Showing 33–48 of 55 results

    Creating Connections

    Author: Julia Ryberg

    Document Code: WJ25


    Julia Ryberg has been one of my colleagues at Woodbrooke for almost four years. During that time she has brought a strong and lively European connection to our programme. Since 2007 in a joint Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) and Woodbrooke project she has pioneered the e-learning courses and has been enthusiastic in promoting the value of this 21st century approach to learning; reassuring Friends that the virtual community works. I am fortunate to belong to a Local Meeting in Birmingham where I regularly meet Friends in worship and chat over a cup of tea. Sweden Yearly Meeting has fewer members than my own meeting! So providing a meeting place on line where Friends can chat, share their deepest questions and searchings with someone geographically far away can only be a good thing. In this article Julia is able to share this and many of the ways that she is bringing people together and making many different connections.

    The article was originally an address given to Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering in 2009. The theme of the week together was Creating Community; Creating Connections and Julia was able to captivate the meeting of over twelve hundred people as she told her own stories. As well as her European travels she was able to include a very recent study visit she had made with a group to Israel and Palestine. This experience was still very raw and trying to assimilate the impressions of a country where connections are made difficult by road blocks, check points and a wall added to the poignancy of what she was saying.

    Julia’s use of images to focus on the different ways we make connections is also helpful for readers and as you read you will be able to reflect on the way you make your own connections. The familiarity of a journey, the intricacies of a net or web, or the majestic tree deeply rooted in the earth all provide a visual, almost tangible portrayal of the complexity and challenges of the way our connections are made. She encourages you to tell your own stories about the connections that you have made and the changes they make in your own life.

    I am pleased to bring the spoken word into a written form to share with those who were not able to attend Yearly Meeting Gathering.

    Judith Jenner

    Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre

    October 2009

    Divided Ideals: The Religious Society of Friends and the Irish Home Rule Controversy, 1885 to 1886

    Author: Philip Ashton

    Document Code: WJ06

    Description: This issue of the Woodbrooke Journal represents only a portion of the monumental and rigorous research carried out by Philip Ashton before, during, and after his Eva Koch Research Fellowship in 1998.

    Assiduously checked and re-checked, Philip’s work reflects his own dedication to enquiry and to accuracy. I often tell my students ‘follow your passion’ and this is exactly what Philip has done in his comprehensive study of the Irish Home Rule question between 1885 and 1923 and the reactions of Irish and British Friends to the political manoeuvrings of those years.

    It is a fascinating history, one that sadly still echoes in the 21st century, but one which gives us an historical perspective to better understand the ongoing debates.

    Ben Pink Dandelion

    April 2000

    Faith in Action: Quaker theology and protest

    Author: Cliff Marrs

    Document Code: WJ12

    Description: Cliff Marrs brings refreshing perspective as a new Friend to the current state of British Quakerism. Besides his fresh eyes and ears, he brings an impressive academic background in theology, church history, biblical studies and law to bear upon the subject matter of today’s Quaker faith and political protest. The work of Ben Pink Dandelion in sociological analysis of Quaker belief and behaviour in the 1990s has inspired a spate of smaller survey-based researches. Cliff Marrs’ study is the third Eva Koch Fellowship project to be done as a survey, and the third consecutive issue of The Woodbrooke Journal devoted to these projects (No. 10 was Peggy Heeks’ ‘British Quakers and the Bible Today’; No. 11 was David Rush’s ‘They Too Are Quakers: a survey of 199 nontheist Friends’.) Given the trend of liberal Quakerism to drift further and further from its traditional patterns, offering no definite boundaries to belief or personal behaviour, it may be that this shift from prescriptive to descriptive, from theological to sociological and empirical statements of Quaker faith and practice, is a logical outcome. These studies, including the present one, however, do not fail to raise probing questions and dilemmas for Friends in the early twenty-first century. I recommend this essay to anyone either comforted, afflicted or simply curious regarding the state of the Religious Society of Friends today.

