Friday, 22 December 2017

Meetings for worship over the Christmas and New Year period

We will be holding our normal Sunday meeting on 24 December, at 10.30. There will not be a meeting for worship on Christmas Day, and we will meet again on Sunday 31 December.
Witney Friends send loving greetings to all those who have worshipped and worked with us during the course of 2017, with particular thanks to the Methodist Church for its hospitality.

More photos from the shared lunch

Thanks to Roshan for more photos from our shared lunch on 3 December.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas shared lunch 3.12.17

We enjoyed another shared lunch on 3 December, with the pleasure of music and carol singing, and the delightful company of 10-month-old Ada! Thanks to Yvette, Lesley and Keith for the ukelele playing and carols accompaniment, and to everyone for delicious food and warm company.

Minutes of November meeting for business

Minutes of a meeting for worship for business held on Sunday 5 November 2017 at 11.30 am in the Bethany Room, Methodist Church, Witney.
11 Friends were present. During opening worship, §19.48 from Quaker Faith and Practice was read.
37/17 Dates of events 2017 and 2018
We have confirmed the following dates:
·        3 December  shared lunch and celebration
·        10 December Spiritual and Pastoral Care Gathering (to follow meeting for worship)
·        24 December meeting for worship as usual; no meeting for worship on
§  25 December
          Dates of meetings for business:
·        4 February
·        4 March
·        3 June
·        1 July
·        7 October
·        4 November
This pattern accommodates disruptions due to Easter, bank holidays and YMG, amongst other factors.

38/17  Use of legacy from Sue Bowers
We have received information on various options, including a day visit to Hawkswood, a day visit to Friends House, a ‘song and silence’ event tutored by Mark Russ from Woodbrooke on Saturday 14 April, and a Sunday gathering at Charney Manor.
We agree to email Friends in this meeting with the two latter options, to ask for preferences, and to bring this matter back to a later meeting for decision. We wish to invite Friends from Charlbury and Burford to join us, and ask the clerks to contact them with these possibilities.

39/17  Treasurer’s report and 2018 budget
a)    Finances 2017: income has remained steady. We anticipate a surplus of £2181, due to low expenditure and surplus reserves brought forward from 2016.
b)   Donations 2017: we agree the following donations
·        BYM - £300
·        Young Friends General Meeting - £300
·        Quaker Council for European Affairs - £200
·        Quaker Homeless Action - £200
·        Base 33 - £225
·        Citizens Advice Bureau Witney - £200
·        Rohingya appeal (via Disasters Relief Committee) - £1500
We approve the reserving of £1000 to support a new CTiW initiative on homelessness in Witney, and ask representatives to a forthcoming meeting on this matter to report back to us.
c)    2018 budget: our treasurer has spoken to the proposed budget. We approve the budget, including an increase of £50 in our annual rent for the Bethany Room, to represent an inflationary increase for 2018.

40/17  Nominations  January 2018 – December 2020
We receive the report from our Nominations Group on recommendations for appointments for the triennium 2018-2020. We appoint the Friends named below accordingly:
o   Clerks’ team : Jennifer Barraclough, Suzette Hubbert, Mahalla Mason (also correspondence clerk) Sharon Watson (release Jenny Franklin)
o   Treasurer: Ruth Slade
o   Finance Group: Ruth Slade, Suzette Hubbert, Adam Noble, Jennifer Barraclough
o   Nominations Group: Jennifer Barraclough (convenor), Rae Cather, Don Mason, Lesley Morris
o   OSAM trustee: Jennifer Barraclough
o   Representative on OSAM nominations group: Ann White
o   Rota organisers: Mahalla Mason, Liz Edwards
o   Special collections: Rae Cather, Caroline Bing, Adam Noble, Allan Carr (release Jenny Franklin)
o   Library: Sharon Watson, and Liz Edwards to assist (release Lesley Morris)
o   Health and Safety, Safeguarding: Stephen Mohammad (release Mahalla Mason)
o   CTiW representative: Lesley Morris (release Mahalla Mason) – second name required in due course
o   Data Recorder: Judy Taylor (release Mahalla Mason)
o   Funeral advisors: Lesley Morris, Jennifer Barraclough
o   Care of children:  Caroline Bing (actual children’s meeting provisions suspended for the time being)
o   Convenor of Spiritual and Pastoral Care Group: Mahalla Mason
41/17 Any other business
        Representatives to Area Meeting in Swindon Saturday 11 November:
          Jennifer Barraclough, Sue Hubbert, Mahalla Mason, Don Mason.

