Letters - 19 May 2017

From affirming young children to criminal activities

Affirming young children (5 May)

Affirming all children, and their parents, and others in loco parentis, is an integral part of being a Quaker Meeting. In my experience the pre-toddler’s ‘vocal ministry’, and the ‘moving about to greet Friends in the stillness’ of a toddler, is usually an absolute joy.

However, I think it was an omission that this article did not acknowledge that for most children – and, indeed, for many adults – about fifteen minutes in the silent worship of a standard Sunday morning Meeting is enough to provide a good experience for all concerned. After that there should be provision for a specific session, especially for the child or children. A Friend who has been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), together with either a parent or another DBS-checked Friend, facilitate this session – and generally a good time is had by all. Sometimes it is particularly good if parents can remain in the Meeting for Worship while their child or children have their own session: it may be a rare occasion for them to have such spiritual space.

It is also crucial to remember that providing a good experience in Children’s Meeting takes thought and preparation; this is why anyone planning to take a child to a Meeting should make contact in advance, so all the required arrangements can be in place. Then an unreserved welcome can be assured – without hesitation or embarrassment for anyone concerned.

With proper preparation, children coming to Meeting truly lifts the spirits of all those present!

Jane Taylor


The article by Abigail Maxwell (5 May) shows how brave transsexuals and transvestites are and, sadly, that they are still mocked.

I think it’s possibly down to how they dress. Over the years the dress of men and women has become very similar. How many men do you see wearing a suit with a bowler hat and polished leather shoes these days? Round here the majority are wearing jeans and trainers. How many women now wear skirts or dresses? When I was a boy seventy years ago, the female teachers all wore skirts, court shoes, hats and coats. But when I see the present-day female teachers at the primary school up the road, there’s little fashion consciousness. The majority are wearing trousers or jeans, and trainers (and this is probably also true in our Quaker Meetings).

So, if a man wants to demonstrate femininity, then it’s probably natural that he (or she if a transsexual) wants to wear a dress, so setting himself/herself apart from the present-day norm for women. Sometimes I see someone who dresses in 1950s-style wide skirts and people stare at her.

Many people find it difficult when they see something that confronts their ideas of what is the norm. It’s just a variant on racial discrimination. But well done the Quakers for making people like Abigail feel at home and accepted.

Ian Watson

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