Luton Friends hosted Area Meeting on Sunday last. It was inspiring to be with Quakers from other local meetings, and we tried to give them a very warm welcome over lunch and at teatime. Many thanks to our caretakers for making sure that the Meeting House was looking its very best.
At the meeting itself, a Luton Friend read from Quaker faith and practice 10.20:
“One of the unexpected things I have learnt in my life as a Quaker is that religion is basically about relationships between people. This was an unexpected discovery, because I had been brought up to believe that religion was essentially about our relationship with God…
… I do not think I am alone in my certainty that it’s in my relationships with people that the deepest religious truths are most vividly disclosed.” (George Gorman)Another Luton Friend gave a short talk about the transformative work of the Quaker Office at the United Nations (QUNO). QUNO addresses some of the greatest and most difficult issues: human rights and refuges, peace and disarmament, food and sustainability, and climate change. Diplomats, UN officials, staff of NGOs, come together for off-the-record meals in the Geneva House, in a Quaker atmosphere of trust, a meeting of hearts and perhaps then of minds.
A sudden concentration of attention on a rainy August morning. Clusters of bright red berries, some wrinkled, some blemished, others perfect, hanging among green leaves. The experience could not have lasted more than a few seconds, but that was a moment out of time. I was caught up in what I saw: I became a part of it: the berries, the leaves, the raindrops and I, we were all of a piece. A moment of beauty and harmony and meaning. A moment of understanding.Ralph Hetherington, 1975
Three Friends from Luton Meeting attended the Carnival of Resistance in London on Friday protesting at the visit of Donald Trump to the UK. It was right that we did so. We were struck by the diversity of groups that joined the march. Climate change activists, anti-racists, women’s rights campaigners, political parties, faith groups…
A person that we met and walked with for a time explained that this was her first ever demonstration, but she had been moved to act, encouraged by her daughter, to take part because Trump is terrifyingly wrong on so many fronts. She had deliberately sought out Quakers to be with because they would act peacefully and appropriately on the demo, she said.
On Saturday at the Quaker Meeting House in Harpenden there was an inspiring talk for the United Nations Association by Tobi Wellner from Quaker Peace and Social Witness – about brave and talented activists for social justice, in East Africa, especially in communities in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. Their work, based in non-violence, is difficult and sometimes very dangerous. They operate according to the Seven Principles of the Quaker programme Turning the Tide, three of which are:
Being willing to take action for justice without giving into or mimicking violence
Respecting and caring for everyone involved in a conflict, including our opponent
Believing that everyone is capable of change and no-one has a monopoly of the truth.
British Quakers stand with people in the US who are working to resist the climate chaos and racism of Donald Trump's policies. We need leaders of intergrity, in the US and the UK. #TrumpUKvisitpic.twitter.com/7DlXG6prm0
Tens of thousands of people had come together in London to make a powerful statement to the most powerful person in the world. Many of the slogans on the placards and banners rejected Trump utterly or were personally abusive.
“Build bridges not walls”, and the frequent “Love trumps Hate” if read as much more than a play on the name, were two that might be in tune with the thought that Donald Trump too is capable of change. And that the tide of the world can be turned.
We are pleased to welcome Charlie Dicker and Caroline Sargent as our new caretakers. They have been appointed following several months of being without a caretaker. A big thanks to all our friends who pulled together to keep the meeting house functioning and worked so hard during this interim period.
Charlie and Caroline are based at Gale Cottage, 30 Crawley Green Road, LU2 0QX, just in front of the meeting house.