Area Meeting update and notices

January 2022

Our first Area Meeting of 2022, again on zoom, was very well-attended, with all our Local Meetings represented.  We are experimenting this year with timings, in two senses: some meetings will be at times other than Saturday mornings, and they will all be slightly shorter. We hope that two-hour meetings, beginning and ending with the usual periods of silent worship, will work well for Friends.

The first part of the meeting was devoted to a talk and discussion about the work of Q-CAT (Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture). This was led by two Q-CAT trustees, Jane Laxton and Barbara Forbes, who spoke about Q-CAT’s ethos as well as some of the group’s current work. We were reminded that the UK is not a ‘clean’ country where torture is concerned, but recently Quakers and others have been able to influence the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act to exclude torture and war crimes from the exemptions embodied in this legislation.

Several Friends responded by expressing their sense of how important such work is, and we agreed to appoint a link-Friend for two-way communication between Q-CAT and our Area and Local Meetings, so that we can stay informed about the group’s activities and support them better. Some of this support might be financial, and we will begin with a small donation to support a current project that witnesses against torture through the medium of a choral work, ‘A Knock on the Door’.

Other items in the second half of the meeting included:

  • A report from Meeting for Sufferings held in December, covering a wide range of topics, from the on-going revision of our Book of Discipline to news from Quaker groups across the world and updates from last autumn’s climate conference, COP26. (For more details see the AM minutes and the very readable report itself that was circulated before the meeting.)
  • A summary of our Membership statistics from 2021. This gave rise to a short discussion about the gender categories used to compile the statistics, and we agreed to ask Meeting for Sufferings whether historical binary categories are still relevant.
  • A number of Nominations and Appointments, including a new representative on Quaker Life’s Representative Council, and a representative to attend the forthcoming Woodbrooke and QCCIR (Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations) conference on the theme ‘Experiencing a Changed World: How Are We Being Reshaped?’ General bookings for this conference will open next month, so please do look out for details if you are interested.
  • We also heard that our treasurers have done considerable work on the preliminary stages of making a claim on our Area Meeting insurance policy for loss of lettings income during the pandemic. Area Meeting gave its approval to taking this work forward to the next stage, and asked for an update on progress in February if possible.

Notice: on 18 March 2022 Leighton Park School, the independent Quaker school in Reading, will hold its annual General Meeting, and an open invitation is extended to all members and attenders. If you are interested in going to the Meeting (10am-3.30pm) please contact the AM clerks for further details. Applications should be made by Friday 25 February. We are assured by one of our Friends who has been to the school regularly in the past that the General Meeting is quite inspiring!

Next Area Meeting will be held online on Saturday 12 February 2022, again from 10.30am to 12.30pm, with a brief pause midway. At February’s meeting we hope to bring together Local Meetings’ reflections on equality, diversity, inclusion and racial justice as prompted by the ‘framework’ questions we agreed in November.

The zoom link and AM papers will be circulated via the AM email list during the week leading up to the meeting, and all members and attenders are always warmly welcomed.