Letters - 9 August 2019

From vibrancy and vivacity to added attractions

Vibrancy and vivacity

As clerk to the Vibrancy in Meetings Steering Group, I am pleased to see the articles about the success of the work, and the plans to expand the programme so there is a local development worker within reach of all Quaker Meetings in the next five years.

I would like to reassure Friends that the local development workers are not ‘paid pastors’ (12 July). Their role can best be described as accompaniment, working alongside Area Meetings, Local Meetings, other Quaker groups and communities, and individual Friends. Their job is to encourage and enhance what Friends already do. They are not taking responsibility away from local Friends, but helping them to exercise it more cheerfully and confidently.

We recognise the challenges in what ‘within reach’ may mean in different parts of the country. We see reach as being about geography (making sure workers can travel to Friends relatively quickly) and about emotional proximity (Friends feeling that staff are Meeting-centred).

It is hard to sum up the richness and depth of the work so far, but Friends might like to visit the Vibrancy in Meetings webpage www.woodbrooke.org.uk/learn/about/vibrancy-in-meetings where you can see a film made with Friends who have benefitted from the programme, and read the evaluation report.

Roger Clarke
Clerk to the Vibrancy in Meetings Steering Group

Peterloo and protest

As may be clear to readers from the excellent article about Peterloo in the Friend (26 July), Manchester Quakers have been examining their place in this critical event. While we would love to think that Quakers played a key role in supporting the protest and protestors, we have learned from our Friend Elizabeth Bailey and others that our perception of Quaker involvement may owe more to twentieth century spin than to historical accuracy.

Modern Manchester Quakers do often feel moved to protest. On Sunday 18 August at noon we will be attempting to form a silent circle of people around our Meeting house – both as a memorial to those who have died for the right to protest and in order to affirm the importance of these rights today. In order to get all the way round we will need 199 people and we warmly invite all Friends to join us. Elizabeth Bailey will be giving a short talk afterwards at which you can hear more on this fascinating topic. Any enquiries to admin@manchesterquakers.org.uk.

Sarah Donaldson

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