Pandemic prompts new ways of Quaker worship and witness

Quakers in Britain are set to decide whether to create an online festival for their Yearly Meeting next year.

zoom screen clare +clerks' team
First time online for Yearly Meeting. (Photo: Ben Robinson BYM)

Public health restrictions mean there is too much uncertainty to be able to plan a face-to-face Yearly Meeting in 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led Quakers to be a virtual worshipping community. Any misgivings about holding Yearly Meeting online were dispelled this week when just over one thousand Quakers met online for their annual event, gathered in stillness to listen to stories of experience and to the promptings of love and truth.


I really enjoyed our virtual Yearly Meeting.

- Clare Scott Booth, clerk of YM 2020


Yearly Meeting this week was a scaled down event, missing all age worship. Next year there would be a parallel programme for children and young people as well as the opportunity for Quakers to come together as a worshipping community, to see each other's faces and to seek divine guidance. Under consideration, there might be customary lectures, and a range of online events highlighting Quakers' work and witness in the world.

Provisional dates and plans about the nature and theme of the Yearly Meeting will be confirmed on 5 December by online Meeting for Sufferings, Quakers' representative body.

They will want to create an event which would reinforce Quaker commitment to being an inclusive, diverse and all-age community; be more inclusive of those who could not attend a face-to-face event; and learn from other communities building successful digital conferences.

Clare Scott Booth, clerk for Yearly Meeting was apprehensive and excited about the potential for a new way for Quakers to worship and work together. She said, “Like many other Quakers I miss meeting up together, even so I really enjoyed our virtual Yearly Meeting. Now we are getting more experienced and creative around virtual and blended events, it will be really exciting to see what could be put in place for our next Yearly Meeting."

Watch reports from the first online Yearly Meeting