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The latest articles from Nottingham Young Quakers group.

What have Nottingham Young Quakers been up to so far in 2017?

The Nottingham Young Quakers group has been busy since the start of the New Year! We have had numerous social events as well as some Spiritual Suppers held at the Meeting House.

nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: film screening
Watching the recent Ghostbusters film.

Concerning social events mid-January, we held a film screening of Ghostbusters (2016) in the Meeting House to celebrate Laura and Tori’s birthdays, with a vegan-friendly take-away and many friends invited, many who had never been to an event before. The food was absolutely delicious and the film was a success, with over 30 people attending. We raised money for the Nottingham Women’s Centre as well as the Meeting House, as we wanted to give back to the Meeting, since it gives us the use of the Meeting House so often for free!

Also in January, we attended the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Sneinton Windmill. The evening honoured all groups affected by the Holocaust, and candles were lit by a person of the affected group in most cases, which made for a moving tribute. There were numerous readings and pieces of music at the event, including short readings about how the groups were targeted by the Nazis. The singing of Psalm 130 in Hebrew closed the event. Afterward some reflection on the event together, we went to Yo Sushi in the city centre.

nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Nottingham Liberal Synagogue - we went to a Shabbat service as an interfaith event
Nottingham Liberal Synagogue – we went to a Shabbat service as an interfaith event

At the beginning of February, we visited a Liberal Synagogue in Sherwood, accidently also attending a wonderful baby blessing! The service, though very different from Quaker meetings, was enjoyable and the Rabbi spoke about the idea of ‘darkness’ in Exodus. Highly structured with lots of singing and movement required, it was certainly a learning experience for us, and the Synagogue was very welcoming. After singing Mazel Tov to the new mother and baby, we went to Wagamama’s to talk about the upcoming schedule for NYQ.

One particularly memorable Spiritual Supper lead us to look at the idea of ‘positivity’, and how we can bring more positivity into our lives, either personal attempts or working as a group.
After some initial thoughts and ideas, we started a mind map to detail some of the ideas that we all felt we could implement into the NYQ group socials. These included sharing our skills with each other and the wider Quaker community; self-care of the body and mind; interfaith dialogue with different groups around Nottingham and experiencing others’ worship; student and young people outreach; and interacting more with nature around us.

I started attending the Quaker Meeting in Nottingham to explore my own spirituality and as a result met some amazing people through Nottingham Young Quakers.

I wanted somewhere with total dedication to equality in all forms, and that included clergy; also, freedom for independent thought, and somewhere which emphasises a personal relationship with whatever the divine may be. So, even more delight ensued when I discovered there was a young persons group! As a group, they have made me consider what I think is important to both myself and the world, and I cannot deny that they’ve certainly made me think about way more than the testimonies that drew me to the Quakers in the first place. With NYQ, I have started to gain interest in another testimony, simplicity (and sustainability), which I was/am finding difficult exploring on my own, and am currently considering ways I can cut down on my support for unnecessarily cruel industries and companies (still definitely in the process though!).

The events make up a large amount of my social life, and I thoroughly enjoy Meeting for Worship as well as the NYQ events. I can even bring along my very atheist or evangelical Christian friends, some of which are considering coming along regularly to the NYQ social gatherings.

I am really looking forward to going to the Young Friends General Meeting in Edinburgh with some of the NYQ group, and hope that it is as encouraging as the Nottingham group has been.

Jaz

New Beginnings

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.

Catherine

Autumn events review

So far this autumn, Nottingham Young Quakers have had four socials and three spiritual events, although the line between the two is often blurred. In October we went to a screening of Generation Revolution (goo.gl/pWWunB), a documentary film about young people involved with the Black Lives Matter movement in Britain, followed by a Q&A session with the film makers. In November we went for a meal at Nada Budaya Malaysian restaurant and then on to life drawing at The Lacehouse, whilst at the time of writing we are looking forward to celebrating UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This event will involve food, speakers, and various workshops, including sign language taster sessions.

A particular highlight for me was Hallowe’en, when we went to a screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a black and white Iranian vampire Western, hosted by Reel Equality Film Club (goo.gl/IE7Hn7). Women remain underrepresented in the film industry, on both sides of the camera, so Reel Equality promote films that “include interesting, fully realised female characters who are not objectified or stereotyped”, and which have often been made by women. Reel Equality is part of the Nottingham-based charity Equation, whose aim is to promote equal, healthy relationships free from domestic abuse. As it was Hallowe’en, the dress code was black and/or goth, so I really enjoyed the excuse to get dressed up!

Although these events were primarily social, the testimony of equality has been a strong theme throughout. For the spiritual events we have been cooking vegan meals together at the Meeting House and then exploring the use of silence in meetings for worship. We have been using the resource book Becoming Friends and various passages from Quaker Faith and Practice to guide our exploration. These events have led to some really insightful and thought-provoking ministry, as well as some of the best laughs I’ve had in a long time!

Through Nottingham Young Quakers I have met some fantastically fun and caring people who are passionate about making our world a better place for everyone who lives in it. Our events are often the highlight of my week, and I’m really looking forward to the New Year, which is already shaping up to be even busier for us than the autumn!

Tori