There being no other business, our meeting closed with worship at 12.30

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Dates for your diary October 2017

Witney Quaker Meeting.  Dates for your diary. Sep.+ October ‘17

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30th ASYLUM SOUNDS, Witney’s Rock Barn, (in the barn up the slope next to Bill’s) all afternoon and evening to raise funds for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.  Organised by Witney Refugee Action.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 1st 10 am start and Business Meeting at 11.30 am.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7th 10.30 am Fair at High Street Methodist Church; lots of stalls and the VOICE BOX CHOIR.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 10th Churches Together in Witney Council Meeting 7.30pm.  Venue to be decided.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11th the Healing Group meets at 2.30 pm at 5 Larch Lane.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 21st AREA MEETING’S ELDERS AND OVERSEERS GATHERING, Topic: ‘The nature of Quaker Concern’   in particular Cornwall Area Meeting’s concern on the legality of possessing drugs for personal use.    Organised by Ruth Baker, Rhonda Riachi and Carol Saker.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 28th:  Berks and Oxon Regional Meeting.  11am at Amersham Meeting House:    ‘Supporting young adults in the Society of Friends’.  Oliver Robertson clerking.
MONDAY OCTOBER 30th  the Clerks meet at 11 am at 5 Larch Lane.

Minutes of our meeting for business 3 September 2017

Minutes of a meeting for worship for business held 3/9/17 in the Bethany Room, Methodist Church, Witney.
11 Friends were present. An extract from Quaker Faith and Practice, 27,01, was read out during our opening period of worship.
                27/17 Matters Arising :
a.       As in previous years we are to lay a wreath of red and white poppies during the Remembrance Service in Witney on 12thNovember. We appoint Lesley Morris and Yvette Gulland to do this for us.
b.      Quaker Outreach Week is taking place in October.
We agree to buy ‘The Friend’ outreach magazine to distribute to friends which will cost £10 for 20 copies.
We have 10 outreach postcards for Friends to give to non-Quaker friends inviting them to a meeting. Friends are invited to take these home with them to distribute.

28/17 Half yearly finance report

Ruth Slade, our treasurer, gave a summary of the report.
Our reserves from last year are more than expected and our costs are down at the moment. Our surplus could be between £2,000 and £4,000.
We are asked to consider the possible use of this surplus for 2017 and to bring these considerations to the next Meeting for Business in November.
We are committed to giving a basic amount of £300 to BYM.
Sue Bower’s legacy of £500 is still unspent and separate from the figures seen.
We thank Ruth for all her work with the accounts.

29/17 Food Bank request
Witney Local Food Bank has written to enquire whether our meeting would become a referral agency for them. This would involve handing out vouchers to people known to us who are in need and who could then use the vouchers to obtain food from the bank.
We feel that this is something that the meeting would like to take on. Mahalla Mason and Sue Hubbert are willing to be signatories and to hold the vouchers. Friends would then refer to Mahalla and Sue for further information.

30/17 Next S &PC Gathering
The next Spiritual and Pastoral Care Gathering is on Sunday 24th September after meeting for worship. Sharon Watson will offer a mindfulness exercise as a part of this.
31/17 A.O.B

a.       The next Area Meeting is on Thursday 7th September at Faringdon Meeting House at 7pm. Nobody is available  to attend this as our representative.
b.      Area Meeting Naming Group for Elders and Overseers for the next triennium. Lesley read the information received from this group describing Witney Meeting. She will update the information re how long we have been a meeting.
 We closed with worship at 12.15

Saturday, 17 June 2017

20th anniversary and picnic at Minster Lovell

We were able to celebrate the 20th anniversary - to the day - of the restarting of Witney Local Quaker Meeting on Sunday 11 June, first with a birthday cake after meeting, then with an afternoon of picnicking in the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, where the Mary Stich Ukelele Band joined us for music-making! (much to the entertainment of other visitors to Minster Lovell).

