Burford Reflections, Issue No.22, 2019

Thought for the month:

“Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest and fear” (Advices & queries, 33)

“Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purpose. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right way becomes clear”

(Advices & queries 35)

Rebellion: For and Against

MSN News earlier this month named 81 year old Quaker retired social worker Sarah Lasenby as among the 1000 plus people arrested in London in one week in October as Extinction Rebellion protesters began more events to cause social disruption. ER action is designed to

  • force the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to work with as many organisations as necessary to facilitate change as urgently as possible
  • demand that the government acts immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2025 and to halt biodiversity loss (the extinction of plant and animal species
  • call on the government to form and to BE LED by a citizen assembly to deal with issues around climate and ecological change; assembly members to comprise people selected at random

According to the Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick ER action has cost the police £21million (at the time of writing). An ER spokesperson has apologised for the recent disruption to London underground

services where angry commuters attacked an ER man who climber on the roof of a tube train. Some ERs support only peaceful civic action There are Ffriends such as Sarah Lazenby who support ER’s programme of direct action even when such action breaks the law. There are those who, while agreeing with the urgency for change to halt further environmental damage, would not themselves take direct action.

Which are you? Do YOU support or condone Extinction Rebellion? Send your views to Burford Reflections (email glhadley@hotmail.co.uk)

The new 3rs – Reduce!Reuse!Recycle

“No one is too small to make a difference” (Greta Thunberg). We can each act to help save our planet. The summer edition of Cotswold Homes ran a feature titled How to shrink your carbon footprint :

√   Quoting an article in Science magazine, reducing our meat and dairy intake is far better than buying an electric car or cutting down on flying

√   Shop sustainably. Did you know that it takes 10,000 litres of water to grow the 1 kilo of cotton required to make one pair of jeans  –  the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change reported that in 2017,  300,000 tons of clothing went to landfill. In September the actress Sheila Hancock was reported to have signed a pledge not to buy any new clothes ever again

√  Fly less and if you have to fly, think of offsetting your carbon emissions by investing in reforestation/renewable energy projects. Holiday in the UK, travel by train and – if you buy a new car – think electric/hybrid models

√  Cut down at home by running your machines less – hand wash dishes, make sure the washing machine is full and run at  30C or lower. Air dry washing and ditch that hairdryer!

√   Reduce your internet use – emails and the use of search engines all consume power! IT networks are reported to have contributed around 4% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. Laptops consume less energy than desktops/LCD televisions need more power than LEDs, it is reported. Check out (the search engine Ecosia

See also Bernard Bligh’s letter in the Friend May 17, 2019 issue.

Up for Discussion

On October 20our monthly discussion group considered the concerns raised by Rex Ambler and others (in recent issues of the Friend), with regard to BYM’s new initiatives on Local Development. We found we were all in agreement with Rex that, although local consultations are proposed, the launch of the new initiative appeared to have paid insufficient respect to the tradition of Quaker decision-making, and to the importance of our movement’s grass roots – Local Meetings. We wrote accordingly to the Friend (just on behalf of the discussion group), and sent a copy also to Area Meeting. There may be further developments – watch this space!

Discussion of the Parables will resume on the third Sunday in November: What is the parable of the Ten Talents really all about?

The Amos Trust (“Justice and hope for the forgotten”)

For those Ffriends who were unable to attend Meeting for Worship on October 6, Burford Meeting supports in October the Amos Trust.

The Trust describes itself as a small human rights organisation, committed to challenging injustice, building hope and creating positive change, working with grass roots partners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Palestine; Myra Ford joined an Amos team to help rebuild a demolished home in Palestine.  

Amos Trust also works in South Africa, in Nicaragua, in Burundi, in India and in Tanzania.

Your support will enable the Trust to reach street children, address the impact of climate change and the causes of extreme poverty, building sustainable rural communities in Nicaragua and work with local and international peace activists in Palestine and Israel.

The Trust’s newsletter Words of Hope is available as a free download.

For further information or to make a donation, go to amostrust.org

The November charity is Quaker Homeless Action (see next month’s Burford Reflections) for more information.

Thank you letter from HART

Our August charity was HART (Humanitarian Aid and Relief Trust), specifically the Rehabilitation Centre in the disputed and threatened enclave of Ngorno-Karabagh in the Caucasus. The Centre does wonderful work, particularly with disabled children, not only in medical treatment but also in social rehabilitation. All treatment is free.

Below is an extract from the message of thanks we received, from the Centre’s brilliant Director, Vardan:

 “Few days ago we did our annual summer camp in Lake Sevan where I took 12 young people with different disabilities. This is really good project to give chance these young people to know each other and to make different activities. They all have had great time and a lot of fun. Most of them were the first time in their life having such chance for holiday…….

