This website started in June 2007. The content was based on a model provided by Scotland GM, originally developed by Joe Latham after his retirement, and was developed in detail by the Devon and Cornwall website Briefing Group between October 2006 and March 2007. Like the new Scotland GM site, and thanks to Chris Bevington of Marazion Meeting, it was built (mainly from March to June 2007) using Drupal, an open-source Content Management System, which enables users to enter content. The Briefing Group was renamed the IT Committee on 9 June 2007, and the Working Group in October 2009.
In October 2007 local meetings in Devon and Cornwall were asked to comment on the following possible additions to the website:
1 Letters page, on which any member or any meeting in D&C could write.
2 News page, for news from meetings and relevant other news.
3 Short stories about people known to meetings, and what they do.
4 Minutes or accounts of business meetings.
6 Young Quakers page
The question was also put at several meetings in November, and 2 and 3 above were preferred.
Barnstaple Meeting commented as follows in January 2008: "We see a page for young Quakers as being valuable to our scattered and computer literate young people. Also of value could be a page of contact details of Ffriends willing to offer hospitality to those travelling in the area.' Of interest to you might be the fact that we had a first time attender at our meeting yesterday who said she had picked up a lot of information from the website and mentioned how much she appreciated the sense of humour running through it!"
Another meeting mentioned in January 2008 that attenders had come having seen the website: 'Who are the Quakers?' was particularly liked.
On 9 February 2008 General Meeting agreed that a News Page and a Young Quakers page should be added to the website. On 17 February it was suggested that there should be a Quaker Q on the Home page, and that all meetings should have at least a photo, a map link and contact details on their web page.
In Spring 2008 some Friends in Barnstaple were concerned about the use on the Home Page in April of the notes concerning CTE which accompanied Advices and Queries 6. The full text is given below:
"Do you work gladly with other religious groups in the pursuit of common goals? While remaining faithful to Quaker insights, try to enter imaginatively into the life and witness of other communities of faith, creating together the bonds of friendship."
(This is one of forty two such Advices and Queries, all of which are given at http://qfp.quakerweb.org.uk/qfp1-02.html. They are frequently read or referred to in Quaker Meetings for Worship)
Britain Yearly Meeting, the prime meeting for Quaker church affairs in Britain, is a member of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which includes CTE (Churches Together in England).
The Basis of membership of these bodies reads: "The Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland is a fellowship of churches in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit".*
Having no creed, the Society of Friends was unable to agree to this, and are members under what is known as Clause 2b, which reads as follows:
"A church, which on principle has no credal statements in its tradition and therefore cannot formally subscribe to the statements of faith in the Basis, may nevertheless apply for and be elected to full membership provided that it satisfies those member churches which subscribe to the Basis that it manifests faith in Christ as witnessed to in the Scriptures and is committed to the aims and purposes of the new ecumenical body, and that it will work in the spirit of the Basis."
* From 'Quaker Faith and Practice (third edition), reference 9.09. I was unable to find a full explanation of the position until now (6 April 2008), thanks to John Ward of Bideford Meeting. It is given in Quaker Faith and Practice online at http://quakersfp.live.poptech.coop/qfp/chap9/9.08.html in paragraph 9.09.
Britain Yearly Meeting also has a Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations
Barnstaple Friends felt that the text above was unsuitable for use on a website for enquirers because it does not convey the spirit of Quakerism - open to all and by no means limited to professing Christians. Alan Ray-Jones
February 2009: A member of Bideford Meeting felt that to have a temporary Home Page featuring the 'Campaign against War' was wrong since the Home Page could be seen by enquirers and the general public. Such a page would give them a distorted idea of what Quakers are about - the Home Page should be relatively permanent (not changed every six weeks or so), and should be about Quakerism itself rather than about one of many Quaker concerns.