During the year Elders and Overseers spent time considering the “right ordering” of Meeting and reminded Friends and Attenders to try to arrive promptly and quietly, as it was felt that the quiet and stillness of Meeting was sometimes interrupted by several late arrivals. This was mentioned at Business Meeting and an item put in the newsletter. Elders and Overseers also decided to lay down the ‘Listening Friends’ scheme, whereby, following Meeting for Worship, Friends and Attenders were invited to speak to nominated Elders and Overseers if they had an issue they wished to discuss. They had found that the scheme was in fact never used, as people would talk to whomever they felt comfortable confiding in. They reflected that caring for each other is an important ministry which everyone can take part in. However, they arranged for photographs of Elders, Overseers (and of our Clerks) to be displayed in the Welcoming Area of the Meeting House, so that people could identify who the Elders and Overseers are and could approach an Elder or Overseer if they wished to do so.
This year has seen the illness and subsequent deaths of three of our Friends and Attenders and much need for Elders and Overseers and Meeting in general to visit and provide practical support for these Friends and then their families as well as other vulnerable members of meeting.
In January 2010 we took part in the Peterborough “pulpit swap” scheme. An Elder arranged for a group of Friends, including two Elders, to take part in a service at Park Road Baptist Church, where a period of time in the service was set aside for some readings from Quaker writers, interspersed by periods of quiet. The following week a Minister from Westgate Methodist Church came to our Meeting and participated in the Meeting. Both events proved very rewarding for all concerned.
During the annual Quiet day at Little Gidding in May, participants were offered a taster session of Experiment with Light, a taster session of Friendly Bible studies and circle dancing. In fact all participants took part in all three activities. From this, a Friendly Bible Studies group, focussing on the notion of that of God in everyone, met for six sessions in the autumn with further sessions planned for 2011 and Friends are now fully aware of what happens at the existing Experiment with Light group.
Elders and Overseers circulated copies of Ben Pink Dandelion’s booklet “Celebrating the Quaker Way” to all Members and regular Attenders, together with a copy of Advices and Queries. They also obtained copies of the ‘Becoming Friends’ course, for use by Attenders,who wished to learn more about Quakerism and offered to pay for the on-line course, for those who preferred this method of learning. A happy coincidence brought Ben Pink Dandelion to our Meeting House when he gave a lecture to the Peterborough Theological Society.
We arranged for the coordinator of the Peterborough Street Pastors scheme to talk to the Meeting and, on another occasion we heard from Joannie Harrison, our Quaker Hospital Chaplain, about the work she does in the local mental health trust . Both talks were very moving.
We participated in an Inter Faith Week event in November, which took the form of a display in the Town Hall, together with displays from other faith groups. The theme was science and religion and we borrowed some copies of relevant panels of the Quaker tapestry, to form the basis of our display.
There have been interesting developments in the work of Churches Together in Central Peterborough, a group of the eight city centre churches of which we are one, and in which we play an active part. These include chaplains for our university and the city centre, very successful youth activities during the summer, which are being further developed by a dedicated youth worker and work to improve the situation of homeless people in Peterborough.
We continue our Community Justice Project, which aims to provide small grants locally that help support, rehabilitate and resettle individuals who are in the criminal justice system or are in danger of falling into criminality, the ultimate aim being to prevent offending and re-offending. In 2010 we have supported a hostel for men completing their custodial sentences, a project working with women to prevent them re-offending, a scheme working with young people living difficult lives and a prison visiting scheme. Currently the Project has agreed support in principle for a housing project for those leaving prison, a peace garden in Peterborough Women’s Prison and a mental health project aimed at people in prison. A public meeting to consider the establishment of a Circles of Support and Accountability scheme in Peterborough was arranged and held in the Meeting House but with no obvious success in enlisting support.
During 2010, our Prison Chaplain, Mick Langford, laid down his work as a member of the core Chaplaincy team but continues to visit Peterborough Prison. He supports the Area Meeting Concern for Women in Prison group who regularly visit the Peterborough Women’s prison. He is in discussion with the Coordinating Chaplain on how Quakers can further serve in the Prison.
We have continued to open our garden as part of the Quiet Garden Movement , offering one open afternoon a month and one meditation morning a month. The meditation mornings started with coffee followed by a guided meditation and then by a period of quiet when those present could read, meditate or walk in the garden as they wished. The morning concluded with lunch. Whilst the numbers attending these events have been modest we know that these times were of great value to those present. We have been grateful for the support of Oundle Friends who have acted at as hosts when insufficient Peterborough Friends were available.
Despite being unable to obtain grants for the garden development so far, we have started to implement our design. Tree work has been done as has fresh planting. Our garden is now cared for by our Quiet Garden coordinator and her friend, both of whom have recently obtained RHS qualifications. The husbands of both our gardeners have also assisted. We are truly blessed to have such a dedicated and inspired gardening team.
The Outreach Committee’s work focused on Quaker Week and this year the theme was the Peace Testimony. We arranged for a Quiet Garden meditation on peace, a week-long exhibition on ‘Making Peace’ which opened with poetry on the subject of peace, which had been specially written for the occasion. We also arranged for the Quaker Theatre Company to perform the play ‘The Word’ by Kaj Munk which was well attended by Quakers and members of the public.
The Nominations Committee have reported that they have difficulty filling all of the offices and committees required by the Meeting, especially on an annual basis as has been the practice in our Meeting. They have proposed to Meeting and it has been accepted that we have a triennial appointment system and a bookkeeper should be employed to assist the Treasurers in their work. We continue to explore ways to make our administration more efficient and less time consuming so that we may focus on our spiritual lives and practical witness. Our new website is up and running.
Although Oundle LQM is now in Northamptonshire AM we are keen to keep in touch with our Oundle Friends so one Sunday we invited them to join us for lunch and fellowship. As we are also comparatively close to Oakham and Spalding we invited these Friends to join us too. We had a delightful time and the four meetings are keen to continue contact across AM borders.
Like life in general, this year has been a kaleidoscope of joys and sorrows, deeply serious moments and times of fun and laughter. So many of us have cause to treasure the warmth and support of this our worshipping community as we make our individual life journeys through the good times and the not so good. The sense of love in our Meeting feels stronger than ever and continues to grow and deepen.
signed Daphne Lynas clerk
Copyright © 2009 ---.
All Rights Reserved.