Quakers in the UK look set to extend marriage services to same-sex couples at their annual meeting.
Over three years since my last entry on this page - disgraceful! I have visited a number of meeting houses in the last couple of years. The Hertford meeting house is apparently one of the oldest, and was one of the places that hosted the Vanunu Freedom Ride this year (of which I only did the last leg). I have also been on a two week summer bike tour for the last two years with Bicycology and we were hosted in a few meeting houses up and down the country. My mild interest in Quakerism has not really developed much and although the Quakers I meet all seem to be generally sound people I have not made any stong connections. I am of course grateful that they support some of the things I am involved in by allowing groups use of their excellent facilities.
Anyway, I was really only prompted to update this page by finding the website of an "Information Strategist" called Simon Grant, which contains his own personal Quaker page and lots of good links to Quaker stuff he is involved with.
After meeting a guy called Paul Sladen at a Linux Expo and then again at Critical Mass, I had a look at his website and ended up following some links about Quakerism. Although I have often had dealings with Quakers, particularly in the context of Peace Activism, I was surprised at how little I knew about the movement. I also realised that I had been under the misapprehension that all Quakers are Christians. According to the FAQs at www.quaker.org.uk it is not that simple:
Quakerism started in England in the 1650s so there's no doubt that Quakerism is rooted in Christianity and many Quakers centre their faith on Jesus. On the other hand, some Quakers find that traditional religious language doesn't describe their inner experiences, and they look both within Christianity and within other faiths and philosophies. The Society appears very different from any other Christian group, without the usual priests or creeds and with a distinctive worship based on silence.
In fact, other than a vague concept of "the divine", Quakerism doesn't seem to have any religious characteristics - despite the fact that the movement is properly known as the "Religious Society of Friends" (see also this Wikipedia entry).
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010