All are Welcome at Friends House

2nd March 2019

I was asked (at pretty short notice!) if I and my great grandson Loki (13) would attend and speak at a day to explore how families are included in their Quaker Meetings. Loki and I accepted.

The event was held at Friends House on 2nd March, and organized/facilitated by Quaker Life staff Melanie Cook and Alistair Fuller to find out how Meetings across the country are welcoming families and how they might be using the resource “All are Welcome” since it was launched last year.

Melanie sent me the questions they would be asking about being a family at a Quaker meeting.

Melanie’s 5 questions for each participant were:

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about the Quaker community/ies you are connected to?
  2. Where are those communities at the moment in terms of all-age community? (What kind of things are they doing? What part does it play in their life?)
  3. Why do you think it is important for Quakers to be nurturing and growing all-age community?
  4. Do you have experience of all-age community in other settings? Perhaps work, local community or another church or faith group?
  5. Thinking about your own setting, are some (small/achievable) steps that you and others could take to make change happen?

I thought “ How well do I know our Meeting to comment on it?”  “That made me think very much about ‘why don’t I know?‘  And that I could do something about that. 

I related that we have a large Meeting, very mixed ages. Our young people share the first quarter of an hour in main Meeting then go to their own groups. They are always very warmly welcomed back into main Meeting to share what they have been doing. We have all age events which are well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all. We have some great members that give unstintingly in time and effort to the children’s programme which our young people enjoy.

The event was fairly small around 30 people including a family from Glasgow. It was quite relaxed and there was a sharing of ideas and experiences. A Friend related that in their Meeting the adults are invited down to the Children’s Meeting for twenty minutes and the older children give Ministry. I liked the idea of older children giving Ministry but not sure how that would work in Redland!

I think Friends House have put together some useful resources for Meetings to use to reach out and nurture families and young people. I think at Redland we are already using most if not all of resources. I really enjoyed the day and learned quite a bit that I didn’t know and question 5 spoke to me – what little, achievable step could I make that would be helpful?

Firstly what I would like to do is to try to get to Business Meetings regularly and start going to Area Meetings.  That way I will know a bit more about our Meeting!  

Make a list of who is in my sharing circle and if I don’t know them try to find out who they are!  Plus I must start asking people who they are! 

Visit Avenue House on first Fridays.

Loki and I have now booked places at Woodbrooke’s weekend for families 5-7th July, and Loki is going to Yearly Meeting in May.

I want to do a visit to Friends House again sometime, just to have a good look around the place (and buy books!) and perhaps have a cup of tea with Melanie.

Leone Hayward


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