An insight into Quakers, the founders of Southfields

By Flora McCourt

The tapered streets of Southfields have a particular charm and  security in them that I have had the privilege in growing up in. Perhaps it’s the ever growing conglomeration of coffee shops wafting the urban air with a scent of fresh artisanal baked goods. It’s sort of become a running joke in my family surrounding the sheer number of coffee shops it seems as if as soon as one goes 10 more come in to replace it however it wasn’t until recently, despite living in Southfields my whole life I discovered the reasoning for this. 

 

Quakers founded Southfields, hence why it’s not jostling with many pubs or night clubs and instead coffee shops. Quakers often choose to not drink or avoid huge consumption of substances which could alter consciousness. Naturally I  felt a sense of intrigue into the runnings of Quakers as I’d been so unbeknown the founders of my neighbour so I decided to join an online Quaker meeting to get a sense of Quakerism. 

 

The meeting started at 7pm on the 4th of October with warm welcomes from the more regular attendees. A clear discern of community was already present.The meetings theme was, Good and Evil and was followed on by being stated “You can’t have one without the other”. The hosts of the meeting David and Kathy led us all to question what is good in our lives and to what cost do we enjoy these things. Personally my first thought was something for me like meat which often I enjoy without questioning the extreme adversity of it  ending up on my plate.   Throughout the meeting attendees put forward their own opinions, questions and discernment like: “Is there such thing as absolute evil or is it culturally relevant dependent on time and place” or as said by Clerk “things just are the way the are they way they are” implying that when viewing things as neutral as opposed to good or evil things just become something to accept or do something about. Ruby another attender of the meeting mentioned something I think everyone can agree with especially through the affliction of COVID-19 stating “you expect all the good things will override the evil but there is more so a balance”. After everyone sharing their perceptions we had a 5 minute break before 15 minute silent prayer. Quakers pray in silence as they believe waiting silently with your thoughts will enable god to speak directly to you. After the prayer we split of into breakout rooms to discuss our thoughts on the meeting before everyone expressed their farewells before leaving the call at 8:30pm. 

 

Although the meeting was not on the direct runnings of Quakerism and not all attendees have to necessarily be Quakers as evidenced by myself I took a great deal away from it on  Quakerism. Quakers have a secure sense of equality between them which I felt through the respect and attentiveness to not just myself but all members of the meeting. This need for equality within the Quaker community is reflective in the need for no priest unlike Christianity. Another thing that sticks out to me is the Quakers view that religion is dignified through how you carry yourself in your day to day life not through big ceremonies and events which again is why they don’t need churches and instead have meeting houses. As a whole the meeting was very enlightening and is an experience I would recommend many to experience whether you take an interest is becoming a Quaker or just like myself want to understand a bit about it. For reference Quaker quest meetings run on zoom from 7-8:30pm on Monday evenings!