I read with interest Louise Rendle’s article of 1 January 2021 in which she says how difficult she finds it to come out of Meeting for Worship on Zoom into a virtual gathering of some twenty people where deep sharing is all but impossible and then to leave the Meeting abruptly and find herself back in the isolation of her home.
At New Earswick Meeting we have been using Zoom breakout rooms after the Meeting for Worship and notices. The host randomly assigns us to breakout rooms with up to six participants for about fifteen minutes. Over a period we get to know all the Friends who regularly attend Meeting on Zoom better than we might do in brief conversations over coffee after Meeting.
Sometimes the time in breakout rooms is filled with small talk, but often the conversation goes deeper and Friends sometimes feel safe to open up to a surprising degree.
Do we stay open?
Since the latest government lockdown permitted public worship to continue our trustees allowed Local Meetings to decide whether to stay open for Sunday worship.
So after worship last Sunday we discerned our leading. We had been reminded in ministry of the children of Reading Meeting continuing to ‘hold’ Meeting when their parents were imprisoned.
We remembered the witness of solo Friends maintaining worship on their own and two of our number had themselves regularly held their Meeting also on their own.
Our discernment was to keep the Meeting house open for public worship, with no pressure on members to attend, especially those who drove a fair distance and with full Covid safeguards in place.
We truly felt the power of Quaker history and witness with us in our decision.
David L Saunders
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