Letters - 2 November 2018

From Quaker belief to white poppies

Quaker belief

Our good friend Stuart Yates, in his ‘Thought for the Week’ (19 October), concludes: ‘I hope that the whole body of Quakers in Britain can be involved in creating a form of words (preferably brief) that sufficiently describes the central mystery of our faith in a way that we can all accept…’

I think I would want to add: ‘…and that this will be expressed in simple language which wider society in general can relate and (hopefully) respond to.’

It was said of Jesus that ‘the common people heard him gladly’. We pride ourselves on our diversity, but are we diverse enough to reach out meaningfully to the ‘many’ who are of a less studious disposition than ourselves? If not, I fear for the future of our Society in these days of declining membership!

My small Local Meeting here in New Milton is not the only one to be asking ourselves such questions with an increasing sense of urgency.

Malcolm Swan

Prisoners and worship

Prisons Week was from 14-20 October this year. Wells-next-the-Sea Meeting arranges annually a simple ecumenical act of worship that includes short writings by current prisoners who attend Quaker worship at HMP Wayland. Here are two extracts from this year:

‘James’: ‘I am finding my time here a bittersweet period in my life. I’ve probably learned more about myself here than any other period of my life. I have time for understanding and reflection and getting support to unlock parts of myself and move forward. Even though it has been a shock being in prison, I feel more free than I have for a long time.’

‘Daniel’: ‘Since coming to these weekly Meetings I’ve become a more thoughtful person and learned to forgive, forget and move on.’

It means a lot to the writers of these and other contributions to know that their writing will be read out aloud during the act of worship.

Those of us who regularly visit prisoners know it is a two-way process. We receive as much, if not more, than we give.

David L Saunders

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