Research project: why did you become a Quaker?

Wren Sidhe writes:

We have received a request from Richard Bainbridge who is doing Quaker Studies at Lancaster University. He is looking for written contributions to analyse in the context of Quaker theology which answer the questions  ‘ How and why did I become a Quaker?’ Judith Eversley remembers the children’s meeting interviewing people on these questions in the 90s and the interviews going into our newsletter.

In the past the Bath Quakers childrens’ meeting has interviewed people about why they became Quaker.

Since being the contact person for this, I (Wren) discovered that several meetings keep booklets from their own members describing this. So my question to you all is twofold. Would you like to send a contribution to Richard? Would you like your contribution to go into a booklet in our library?

I’m willing to arrange a meeting for people to write together, if enough people are interested. So please let me know if you would like this. Otherwise, just send contributions directly to Richard. His research is described here – RichardBainbridgeresearchproposal – and also below for you to get further information.

If you do send him something, you are welcome to send me your contribution as well to go into a booklet. However, there is no obligation to do this. It’s up to you.


to Bath Quakers: Research Proposal from

Richard Bainbridge

Postgraduate in Quaker Studies,

University of Lancaster

I have recently finished some postgraduate study in church history at the University of Nottingham. As part of this I completed a dissertation entitled What is the value of congregational studies for contemporary church history and historical theology?  A congregational study of a village nonconformist church will provide an exemplar. This involved interviewing 61 people associated with the church [76 were approached] for an average of one hour. The discussions were open ended and included early church experiences [or not] as well as the influence of decades like the 1960s.  It was very moving and valuable and allowed the people to express how they came to find themselves in the particular congregation. There was both quantitative and qualitative material. Some provided written accounts of their ‘faith journey’.

I have now started some postgraduate study at the University of Lancaster in Quaker Studies [in association with the Woodbrooke Centre]. I enjoyed the previous interviews and so did those being interviewed with some saying that their experiences had never been asked for before. It would be a privilege and a pleasure to interview those willing to do so. I have already interviewed a number of people.  Interviews can take place at our home or the home of the person being interviewed or in a neutral place like a cafe or gardens. I am interested for example in why people have become associated with the Quakers [some interviewed have been to Quaker schools and others have come through significant experiences] and what it means to them [some interviewed were imprisoned as conscientious objectors]. This is thus a small scale qualitative research study which is important in discovering where people are in relation to the Quaker way. For simplicity it is a matter of people answering the question ‘How and why did I become a Quaker?’ I will attempt to place the interviews within a wider context of Quaker theology. I have so far interviewed some 25 people in Oxfordshire and over the border. The study is essentially grounded research where key themes are identified as the material from those writing or talking about their experiences is analysed.

I live in Oxford so regretfully it would not be possible to interview people at a distance [although the occasions may arise] so in the case of those outside of Oxfordshire I would be looking for written accounts. Again it would be a matter of answering the question ‘How and why did I become a Quaker?’  The Oxford Meeting have a booklet with some 50 accounts and the Milton Keynes Meeting have provided a download of some 40 accounts.

All references in the study would be anonymized as in the previous study which any one is welcome to read either on line or in a hard copy.

I am happy to provide further details or to be questioned about the proposed study.

I look forward to the response and will understand if people are not willing to participate. The study will not be completed until 2020 so there is no hurry. I am retired and enjoy the challenge of study and of hearing from people.

Richard Bainbridge


May 2017

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