Monday, 5 June 2017

Quaker Stewardship Committee: report to Meeting for Sufferings

MfS/17/04/07 Quaker Stewardship Committee  Ursula Fuller and Mary Aiston of Quaker Stewardship Committee have spoken to its report (MfS 2017 04 06). We have also received minute 2017/21 from Leeds Area Meeting.
Like Sufferings, QSC has a vision of vibrant, well-managed meetings that can develop innovative solutions to the problems facing them. Like Sufferings, QSC works primarily with area meetings. Sufferings works on our faith and action, QSC looks after the good governance that underpins it.
QSC has helped our area meetings so that in 2016, Yearly Meeting was told that every meeting that has to send their annual report and accounts to the Charity Commission or to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator met the deadline and the reports contained all necessary requirements.
We reaffirm that all Quakers should be good stewards of our resources: it is part of our witness in the world to do this job well and there is ongoing work needed to support meetings in their stewardship of our resources.  We have considered the three questions that QSC has put before us:
1. What more can QSC and area meetings do to ensure that trustees and treasurers receive the support they need?
Initial feedback from representatives today was positive: the support QSC offers via Trustee and Treasurer News and their willingness to work with Friends in their meetings is appreciated.
News of Woodbrooke's proposed online course was welcomed. Feedback on annual reports from QSC link Friends is also helpful.
A proactive approach is needed to engage Friends in matters of governance, as there are difficulties in some areas in finding Friends to serve. Friends would welcome QSC members visiting them in their area meetings.
2. Would making wider central use of the information provided in trustees annual reports and accounts be a worthwhile expenditure of BYM’s resources?
In responding to this question, we were reminded of the opportunity annual reports provide for outreach to the wider world. They are a report on the life of the whole area meeting and whilst legally their production is the responsibility of trustees, we are reminded of the guidance in Qf&p 15.03 that the ultimate authority lies with the gathered meeting.
Asking for reports to provide information about, for example, sustainability, would require clear guidelines to enable consistency.
We were urged not just to follow the letter, but to respond to the Spirit.
3. How can QSC best prompt a wider conversation to ensure that BYM's governance structures are sustainable in the long term?
We acknowledge that there is no ‘one size fits all’ and there are limits to Friends' ability and willingness to sustain the work of governance. This is a serious risk.
We thank Ursula Fuller and the members of QSC for their report to us today and for their work for the Yearly Meeting and we will return to these matters at a future meeting.
We look forward to hearing further comments when all representatives have reported back to their meetings.  

June minutes of meeting for business


Minutes of a meeting for worship for business held Sunday 4 June 2017 in the Bethany Room, Methodist Church, Witney.
8 Friends were present. §2.17 of Quaker Faith and Practice was read during our opening worship.
24/17 Matters arising
a)    Response to Quaker Stewardship Committee – QSC has sent questions relating to good practice on stewardship and trusteeship in our meetings. Our Area Meeting representative has reported on the response to this in her report on Meetings for Sufferings. We ask that the report be posted on our website.
b)   Picnic arrangements for 11 June: the picnic will be held at Minster Lovell ruins. Friends are reminded to bring chairs or rugs as well as food. Lifts can be arranged.
c)    We note that Sue Bowers’ testimony was read at the last Area Meeting and will be forwarded to Britain Yearly Meeting.
25/17  Spiritual and Pastoral Care Gathering
          We agree to change the date of our next gathering from 25 June to 23 July at 12 noon following   meeting for worship. This will enable Lesley Morris to lead us in a consideration of the experience of pilgrimage.
26/17 Nomination of Area Meeting elders and overseers
        We appoint Lesley Morris to represent Witney on the nominations group which will bring forward names of elders and overseers in the Area Meeting   for the triennium 2018-2020.
There being no other business, we closed with worship at 11.50 am.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Testimony to the grace of God in the life of Sue Bowers

The following testimony was prepared in accordance with the practice of Quakers. It has been approved by Witney Friends, read at an Area Meeting and forwarded to Britain Yearly Meeting for record.


Testimony to the grace of God as shown in the life of Sue Bowers (13.7.33- 27.4.16)

