Thursday, 22 May 2008

Britain Yearly Meeting 2008

laura on laura
Originally uploaded by jez s
You can keep up with Britain Yearly Meeting 2008 by following the Friend's coverage on twitter.

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Monday, 25 June 2007

A Tour of Friends House

This video is very late because I had complications getting it online. It's 17 minutes long with a couple of quick interviews along the way, a peek at singing Friends including the new Recording Clerk, and there is a surprise ending!

Monday, 14 May 2007

The Light Fantastic speak to Jez

Young Friends in the 7-11 age group share their thoughts on BYM with Jez

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Does Evil Really Matter? Death and Resurrection as a Compost Heap

If there is one good reason to not believe in God it's because of the existence of evil; if there is one good reason to believe in God it's due to the same problem. There are two further statements that appear to be true and possibly even less helpful: we are all well aware of, and cannot avoid the evil within our world, and the church is often very silent on the matter. What is the role of the church toward evil? And what language and images do we have that help us frame a discussion that is not only helpful but hopeful? These are questions I hope all our meetings will engage in post the Swarthmore lecture.

This year's Swarthmore lecturer Beth Allen, in here talk titled "Ground and Spring," broached the subject of evil. She pointed out that James Nayler, an early Quaker who not only "messed up but was also messed up by others," discovered in his long journey back toward wholeness, "the forgiveness of God is the ground and spring of God." But the fact that Nayler remained alienated from at least some of the Quaker community, including George Fox, reminds us of the many people, often going nameless, who have "messed up" and been "messed up by others" and their own alienation from our communities. There are many ways in which we see these breakdowns and deaths occur within our society and while Nayler's life is one example, it is only one small example of the evil in the world. Evil is something that cannot be neglected by the church if we are any kind of hope to the world.

Beth Allen used the Compost pile to further illustrate the idea of breakdown (and death) and how that makes it possible for new life (and resurrection). The compost heap is a wonderful metaphor for the waste of life being turned into something new.

In our everyday lives it's not much different, though it can often take God much longer to turn the "waste of our lives" into something new and fresh. This is because we're much more fragile and stubborn than dirt, and evil is a very complex matter for us to deal with. We can't deny that evil exists in the world and often cripples us when we are confronted with it. Similarly, the various bits of waste within a compost are not only easily recognizable as decayed bananas, apples, and oranges but this process can often be grotesque (like the picture above in my own view).

Death inevitably surrounds us but so does resurrection. Without decay there is no space for new life, without death there is no resurrection.

The story of God's work in the world, as chronicled not only through Scripture, but also through our history, philosophy and science books, is a familiar story; this narrative includes one of creation, fall, redemption and resurrection. This narrative cycle of life continues on small and large scales throughout the history of our world.

But what of evil's permissiveness in our world? It's often very difficult, at times ridiculous, to image life after death. And this isn't something to gloss over easily, death is a part of fallen creation, just as resurrection is a part of God's intervention into our fallen world. There are no ready-made answers for these questions, the business of life and death is indeed dirty business. That is why the hope of the resurrection requires a people who embody forgiveness. Forgiveness is the link between these two realities. The church is to be a community of people formed around the prayer, "forgive us our debts (and trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (and those who trespass against us)." As Beth Allen said, "I can't offer myself forgiveness." We need to understand what it means to be absolved. Forgiveness only comes from the other; the the forgiveness and mercies of God, or forgiveness offered to us by our communities who hold the power to re-connect us with the "ground and spring" of life.

Quakers, as all Christians, are a people called to remind the world of this process of creation, fall, redemption and resurrection. All of life is packed into this cycle. And beyond the simple reminding, we are also to be a people who embody forgiveness, a forgiveness rooted in the love and mercy of God who has first loved and forgiven us.

If you'd like to read more on this issue read my short entry called "One Big Kitty Litter."

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

More videos

Now the pics & vids from my digital camera have been uploaded, so here to start with is a tour of the Friends House Courtyard including BYM bloggers and Tom Harris:

Here is a tour of the Friends House Restaurant

And the current exhibition there

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

welcome Friend

welcome Friend
Originally uploaded by jez s.
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looking back

Wess, George and Simon
Originally uploaded by jez s.
It's the morning after the BYM before and I'm wide awake and have been tidying up after last night's BYM survivors party.

I have thoroughly enjoyed BYM and have particularly appreciated the sense of purpose that comes with the blog.

The blog 'hat' has pervaded my entire experience and meant that I could wear it with whichever other hat I was wearing at the time (the Friend, Young Quaker, Young Friends General Meeting, Colchester & Coggeshall Monthly Meeting, QCEA conference goer, Young Friends appeal for Rewrite, former QPSW peaceworker etc).

