On a cold March evening in 2015, I made my way to Beeston for the inaugural meeting of Nottingham Young Quakers. I’d been coming to Quaker meetings in Nottingham for just over a year and although I’d met and hung out with some of the other young people after meeting, we’d never had the opportunity to meet up regularly. Then, by chance, one week there were enough of us interested to have our first meeting, which is how I ended up helping to bring our new little group together.
Our aim in forming the group was to meet others who had an interest in Quakers and Quaker values and create an atmosphere of fellowship which would allow everyone to share spiritual and non-spiritual time together. I remember leaving this first meeting feeling encouraged that I’d met a group of people who I shared a lot of values with, and that despite our different spiritual backgrounds we had found common ground in our desire to share something of our experience.
Fellowship had been something that I’d searched for throughout my time as a student. In my second year at university, I’d been a part of a wonderful Christian social justice and activism group for a year before we sadly had to go our separate ways. Your time at university is hugely important for getting to know yourself and for many people, this includes exploring religion and spirituality. I had personally found that attending meeting for worship allowed me to do this at my own pace but sometimes missed the feeling of community that I’d valued so highly the year before. Luckily for me, Nottingham Young Quakers was to provide this.
Our first spiritual meeting was an evening later in the month where we reflected on stillness through different activities, including listening to a song called ‘Let’s be still’ and worship sharing. Although we met through a shared spiritual interest, it quickly became clear that there would be a large social component to our meetings, and the meeting after that was a group outing to the pub with board games! One of our main difficulties was trying to find times when everyone could meet, and for this reason our sessions were not as frequent as we would have liked. However the ‘regulars’ still managed to meet for food and a catch up the next month.
We then went back to our normal session format with a spiritual meeting about mindfulness and the different ways we can be mindful of the things of the things in our lives. One activity that sticks out for me was choosing about our most valued possessions, discussing why they were so important to us and then thinking about which one we would save if we could only have one.
Then, the summer holidays came and all of us students left for home. Luckily, there were still enough of us who wanted the group to continue and we were able to have another meeting in October, once we’d all returned. This was a quiet evening where we caught up, met new members who were interested in joining the group and shared some silent reflection.
The final meeting I was able to attend was in April 2016. This was very personal to me because Abi had asked me to choose a theme. It was a tricky time for me as I was looking ahead to graduating, leaving Nottingham and starting all over again in Sheffield, where I live now. For this reason, I chose the theme of “New Beginnings” and we shared a wonderful creative evening writing haikus, reflecting on the good in new beginnings and finally planting nasturtiums to remind us of the great things that can come from a new beginning.
Being a part of the Young Quaker group in Nottingham brought me friendship, support and community throughout my last year and a half at university. I looked forward to our meetings as a way to share my own personal experience of Quaker faith and look forward to the time when I can participate in them again.