The Benjamin Lay story has been covered here.
The Benjamin Lay story has been covered here.
In an unusual move, North London Quakers formally expressed unity with a Quaker expelled from the movement three hundred years ago.
Benjamin Lay was disowned by Devonshire House Monthly Meeting, our predecessor body, for radical positions expressed in theatrical ways. Lay opposed slavery and also supported gender equality and vegetarianism. Quakers did not come down against their members owning slaves until 1727 and were absolute pioneers and the backbone of the national campaign against the slave trade in the 1770s.
The discussion aimed not just to redress a historical injustice but also asked us to consider how racial and other oppressions flourish, and what we do to address them. The minute reads:
We have received a letter, from Tim Gee of Peckham Local Meeting, previously of Bunhill Fields Local Meeting, about a previous member of Devonshire House Monthly Meeting, Benjamin Lay, who was disassociated with the Monthly Meeting in 1790 due to his radical activism in attempts to teach his peers to recognize the equality before God of all people, regardless of race or gender.
Quakers are proud of the times in history we have been ahead of our time on progressive social issues – but preceding those moments, there have often been long periods when we have not walked the path we would later understand to be the just one. At a time when racism seems as present and ugly as ever – both globally and nationally – and the structures of white supremacy are being defended and strengthened by powerful forces in our societies, this seems a timely moment for North London Area Meeting to reflect on its involvement in the struggle for racial justice.
North London Area Meeting recognises Benjamin Lay’s dedication to equality – and his willingness to repeatedly speak his messages of Truth. We also recognise Benjamin Lay as being a Friend of the Truth – and as being in unity with the spirit of our Area Meeting.
We ask our Clerking team to write to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Abington Monthly Meeting and Southern East Anglia Area Meeting (successor to Colchester & Coggeshall Monthly Meeting) to clarify that Lay is in good standing with North London Area Meeting (successor to Devonshire House Monthly Meeting).
We encourage Tim Gee to write an article about this matter for the Friend.
Winchmore Hill Quakers have launched our new twitter account.
Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life. (Winchmore Hill Quakers’ first tweet!)
With well over 30 million users of Facebook and over 20 million Twitter, (UK estimates) it makes sense for us to be on both.
This is not just about talking to other Quakers, but to be open, seen and findable. Twitter has some very unfortunate aspects, but its not the job of the people of faith to retreat from difficulty.
It was interesting at the meeting of Churches Together in Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill yesterday, to find that only our neighbours in St Pauls are on Twitter, and Winchmore Hill URC ‘will be when we can find someone to do it’.
Anne McNeill led a Fourth Sunday Focus on Silence, Listening, and Waiting. This is a one hour session on a prepared topic. Anne chose to use a mixture of readings, silence, and discussion.
It was a deep and revealing discussion of spiritual practice. How do we reach down and find stillness among the distractions of our minds, our bodies, and those around us? We are not worshipping silence but using silence as a way to reach something within (which is also to many of us, something bigger than us as well. The fact we are working together towards that end is important. All of found distractions of various sorts an issue – the very calmness can encourage a ‘monkey mind’ of personal concerns. Different tools and approaches were discussed. Some worship (for example, before a march or other noisy event) can be surprisingly gathered. Although people came to Quakerism from different traditions and approaches, there was substantial common ground around our silent worship.
Future topics will include MInistry (being called to speak in meeting), being called to action, and other interesting sections of our handbook, Quaker Faith and Practice.
Fourth Sunday Focus is usually on the fourth Sunday of the month (not always as this month shows.)
For Quaker Week 2017 Jon Martin from Quakers in Britain reflects on how the history of Quakerism means it has always been a faith for uncertain times. You can read the blog article here.
Positive article in a national newspaper about Quaker international peace work. You can access it here (hopefully The Times paywall has now lifted for this article).
The annual conference of Quakers in Britain continuing the theme of “Living Out Our Faith in the World” was held at Warwick University this year. The epistle from the event is published below. You can see some of the presentations and other things in this link.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” [James 2:26]
We send loving greetings from Britain Yearly Meeting gathered in community.
