Letters - 22 March 2024

From Meeting for Sufferings to In the Light

Meeting for Sufferings

As a Religious Society we are constantly faced by the tension between the pressures of living with the demands of the secular world, and our evolving religious heritage and vision. This tension is creative but it must be held in balance.

In recent years, the pressures of compliance have grown, and this balance has been disturbed. The proposal to lay down Meeting for Sufferings (8 March) and to increase the number of Yearly Meeting sessions could encourage this trend at the expense of our religious heritage and vision.

While managing this tension is time-consuming, requiring compromise and patience, it can produce a creative energy which we need going forward. Too much simplification is likely to be counter-productive and could result in disengagement, especially as we fragment into separate charities.

We would be in danger of becoming just another secular organisation, cut off from our roots and the wisdom of our tradition. We would lose an essential aspect of what makes us distinctive.

I hope we will think carefully before deciding to lay down Meeting for Sufferings which, despite its challenges, has served us well for many centuries.

Jenny Dnes

Zoom and its benefits

We frequently hear what advantages Zoom meetings bring in terms of helping the environment. I’m not so sure.

Take this as an example. At a recent Meeting for Sufferings there were 100 people present, sixty of them online. The forty who attended very probably travelled by train to London and got a tube to Euston. These would have been running whether Meeting for Sufferings members were on there or not.

At Friends House, the Meeting room would be heated and lit. No carbon footprint. Meanwhile the sixty Friends at home would be heating their rooms, have lights on, and be powering up their computers.

Of course, there are many other positive benefits of attending Meetings in person – the physical exercise, the renewal and consolidation of relationships, the opportunity to make new contacts.

Some also think that a Meeting for Worship with Friends in the same room is more conducive than one with those in attendance on a computer screen.

So a big thanks to those Friends who make the effort to actually attend – in person.

Rod Harper

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