The first Woking Debate using the Zoom app took place on 9 May. There were 28 participants which was a very encouraging start and gives us hope that we can improve on that at future events. There were four speakers on the topic, ‘What good is football?’, three of whom were directly involved in the sport, being a director of Woking Football Club, a professional footballer and a referee, and a local borough councillor with responsibility for leisure activities.
All spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities that football provides for character building and teamwork for the participants and friendship and companionship for them and for their supporters, both individually and as families.
There was agreement amongst the speakers and others that, at the local level, there were few incidents of racism but more needs to be done to encourage LGBTQ+ players and officials to feel safe enough to be open about themselves. Much more is being done to encourage girls to take up the sport and a corresponding improvement in the quality of their performance at all levels was commented upon.
Since 22 March we have been meeting virtually each Sunday, using the Zoom app, and have all been pleasantly surprised by how successful it is proving to be. The screen shot was taken after meeting when we had a short period of sharing.
As well as being able to see all the regular faces at Meeting, it has been an extra delight to see those of us who have been unable to get to Meeting for some time or who are currently in another part of Europe or even in the USA even though this can present quite a challenge, given the time difference!
It has made us realise that when we are able to meet again in person this may well provide a way to offer an additonal meeting for those unable to come to the Meeting House.
On 14 March the Woking Debate took the form of a play, “A Rock and a Hard Place”, written and performed by Journeymen Theatre. Based on a true story, together with real life experiences shared by other women, the play explored the complex nature of domestic abuse, ranging from coercion in its many forms to women’s deaths at the hands of abusive partners.
The play also revealed the impact of funding cuts on the refuge system and on the support available for women caught up in a cycle of abuse. It appealed to all of us to recognise and highlight this major human rights issue in our own communities.
Our first, and until further notice, only shared lunch of the year was held on 2 February. Afterwards Sheila Coles told us about Irish Quakers and their association with Mountmellick work, a special type of white-on-white embroidery.
It was particularly used to decorate household items: work bags, tablecloths, dressing table sets, handkerchief sachets and nightdress cases, etc. While a total of over forty different stitches have been recorded from old pieces, it was most usual to use only ten or so and some of the best work makes use of only three or four. It was of particular significance to Quakers as it epitomised their testament to simplicity.
The first Woking Debate of the year took place at Christ Church on 11 January on the subject, “The Climate Emergency: what can we do?”. It was very well attended, and extra chairs had to be brought in to seat everybody.
The debate was opened by three speakers who each brought a very different perspective: Norman Johns, chair of Woking Environment Action, talked about local grass-roots activities; Danny Hubbard from Extinction Rebellion put things into a national and global context, and Dr Justine Huxley, the CEO of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, brought a deeply spiritual “call to action”.
Our monthly study sessions on Quaker Faith and Practice continue on the second Monday in the month. The January session combined reflections from a Swarthmore Lecture with complementary references from Quaker Faith and Practice.
On 22 December last year, Irene attended a Woking Extinction Rebellion action outside Christ Church, when carols were sung to traditional tunes but with new, awareness-raising lyrics! There was a good turnout of singers who were accompanied by a very skillful brass quartet.