Online Quaker resources to explore during the lockdown

Neopithecops zalmora, also known as Quaker. Dr Raju Kasambe CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Friends will have recently received a forwarded email from Tabitha Driver and David Irwin, Librarians at Friends’ House. The message provides links to a treasure-house of Quaker – and non-Quaker – resources for us to explore while meeting houses and their libraries are closed.

The list is extensive, even daunting, and many sites are definitely for specialists and researchers. However, I have dabbled in some of them, and suggest the following if you are looking for informative and/or inspirational Quaker texts:

Some of these sites have a slightly out-of-date look and feel, and some of their links to resources are broken, but it’s worth persevering – you are sure to find a nugget here and there.

I also enjoyed browsing the photos of Quaker Meeting Houses taken by John Hall. They’re on Flickr at Click ‘Albums’ for a county-by-county journey through our architecture past and present.

And just for fun, I typed “Quaker” into Wikimedia Commons (, another site in the “Images online” section. The first page of results included an illustration of a 19th-century American nursery song, “Quaker courtship” (no connection with Friends!) and the above photo of a rather delicate butterfly from SE Asia, which has the common name “Quaker.” I thought it an aptly colourful illustration for this post.

Forty-Three: April 2020 issue now online + copy date for May

The coronavirus outbreak means that April’s issue of Forty-Three has been published in digital format only. Friends who normally receive their issue by email will have done so; a copy is also available on the Forty-Three Newsletter page. We are aware that some Friends don’t have internet access, so if you know someone who would appreciate receiving a paper copy, please email the office and we will ensure that one is posted to them.

Contributions are welcomed for the May issue. Please send articles, poems etc. in Word format, and images in .jpg or .png format by 17th April to

Worshipping at home, including via Zoom

On 18th March Elders sent the following message to Oxford Friends:

“Although all Meetings for Worship at Oxford Meeting House are currently suspended, Elders still intend to sit, at home, in worshipful silence at the usual times of our regular Meetings for Worship. We would like to encourage Friends to join us at the same time in worship from their own homes. This can be a time to hold ourselves and each other in the Light, and to offer spiritual support and reflection for the challenging times ahead.”

Oxford Friends are now able to share in our regular Meetings for Worship and social gatherings online, using Zoom. General instructions for using Zoom are in the March issue of Forty-Three. The Zoom codes that you will need to attend specific Meetings and gatherings are being sent by email to Friends and Attenders who are on our mailing list. If you aren’t on the mailing list and would like to join in, please send an email to

Woodbrooke College organises online Meetings for Worship for 30 minutes on Wednesdays and Fridays. For further information, visit (link opens in a new tab).

Coronavirus: Meetings for Worship suspended

Chris White, Co-Clerk to Elders of Oxford Friends’ Meeting, has sent the following email to Friends. We reproduce it here for general information:

In the light of the advice from the Government on Monday 16th March, Elders have come to the conclusion that we need to immediately suspend having all further Meetings for Worship in our Meeting House.

Elders will be considering finding other ways for Oxford Friends to worship in unity together over the next few days.

Oxford Friends Meeting House: Coronavirus

As coronavirus is hitting the headlines, we wanted to reassure you, our visitors and customers, that we take measures to protect you and your group members and delegates. Our cleaning team follows strict procedures and always aims to ensure that we achieve high levels of hygiene and cleanliness in our meeting rooms, kitchen, toilets and public areas. We would like to kindly remind you that we cannot curtail the spread of coronavirus without your help.

Before your meeting or event:
If you know or are aware that some of your delegates may be coming back from high-risk areas, ask them to call 111 and follow their instructions. If a delegate lets you know they may have coronavirus (symptoms include coughing, high temperature, shortness of breath), they should call 111. You can find more information on the NHS website:

During your meeting and event: 
In the toilets, we have put signs to remind people about the best way to protect themselves and others from the virus:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitizer gel, regularly throughout the day.
  • Catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue, bin it, and wash your hands with soap.
  • Some groups and individuals are finding other ways of greeting each other without shaking hands.

December 43 Newsletter

Felt Connections between Quaker and Butoh Practice

As the novelist E.M. Forster once wrote, ‘Only connect’. This inspiring injunction has meant a lot to me throughout my life, and even become something of a habit. Today I would like to share with you some of the connections I see between my practice as a Quaker and as a Butoh dancer.

Butoh dance emerged in American-occupied post-war Japan and is still little known in Europe. It is not easy to define, mainly because of its commitment to resisting standard definition and easy categorization. Today though, many of us will be aware of it through the Red Rebels branch of Extinction Rebellion, whose movements and guerrilla approaches are quintessentially Butoh.

To evoke what Butoh seeks to articulate, its two founding fathers, Kazuo Ohno and Hijikata Tatsumi, called it a dance of both darkness and light; one concerned with preserving community in all its diversity, respecting messiness and shadows as well as the light within, and inspiring personal transformation.

Two key elements of its language, silence and a combination of charged stillness and movement, are used to connect with our humanness, move us away from seeing the mind as distinct from the body, and instead see the body as the home of thought and feeling. It is in such ways of seeking for a naked enlivening encounter with the source of our being I find first parallels between Quaker and Butoh practice.

It is also very much understood as a spiritual practice that can serve as a channel for grace: one in which re ec on and experimentation lead to change and fresh perspectives. As Kazuo Ohno put it, ‘and the spirit and the form will take care of itself’. This resonates for me with my understanding of ministry, and the belief each of us has something new and of value to other others.

Finally, I see another connection in Butoh’s expression of deeply engrained, personal, and collective politics. Butoh was from the outset conceptualised as an activist dance form that rejects the ‘bad check called democracy’ (Hijikata Tatsumi). Hence it is often used to call attention to environmental and social issues.

Rather than my explaining more, why not come to watch a performance in Oxford? The group I practice with, Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre, are performing at Corpus Chris College on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 January 2020. The show is called ‘Tipping Point’ and is a creative response to the threat of climate change. For more details, and to book, please see here, or go the Café Reason website at

Juliet Henderson

Website Redesign

As you may notice, we are in the process of redesigning our website! Thank you for your patience in bearing with us. Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Email