I spent a lot of time striking up conversation with people I didn't know and other times scrabbling around inside my brain trying to recognise people who I have met before when their name escapes me. This time around, it was mostly people who went to the Quaker Council for European Affairs conference in Brussels last year.

In the last few years, I have had no trouble going up and talking with people that I don't know and during the weekend I met some wonderful people who are new to me.

I was pleased to finally make it to a main session and writing up the Salter lecture for the Friend was in the back of my mind for a long long time until I worked out what needed to be written.

Working (very briefly) with the 7-11 year olds was fantastic and I have total respect for the adults who gave up their weekend to work with them, as well as Simon Best, the coordinator and all his staff and helpers.

Making the George Fox videos was really great too. I valued Wess's get-on-and-do-it attitude when it came to putting my idea into reality and Simon's willingness to speak on camera from the heart about us Quakers.

We were looking for George Fox
Led by the light

I also really enjoyed time that I spent with Lizz Roe, who was working the Woodbrooke stand. She introduced me to those of her Woodbrooke colleagues that I didn't already know and she was the eptiome of patience as she explained things and helped people who stopped by.

My biggest regret: I didn't spend any time in the Friends House library. The staff there are always really helpful and friendly and as with people, I love finding new books (or old ones that are new to me!)

My second biggest regret: Only taking a handful of photos with my lomo camera.

On Friendlink, there is a great love/hate thread, so in honour of all the great people there. Today, i hate that BYM is over and my tiredness. I love my happiness, the shining sun, continued fellowship with Simon and Wess and I love that BYM is over at last!

in friendship


Monday, 7 May 2007

Interview with Mike Hoyle

Jez interviews photographer of the Testimonies, Mike Hoyle.


Nice things this weekend:
* Yummy and ethical food easily available at all times at Friends House
* Some good silences in the Large Meeting House, eg. after the Swarthmore Lecture and after Elsa Dicks spoke
* Having lots of interesting people around to speak with and having the time over the four days to meet with them
* The Bookshop Cafe as a place to hang out
* The Quaker Life office as an escape and workspace

Not so nice things:
> Things said in session that seemed pedantic
> Meetings in which not much of a sense seemed to arise
> Getting my documents for the sessions muddled up
> Feeling tired on Monday afternoon
> The sound being quiet on some of the videos

Things I wished I'd had time/energy to do:
< Interview Martin Ward (Clerk) for the blog
< Gotten a few more Advices & Queries videod
< Hang out with the under-19 groups

Will I go to BYM again?
- Yes, but probably for the moment only because I'm on Sufferings and it helps me to keep track of what's going on.

Taking the Epistle?

Wess & Simon attended the reading of the BYM Epistle and give us their thoughts below. Not sure what Jez is up to in the background of Wess' video which also has a cameo from Tom Harris, the new Quaker Life Outreach Co-ordinator.

Two new vidz

Here we have an interview by Jez with Marie Drouin of YFGM about running a stall and meeting Friends from abroad at BYM.

Laura interviews Plain Friend and Quaker bookseller Simon Watson about Conservative Friends and this year's book hits during BYM.

from the light fantastic...(7-11s)

BYM is really cool because you get to go to the park and build a lighthouse


from the light fantastic...(7-11s)

We learnt about how people from Africa were captured as slaves and imported to USA. We also found out how badly they were treated, then we made a banner with posters saying "Stop the Slave Trade" and "Slave Trade" is wrong etc. I had a great time!


from the light fantastic...(7-11s)

It was fun to meet new friends at yearly meeting 2007

rebecca -claxton-ingham


Monday afternoon

Laura, Jez & Wess

The numbers of our blog-watchers are totting up and we're getting people from all sorts of interesting places including Edinburgh and Switzerland. I notice that Lambeth keeps reappearing on the location list. Could it be that Rowan W. is becoming convinced?

from the light fantastic...(7-11s)

I like yearly meeting 2007. It is fun.

Alys, age 8

Checking in

There is a bit more to say about this morning's session, I think. Once again, the assistant clerks are colour-coordinated this time in lovely identical bright orange. Elders started us off by commending Friends for upholding the silence during yesterday's minute-writing in the civil liberties session. Nevertheless, that minute was still being thrashed out this morning and it got to the point where if it had carried on any longer, the Clerk was going to settle on a minute of record. Thankfully, we did agree to say rather a lot more than that. I sat there thinking of my personal position in the current political climate. As an animal rights advocate, I can now be legally stopped in the street simply for wearing a t-shirt that says 'vegan'. The whole movement could be prevented from carrying out peaceful activism and awareness-raising for the animals through a web of legislation that was supposedly intended to address things like the tube bombings.