    Douglas Gwyn

    Quaker Studies Tutor

    Finding the Prophetic Voice for our Time

    Author: Marion McNaughton and Lizz Roe

    Document Code: WJ21

    Description: Cliff There are two articles in this edition of the Woodbrooke Journal. This in itself is unusual as we usually publish one article from one writer and often an Eva Koch Scholar. This autumn I had to look elsewhere and it was fortunate that a current Woodbrooke tutor and one who moved on recently were both speaking at the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Triennial Meeting. It was held in Dublin in August and had as its theme Finding the Prophetic Voice for our Time. Both of these articles were written to be spoken, they are in an active voice and full of passion.

    Quakers gathered from all parts of the world to share the week together and get to know more about their various ways of being Friends. Recognising that there are differences Marion was asked to explain first the common basis and biblical heritage of what Quakers understand as prophecy, then to explore different ways that different parts of the Quaker world understand prophecy today. This can range from a liberal call to action for social justice to an evangelical understanding that prophecy means to expound the gospel. She sets the scene using the roots of prophecy in the Jewish tradition to help understand the heritage of Quakers and how to live it today.

    Lizz was asked to prepare ministry for an unprogrammed Meeting for Worship at the Triennial. Her contribution is a practical example, telling the story of her own experience which is grounded in the same historical roots. These accounts of the Old Testament prophets continue to inspire 21st century people of faith. She talks of holy obedience and being a countersign to the times. As well as giving insights into the history of prophets and the foundations of prophecy, both of these articles share an optimism about our capacity to be prophets ourselves in today’s society.

    Judith Jenner

    Haramisi and Jumaa: The Story of the Women’s Meetings in East Africa Yearly Meeting 1902-1979

    Author: Esther Mombo

    Document Code: WJ05

    Description: It is with great pleasure that I introduce this edition of The Woodbrooke Journal. I first met Esther Mombo briefly in 1997 at the joint FWCC/Woodbrooke Consultation on Identity, Authority and Community, but I have got to know her far better in these last six months as she came to Woodbrooke as one of the Eva Koch Fellows. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Esther and she has given enormously to the Woodbrooke community in her time here.

    Esther has been working these last years at the University of Edinburgh on her doctoral research on the position of Luyia women within Kenyan Quaker Christianity. In her thesis, now in the Woodbrooke Library, she shows how the good intentions of Arthur Chilson and the other Quaker missionaries often backfired, given their incomplete understanding of the local Luyia culture (into which they attempted to introduce their own ideas). Luyia women needed to survive within the tensions created between two patriarchal systems as the Missionaries tried to replace one with what they thought was a more egalitarian model.

    Esther’s thesis is a wonderful piece of work which I hope will find a wider audience. This journal is but a snapshot of some of the themes she develops more fully in the thesis, a story of women organising themselves and gradually finding a voice for themselves within Kenyan Quakerism.

    Ben Pink Dandelion

    Healing Ourselves and Healing the Globe

    Author: David Greaves

    Document Code: WJ26

    Description: David Greaves was the Eva Koch Scholar in 2009. Having spent his working life in medicine and latterly in an academic setting he wanted to spend some time reflecting on the implications of his academic work from a Quaker perspective. His doctoral thesis Mystery in Western Medicine was published in the same year he started attending Quaker Meeting for Worship. He had come to the conclusion that the ideas and values that underpinned his work in medicine were similar to those which informed Quakers. David uses the caduceus, reproduced on the front cover, as a symbol representing the mundane and the mysterious. In western medicine and society the relationship between these two elements has been distorted and too much emphasis placed on the rational and objective. The power of the staff in the hands of the gods to heal is the balance of the rational with the intuitive, the physical with the mystical. In seeking to understand healing for ourselves and the globe in the 21st century David integrates the spiritual and the material. He is able to contribute a distinctive, holistic approach.

