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.