“….. I got information about your fund-raising and for the great news. Thank you so much for all your efforts to help me and my team in our work to our patients. For us is impossible to make what we want to do for the patients without funds. You making it possible and we will do our best as we did. I wish you all the best.”

Graham Hadley

Action for Bhopal

Some of us will remember the terrible industrial accident caused by Union Carbide in 1984 in Bhopal, India. This site remains toxic with birth defects being experienced into a 3rd generation of local inhabitants.

A Quaker-led group invites you to see the film Bhopali, followed by discussion and tea at Oxford Meeting House on November 30, 3-5 pm.

Books of the Month

On Earth as it is in Heaven Eden Grace’s 2019 Swarthmore Lecture of the theological/spiritual/biblical grounding for Quaker witness on climate breakdown

Between living and dying: Reflections from the edge of experience Cancer sufferer Ruth Scott views life from a different perspective to concentrate on what really matters

Luminaries: 20 lives that illuminate the Christian way Rowan Williams’  subjects include St. Paul, William Tyndale and Simone Weill

Jesus Today: A Quaker Perspective Michael Wright draws on recent knowledge of Jesus and His times

All from the Quaker Bookshop (Quakercentre@quakers,org.uk)

For Your Diary

November 4-December 12 Speaking to that of God: building a Quaker web presence This  online course  costs £54. Contact woodbrooke.org.uk

November 8 7 pm in Wychwood Library. Greg Stagg presents ‘To be a pilgrim: A non-believer’s journey to Jesus’

November 9 Geoffrey Durham will speak on What Quakers Believe at the  Area Meeting . PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: At the Congregational Church, 4 Welch Way, Witney OX28 6JF

November 9 What does prayer mean to you? Explore the concept and practice of prayer with the Kindlers team, Swarthmoor Hall. Details from 01229 583204  or einfo@swarthmoorhall.co.uk

November 16 7pm, Oxford MH. Fiona Sampson reads from her collection of poetry, Come Down, published by Little Brown

November 17 2 pm Oxford Meeting House. Memorial meeting for Peggy Heeks (see also p6 this issue)

November 19 Seek sanctuary and stillness – in your own home .

This online course requiresbeing online for 3, 30 minute periods between 9 – 4.30. Register at woodbrooke.org.uk

November 23 7pm, Oxford MH. Lucy Newlyn reads from Vile Stream,  – her collection of poems published by Carcanet

November 29- December 1 Exploring Quaker Spirituality. What is distinctive about the Quaker way? Contact woodbrooke.org.uk

November 30 3-5 pm Action for Bhopal at Oxford Meeting House


Advices & queries, 27 calls on us to Live Adventurously and these are certainly adventurous times. Amid the hurly-burly, however, we are encouraged to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength (A&q, 3).

“We have our rough times and our smooth places, but we are brushed by the wings of the Holy Spirit: we have the promise of a beloved community”. This moving message from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, (1992, Minute 56) appears on the front of Reaching to Community:

A story of Twelve Quaker Meetings by Peggy Heeks who died earlier this year.

Some Friends will know that Peggy was the Joseph Roundtree Quaker Fellow for 1993/4 and, as such, studied what helps and what hinders the building of the local Quaker community. Her findings published in Reaching to Community (available from Friends House in London)  were based on 12 case studies (including Burford and Oxford Meetings) and continue to be of interest despite the intervening period of time since Peggy published  Reaching to Community.   Included in her findings :

“*  most members and attenders felt a sense of belonging to their local meeting but only a minority to any wider Quaker community

  The local meeting was expected above all to provide a spiritual base – with fellowship and social witness ranked lower … meetings were found to be strongest in the area of personal relationships and often weak where ministry and spirituality were concerned

*  apart from Meeting for Worship the main way in which meetings tried to nurture spiritual awareness was by study groups

*  monthly meetings, rather than central staff were seen as having a potentially important role in regeneration but the change has to begin locally”

The memorial meeting for Peggy is on November 17 in the Oxford Meeting House at 2 pm.

March 20-22, 2020 Quaker Peace and Social Witness Spring Conference at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. Information from 0300 111 4444

“Religion is a feeling of infinite dependence upon God, to paraphrase the German theologian Schetermacher. Quakerism is a religion with an open end; it is always amenable to further revelations … A Friend with an inspired message speaks to the whole meeting, like prophets of old who revealed God’s will to their people.

“Centring down is like letting oneself sink slowly into the vast, unexplored ocean of the inner self … When one has completely submerged oneself in that silent depth, one can begin the interior dialogue in which a stilled mind encounters the silence of the soul. When the silence of the mind has merged with that of the soul, it is ready to listen to the silence of eternity” (Peter Fingesten writing in 1985 in  Daily Readings from Quaker Writings Ancient & Modern Ed. Linda Hill Renfer published by Serenity Press)

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