Elders are pleased to report that our Friends Meeting House has now re-opened for in-person Meetings for Worship, combining with our current Meetings for Worship already occurring on Zoom.
For our two Meetings on a Sunday, the Friends in the Meeting House will continue to greet those worshipping at 9.30 and 11.00 via Zoom, but then will close the internet link so that the Meetings can continue separately for their period of silent worship.
For our Meetings that occur midweek (Young Adult Friends, Tuesday and Thursday Breakfast Meetings, and Wednesday Lunchtime Meetings) we expect them to continue in their usual blended manner, (although discretion can be used by convenors as to whether to blend for each meeting).
We are also planning to hold a Meeting for Worship on Christmas Day at 10.30 via Zoom and in the Meeting House following the same new format – an opening greeting before separate group worship in the Meeting House in parallel with Friends worshipping via Zoom.
In pre-COVID times, every November saw the annual service when members of the homeless community and their friends and supporters came together to remember those living on the street who had died in the past year. In a moving celebration Mary Gurr, chaplain to the homeless community, read out their names and a candle was lit for each named person, usually by a friend or someone who had worked with them or known them well. After the service we shared tea and cake and reminiscences. It was always an occasion of great pathos as well as shame that in a wealthy city like Oxford some of our most vulnerable citizens could be left to die on our streets.
This year we are unable to meet, commemorate, and drink tea afterwards, sharing memories of our friends. Instead, from 10:00 to 18:00 from Monday 16 to Friday 20 November, the city church of St Michael at the North Gate in Cornmarket Street will be open (and COVID-secure) for anyone to call in and light a candle and remember all those whose lives have ended in this way in 2020. It will be good if some members of our community take this opportunity to remember members of the homeless community in our midst.
For the period of lockdown starting on 5th November, 43 St Giles will be closed for in-person Meetings for Worship. All our regular Meetings for Worship will be continuing as usual via Zoom. For times and information on accessing Zoom, please visit Meetings for Worship During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Local faith groups have prepared videos for Oxford’s Remembrance Day service on Sunday 8th November. The videos include one produced by our own Meeting, featuring one of the children talking about Quakers and war.
We understand from the Oxford City Council civic office that the videos will be broadcast at 11am on the City Council website.
The various video components will also be broadcast separately on the City Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Friends will be pleased to learn that, as a place of worship, the Meeting House is exempt from the Government’s new ‘rule of six.’ Our recently reinstated in-house meetings can therefore continue.
Also on the ‘good news’ theme, we now have technology installed in the Meeting House to enable Friends attending in person to worship together with those taking part via Zoom. The Garden Room and/or Library will be available for unconnected quiet worship for those who prefer.
On 20th August St Hilda’s College announced that Suzan Meryem Rosita Kalayci, a member of Oxford Meeting, has been appointed as College Chaplain and the inaugural Director of the College multi-faith space. Earlier this year the College’s Governing Body took the decision to move from providing a specifically Christian chapel to creating a multi-faith room, known as The Sanctuary. This is part of an initiative at St Hilda’s to explore an imaginative and inclusive approach to chaplaincy in the context of a diverse community that is fully committed to the principles of equality and mutual respect among its members.
An historian by training, Meryem has studied at universities in Turkey, Syria, the UK and Italy. Her research focuses on silence and silences, with a particular interest in the history of silence surrounding the Armenian genocide. She is currently completing a book entitled Reading Silences: Essays on Women, Memory and War in 20th Century Turkey, to be published by Degruyter early next year.
We understand that Meryem is the first Quaker to be appointed as Chaplain of an Oxford College. She will be working alongside Tas Cooper, the Quaker Chaplain of Oxford University, to develop events for students at the Meeting House.
If you are new to Oxford Quaker Meeting for the first time, and your first meeting will be via Zoom, we invite you to read our page First Time at Meeting via Zoom?. You will find out what happens when you enter the Zoom meeting, and how the meeting will unfold (it’s very much like a ‘normal’ Quaker meeting, but in virtual space).