Clerk’s Corner

Clerk’s Corner

December 14, 2014   |   Categorised in:

At Area Meeting in November, Friends played with rainbow coloured modelling clay, creating patterns and small sculptures while discussing the Long Term Framework consultation questions put to us by the appointed working group. There was a lot of talk about ‘‘joining up the dots’’, in other words, ensuring effective communication between Friends at local, area and national level, as well as between Area Meetings.

We heard of the desire for those joined-up dots to actually lead somewhere, to have a sense of direction, rather than creating a beautiful but ineffectual array of coloured pathways. Our Friend Tim Holding pointed out that if we mixed together all the colours of the modelling clay, it would turn into Quaker grey. What could we do if we were all acting as one!

The wish was expressed for more effective communication amongst Friends of different AMs who share a concern. Our own Area Meeting has a group of Friends focusing on Alternatives to Trident. Evidently, there are other AMs around the country who are confronting the issues of Trident in a range of ways, yet there is no system in place to communicate about it. In answer to the question, “How could Quaker structures and networks help Quakers in Britain to flourish?” perhaps Friends House could create options for more communication between Friends across AMs who share concerns, rather than only connecting to Friends House staff. There is one such network, the Quakernomics Blog and we would appreciate more. Perhaps there are ways in which online facilities could serve this communication better, such as by using Dropbox for sharing AM initiatives or creating files of useful shared material on the Quakers in Britain website.

We already recognise the need for Quakers to become more visible in the wider community. At AM in November we restated this discernment: our testimonies to simplicity, equality, peace, truth and the environment need to be more visible as ways in which we ‘‘let our lives speak.’’

Our testimonies could appeal to a broader demographic, if people in our local communities only knew about them. Could Quaker structures and networks help us in this endeavour? We are becoming open to the value of websites, and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Might these be channels to further our visibility beyond the narrow confines of our usual demographic?

Our minute expressed our wish to connect and collaborate with others, in order to further tolerance in the world as well as collaborating in spirit-led work. One of the four central Quaker committees, the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR), focuses on finding common ground with other
churches and faiths. I recently learned about Mitzvah Day from the QCCIR website: Mitzvah day was founded as a day on which members of the Jewish community undertook social action, but now people from all faiths and none participate across the globe.

This would seem to have the potential for future cooperation with local faith groups. QCCIR have asked Friends to report back to them about interfaith and Mitzvah Day events, which might inspire others to do something similar in the future. Is there a Friend in our AM who would like to follow this up further, and take forward our desire to connect with other faiths in practical as well as spiritual ways?

We come back to the question posed by Paul Parker: What is our ministry as individuals and as a Meeting? It’s a question that challenges and inspires and could lead to rainbows as well as, perhaps, some Quaker grey. We will continue our process of discerning our purposes as an Area Meeting in the New Year.

Next Area Meeting: Sunday 11 January, 2015, at Colchester Meeting House, 2.15pm.

Details of the Long-Term Framework Consultation.

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