Judith Baker at Fox’s Pulpit. Photo credit: Quakers in Britain

FOUR HUNDRED YEARS after the birth of one of their founders, Quakers in Cumbria celebrated where it all began on Firbank Fell with their annual outdoor meeting for worship.

On 13 June 1652, George Fox spoke to 1,000 people for three hours from a rock three miles north-west of Sedbergh, which became known as Fox’s Pulpit.This meeting marked part of the birth of Quakerism, the nonconformist Christian movement which has worked for peace, truth and equality ever since.

On Sunday, 9 June, Quakers from Brigflatts Meeting House, the village immortalised by Quaker poet Basil Bunting, braved the drizzle to host a meeting on the fellside. Judith Baker, ecumenical and interfaith officer for Quakers in Britain, spoke to the gathered Quakers about working gladly with other religious groups.

Quakerism is a living faith and since Fox’s visit in 1652, Quakers in Cumbria have followed his example. Glenthorne Quaker Guest House in Grasmere welcomes asylum seekers and refugees for holidays while Rookhow Meeting House and bunk barn offers accommodation for public benefit.

Quakers in Britain are currently bearing witness to the evils of selling weapons for profit; the violence between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank; and the devastation caused by climate change.

This year, Cumbrian Quakers are joined by others across the world in celebrating the life of Fox, one of their founders. Born in 1624 into times of religious and political upheaval, Fox visited Sedbergh as he travelled across England, sharing his belief that God is found in everyone and building a faith centred on truth.

On that day in 1652, Fox had been invited to speak to a meeting in the chapel which once stood on Firbank Fell. All that now remains is a disused burial ground.He wrote later: “While others were gone to dinner, I went to a brook, got a little water, and then came and sat down on the top of a rock hard by the chapel.

“In the afternoon the people gathered about me, with several of their preachers. It was judged there were above a thousand people to whom I declared God’s everlasting truth and Word of life freely and largely for about the space of three hours.”

Facing current political and social turmoil, Quakers still live their faith in the world, working to tackle the root causes of violence and to build a just and peaceful world.

*  View all George Fox 400th burday events here.

Source: Quakers in Britain