Ulster Quarterly Meeting was held at historic Richill Meeting House on 11th June 2017.
Following a varied worship meeting (during which we were reminded of the primary religious reason for our gathering), meeting went on to discuss some much needed administrative reforms and the disposal of some Society properties. Felicity McCartney (South Belfast) gave details of the appointment of a new Quarterly Meeting administrator and said it was time to discern the best way forward in this matter and to follow God’s leading. The new administrator will provide clerical support and co-ordinate activities within a new central committee which will replace three existing committees. The administrator will also be a point of contact for enquiries about the Society.
Several Friends suggested ways in which HR professionals might be consulted in the recruitment process. Documents about this process will be made available prior to next Quarterly Meeting.
Meeting was informed that after numerous bids, Tamnamore Meeting House has been sold (with the character of the building being preserved) for £47,000. There has been no further report to date on the issue of Charitable Status for the Society but some Trustees have been appointed.
Looking abroad Friends were informed of a FWCC report on the development of a Friends School in Uganda. Money from the sale of UQM properties will provide a dining room and examination hall in the school (a government requirement).
Rita Dawson (Bessbrook Meeting) raised concerns about the precarious financial state of her meeting but was assured that funds were available to meet all contingencies.
A letter was read from the Finance and Properties Committee of Lisburn Meeting to indicate that income from leasing properties is to be used to finance various charitable projects.
Overall the themes of Quarterly Meeting were administrative stream lining and the disposal of material assets to facilitate spiritual development, pastoral care and outreach; surely a good and positive move forward.
This year’s Annual Historical Lecture will be delivered by John Hussey in Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Dublin 16, on Friday 30th June at 8pm. The title of his talk is ‘Quaker Settlement in West Wicklow’.
John’s talk will be based on his many years of research in the Baltyboys and west Wicklow area using the principles of historical-geography and will make reference to the various Quaker families associated with the area. He will look at Baltyboys before the arrival of the first Quakers in 1678; the time distribution of Quaker settlement; the physical distribution of their settlement around the Kings River valley, including their involvement in local ‘partnership leases’; the roles of Anthony Sharp and Michael Boyle, Archbishop of Dublin and the weaving industry established by the Baltyboys Quakers. Finally, he will examine why the community died out.
Rachel Bewley-Bateman of Churchtown Meeting delivered the Public Lecture at Yearly Meeting in The High School, Dublin, on Friday 21st April 2017 on the topic ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life … what does this mean for us today?’
Her wide-ranging lecture encompassed Biblical references, consideration of the Reformation and the influence of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) since its inception as well as her own personal spiritual journey.
Rachel talked about how George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, came to realise it was possible to have a direct relationship with God. “Over time seekers became finders and the good news spread rapidly,” she said.
She concluded that “Quaker testimonies are still valid and should challenge us daily – truth, integrity, peace, justice, simplicity, equality, community, the earth and environment …. We can call on God to guide us and give us the strength to undertake what He requires of us.”
‘Feeling Alone’ was the title of the Ministry and Oversight session at Yearly Meeting, held in the High School, Dublin, from 20th to 23rd October. It was led by members of Richhill and Grange Meetings.