Creating a Vision of our Future: Patterns of Quaker Life in London

Saturday, 5 November, 2011 - 10:00 to 16:00
This event was recorded. The audio files are available here:
How can all of us Quakers in London release and channel our energy, our money and our time – which all seem to be in short supply just now?
Can we work together – across the whole of London – to find a simpler and easier way forward for our Quaker lives together?

Schedule for the Day:

10.00 Gather – those who want drinks will bring them from the Quaker Cafe.

Maps of London and its Meetings will be on show

10.30 Worship

10.40 Introduction and scene setting

Four half hour slots each with a 15 minute introduction and discussion. 

10.50 Sharing a Vision for London – Alec Davison

11.20 Your Meeting House  – Resource or Millstone?  John Marsh, Dip Arch, RIBA

11.50 What Are Other Meetings Doing?    - Clare Scott Booth, Assistant Clerk of QSC

12.20 Changing Quaker Structures  – John Dash, Secretary of SWM

12.45 Lunch break; bring a packed lunch; drinks will be available.

During the lunch break, we all have an opportunity to talk over the presentations with the speakers, in four groups. A group for AM Clerks and AM Trustee Clerks will consider how we take all this forward in Area Meetings.  

2.00 - 3:30 Plenary  - three half hour discussions, each concluding with a decision

2.00 A London Quaker community?  

Are we still a pan-London body with a wide vision, prepared to plan as a whole? Or do we work better as separate groups? 

2.30 Planning for Life, Outreach and Growth?

Can we grow our Meetings into vibrant communities, reaching out into our neighbourhoods?

To achieve this, are we ready to review together the distribution of our Meetings and Meeting Houses in each part of London, to make sure each is needed, and ecologically sound?

3.00 Changing our structures?

Do we, through our Area Meetings, need to change our patterns and structures, to make all this easier?

3.30 Minute of the day’s exercise

3.50 Concluding worship

4 pm Tea 

Preparative information:
What’s happening now?
  • Six Weeks Meeting has asked us to face up to some basic questions about several of our buildings.

  • Our Local and Area Nominations Committees work hard to find Quakers to do all the jobs we need to keep our Meetings’ machinery going.

  • There are fewer of us, but not fewer Quaker organisations and jobs.

  • We want to do more outreach, but we have to spend time on routine stuff.

How do we decide things together?
In George Fox’s original vision for London, we were a gathered community, working, thinking and making business decisions together through Six Weeks Meeting plus London & Middlesex Quarterly Meeting.
We have since laid down Quarterly/General Meeting, and our seven LondonArea Meetings are now the business engines of our Quaker life.
Can we – do we - still genuinely think of ourselves as Friends together, sharing our thinking and our work across the capital? Can we work together?
What are we doing well?
There’s lots of exciting stuff going on:
  • Quaker Quest

  • Friends Southern Summer Events

  • Quaker Social Action

  • The Kindlers

  • Quaker Centre in Friends House

  • London’s Link Group for 11-18 year olds

  • Quaker Homeless Action (London work)

  • London Quaker Dialogues

  • Open Air Meetings for Worship each month at Speakers Corner

  • All sorts of local outreach: – we even have a Quaker Steel Band!

  • Forty Meetings welcome newcomers to worship each week

  • Thirty-five Meeting Houses let out rooms to all sorts of community groups.

So a lot is good – but the support for it all is creaking badly.
A day for discussion and decision - Saturday 5 November
London Quakers, backed by Six Weeks Meeting, welcomes all Quakers in
London to a day to consider this, and, we hope, to make some decisions.
We think the fundamental spiritual question is: How can we create more
energy, rather than sapping it, within Quaker bodies?
And the practical question is: How can we work together to make our Meetings
and Meeting Houses sustainable: in terms of cost, human resources, and
environmental responsibilities?
Some radical suggestions
Turn the whole problem into an opportunity! We have a big asset base of
buildings, we don’t need all of them - can we release capital and use the funds
Develop some Meeting Houses into social housing, a community centre etc
Create and staff four Quaker Centres in different parts of London etc
Professionalise – use the release of funds to pay accountants and admin staff
to do a lot of the paperwork
Make Six Weeks Meeting the Trustees for all the London Area Meetings
Have a single pan-London Area Meeting for legal purposes, divided into two or
four sections for practical stuff
Some underlying questions
If we were designing a business meeting structure for London now, what
would it look like?
What is a Meeting? How big is an effective Meeting? How do we get to this point?
How do we balance our right concern, for the money and business aspects
of our life together with our care for our Meetings, whatever their size, as
worshipping and Friendly communities?
Would we do better if we agreed to have fewer but larger Meetings, perhaps
with other satellite worship groups in Friends’ homes or in rented rooms?
Which London Meetings already specialise in offering a good experience to
children? What is the critical mass for a children’s group and a young people’s
What human resources do we have, and what do we need?
What spiritual resources do we have, and what do we need?
And are those last two questions actually separate questions or are they the
Which of our buildings witness to the best Quaker values? Which are inspiring,
welcoming and cheering – and why?
Which of our present buildings are environmentally friendly? How much will it
cost to meet Yearly Meeting’s commitment to making them greener and more
Do London’s transport patterns (and problems!) affect where our Meetings
could best be placed?
How do we move from discussing these questions to making decisions? Only
the Area Meetings can actually make the necessary decisions – so how do we
make them together?
How can we all prepare for this?
In our Area Meetings we are already aware of these issues, some of us
painfully aware. We’ve begun to look at them in our Local Meetings.
Can we all think about this as a London-wide question, as well as asking
ourselves how our own Meeting might be affected?
Could your Local Meeting consider these questions, and maybe begin to put
together some answers? Will you bring or send some practical suggestions or
minutes to the Day on 5 November?
The programme for the day, with some other preparatory papers, is on the
London Quakers website,
Please bring a packed lunch. This Gathering is free; we will welcome
donations for tea and coffee.
Beth Allen, Clerk,
London Quakers
Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
At meeting house: 


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