I am delighted that this issue’s Know One Another features Stephen Hodgkin, whose careful, faithful work supports so many of the endeavours of Quakers In Australia including the distribution of The Australian Friend.
I have been reliably informed that there is no such position as an Australia Yearly Meeting membership secretary, as membership is to the Regional Meeting and the Yearly Meeting is simply made up of all the Regional Meetings in Australia, but if there were such a position, then Stephen fills that role.
He keeps a database with all those who have EVER received The Australian Friend in the many years he has been responsible for distribution. This database includes all the address changes, life changes and other possibilities that the adventurous life of a Quaker can encompass. It is, in effect, a national database of Friends past and present, and he draws from his database to create our printed members’ lists, the ‘Australian Quaker Meetings, Office-holders, Members, Attenders and Children’. As well, it is Stephen’s database and Stephen’s work that created the present web-based membership records.
Regional Meeting clerks know that if Stephen is among the recipients of a memo with an email address that he does not recognize, he will query this to make sure his database remains up to date.
We have been very fortunate to have Stephen’s sharp eyes and consistent record keeping, and if ever he does decide that he would like to lay down this work, then the AYM Nominations Committee will find themselves seeking someone for a range of jobs that has no official description, but which forms the nexus for communications within our Society in Australia.
This is my last issue of The Australian Friend as editor, and I hope that this year has served as a bridging year while the Friends of The Australian Friend in New South Wales have been putting things in place for the online version of The AF. I am aware that many Friends are already contributing material to the new publication, and it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm engendered by this project. You can read an update on this project by Wies Schuiringa in this issue.
I am grateful for the many, varied, inspirational and interesting submissions that have come in each quarter for this year’s journals. I recently spent an afternoon chatting with people who came to look at our Quaker information at an Open Day at the former Friary where my local worshipping group meets on fourth Sundays. Many people picked up and browsed through the copies of The Australian Friend, and quite a few walked away with them to read further.