Following a fire at the Meeting House, we are currently meeting in a community lounge at Ethelwynne Brown Close, East The Water, just near the Wooda Medical Centre. Go almost to the end of Ethelwynne Brown Close and enter through the large door to No 58. (Please look at the map below to see the exact location).There will be someone "on the door" until 10.35 waiting to welcome you. After that time, press the top (tradesmen) door button - NOT the button marked 58!. The door will open, and you then turn left for the meeting room.
Meeting for Worship Time: 10.30 a.m.
Children’s Meeting Times:
c/o The Clerk,Bideford Quakers,34 Orchard HillBidefordEX39 2QY
Clerk: Rob Sharrock
|Meeting for Business top|
|takes place on the first Sunday in every month at 12 noon.|
|The Quaker Meeting for Worship|
On average, about a dozen people are present at public Quaker Meetings for Worship here.
These last for about an hour, and, as in other Quaker Meetings, the worship is based in a still silence, with few spoken words.
At Bideford, unlike many other Quaker meetings, the hour is followed by a few minutes of "Afterwords" during which anyone present can talk about what might have been in their mind during the meeting, even though they did not feel prompted to speak during the hour's worship. This is a sharing exercise, not a discussion, and can sometimes be inspiring, or heartwarming.
After Meeting, refreshments are served and there is lots of time for chatter and exchange of news.
See below for more about the Quaker way.
What do Quakers believe?
The Quaker way centres around an actual experience, deep within our being, of a presence, a spirit, an illuminating light, of God (there are many words, none of them adequate, which can be used to describe that which has become so important in our lives). We recognise that, in all human beings the world over, there is the capacity to discover this quiet place, this divine spark within, a light to live by, if we are able to set aside our own self will.
We are inspired by the teachings of Jesus, and by many other scriptural and other writings, but we do not see any of them as infallible doctrine because, in the final count, Truth cannot be comprehended by the human intellect. It is only known in the heart of the humble seeker.
So you will not find Quakers listing things you have to believe, but you will find a great breadth of understanding as each of us follows a path which is both individual, and yet also a way which we tread together. When a person finds that place of stillness, of quiet assurance, of infinite love - then the listing of doctrines and beliefs becomes at best superfluous; at worst a destructive and divisive distraction.
For that reason, you will find that Quakers do not present you with a list of things which you have to believe. There is no Quaker creed. Creeds, in the Quaker view, cannot express eternal truths, and can be a barrier to spiritual growth.
What have Bideford Quakers been up to?
Although active in many spheres of social and environmental enterprise, Quakers are not, fundamentally, activists. Whatever activities Quakers take part in, or, not infrequently, initiate; these things always spring from a strong awareness of a guiding spirit in our lives. Spiritual awareness comes first; work for the environment, with the poor and dispossessed, or witness against war all arise from a spiritual imperative.
The Bideford Sustainability Group
Back in July, 2009, Bideford Quakers set up their own Sustainability Group aimed at promoting sustainable living. The inspiration for this was a visit by one of our members to a Quaker Council for European Affairs conference in Brussels, combined with material from the Living Witness Project (LWP) (www.livingwitness.org.uk ).
The group decided to start by educating themselves and, among other things, watched a number of documentaries - An Inconvenient Truth, The Truth about Climate Change (David Attenborough), A Convenient Solution (Greenpeace) and The Age of Stupid.
The LWP were invited to give a one-day workshop for the Meeting, and as a result set about trying to make our meeting house more sustainable. It set up a “Green Page” in the local free magazine known as the “Bideford Buzz” (now, only available as an online publication) and gave public showings of three of the documentaries. Publicity was achieved by writing personal letters to each local councillor, writing to the local press, and distributing leaflets and putting up posters wherever possible, and there was an audience of 40 at the final film showing, including the Liberal Democrat Candidate for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
One outcome of this last meeting was the setting up of a new organisation: The Bideford Sustainability Group which has become increasingly active in the town, and is now a strongly flourishing body. (http://bidefordsustain.org/)
This is but one example of the way in which a Quaker initiative can act as a trigger for the launch of something much bigger. Other examples of many Quaker "start ups" are Oxfam, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Bideford Quakers' Social gatherings
On the first Tuesday of the month, many Bideford Friends get together for "coffee and cakes" from 10.30 until 12 noon. This is currently at the Pannier Pantry, at the bottom of Bridgeland Street, from 10.30 until 12 noon. This has proved to be a very popular and cheerful occasion, enabling us to get to know each other better. All associated with the meeting, and their partners, are very welcome.
There is a monthly meeting, usually at someone's home, when we meet to discuss - or share our experience of - what has come to be known as Spiritual Matters. This covers a wide breadth of topics, all with a religious/spiritual dimension.
The Book Group
This well-established group meets monthly, and discusses works of fiction and non-fiction at the house of one member of the meeting.
There is a "Chat and Make" group which meets for friendly chatter, and for "making" things by knitting, crocheting, or by any other activity which could come under the heading of "making".
More recently, several members of the meeting have beccome involved with Extinction Rebelllion- as their expression of the Quaker testimony to the environment.
Other members of the meeting are active in a community group called Torridge Common Ground (https://www.torridgecommonground.org.uk/) a non party political movement which is based upon listening to local people's concens about their locality, and giving support to local independent councillors who share the same philosophy.
To find out what Bideford Quakers will be getting up to next, watch this space!