Yesterday I attended 'Community - build it or break it?', tenth in a series of Dialogues organised by London Quaker's. 53 friends from across London gathered at Friends House to hear Catherine West and Nigel Norie speak about difficulties of finding ways of tackling inequality consistent with Quaker principles. We heard about initiatives such as the Islington Fairness Commission, North London Citizens and the Islington Youth Council. Catherine described Islington’s methods of tackling gang-based crime through restorative justice. The afternoon raised many more questions than it answered.

Nigel spoke of how, as a photographer, his camera was originally a way of maintaining distance from a community alien to him, before it became a way of making contact. Are we keeping others at arms length? Jesus said ‘the poor will always be with you’. Are the poor with us? Or, perhaps it is better to ask, are we with the poor? Do campaigning and charitable giving without building relationships perpetuate our separation from the dispossessed? Does it concern us that many of our Meeting Houses are in affluent areas? The issue of economics was so important to the early church that two members are struck dead for deceitfully withholding some of their resources from the group. What issues are so important to us that we would challenge someone’s membership of the Quaker community? Why do we not model the radical economics and intimate sharing of the early church?

Mark keeps a blog on Quakers and Community (

Views: 115

Comment by James C Schultz on 4th mo. 29, 2012 at 2:29pm

There's a lack of intimacy among the brethren.  I spent years trying to help someone but they only wanted help their way even though their way was to kill themselves.  I can only help a limited number of people.  I can't justify helping one person who is insistent on killing themselves at the expense of another who might actually have a chance at a better life.  It's the same with charitable organizations.  I bring people to organizations that are supposed to help people help themselves and I talk to the leaders of these organizations about what the person needs and I'm told the organization will work on helping the client do that but after years of observation it it apparent that they are only interested in serving as a baby sitting service and collecting money from the government or grants on a per capita basis.  How am I supposed to support such organizations?  I believe we have to assist our neighbor on a one to one basis if we want to help.  We have to take them fishing and not give them a fish.  Some things never change.

Our meeting houses might be in affluent areas but we don't all live in affluent areas.  Furthermore if a meeting house is in an area that limits it use maybe we should sell it and buy a place in a poor area.  Just a thought.

Comment by Mark Russ on 4th mo. 29, 2012 at 3:39pm

Thanks for your comment James. It brought these words of Thomas Kelly's to my mind - "Within the Fellowship emerges the special circle of a few on whom, for each of us, a particular emphasis of nearness has fallen... But the membership of such special groups is different and overlapping... The total effect, in a living Church, would be sufficient intersection of these bonds to form a supporting, carrying network of love for the whole of mankind".

Comment by James C Schultz on 4th mo. 29, 2012 at 4:52pm

Your blog got my attention.  So I posted my own.  I think this is a man of la mancha moment.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 4th mo. 29, 2012 at 5:20pm

San Francisco Meeting, a few years back, sold their beautiful Meeting House in a beautiful neighborhood & moved downtown to a building they share with the AFSC, right on the edge between ritzy & homeless. I don't know how many coming to Meeting actually stop to talk with those homeless folks on their doorstep, but this did always strike me as a good move, a sign of spiritual life at work among them....

We don't model ourselves on the Early Church because we ain't them! We can brag or deplore all we like, about that!

But to really be like that Church-- for the same right reasons that they found it natural-- We would need to take ourselves back before Pentecost. To await Power-- and wisdom-- from above.  To literally 'Do nothing till you hear from Me!'

"But what if...." "What about?..." Well, when you're faced with cases which are that clear, that Power is at work in them, and clearly calling! But what does it profit a man to figure out The Right Thing To Do-- if that wasn't what God really wants from him?

Comment by James C Schultz on 4th mo. 29, 2012 at 5:54pm

I have found that when I am in doubt about what God would have me do, I try to do that which is loving and against my natural instinct.  It's too easy to do nothing.  If Christ is in me I have to believe He wants to love through me.  That's not to say I don't often do nothing waiting for that extra confirmation or for God to make a wider way open.


You need to be a member of QuakerQuaker to add comments!

Join QuakerQuaker

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.

You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

William F Rushby liked William F Rushby's discussion Recapturing Initiative for Conservative Friends
6th day (Fri)
Sandi Was Here updated their profile
4th day (Wed)
William F Rushby replied to William F Rushby's discussion 'Recapturing Initiative for Conservative Friends'
"In its more vigorous days, the Rockingham Meeting undertook a program of intervisitation with other…"
8th month 4
Keith Saylor commented on Keith Saylor's blog post 'Online Version of William Rogers 1680 text "The Christian Quaker..."'
"Published William Shewen's "TREATISE Concerning Evil Thoughts and…"
8th month 4
William F Rushby replied to William F Rushby's discussion 'Recapturing Initiative for Conservative Friends'
"The paper I just posted revises one I wrote 20 years ago.  I would like to add one more…"
8th month 2
William F Rushby posted a discussion

Recapturing Initiative for Conservative Friends

I have been involved with Conservative Friends, sometimes more and sometimes less, for 50 years. …See More
8th month 2
Marcia P Roberts commented on Marcia P Roberts's blog post 'No respector of persons'
"William, Keith: Thank you for your words, which strengthen me and comfort me in this struggle. In…"
7th month 28
Keith Saylor commented on Marcia P Roberts's blog post 'No respector of persons'
"Marcia, I share your struggle with the power of the reflective process in matters of human…"
7th month 28

© 2020   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service