Cancellation of national Quaker events

As the Coronavirus outbreak continues, Quakers in Britain are cancelling four national events planned for March and April.

Update: They are advising meetings not to gather in person while the current social distancing guidance is in force.

adults seated for indoor worship
Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit. (©Mike Pinches for Quakers in Britain)

Quakers in Britain Recording Clerk, Paul Parker said: “We have been monitoring public health information each day and listening to the concerns of Quakers. We have been particularly mindful of the developing public health advice for people in higher risk groups and conscious that a significant number of people in those groups would generally attend these meetings.

“Because of this, we have decided to cancel all four of the national events we had planned for March and April. We know that this will be a disappointment to some, but in the circumstances we see it as the responsible decision to make."

The events that have been cancelled are:

  • Quaker Peace & Social Witness Conference (20-22 March)
  • Area Meeting Trustees Conference (21 March)
  • Meeting for Sufferings (4 April)
  • Quaker Life Representative Council (24-26 April)

Like many other faith groups Quakers are avoiding physical contact. “Quakers usually shake hands at the end of their meetings for worship, as an expression of unity. But the act of shaking hands itself is not a core part of Quaker faith and there are many other ways Quakers can share this greeting. We have advised meetings that they shouldn't shake hands in the current situation," explained Paul Parker.

Many Quaker meetings are experimenting with online silent worship. “In extraordinary circumstances, we'll do our best to become a virtual worshipping community," said Paul Parker. Read Quaker Tim Gee's impressions of online meeting for worship. Join online worship developed by Woodbrooke Quaker Centre.

Britain Yearly Meeting, the national church supporting Quakers in their work and witness is becoming a virtual organisation for the duration of this crisis, working to maintain as many operations as far as possible. Meanwhile Friends House, the Quaker Centre, café and Seed Kitchen, along with Swarthmoor Hall in Cumbria, will close today, initially until 20 April.

Read Coronavirus advice for local meetings