Friday, 12 February 2010

Becoming Friends

One of the wonderful unintended consequences of Quaker Quest for British Quakers has been the growing realisation that we need to offer all these newcomers some way of engaging with Quaker spirituality (beyond just gesturing in the direction of the library and saying 'there's lots of books about it in there...')

A new project called Becoming Friends has now been developed by Woodbrooke, which offers a range of ways for people to learn about, explore, and discuss the Quaker Way. The course includes written materials, links to video and audio recordings, online forums and also the opportunity for learners to share and discuss themes and experiences with a trained 'companion' from their local Meeting.

The course is available in paper format (for £10) or online (£5), and is a great resource for all Quakers and attenders (not just the newcomers it has been designed for). More information, including a free demo option here.


Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to be invited to be part of the pilot for this course last year and so am familiar with some of the modules and looking forward to working on the remaining ones. I have signed up to the electronic version and the moodle site is easy to navigate around, but I would also recommend you getting the paper version too. It is well packaged very reasonably priced. There are units on -

- Advices and Queries
- Speaking of God
- Silence and waiting
- Experiencing Quaker community
- Faithful diversity
- The sacred in the everyday
- Faith in Action
- Deep roots and new growth

The are numerous references to Quaker faith & Practice, whilst each module gives an extensive further reading list, most of which can be found in the Sheffield library.

I have found that working through the modules with an experienced Friend has been of particular value. For example, discussing our differing experiences of a particular Quaker Business Meeting was particularly fruitful, as was our past experiences of faith groups and what had brought us to Quakers.

Not all the course material will appeal to everyone, but there is enough diversity to meet most needs, and trying some of the activities that took me out of my "comfort zone" was especially helpful.

In discussions on the Moodle site it is evident that some people in other areas of the country are having more difficulty in identifying local Friends to be course companions. We really are fortunate in Sheffield to have a large meeting and a committed number of Friends willing to support people new (or newish) to Quakers learn more about this way of life. I'd like to thank them all for their time and effort. I echo the comment that all Friends and attenders would benefit from familiarity with the course materials presented here.

Nadine Wills said...

Thanks for posting this information Craig and your experiences Ray. Looks interesting.

Janey Fitzgerald said...

Thanks for this Ray. Several of us in Sheffield were involved in the pilot, and it's now open to everyone. I'm organising Becoming Friends for Nether Edge, and Marguerite Gold for Central Friends. I've just been at Woodbrooke working on how to support experienced Friends as companions, and we'll be offering a session on this soon.

However you don't have to wait: just go online. The whole idea is that you can choose the unit you want to consider for yourself, and work through it at your own speed, and in the depth you wish. Meeting can provide you with a companion to share your thoughts with, or you can take part in a group - and there are also opportunities to chat online.

Nadine Wills said...

Well I'll have to talk to Maguerite then as have just bought the paperback copy :-).

There were lots of clicks to get to the online version of the course, and know some people struggle with this type of navigation so here it is directly:

Or phone to order: 020 7663 1030. It does cost £3.50 to deliver.

While there I noticed Alistair (Heron) wrote a book called "Quaker Speak" on the expressions and terminology used in Quakerism. Sounds interesting. In Meeting for Reflection last Sunday we spoke a little bit about how in each culture there are specific words for concepts and feelings that make it easier to identify certain relationships and emotions/situations/ways of being which I suppose in some ways is what this book and friendshipping is all about too. Glad to hear that this is happening though. It sounds like a great idea.