Virginia Jealous, West Australia Regional Meeting.
Dear Friends, I’d like to share some of my recent experience of Quaker community in cyberspace. This started as an attempt to keep up the spiritual momentum after a visit to Silver Wattle, and to counteract some of the challenges (of distance, communication, resources) of being in a small group of isolated Friends. It’s rather strange and wonderful, and is becoming a valuable part of my Quaker life.
I attend an international online Meeting for Worship (MFW) most days. Regular MfW is loosely scheduled at 1100 GMT, but the ‘meeting room’ is always open and there’s often someone there. It’s different, of course, from physical MfW but for me it’s a useful way to incorporate some structured Quakerly practice into my day. Rather than sitting in waiting worship, I might use the silence read and reflect with what is, for me, a real sense of community and spiritual solidarity irrespective of time zones and geography. Knowing that right here, right now, individual Friends are gathering for worship is encouraging and energizing.
Several recognized Meetings in the UK and US offer Skype phone and webcam links to their scheduled MfW. This allows you to hear and see MfW in progress, and to listen to or to offer ministry. This is another quite different experience; more physical (the coughs, the squeaky chairs) despite the distance.
QuakerQuaker is a wide-ranging website with about 1800 members; it’s based in the US and encourages international Quaker engagement. There are special interest groups – Plain Quakers; Quaker books; Convergent/Liberal/Evangelical Quakers; Quaker vegetarians among others – and more general articles and comments that range from deeply theological to politically active to intensely personal. It’s a map of the different roads that Friends are taking to get to the same destination and it’s certainly extended my understanding and appreciation of different Quaker traditions as I go on my own journey.
Friends with internet access may like to follow these links:
(This contribution previously appeared in WA Quaker news, May 2011.)
Early Quakers understood that spiritual power plus ethical action can transform social and political conditions. We gather together in silent worship to collectively invite the spirit to move amongst us. In Quaker worship and Quaker business process the community gathers in collective witness to that of God in each of us. Australian Friends are thinly spread over a vast continent. Our friend Virginia Jealous calls our attention to some online resources which can help to support and nurture the spiritual lives of isolated friends. The editors hope that the online Australian Friend will explore ways to bring community and communication to isolated Friends. We invite you to comment and start a conversation using the ‘Leave a reply’ form below.