Caring for our Meeting in a time of Covid

 A report from EWOs for MfB

Since lockdown started in March this year, the Meeting House has been closed for all business and worship: worship moved online for those with the technology to cope and our wardens retired at the end of April, vacating the house. It is fair to say that we are at an interesting point of change in our Meeting. We have decided to sell the wardens house and encourage trustees to use some of the money from the sale of the house in joining with another organisation to provide some accommodation for refugees. This will be a project that hopefully Redland and Area Friends will support.  With the knowledge that Quaker Meeting Houses in Bristol were built or renovated with money originally gained from involvement in the slave trade, there is an opportunity for us to make some form of reparation by using some of our resources today in a project working with refugees.

There are currently eight Elders with Oversight and we meet monthly online to share our care for the Meeting. We each have a range of experience and length of service as Quakers. At present, we have been working with the technology to ensure that all who are able, participate in online worship. As EWOs we are particularly concerned with the following:

  • Preparation for online worship and the inclusion of all who want to participate both at 11.0 am and at the Early MfW; thinking about members, visitors and those in our community who live some distance away.
  • Making sure that MfW is properly held and that ministry is appropriate and can happen either spoken or in silence.
  • Links and planning with the Children and Young Peoples Group as part of an all age community.
  • Thinking of interesting ways of extending fellowship across the All Age Community. Working with the Youth Development Worker and participating in online youth/all age activities.
  • The use of Sharing Circles as a vehicle for communication, pastoral care, and fellowship within Redland.
  • Being aware of the work of Weekly Committee and making referrals to them where appropriate.
  • Discussion with Funeral Advisors about funerals and memorial meetings.
  • Working with AM elders and Overseers from all six other meetings on issues raised about the care of our wider community; for example, visiting Quakers in hospital settings.
  • Keeping in contact with all those on the Redland part of the “Q” list, especially those who cannot or do not want to meet online.
  • Thinking about opportunities that may open up as a result of the pandemic – ways of communicating, holding meetings, making decisions.
  • Contributing to AM Spring conference; ref. Fiona’s offer to organise an online event in March.
  • Considering the impact of work on the Meeting House – triple glazed windows and new fire escape and corridor.
  • Considering the requirements of returning to the MH in line with legislation e.g. signage, non – use of kitchen facilities, one – way system, Covid cleaning, sanitisers, paper towels, bins with lids, Track and Trace requirements, door keepers, etc.
  • Requirements and physical installation of everything needed for blended worship, including cabling, improved loop amp., TV monitor and laptop, seating, wearing of masks.
  • Encouraging Friends to take up opportunities to learn, study, and share their knowledge and experience about Quakerism.

It has taken time for the newish group of EWOs to gel as an online group and get used to the different way of being. It is hard to generate that feeling of togetherness without some of the physical interaction, but this has been so for all Friends. However, we have managed to think creatively together about different ways of keeping in contact with Friends in the Meeting. In the coming weeks we will be thinking particularly about how we return to the Meeting House for blended worship, about how we are open to new enquirers and encourage them to attend; should we be holding an Enquirers Evening online?: about how we manage the tasks in the Meeting without a resident warden; above all we shall hope to be doing all this in a spirit of joy and friendship to help grow the community of Friends at Redland.

If you feel you have suggestions to offer in the Quaker way of worship or in the way in which EWOs offer their service ,communicate , or keep in touch please let us know: or if you have something in particular that you yourself could offer, please do not hide your light but let it be known to us.

Michael Tuckwell convener on behalf of EWOs
25th October 2020