Letters - 09 February 2018

From worship and truth to an apology

Worship and truth

Could ‘our, laudable, lack of creeds or set beliefs’, which Martin Hartog (26 January) extols, in fact be the cause of the difficulties that some individuals, who are unfamiliar with the corporate nature of our silent worship, appear to be having?

In welcoming ‘all faiths and none’ are we somehow obscuring the beliefs that George Fox and the early Quakers held? Have we forgotten that George Fox heard a voice which said: ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,’ and when he heard it his heart did leap for joy?

Apart from the band of Friends serving on the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR), we seem to have fallen off the Christian radar, somewhere between a whole chapter devoted to us in Worship and Theology in England Volume V: the Ecumenical Century 1900-1965 by Horton Davies, and our non-appearance in last year’s The Bloomsbury Guide to Christian Spirituality.

Is this because we have stopped praying in our public worship? Or is it because there is little teaching offered in our spoken ministry?

Early Quakers described themselves as ‘Friends of the Truth’ and were clear about where truth was to be found. Surely, today, our Religious Society can do better than leave it to individual Friends to discern, from their own experience, which parts of Quaker faith & practice turn out to be true?

Deciding how we proceed with regard to the Scriptural Reasoning movement within other churches and faiths might be a start.

Christopher J Green

Membership and attendance

I hear Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) Agenda Committee are anxious to encourage attendance at BYM by young people, and also by attenders. I would absolutely concur with encouraging young people to attend; I am less sure about attenders. BYM is, after all, the annual meeting of members of the Religious Society of Friends.

Perhaps it is the Brexit negotiations and talk of ‘cherry-picking’, or the current free-market dogma that pervades most of our government thinking, that colours my unease. But the notion that one can have one’s cake and eat it, that we welcome contributions or criticism from any and all participants with no obligation or responsibility, and that we do this in an organisation with no leaders, strikes me as unsustainable.

We would be far better engaged in exploring with attenders what stops them being prepared to join us than making it completely unnecessary for them to do so. Coyly referring to ‘Friends not in membership’ doesn’t help, either.

Time was when merely standing alongside Friends in public established one as a Quaker and invited imprisonment and other forms of retribution. Today, it’s more formal, but a lot less dangerous, to make that commitment.

So, what’s stopping you?

Jamie Wrench

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