Letters - 4 September 2020

From Swarthmore Lecture to Give Glenthorne a go

Swarthmore Lecture

What an exciting read the Swarthmore Lecture, Openings to the infinite ocean, A friendly offering of Hope, is this year! If one cuts through the excessive plethora of quotations (and surely the editors could have helped with this) to Tom Shakespeare’s own words, what a challenge it is for us as individuals but also to the Religious Society of Friends as an organisation.

He asks: ‘What would make us, as Friends, really unpopular today? As Quakers, it seems to me that we need to be a constant disturbance in society. We need to be a troubling people. Maybe we are called to be just that.’

But is that the way we and the world see Britain Yearly Meeting today? I think not. I hope the Society can respond to Tom positively and answer that call.
John H Hall

I fully appreciate the importance of maintaining spiritual and emotional connection among Friends during these difficult times and welcome the emergence of Zoom as a clear favourite technical solution that enables this to happen. Since lockdown began, I have welcomed and looked forward to the chance to connect with our Meeting in this way. 

My faith in Zoom was recently called into question when I attended a blended worship in Ipswich as a way of fact-finding to understand how our own Meeting might build on their experience.

As we settled into our Meeting I was immediately and forcefully struck by the power of human contact in a way that Zoom could never replace. Even though we could not touch and maintained the appropriate social distance I knew that human contact (or in this case proximity) in and of itself is a form of ministry; a gift and a reminder of the essence of how Quakers come together. I accept that some may not be able to attend a face-to-face meeting and Zoom facilitates meetings for those who cannot attend or choose not to. As we return to something approximating our old lives I hope that personal meetings once again become the norm and that Zoom reverts to its rightful place – a facilitator, not a substitute medium for our Meetings for Worship.

Colin Hopkins

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