Over at my normal blog , I've written about my journey this morning and about outreach.

wall of sound

Whenever I get to Meeting, I go in and the room is silent. Sometimes, there is a commotion outside, because people are coming in, removing coats and greeting each other.

But, even with all that noise, there is a sense of purpose in the silence, whether it is a Meeting for Worship, Business, Threshing or Clearness.

So, going into the large Meeting Room on Sunday morning, ten minutes before the official start of a Britain Yearly Meeting session, I was surprised by the tumult, a great commotion, as I walked up the stairs and into the east gallery.

Were Friends not upholding the Meeting, each other and the clerks? If they were, they were doing it among 150 voices, chatter and noise.

It was my first ever session of Britain Yearly Meeting, so I do not know whether it is always like this. Is it?

Almost on the dot of 9:30am, when the session was timetabled to start, a hush rushed across the hall. It was as if a naughty class suddenly stopped, realising that the feared teacher was about to walk into the room.

When the clerks came in, I wondered, did they feel that we were not, as a Meeting, upholding them?

When you hear people grumbling about how the session went, do you ask them if they were there with their heart and mind prepared?

Or, am I wrong? Is this the usual way for Quakers to uphold each other?

Food for thought

Into Friends House at quite a civilised hour this morning. Blogging with the sausage factory last night and subsequent transport adventures meant I wasn't home 'til 2am!

I went into the restaurant for a hearty but cheap breakfast. I sat with Anne Hosking, a Quaker Life staff member. Anne has done lots of work on Eldership & Oversight, and is full of Quaker insights.

Although we were both tired, we had really interesting conversation. Yearly Meeting can be studded with inspiring chats like these.

A few gems from Anne included the thought that 'experience' was a better word than 'belief'. Anne feels that it's much easier to listen to someone talk of their 'Quaker experience'. For many, the word 'belief' can have quite negative connotations. The word 'experience', on the other hand, doesn't deny the possibility of other experiences.

Another idea which clicked with me is whether a meeting for worship is closed, ended, or completed. These are very similar terms, and it might seem pedantic to distinguish between them. However, the words closed and ended suggest that something is being interrupted before it is finished. Complete, on the other hand, is much more positive. It suggests that the worship we are doing has come to a natural end, without closing it off from the rest of our lives (which can be equally worshipful).

A few small words, but meaningful to me. As Anne said, I offer these to you.

Thank you, Anne.

hi Ann

This is a big friendly shout out to Ann from Norfolk.

We are sorry that you cannot be here at Britain Yearly Meeting and we bloggers hold you in the light.

Jez not Wess.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

the sausage factory takes over the blog! (again)


VERY good weekend :D JAZZY! In fact, it's being soo good in can only really be described with funny words in capitals and exclaimation marks.



the sausage factory takes over the blog! (again)

'sup love muffins! its the last night of bym 07 and we're all veeery tired i'm sure, i know i am!
as you've probably all gathered from previous blogs, we've all had an AMAZING time, definitely one of MY favourite byms (of all the 2 i've gone to) and i'd just like to say a HUMONGOUS thank you to the core team and the pgps
muchos lovings and snuggles with sprinkles on top

the sausage factory takes over the blog! (again)

The Joys of Quaker Business sessions

I'm Pip I'm 14 and today I've had my first experience of a proper Quaker business meeting. I can only say that it is an entirely new experience like no other I have ever had. We dealt with the issue of changing "Monthly meetings" to "area meetings" I personally dislike this idea because it removes a familiar term that is part of my everyday life but I do recognise the need to make Quakers a more accessible community to outsiders.

One thing that surprised me was that I have never experienced the Quaker method of decision making first hand, it has become apparent that while not exactly the quickest method of solving a problem it is very good at getting a well considered decision.

It was extremely interesting for me an atheist to find out how much the wider Quaker community directly refers to 'God', but this is just widening my horizons and perspectives. All in all i would say that Quaker business is a very interesting method of reaching a much better decision. Because it allows the minority to overthrow a majority if the level of conviction affects the 'Feeling of the Meeting.

the sausage factory takes over the blog! (again)

hey everyone call me edd. omg wat a gr8 weekend i have been turned EMO baught a causit and heard the whole bible in les than 30mins. how many people have done that in a weekend. c u all l8r by xxx

Martin talks about his day at BYM