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NSW Regional Meeting - Reflections On the Australian Quaker Centre - 29 May Summary

NSW REGIONAL MEETING OF RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.

 

SUMMARY OF CONTRIBUTIONS MADE AT A MEETING HELD AT WAHROONGA MEETING HOUSE ON SATURDAY 29TH MAY 2010

TO CONSIDER THE NSW REGIONAL MEETING’S RESPONSE TO AYM CONCERNING THE PROPOSAL FOR AN AUSTRALIAN QUAKER CENTRE

 

IN ATTENDANCE:

From Wahroonga LM: Anna Bell; Garry Duncan; John Dundas; Lyn Dundas; Peter Hillery; Ian Hughes; Rae Litting; Elaine Polglase; Wies Schuiringa; Julie Walpole; Robin Walpole;

From Hunter Valley LM: Bob Berghout; Peter King; Rob Mackay; Jean Talbot;

From Devonshire St LM: David Cooper; Jenny Madeline; Michael Morrissey; Barbara Stephen; James Strong;

From Blue Mountains LM: Elizabeth Mitchell; Elizabeth Field;

From Central Coast Worshipping Group: Paula Paananen;

Plus: Valerie Joy (Qld RM and FWCC AWPS);

CONVENOR: Peter Hillery;

SECETARY: David Cooper.

 

This report draws together the thoughts presented at the meeting and by prior written submissions. (See the Appendix 1 at the end of this report and the prior written submissions for more details.)

The Minute of NSW RM calling for the holding of this meeting and the Minute of AYM 2010 dealing with the proposal for establishing an Australian Quaker Centre were read.

After some discussion we decided not the use the word "Centre” as this may limit the possible models and discussion of our present needs.  Some felt the word "network” more useful. We decided to begin by considering what would help to develop Friends spirituality and learning before considering the use or purchase of Silver Wattle.

The following emerged:

Most stated considerations:

·      Growing in Quaker ways in a Quaker-rich environment

·      Learning about spiritual practices, meditation, contemplation, prayer, etc that are appropriate to Quakers.

·      Spending more time together in the things that are eternal

·      Ensuring what we do is accessible and equitable to all Friends in terms of time, distance and money

 

Other considerations also strongly mentioned:

·      Commitment to the land and place; connection with a specific piece of land

·      Organising learning opportunities that are longer than a day

·      Organising residential courses or retreats that are longer than a weekend

·      Making connections with Friends from Local and Regional Meetings

·      Learning the skills of spiritual practices

·      Organising Quaker basics; groundings in Quaker faith, practice and testimonies

·      Being financially viable and responsible

 

Other considerations:

·      An intentional community for contemplation and action (like a monastery)

·      More frequent opportunities for small group learning and growth

·      Keeping the "fire in the belly” burning

·      Team up with Woodbrooke and/or Pendle Hill to develop on-line courses. Must include a face-to-face component

·      Opportunities to take our Quaker message to others

·      Organising silent retreats

·      Living in community

·      Supporting Quakers enrolled in formal courses and/or involved in Quaker research and inquiry

·      Meeting the needs of young and older f/Friends

·      Developing communication and sharing information to reduce fragmentation

 

After a short break for refreshments, we discussed the possible acquisition of Silver Wattle in the light of our previous discussion.

We felt that the current work of the Australian Quaker Centre Working Group has been extremely valuable and those who have attended Silver Wattle have been enriched.  We express our gratitude to the Working Group for their dedication and hard work.  The Meeting strongly felt we should continue to develop Friends spirituality and learning in some form.

However, most felt that the financial details presented to date has been inadequate and there has not been sufficient financial planning for any possible future acquisition and use of Silver Wattle.

We were not in unity as to whether Quakers should proceed with the acquisition of Silver Wattle, or similar venue.  Some strongly favoured acquiring the property as many of the needs could only be met at a dedicated centre as envisaged.  Some also expressed the view that face-to-face meetings are critical to successful programs and that some of the alternatives to a Centre (for example, on-line programs) are unattractive.

The primary reason of those opposing the purchase was the lack of robust financial analysis of the past and proposed plans.  Some who hold this opinion acknowledge that they have been to Silver Wattle and received great benefit.  We were reminded that both Woodbrooke and Pendle Hill have had financial difficulties.

It was suggested that in its minute Regional Meeting should refer to this report.  It is recommended that when this report is forwarded to Regional Meeting it should be asked to consider attaching a copy of the report to its minute to be sent to Yearly Meeting and that the Yearly Meeting Secretary be asked to include this report in the briefing papers to be sent to Standing Committee members prior to Standing Committee’s July meeting.

 

David Cooper and Peter Hillery

NSW Regional Meeting

1 June 2010

 

 

 

 

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