Quaker centres discuss ‘controversial bookings’

‘Dealing with controversial bookings’ is one of the main topics at the annual Quaker Centres Gathering in Edinburgh next week

‘Dealing with controversial bookings’ is to be one of the main topics at the annual gathering of Quaker centre delegates, held next week at Edinburgh Meeting house. According to Sue Proudlove, from Edinburgh Meeting, the Quaker Centres Gathering on 15 and 17 January will also focus on ‘planning for an uncertain future in the current political climate’ and ‘working with our local communities’. She said: ‘We are pleased that Paul Parker, Britain Yearly Meeting’s [BYM’s] recording clerk, will be with us as a keynote speaker, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell will be helping us “scan the horizon” for the future.’

The topic of ‘dealing with difficult bookings’ will seem particularly timely after several controversies over bookings last year. These included an impasse between Central Manchester Meeting and Young Friends in Manchester over a group using the Meeting house accused of transphobia. There was also a dispute when Brighton Meeting cancelled a talk by former Labour MP Chris Williamson amid threats of violence. Penny Cloutte, from Brighton Meeting, told the Friend at the time: ‘We found that we had landed in the midst of a bitter fight between the left and right of the Labour Party and the differing, highly charged perspectives on the conflict in the Middle East.’

Friends House in London was also criticised in May for hosting an event which featured Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ticket for which included a copy of his book The Victorians: Twelve Titans who Forged Britain. Paul Parker, BYM recording clerk, said at the time that BYM trustees were ‘already planning to review the lettings policy’.

The event includes staff, trustees and board members from centres ranging from Friends House, Woodbrooke and Swarthmoor Hall to medium-sized Meeting houses.

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