    Imagining the World Without War

    Author: Berne Weiss

    Document Code: ISSN 1368-9614

    Description: We live in a time when war has been glorified, but we also live in a time of global community. We are connected to each other in ways that those in the past could not have imagined, so can we imagine a different time? Berne reaches the conclusion that there is reason for hope even though a lot of work needs to be done.  We are all responsible for the world we live in.


    Inward Spiritual Experience – the Heart of the Quaker Way?

    Author: Carole Hamby

    Document Code: WJ22

    Description: Carole Hamby undertook a piece of research in Britain Yearly Meeting to discover what Inward Spiritual Experience means to Friends. She used a questionnaire to collect her first set of data and the responses to this are to be found in this article. She has used some of the respondents’ words and this gives a flavour of the different ways Quakers experience the Spirit in their lives today. There were four hundred replies and this felt encouraging. People wanted to share their experiences and make their contribution to this particular topic. For some it was not easy to find the words to express their spiritual experience although the questionnaire did offer different categories to chose and these could be used as a guide.

    As a follow up to the questionnaire Carole was able to interview some people in greater depth and in the first part of the article presents some of the findings from the interviews as well as those from the questionnaire. She does this using an examination of a selection of George Fox’s writings describing the inward spiritual experience. There is recognition that Fox’s experience of the light of Christ has relevance for Quakers in the 21st century.

    Her concern, however is how many of her respondents did not experience inward spiritual experience in Meeting for Worship so she goes on to explore the relationship between the corporate nature of Quaker Worship and the personal, individual practices of some Friends. There is a real fear that we are failing in this core work of the Religious Society of Friends. The article is challenging and thought provoking and as Carole writes in her conclusion it is work in progress and we all have a responsibility for our corporate spiritual life.

    Judith Jenner

    Is Taoism in the Society of Friends?

    Author: Michael Wai Hin Len

    Document Code: WJ18

    Description: Michael Len arrived at Woodbrooke at the end of August 2005 to pursue his interest in connections between Taoism and Quakerism. The topic was of interest to the Eva Koch Scholarship Committee because it was felt to be breaking new ground. Michael had the experience of being a practising Taoist and more recently a Quaker with multi-cultural and multi-faith life experience. Even his association with Christianity was in many denominations and, as you will read, in a variety of roles within the church. For his study he decided to find out from other Quakers what their own experience of Taoism was and once the questionnaire was drafted, the information circulated through the Friend and a letter to each Preparative Meeting then the project took off. The second part of the article is a record of the responses to the questionnaire carefully put together by the author.

    In the final section Michael does ask himself the question whether the self selected respondents can give a balanced picture of the links between Taoism and Quakers. Those who responded are people who do make the link and reading through their responses find the two complementary and do practise Tai Chi or Chi Kung or have acupuncture or reflexology. Given that they are already involved in some way with Taoism and have read something about it, or use the Tao Te Ching regularly then reading a selection of their responses to the different questions does give insights into the spiritual lives and beliefs of some Friends. It does make fascinating reading.

    In the introduction to the article Michael writes of his own journey into Taoism as well as showing how the two ways have similarities for him. Simplicity, peace, the life force, light and energy as well as stillness and peace all play their parts in both. He calls it a phenomenological study and offers it as an illumination of the Quaker way.

    Judith Jenner

    Tutor in Quaker Studies

    It makes all the difference

    Author: Elizabeth Duke

    Document Code: WJ29

    Description: In her Eva Koch scholarship Elizabeth Duke considers whether there can be any common ground around the  concept of ‘salvation’ amongst Friends worldwide. Her approach to ideas of liberation through a direct experience of the divine, through the sharing of truth by testimony, and through the ways in which we live the Gospel, point us in some hopeful directions for developing a shared story about ‘salvation’.

    Elizabeth has drawn on her work and contact with Friends across the world over an extended period; what has emerged in her study is challenging, but it also opens new doors to understanding an experience which for many lies beyond simple words. With our many theological and spiritual differences Elizabeth has got to the root of some core ways in which we may find unity.

