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Quakers in Australia

NSW Regional Meeting - Reflections On the Australian Quaker Centre (H Gould)

Helen Gould’s comments on Jenny Madeline’s paper opposing an AQC in a permanent location: Helen’s comments hilighted.

Jenny writes, "the preferred AQC model (involving the purchase of a permanent centre, e.g. Silver Wattle at Bungendore, NSW) seems to be too grand a vision.”
 
Yes it is a grand vision.  I believe that David Johnson has been led in this matter and that no vision is too grand for the Divine Being.   This report comes from a position of "need" and of "lack" whereas I believe the AQC will, and already is, generating and nourishing "gifts", connections, spiritual growth, outreach.  I am getting to know dear Friends such as Bev Polzin, Drew Thomas, Kerstin Reimers, David Carline, Brenda Roy and more, at a depth that is not possible at YM 
 
Jenny writes, "It is questionable whether it is a prudent or justifiable use of very limited Quaker financial resources – with the possibility that it could become a burden to be borne by Quakers in future years.
 
acknowledge that there is a possibility that a property could become a burden however I would expect any proposal by the AQC Working Group to purchase a property would include fairly comprehensive consideration of what to do if we lack resources to continue...including sale
Jenny writes, 1.        It remains to be shown that there is widespread, enthusiastic support amongst Australian Quakers for a permanent centre (including the intention, and ability, to attend courses and/or live in community)
 
the enthusiasm & support is growing.  the Paananen family (Central Coast) & other NSW Friends attended the Easter weekend & Paula spoke very highly of the experience & says the children are now keen to attend YM, having made connections with children from other RMs as well as other NSW children.  The children in general (not just the Paananens) responded greatly to the physical environment at Silver Wattle, that experience of the great outdoors is becoming quite rare for children & for Quakers
 
Jenny writes, 3.       The Silver Wattle property, in particular, will require significant ongoing maintenance (not only the buildings and equipment, but also the larger property) which will require a considerable degree of expertise and expenditure.
 
The expertise is there, with David J and John Baker. 
 
with respect to indigenous people,  we need an on-going, long-term commitment to a place before we can expect any meaningful connection with them, except where that connection is based on prior personal connectionI have heard that David Carline has said that the indigenous people around Bungendore/ Canberra are waiting to see if the Quakers stay before they are willing to put in the time and effort to developing a relationship with us.  Ditto for indigenous people elsewhere, from my experience with them.  A good reason for a permanent home for the AQC.
 
James Strong writes,
 
"In my opinion, alternatives to the AQC that posit no permanent, intentional community or facility are essentially arguing against the vision of the AQC altogether. An "AQC on the road" or other alternatives to a permanent facility have been suggested. But roving classes and such – while they may be a vital part of the AQC mission – are a consequence of the life of the Centre, not its core. It is true that roving classes or retreats can be addressed by other programs, but they would be of a radically different character without a permanent facility. If Friends (or the community as a whole) do not discern the need for a permanent facility, then a simple, outright refutation of the AQC vision would be a more straightforward course than the offering of alternatives.”
 
I agree with James, on this and on everything else he has written about the AQC. Friends who have generally not had their own vision of outreach and inreach work among Friends, but who do not want a permanent center, are asking the AQC working group to change their AQC vision – I do not believe this is in right order. If this is what these Friends want, their responsibility is to discern whether they are being led to do these other tasks. The AQC working group’s responsibility (and indeed the responsibility of us all) is to communally listen to the Divine Presence.
 
I wholeheartedly endorse what James has said.  The AQC to me gives me hope that Australian Quakers have a future because it fosters prophets and witness.  

The real concerns about the AQC taking resources from the Meetings - true enough, in the short term, however I know that just the same sorts of concerns were raised when Friends were establishing Pendle Hill.  Birthing a new structure within our Religious Society is bound to be painful.
I would ask those Friends who intend to participate in the decision making about the AQC, & who have not yet attended any courses, to actually go to Silver Wattle if you possibly can.  Firstly, because it is a wonderful experience & spiritually enriching.  Secondly, because if RMs do not support the vision, you may not get the opportunity in the future.  Go while you can.
 
Apologies for 29 May, we will be holidaying. I have faith that on 29 May Friends will listen, with spacious minds and loving hearts, and that Friends will find the "hidden unity in the Eternal Being", and find a way forward.

love and peace,

Helen G
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