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).
In-house Meetings for Worship have restarted alongside our Zoom meetings, with both Sunday meetings and weekday meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For further information, please visit Meetings for Worship During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Quaker bookworms will be pleased to learn that it is once again possible to borrow books and pamphlets from the Library at no. 43. It will not be possible for you to go in and browse, so we have published the ‘handlists’ – categorised lists of the holdings – online on the Using our Library page. Simply browse through the list (or lists) relevant to your interests and make a note of the title(s) in which you are interested. Then, complete the online form, which will be sent automatically to the librarian, Catherine Hilliard. Catherine will pick the book(s) from the shelves and put them in a bag in the foyer for you to collect. Happy reading!
Chris White writes on behalf of Elders:
We are writing to share with you the planning process for the re-opening of 43 for Meetings for Worship, especially in the light of the news from the Government that places of worship can re-open from July 4th.
Before we can re-open we will need to have in place measures that enable social distancing as well as increased hygiene facilities. Alongside this we will need to have a new team of welcomers to advise Friends who are returning to worship in the Meeting House.
Elders, alongside the Office team and other members of the Meeting, have been planning for this, and we are currently waiting for the publication of further guidelines from the Government before we can complete our plans. Once these are finalised they will then need to be approved by our Trustees before we can set dates for when our various Meetings for Worship can recommence.
Once we have approval from Trustees we will be able to publish a timetable for the reopening of 43, along with details of the changes Friends can expect to see at the Meeting House. A training and familiarisation event will also be organised for Friends who have volunteered to be welcomers prior to our reopening.
What do Friends think about returning to 43?
During June, the Meeting surveyed Friends in order to gain an indication of how many would be minded to return to Meetings for Worship in 43, with appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures. A total of 89 responses was received; from the analysis we have concluded that:
- Some Friends are interested in returning as soon as possible to Meetings on Sunday (both times), Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
- Other Friends are more cautious and would prefer a ‘paced’ return to MfW over several weeks (all times).
- Children’s Meetings can restart, dependent on pacing and organisation from Children’s Committee (CYPC).
- A pleasing number of Friends are willing to act as welcomers.
- Nearly a third of respondents wish to continue worshipping at home; we will therefore need to continue with Zoom meetings.
Two of our popular regular events are moving online while the coronavirus lockdown is in force. The Zoom URLs and codes are the same as for Sunday morning Meetings for Worship. If you don’t already have the codes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday with Friends
Friday 17th April at 7pm
Spirituality & Mathematics: Participants will be invited to engage in some tasks through which they might get a taste of “imminent transcendence.” Exercises will be different in substance from our previous session. No previous mathematical success required!
Wednesday 22nd April at 7:30pm
Quakers & Purpose: where do we find purpose for doing things, as Quakers? Is there a purpose for our lives? For human life?
Wednesday 20th May at 7:30pm
Quakers and Suffering: What is the Meeting for Sufferings, why was its purpose, and what does it do now? How Quakers try to ameliorate suffering.
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:
- Catalogue of old Quaker Writings http://www.qhpress.org/catalog/index.html
A selection of 17th 19th century Quaker writings available in print or online.
- Quaker writings homepage maintained by Peter Sippel: http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qwhp/qwhp.htm
“A diverse miscellany of Christian Quaker writings from all time periods, including multiple perspectives and different genres.”
- Quaker Electronic Archive http://www.qis.net/~daruma/
Contains excepts on Quaker writings as well as general information on Quakerism.
- Tract Association of Friends http://www.tractassociation.org/
Online Quaker tracts, pamphlets and longer works published by the Friends Tract Association of Philadelphia.
- Pendle Hill pamphlets published as Kindle books, available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=pendle+hill+pamphlets
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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/qmh. Click ‘Albums’ for a county-by-county journey through our architecture past and present.
And just for fun, I typed “Quaker” into Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/), 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.
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 email@example.com
Woodbrooke College organises online Meetings for Worship for 30 minutes on Wednesdays and Fridays. For further information, visit https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/about/online-mfw/ (link opens in a new tab).
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.
In light of the current of the Covid-19 outbreak, regular Tuesday soup lunches (normally 12:30-1:30) have been suspended for the time being. We’ll let Friends know when normal service resumes.
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: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
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.