This is the third year in which we have explored our theme of Living Out Our Faith in the World; this time we have considered how we work with others to make a difference and build a better world.e. We have been delighted by the presence of Friends from other Yearly Meetings and visitors from other churches and faith groups. They have helped us to recognise the way bonds form between different communities for the common good, and to value the richness which comes to us when we welcome diversity in our Meetings.
Since our last Yearly Meeting our nations have experienced increasing uncertainty and insecurity. Inequality has become vividly apparent. We are distressed by the trashing of our planet, and angry at the greed, ruthlessness, violence and lies which blight the lives of so many. “What do you mean, says God, that you grind the faces of my poor?”[Isaiah 3:15] In this fractured world, how can we respond? What does Love require of us?
We ourselves are part of the problemMany are too rich. We damage the land, the sea, and all living creatures. We are stealing the future. Change is urgent. We need to recognize our own selfishness and privilege: to be changed ourselves, to live as if the Kingdom of God were already fulfilled.
Throughout our gathering we have heard examples of Friends’ work and involvement in the world as Meetings and as individuals. We are reminded that we all find different ways of being faithful. Inspired by the Fox Cubs (3–5-year-olds) we have worn the ribbons which they gave us to share their concern for hungry and homeless people.
When we engage with the brokenness of the world, one of our tools can be our willingness to listen: to the vulnerable, to each other, to those with whom we disagree, and to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. This will enable us to work alongside others powerfully, telling the truth of what is wrong in the world. Sometimes listening will lead us to stillness, at other times to practical action. In all things the Spirit will direct us.
Working with others gives us strength. Their insights may lead us to see our own shortcomings. We can also hold conversations with those in positions of authority and influence.
Ours may be a supporting role. We may be called to comfort and uphold, to practise small kindnesses, to admit our own weakness, and to undertake practical tasks which enable others to act. Sometimes being there is enough.
Action may demand courage. This may mean taking part in public protests or acts of disobedience. We may be led to challenge rooted injustices and to use our energy to bring about radical change. Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple. He taught that the blessed community was formed of the poor, the hungry and those suffering loss or persecution. [Luke 6:20-22]
When our call is clear, we need discipline to test it, and faithfulness to carry it through without counting the cost. May God give us strength and grace to be instruments of change.
“Therefore, dear Friends, wait in the Light, that the Word of the Lord may dwell plentifully in you.” [QF&P 29.19]
The award-winning Quaker Tapestry, which depicts the history of Quakerism in embroidery and is modelled on the famous Bayeux Tapestry, is being exhibited in Friends House in Euston in August. It was last in London over 20 years ago.
The 77 panels that make up the Quaker Tapestry are the work of 4,000 men, women and children from around the world. It began in 1981 in a children’s meeting in Taunton, as an alternative to colouring-in and was completed 15 years later. Some of the panels made journeys of thousands of miles as they passed from one group of embroiderers to another.
Twenty panels, from their Lake District home – the Arts Council accredited Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal – will form a free exhibition accompanied by demonstrations, an introductory film, a workshop, and gift shop.
The exhibition in Friends House runs from 7 to 18 August, from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 8pm on Thursdays.
Visitors can book online for an embroidery taster workshop on Saturday 12 August from 10am to 1pm. For further information and to book a workshop place click here.
Quakers in Britain join the international community in condemning the attack on Manchester Arena.
Quakers are part of The Interfaith Network and endorse this statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives or were injured in last night’s terrorist murders at the Manchester Arena, as they are with their families, all others affected and those responding with assistance.
We deplore and condemn this wanton, brutal and cowardly taking of the lives of young and old.
Let us stand together to oppose terrorism and the ideologies that promote it.
Let us also uphold and strengthen the unity of our society and work to ensure that it is a positive and harmonious one where all children and young people can grow up safely and without fear.
It is vital that we all – of every age and background – work to build bridges and positive relationships and to enable difficult issues to be addressed and worked on – always seeking to avoid the use of violence to resolve issues.
We know that each time a terrorist attack occurs, groups within society become the target of abuse or even attack because of terrorist actions which claim, or are perceived by some, as having a link to them. We must stand, likewise, against this. An attack on one is an attack on all.
We remember at this time, in this context, particularly the many in the Greater Manchester area working for good relations.”
The Co-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK and Moderators of the IFN Faith Communities Forum
You can access the statement and related information here.