Voices of Hammersmith Quakers
I have been coming to Quakers since late 2014, having known very little about it before then. I felt I had a strong faith in something, but I didn’t know what. I didn’t fit in with a conventional church, which I found quite prescriptive and I didn’t like being told what to do. Thuy went to stay with some Quaker friends of ours, and when he came back, he talked all about Quakers – and I thought ‘It sounds like what I’ve spent most of my adult life seeking’. We looked on the Quakers website and found the Hammersmith meeting. I went to my first meeting, unsure of what to expect, but with an open mind. Even though I didn’t know anyone, I felt really connected to people in the silence and had a strong sense that, finally, I had found my kind of people. I continued attending meetings, and it had a profound effect on me. Especially the idea ‘there is that of God in everyone’ – it was really helpful to me. I thought ‘that’s true of me too’ and it helped me to be kinder to myself, and freer to express myself to other people, I felt freer to be the person I am rather than trying to be something else. At Quakers, I found a place where it felt normal, rather than being thought of as a weakness of some kind, for people to look out for, and care for one another. This was extremely liberating for me.
I was raised a Quaker in Philadelphia and spent much of my formative years in Quaker schools and summer camps. I therefore did not realise that I was actually religious until I left home for university. I ran from the ‘confines’ of required meeting for worship only to start at my university and have my college tutor introduce himself as a Quaker! He invited me to meeting with him, I declined of course, but only lasted three months when I found myself missing the community and the peaceful quite of meeting for worship. I have been attending the local meetings of wherever I live or travel too ever since. I moved to London in 2002 and joined Hammersmith not long after that. It is a wonderful, small to medium sized community that cares for all its members and attenders. We welcome anyone interested in exploring ideas of faith or peace and social justice.
I came to Quakers in around 2000 after taking up meditation and wanting to explore different ways of worshipping God in silence. My friend Paul was then a regular at Hammersmith Meeting and suggested I join him and his family there. I was made very welcome – along with my partner Alison and children. The Children’s Meeting is a wonderful place. My children Melanie (now 20) and Jim (18) both really enjoyed their time there, and their brother Tom (10) is an enthusiastic regular and has made one of his best friends through the Meeting. When I meditate I am usually alone. I greatly appreciate the different experience of worshipping alongside others at the Quaker Meeting. Among my favourite Advices and Queries is no 8:
Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.
Why do I come to Quaker Meeting?
Because I want to see my friends, and I like it.
The best thing about being a Quaker?
Other people, whether or not they are Quakers, because you try to see that of God in everyone.
In Quaker worship, people sit in silence and speak if they are moved to. What is silence for?
Sitting and listening to God and nature and thinking about stuff.
“Children’s Meeting is what I look forward to when I go to sleep on Saturday night.”
It’s almost 40 years since my staff bus went along the A4 ad I saw ‘Friends Meeting House’ on the wall to my left. I’d attended meeting as a student and made a point of seeking the building out and going the next Sunday. I am still here and I met my husband and married here, brought my children up in the care of the meeting and have helped and been helped by it over all that time. I can’t imagine life without the worship or the community. It underpins the rest of my life. The sense of the presence of God in everything I do and everyone I encounter influences my actions and choices and motivates me. “Remember each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.”
(Sadly our friend Ruth passed away early in 2014)