in the garden is uneven and can have unexpected holes. Wheelchair access to the building is good. All ages welcome.

 

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Compliments from our Anglican neighbour

We were very pleased to welcome Daniel Sandham, Vicar of St Paul’s, our nearest place of worship, to our art exhibition and delighted to read this piece in their parish newsletter. Click on this hyperlink, St Pauls parish newsletter

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God and the Book

It was kind of Simon Jenkins in the Guardian to write about the proposed revision of the Quaker handbook.  He managed to get it completely round his neck.  Christian Today also wrote a piece, which said we might revise it because of Sex.  That’s also not right.

Quaker Faith and Practice

has been revised every generation or so.  It is several things in one.

  • Advices and Queries -  a set of challenges and advice in 42 short paragraphs, aimed at individuals and groups.  It’s a distillation of British Quakerism.  You can read it online or get it in a free booklet.
  • A big compendium of things Quakers have said that still speak to us.  Sometimes there are a number of differing views.  Not every extract speaks to every Quaker – people’s experience and choice of words differs.
  • Practical stuff like who owns the burial grounds and how the central committee works.   And the spiritual underpinning of that.

Over one thousand two hundred Quakers adults and children will gather in London this weekend and seek to make a decision whether to revise the book.  I think they probably will.

On Sex (and gender), we’ll probably want to reflect on our growing understanding of trans and non-binary Friends.  We supported the legislation that allowed trans people’s identity to be more easily recognised.  Our successful campaign for same sex marriage has already been added.

Our understanding of the threat to the planet has moved on since 1994 and needs to be reflected.

On God, Quakers have never enforced a single statement of belief, seeing instead that faith must be lived rather than philosophically endorsed. When I came into British Quakers in 1994, I was at the tail end of the last revision.  There were people in the three meetings I used who believed in God in the same way as other liberal Christians did, those who believed in a whole range of things which they called God, and many who were uncertain about, or rejected the word altogether. That remains the case, although I guess the numbers may have shifted somewhat.

Friends often speak about ‘that of God in everyone’ which some see as one’s own higher self or a higher power in everyone, whereas others see it as the Holy Spirit poured out on us all without distinction. What matters is that we can meet together in worship.  Quaker worship is less about silence – you can’t stop birds – and more about a stillness.  In our worship we are changed, our worship and our service to others come from the same roots, and that we don’t let words get in the way of that.

I hope and expect that any revision will both bolster those who find traditional language useful and add to the voices in our existing writings who do not.

I for one have had a real change of heart as the decision approaches, seeing less the bumps in the road, and the possibilities of a revision.  The core of what being a Quaker means to me should remain.

Stephen

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