Judith Eversley remembers her mother’s Quaker service, and shares Jane Stephenson’s most recent report on Meeting for Sufferings
“Just off to Meeting for Snuff …” my mother would say, bafflingly (perhaps I was easily baffled in the 1960s). She represented Dorking & Horsham Friends on Meeting for Sufferings, and once a month these London trips took her to its meetings at Friends House. So what was she actually doing?
Originally MfS had recorded – and worked to alleviate – the Sufferings of persecuted Quakers, By the 20th Century, there was not so much of that and its focus was on the day-to-day expression of Quaker testimonies in practice: what did changes in politics, economics and society mean for Friends trying to lead faithful lives; who will do the work of the Society; how will it be financed?
Then along came the Charity Commission which decreed that such a large representative body could not manage the day-to-day business of the Society. That’s why we now have Trustees managing Britain Yearly Meeting business from day to day.
Meeting for Sufferings still has a huge role: it is as it always has been the national body where we sound out our concerns and visions through the year. It has been described as the prophetic voice for Quakers in Britain today, working all year round and feeding into Yearly Meeting.
And now, as then, members of Meeting for Sufferings have a big role to play in two-way communication: they share Friends’ grassroots concerns and they report back. In our area, West Wilts & East Somerset Friends are represented on MfS by Jane Stephenson who is scrupulous about writing a short lively report on what happened. That report (never more than one side of A4!) is sent to Area Meeting and minuted.
But what if you don’t read the AM minutes or the double-page spread that appears once a month in The Friend? How will you get to know what’s being discussed about worship, witness, sanctuary, vibrancy, simplicity or investment? In future, Jane’s reports will go in our Bath Quaker Newsletter, and as a taster, here’s a link to her most recent report. MfS WW&ESAM Report April 2019