    James Nayler: A Pearl of Faith

    Author: Stephen Sayers

    Document Code: WJ19

    Description: In October 1656, James Nayler re-enacted Christ's entry into Jerusalem in Glastonbury, Wells, and Bristol, by riding into these towns surrounded by other Friends waving branches. Nayler was a leading Quaker, indeed thought by many to be the leader of the movement, and certainly one of its great preachers. His actions in Bristol gave those opposed to the grand claims of the early Quaker movement the perfect pretext for trying to silence these radicals. Ultimately tried by Parliament for blasphemy, Nayler narrowly escaped with his life but instead endured such horrific punishment that it had to be interrupted by a week for him to recover. He was then imprisoned to be released in an amnesty after Oliver Cromwell's death. He died soon after following a mugging.

    This short account of Nayler's life is timely. Its publication marks the 350th anniversary of the Bristol affair and it is also part of newfound popularity for Nayler's life and witness. His trial was a fragile moment for the early Quaker movement, and an earlier disagreement with George Fox meant that Nayler lost his prominent position. However, his prison writing is amongst the most beautiful of that of the early Friends and recently there has been a renaissance of interest in Nayler's testimony and legacy. We need to see these lives in their wider political and historical context and within the wider apocalyptic Quaker theology of the time, but this issue of the Woodbrooke Journal provides a useful introduction to those unfamiliar with this particular Quaker minister. Stephen Sayers also offers an analysis of the kind of transformation Nayler experienced and preached about, making this a very valuable edition to the Journal series.

    Ben Pink Dandelion

    Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre


    Let our lives speak

    Author: Natalie Fedorchenko

    Document Code: WJ20

    Description: This is the story of the transformation of a private school in Electrostal, a town on the outskirts of Moscow. Natalie Fedorchenko arrived at Woodbrooke as the Eva Koch Scholar following her dream; to build a school in Russia on Quaker principles and with the ethos of a Quaker school. She already had the school building but she wanted to create a community based on Quaker values in a place where she was one of a very few Quakers.

    With this vision she was able to read about Quaker education but also visit one of the Quaker schools and talk to both teachers and pupils and learn more from their experiences. She also made contact with people working in Peace Education as well as Religious Education and found their resource libraries overwhelming. There was too much to take in. She discovered very practical books on peer mediation and conflict resolution as well as those on the development of children’s spirituality. These treasures were an affirmation; other people shared her vision and provided ways and means of realising them in a variety of new ways.

    By the time of her second visit during her school’s summer holiday she had already begun to plan how to introduce additions to the RE syllabus as well as new ways of maintaining discipline within the school using Quaker principles. Thinking about school rules, a charter for teachers and pupils as well as how to recruit teachers willing to work in this way was helped by the many books available here, but not in Russia. She was able to plan how she would introduce her vision so that the whole school, as well as parents, shared it.

    The story has not ended as Natalie continues her work, but this article is an account of her action research project in her own school.

    Judith Jenner

    Living Upside Down

    Author: Judith Jenner

    Document Code: ISSN 1368-9614

    Description: The image of being turned upside down and inside out is one sometimes associated with the Kingdom of God. To enter this kingdom Jesus said his followers had to become like children, or to those who are rich, they had to give away their wealth. He was clear that the first in the world’s judgement would become the last in his kingdom. Living contrary to the way of the world today is often seen as being prophetic and standing aside from the majority view. It can feel out of reach for those ordinary followers of Jesus’ teaching. But reading the stories of Jesus in the gospels helps us to understand how simple it is to recognise the kingdom because the woman seeking the lost coin demonstrates in an everyday image the worth of each person.

    This article is a series of stories about everyday events where in some small way the world is being turned upside down. It may inspire you to take a different view of what happens around you, and find ways of realising the kingdom of God is amongst us today.