To the very end, Sue retained a vigour and a smile which characterised her whole approach – to people, to opportunities, and to the mediation and peace work which she pioneered.
She was at the forefront of bringing conflict resolution work into UK schools in the 1980s, supported by Kingston on Thames Friends, where she and her husband John first came into membership in 1975. This was something of an impromptu second career; Sue had trained as a nurse in the 1950s, giving this up after marriage to John, a shipping executive then based in Liverpool, with whom she had a son and a daughter.
Sue was one of the founders and leaders of Kingston Friends Workshop Group, the outcome of her concern about bullying in schools. KFWG introduced to the UK a wide range of tools to help prevent and manage bullying in schools, and the use of mediation for conflict resolution in the school environment. At the time, what could be described as peace education was often regarded with suspicion, especially in a rather right-wing council, where the first initiatives were taken. However, both an imaginative educational inspector and a committee member with a child in a local school gave strong and effective support, and within a year, the group was giving workshops to train teachers in conflict resolution techniques. The broad approach was summarised as ‘communication, affirmation, cooperation and problem-solving’, based on four key questions: What happened? How do you feel about it? What would you like to do?  And what can we actually do?
The methods which the group pioneered have become widely known and disseminated, and live on in common practice in schools, though their origins are probably not widely known or celebrated. Sue would not have cared about this. Modest, loving and deeply convinced, she shared her insights with a sense of joint exploration. She was passionate that peace was not about avoiding conflict, but about confronting and working through differences. She carried this approach into every enterprise undertaken with Friends and others.
John’s second retirement in 1990 brought a move to Dorset, where for thirteen years they held between them most of the posts within the Area Meeting and contributed greatly to it. Sue’s kindness and compassion showed through in all she did; and her energy and enthusiasm were such that sometimes it seemed as if only John’s gentle direction of it prevented Sue from self-destructing!
The legacy left to Dorset of Mediation Dorset that was set up by Sue has been immense. It was ahead of its time, and right – every solicitor and court now offers ‘mediation’ but the quality and impartiality that was integral to Mediation Dorset was invaluable to its clients and a flagship for Quakers.
Sue went on to teach conflict resolution with Marian Liebmann in Woodbrooke Quaker Studies Centre and Queen’s College, Birmingham, work which was greatly valued by Quakers and theologians in training alike. 
Life was also for living – Sue and John’s shared interests in music and sailing, and the embedding of a musical creativity in the family, nourished them and their friends. A move to the Cotswolds to be nearer their children brought their energies first to Charlbury meeting, and then to Witney meeting. Here they once again made themselves part of the heart of both meetings.
In 2004, following the Iraq war, Sue and John became prime movers in what eventually became Peaceroots, an independent charity formed to support people in war-torn areas attempting to find non-violent solutions to conflict, to bring reconciliation and to build sustainable peace. It also aimed to raise the public profile of such work, and to demonstrate its benefits through dialogue with governments and decision- makers. This work ran alongside that of the family trust set up by Sue and John which provided support for 40-50 charities a year. One example was the Olive Tree programme, in which Israeli and Palestinian students at London universities were enabled to meet each other as equals and friends, rather than strangers and enemies.
Finding a home which was more accessible as age and health became more pressing concerns had a particular influence in the re-establishment of Witney meeting, which had been laid down some decades earlier. Sue and John, retiring to the town from Charlbury, initiated the home group which has now become a thriving local meeting in its own right.  Sue was always keen to take on fresh ideas, and to keep those working with her in training, as it were, and part of her commitment to the young meeting was to create opportunities to learn together. She helped ensure that the Quaker experience was explained and explored through the provision of study groups for both enquirers and longer-standing Friends and she planned for members of the meeting to get to know one another better in away days and shared lunches. There were outreach events, when distinguished lecturers were invited to share their expertise, and she and John offered hospitality and challenge with love and enthusiasm. Her ministry in meeting was always rooted in practical experience, given with strength and wisdom.  Though we knew that sometimes Sue’s organisational expectations could outrun the time available, we all welcomed her practicality and enthusiasm.
It was characteristic of Sue that she and John both responded in good time to the advice to plan well for one’s funeral and death. The guidance to the funeral advisors for Witney in 2012 was full of love and realism: organ donation (her body was accepted for medical research), green burials, flowers and catering were spoken of alongside the family needs, the trust in Quaker processes and the foundation of Quaker experience. Sue lived out her precepts to the end. Her own severe illness in 2013, and the onset of John’s dementia, meant careful planning about where and how to live out the last few years. They had hoped to move to a new retirement village in Witney, but had to accept that by late 2015, it would be necessary to go to a similar community in Letcombe Regis. It was still near enough for Witney Friends to remain in touch, and to help prepare the memorial meeting in summer 2016.  At this, music from her family and friends soared over the sadness and gratitude of the hundred or more who gathered to give thanks for the grace of God in this life of committed and creative service.


Welcoming Ada Iris Roulson to meeting! 9 April 2017