This page describes how Abingdon Quaker Meeting is organised. If you’re new to Quakers, we suggest that you visit Who Are The Quakers? first.
Although Quakers can worship anywhere, we are usually organised into Local Meetings (our equivalent of churches), which are grouped geographically into Area Meetings. Abingdon Local Quaker Meeting is part of Oxford & Swindon Area Meeting, which in turn connects us to our national body, Britain Yearly Meeting.
Abingdon Meeting is a friendly group of Quakers and “attenders” of different ages and backgrounds. We share many values common to Quakers and find, through worshipping together, an inspiration to shape and guide the way we live our lives. Unlike most Quaker Meetings, we currently don’t have a Meeting House of our own. Instead, we worship in a number of venues, shown on the Contact & Find Us page.
How the Meeting is organised
Spiritual and pastoral nurture
Since Quakers have no priest or minister to lead a congregation of worshippers, everyone in the Meeting contributes to the way we worship and to how we care for each other as a community. Our Spiritual and Pastoral Care Group (SPCG) has a specific responsibility to be guardian of the spiritual life of the Meeting and the experience of worship. It also has responsibility to ensure that the pastoral needs of everyone associated with the meeting, including attenders and enquirers, are noticed and supported. The group comprises roughly seven members of the Meeting, each of whom serves for a three-year period. Members of SPCG also take it in turn to open each Meeting for Worship and bring it to a close at the end.
Abingdon Meeting also has a very small library of books on Quaker history and spirituality for loan. [Information on how to access the catalogue and borrow a book will follow in due course.]
Quakers’ commitment to equality means that decisions about the running of the Meeting are made collectively at our business meetings, held every two months. The official title of these meetings is ‘Meeting for Worship for Business,’ which reflects the principle that the decisions taken, and the discussions that precede them, should take place in a spirit of worship.
Like all Local Meetings, Abingdon Quakers appoint a Clerk, who serves for three years and looks after administrative matters relating to the Meeting. The Clerk’s duties include dealing with correspondence, preparing the agenda for business meetings, guiding the meeting through the items of business and circulating the minutes afterwards.
There is no voting at a Quaker business meeting: instead, it is the responsibility of the Clerk to discern ‘the sense of the meeting’ in relation to each agenda item and prepare a written minute of the outcome.
Running a Quaker Meeting depends on contributions by a number of other Friends, whether as committee members or as individuals. Other roles in Abingdon Meeting include:
- Children’s Committee (which organises Children’s Meeting)
- Newsletter editor
- Advisers on funerals
- Representatives on Area Meeting bodies
- Representatives on the Governing Body of Church in Abingdon, an inter-denominational body comprising local Christian organisations
- Correspondent for Quaker Peace & Social Witness
Post-holders are generally appointed for a three-year term in the first instance. The Meeting’s Nominations Committee identifies suitable individuals and presents their names for acceptance at the November business meeting. New and renewed appointments take effect on the following 1st January.
Informal groups within the Meeting
In addition to the formally appointed committees, a number of informal groups flourish within Abingdon Meeting. Three separate groups meet monthly at different times of the week to read and discuss works relating to Quakerism or spirituality in general. A group was set up in 2021 to explore ways in which we can become an anti-racist Meeting. And, in a literary vein, a number of poetry enthusiasts meet monthly to share their favourite poems on a wide range of topics; one poem is selected (following true Quakerly methods!) for sharing in the Meeting’s monthly newsletter.
Links with other local churches
Abingdon Meeting is a member of The Church in Abingdon, a voluntary organisation comprising 14 churches from a range of denominations. These churches work together to support to the people of Abingdon in a practical way through various task groups and community projects, including The Abingdon Bridge, Abingdon Street Pastors and Trinity Learning.
Two Friends from the Meeting sit on The Church in Abingdon’s governing body.
Image credit: Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Meeting