Welcome to Southern Marches Area Quaker Meeting.
Southern Marches Area Quaker Meeting (SMAQM) covers a large geographic area from southern Herefordshire to mid-Shropshire and into mid-Wales. The Area Meeting has some of the oldest continually-used Friends Meeting Houses and is an active Quaker community.
Please check on the Local Meeting’s page for details of Meetings for Worship
You can find online Quaker worship by clicking the link below.
Epistle from Britain Yearly Meeting
held in person and online from 28 April to 1 May 2023
We send loving greetings to Friends everywhere.
Cyfleuwn gyfarchion cariadus i Gyfeillion ym mhob man.
Quakers of all ages gathered for Yearly Meeting at Friends House in London, Hemel Hempstead and online. Preparatory sessions took place online in the week before, and Junior Yearly Meeting met earlier in April. An All-together meeting for worship was held with many local meetings and individual Friends joining virtually across Britain and beyond.
We meet at a time when existential issues face us both within our aging and numerically diminishing Society and in the wider world. These require urgent responses. Quakers can show leadership and offer counsel that will help our nations in matters of the degradation of public truth, the climate and ecological crisis, and divisive public commentaries around people’s identities and associated rights.
How best can we achieve this? We are a people of faith, always in transition on an exciting path of collective and personal exploration. We seek and follow the eternal Truth of the Spirit, which has many names, remaining open to new leadings and also to the possibility that we are mistaken. Our faith requires us to practise our testimony of truth and integrity in all that we say and do.
Kindness has a powerful impact and we hope to offer caring support to all, including those with whom we may disagree. Speaking from a faith perspective can carry weight. We try to let our lives speak and have a ministry of presence, but can we speak out more as Quakers?
We can be a listening presence, creating a “kinder ground”, alongside speaking truth in public places and contexts. We are called to witness truth-telling, accountability, community-building, and to give messages of hope. Speaking truth to power with love is a ministry, and is vital in a time when truth is often corrupted.
Our Quaker community has many voices, and we are upheld as one by the power of the Spirit. We all have a part to play, need to collaborate and trust those doing work on our behalf. Are we open to all voices, and how can we develop structures to engage all Friends through active listening? Ensuring true access for all in our community is a work of love. This may require us to move outside our own comfort and experience others’ frustrations and discomforts.
Yearly Meeting is the all-encompassing body of which we are all a part and where we are most diverse. It takes on the big questions – Who are we as Quakers? Why are we here? What are we led to do? At times we have been mystified, even baffled. However, we discern a need to simplify our structures to make them more transparent, to release energy for practical ministry. We seek intentional change, led by the Spirit, to help our community to thrive as we move into the uncertain futures that dance before us.
Building on our tradition of radical spirituality, we need to be courageous, imaginative, careful, and joyful. We seek corporate structures that are agile, simpler, more inclusive and support equality. Big questions are being asked about how we take the Society forward, with ways of working that meet our practical needs and have spirit-led discernment flowing throughout.
This work will continue into 2024, and ways to involve Friends across Britain Yearly Meeting will be developed, arising from our discernment thus far. As a Society, we must go in whichever direction we are led, so that the Truth may prosper.
Signed in and on behalf of Yearly Meeting,
Epistle of Junior Yearly Meeting
held at Frontier Centre, Northamptonshire. 1–4 April, 2023
To all Friends everywhere,
Between the 1–4 of April 2023, 46 participants and 10 adult volunteers gathered at the Frontier Centre in Northamptonshire to consider the theme:
“Speaking Truth to Power: How can we release this energy to bring light to our worlds?”
Our weekend was filled with fascinating explorations of truth, power, and integrity. As young Quakers, we experienced the importance of building community and forming meaningful connections. Throughout the weekend, we participated in Base Groups, which provided a familial atmosphere that enabled us to quickly become comfortable with one another. This allowed us to let loose, laugh, and truly be ourselves.
We met daily in worship and felt enriched by the ministry shared, which was a vital part of our community. Through song, movement, and quiet reflection, we strengthened our spiritual connection. Together, we explored the subjectivity of definitions, the importance of discernment, and the balance between faith and practical action. The final epilogue ended with a bonfire, where we shared our gratitude for one another in an incredibly sentimental way.
Our community was further enhanced by a range of activities and events, including a Ceilidh, outdoor activities run by the Frontier Centre, and a quiz. The weather improved as our community strengthened, encouraging us to utilise the outdoors as well as the indoors.
Our theme was introduced by our Arrangements Committee, and their interpretations of it so far were shared. We ended with reflective questions including “How can we create positive change from intense feelings?” We contrasted these thoughts with actions by listening to the adult volunteer team sharing their experiences of speaking truth to power through different lenses. This included restoring historical voices, smashing a Banksy and speaking Truth to Power as part of the trade union movement.
Our guest speakers included Paul Parker, who shared reflections on the work of Marjory Post Abbott. This discussed Everyday Prophets, and how young Quakers who are often called ‘the future’ of Quakerism can hold this prophetic role as Quakers now. The session enabled us to appreciate the importance of speaking with love. Jude Acton encouraged the group to explore what
speaking truth to power meant to us as individuals as well as members of communities. We shared in groups how we might do this in our everyday lives. This thought-provoking session raised a multitude of questions that the community was very eager to engage with. This contributed to making our Quaker Meeting for Worship for Business so powerful.
As we reflect on our time together, we are filled with gratitude for the connections we formed and the insights we gained. We depart with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to speak truth to power in our everyday lives.
We wish to share the final paragraph of our minute, as we leave this community ready to seek the balance between speaking truth and hearing it in our lives.
“To speak truth to power is as much about knowing when to use our voice as it is to use our silence. This balance is quintessential, if we only speak we have no chance to listen inclusively but if we only listen we cannot bring about change. This balance is the answer.”
Signed in and on behalf of Junior Yearly Meeting 2023
Eve Park Olwyn Lewis-Bowen