    Openings: A Poet’s Encounter with Elizabeth Fry

    Author: Julie C Robinson

    Document Code: ISSN 1368-9614

    Description: Elizabeth Gurney was born into a Quaker family in Norfolk towards the end of the eighteenth century. Her early life in this rural setting contrasted markedly with her life when she married Joseph Fry, a Quaker businessman, at the turn of the century and moved to London. In the city she missed the natural rhythm of life and welcomed visits to her family home. In her poems Julie Robinson encounters Elizabeth in many different places and stages of her life including being alongside the women in Newgate prison. She is drawn particularly to Elizabeth's spiritual journey and the inner life, especially the experience of a power directing her life which is greater than herself.

    In the 21st century Julie is struggling to understand an early nineteenth centure woman, of a different class and living in a different culture. Both are Quakers, but there is not a shared theology and although there are some common beliefs the language used by Elizabeth creates much discomfort today. But in the conversations, opening herself to Elizabeth's words and thoughts Julie was ready to be transformed by it. Taking the advice of Jane Hirshfield 'to be transformed it is necessary first to stand in the open.' Julie spent three months at Woodbrooke: a poet abandoning herself to her subject.

    This journal brings together a selection of the poems Julie wrote during her Eva Koch Scholarship alongside a reflective prose account of the experience of her encounter with Elizabeth Fry. I was privileged to be part of this journey here at Woodbrooke when a small group of women met with Julie and shared with us some of her struggles and questions. Julie read some of her poetry one evening in July; it was quite amazing as the rain poured down outside, thunder and lightening moved around the dark sky to recall that Elizabeth herself wrote of spectacular thunder storms racing across the Norfolk countryside.

    Judith Jenner

    Our Queries and Our Conduct: past, present and future

    Author: David Maxwell

    Document Code: WJ08

    Description: It has been a pleasure working with David Maxwell on the latter stages of his Eva Koch Fellowship project on the queries. I was glad for the opportunity to help bring the manuscript to publication. David’s work has combined good research and reflection on the queries in Quaker history with a clear and passionate concern for their renewal among Friends today. I believe many will be informed by his findings and rightly challenged by his conclusions. I find myself persuaded by his argument that a more serious engagement with our queries is a vital component to renewing the internal integrity and wider witness of the Religious Society of Friends. I am grateful to David for his courage and sustained effort to bring this project to fruition. I am also grateful to former Quaker Studies Tutor Ben Pink Dandelion for his work with David during the time of his residence and research at Woodbrooke. I hope these faithful efforts will be rewarded by a sincere response by Friends.

    Douglas Gwyn

    Quaker Studies Tutor

    Proud, Stubborn and Free: The earliest Quakers and their children

    Author: Helen Bayes

    Document Code: WJ13

    Description: As a child rights activist Helen has a concern for children and young people today, especially when their human rights are being violated. In this essay she turns her attention to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the first hundred years of Quakerism. During her diligent research she has discovered material in Epistles written to children and young people themselves as well as to adults in meetings and the heads of households. Helen has used these source documents and many others to present a vivid and lively picture of the young people and traced changes in the perspective of adults.

    One striking realisation is the youthfulness of many of the very early Quakers. Teenagers were travelling preachers, some going as far as Ireland to spread the word. George Fox himself was a young man in his early twenties when he left his family home to travel. Another realisation is the joined up thinking of early Quakers. How children should be reprimanded was a concern for some families. They were encouraged to treat other people with gentleness, meekness, patience and to care for each other.

    The Peace Testimony was emerging as a social concern for Friends. They were also convinced that each person was equal in the sight of God. How did this affect their attitudes to child rearing? Children also had the Light within them from birth; how was this to be respected by a parent who was angry? Adults are advised not to provoke children to anger as this will make them more stubborn.

    Although Helen is writing about the seventeenth century many of the questions she explores are ones that are real for many Friends today. I am pleased to be publishing this Woodbrooke Journal and recommend this thought provoking article.

    Judith Jenner

    Tutor in Quaker Studies