A Quaker Window onto Covid
Quaker Tapestry Volunteer Audrey Nunn shares her thoughts on being a virtual Clerk, organising Meeting for Worship during a pandemic and how Hereford Meeting have used this as an opportunity to travel the world together from their armchairs.
I wonder what it is like to be a real Clerk? I’ve only ever been a virtual one, taking over the task at the same time as Covid became worldwide. In some ways this offered a blank canvas. There surely had to be new and different ways to keep our Quaker community together? I realised immediately that Zooming could become an important tool in our community tool box, although it took our Friends a little longer to the appreciate its significance.
Of course, there were some Quakers who would have no truck with this modern sterile technology, but there were others, including a 90 something year old who welcomed the contact and meeting, albeit remotely.
We began Zoom Meeting for Worship very early in the pandemic…
but with no opportunity to discuss the management of Zoom or the Meeting. Friends were given 15mins. to find their way into Zoom and this inevitably led to chatter as we helped people explore the array of symbols and their uses. Friends were also anxious to hear news of other Friends. We were certainly not entering the ‘room’ in the normal manner of Quakers. This led to what we termed ‘a forethought’ to draw us into the gathered silence. We were probably all surprised by the width of wisdom offered from a rich variety of sources by Friends. It was refreshing and enlightening.
Perhaps the seeking of guidance beyond the familiar, hinted at our struggle to understand a very different world and way of living.
Often Friends requested copies of the quotations and sometimes they were put into our ever-expanding newsletter. We ended our Meeting for Worship by sharing a photograph, which sometimes seemed to resonate with the forethought. Treasuring these wisdoms led to the idea of creating a booklet.
Since this time our Zoom Meetings for Worship have progressed along with the improvement of our Zoom skills. We now come into Meeting quietly acknowledging Friends as they join. There’s no longer a forethought and the length of the Meeting has increased. We have chat time at the end, but sadly no coffee.
We roamed the world with our chosen quotations and pictures, but returned to our Quaker roots and values to complete our work with a quotation from John Woolman (QFP 26.61). Complemented by the final panel from the Quaker Tapestry.
“There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath different names; it is however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren.”
John Woolman 1720-1772
Audrey Nunn, Hereford Meeting, January 2021