Building bridges with storytelling is the focus for an information week beginning on Saturday, when Quakers in Britain will profile their life, faith and practice as a distinct and viable commitment in a divided world.
Marking National Quaker Week, which runs from 4 – 12 October 2008, three prizewinning authors are keen to talk about their connection with Quakers and how that influences the challenging topics they write about.
Patrick Gale, shortlisted for the British Book Awards: Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year, says, referring to its tolerant and non-dogmatic stance: “In many ways Quakerism is the ideal religion for the twenty-first century.”
Richard and Judy is a massively popular daytime TV show in the UK, that aired from 2001 to 2008 and has now migrated from terrestrial television to UKTV's new channel 'Watch', where the Book Club will continue.
In Notes from an Exhibition, Gale writes about mental health. The other two authors are Marina Lewycka and Sally Nicholls. In Two Caravans, Marina Lewycka tackles displacement and unbelonging; and in Ways to Live Forever Sally Nicholls illustrates how a child faces death.
Around the country, Quakers will be telling their personal stories in during the week. A new website (www.quaker.org.uk/different) invites enquirers to listen to nine people explaining why they decided to be a Quaker.
In Britain, a spokesperson explained, "Quakers worship in deep stillness but the strength they derive from that wordless core drives their faith into action to work for peace and social justice. When an experience is beyond words it is a challenge to find words to explain it to an inquisitive stranger or friend. In National Quaker Week, Quakers around the country will be adventurously sharing their faith."
Author Sally Nicholls said: “Quakerism is that extraordinary thing - a religion which accepts uncertainty and welcomes spiritual exploration. It doesn’t ask seekers to take on the beliefs of other worshippers, but gives them the tools and the space to find truths for themselves.”
The Society of Friends in Britain represents a wide range of belief and practice, from some which is traditionally Christian and theistic to more eclectic spiritual approaches.
In the USA, Africa and other parts of the world, Quakerism is often more strongly associated with Protestant faith, and "programme Quakers" (those whose worship involved pre-planned hymns, prayers and refelections) predominate.
Quakers are known world-wide for their strong peace witness, and for their testimony to discovering and cherishing the light of God and good in all people.
# Events around England, Wales and Scotland include the following:
# Swansea: Monday 6 October 6.30pm Swansea Meeting House, Page Street, Swansea SA1 4EZ, an opportunity to experience Quaker silent worship and to hear what Quakers say about their beliefs and how they try to live out their faith. Phone 01792 402888
# The Quaker Tapestry in Kendal, Cumbria will be open, free admission, from 4-10 October, from 11-3pm on 4 October and from 10- 5pm Monday to Friday. Created between 1981 and 1996 by 4,000 people in 15 countries, this modern Tapestry is a tale of 350 years of social history. For photographs or interviews contact Bridget Guest on 01539 722 975 or firstname.lastname@example.org
# High Flatts Meeting House, Huddersfield: Saturday 4 October 7pm Play “On Human Folly” by Plain Quakers. Art exhibition all week; Sunday 2-4pm tea party; and events each evening including Tuesday 6.30pm Experiment with Light.
# Long Sutton Meeting House, Somerset: 10.30-2.30pm Saturday 11 October Michael Woolley talks about his work with asylum seekers and readings from Quaker Faith and Practice. Phone 01460 271 008
# Taunton: Saturday 4 October 2.30pm Meeting House, Teresa Parker of Quaker Peace and Social Witness, lecture on sustainable security. Exhibition on Quaker weddings all week in Taunton library, 10-4pm.
# Hexham: 7.30pm Thursday 9 October at St Mary’s Centre, Neil Endicott of Quaker Council for European Affairs on ”The Energy Crisis: A Quaker Response”. Phone 01434 605509.
# Epping: Sunday 5 October 12.30-1pm open air Meeting for Worship in Epping Market Place. Phone 0208923 1134.
# Lymington: Saturday 4 October, 11-4pm, a Quiet Day entitled “Healing” led by Quaker doctor Jan Rimbault at Oakhaven Hospice daycentre. (Booking essential phone 01590 677298.) Meet the Quakers walks: on Thursday 11-1pm, meet by Saltwater Baths and on Friday 11-1pm, meet at Wilverley Plain car park; Sunday 12 October 7pm Quaker Quiz in the Fleur de Lys pub. Also, two tea parties and a coffee morning at an art exhibition in the Old School room of the Roman Catholic Church.
# Glasgow Meeting House, (38 Elmbank Cres. Charing Cross, Glasgow, G2 4PS) will be decked out in balloons and posters for the week, with welcoming sessions, “Introducing Quakers”.
# London: Friendly Hour at Friends House 173 Euston Road NW1 2BJ (opposite Euston Station) 5-6pm each weekday evening 6-10 October, including focus on national and international peace work on Wednesday, then on Friday 10 October, an opportunity to meet Quaker author, Sally Nicholls, winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize for Ways to Live Forever. Phone 020 7663 1017.