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11 July 2008

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National Quaker Week 2008
Quakers will be supported in their outreach efforts this autumn by a striking new poster from Friends House


  • The design, which will form the centrepiece of this year's National Quaker Week materials, will also be emblazoned on leaflets and window stickers
  • National Quaker Week runs from 4-12 October and is a chance for Friends to speak out and share their faith with others


  • Tom Harris, outreach development officer for Britain Yearly Meeting, said he was really pleased with the materials
  • 'I think they're better than last year's', he said, adding that the decision to have a single strong message was so that people would remember it
  • 'A lot of outreach stuff works well on repetition', he explained
  • 'That's the point behind the unified image
  • '

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    Comments:

    Miranda Chadkirk, 31 July
    There have been many negative responses to the 'Thou shalt' poster, and it seems to me that they are wholly undeserved. A lot of these responses come from adult Friends, who have been in the religion for a long time, but from the perspective of seekers or young Friends, the comment seems far more appropriate. It can take a long time for one to centre into the unified worship, whereas Quakerism always does and has offered a quiet space for private worship and reflection. As a young Friend, I feel as if this poster sums up my attitude to Quakerism, the fact that its corporate identity is the lack of one, and what you believe is your choice. I was greatly impressed with how the wording reached out to me, and I feel as if it will also have reached out to those who are still finding ways of exploring a developing or changing spirituality, surely the very audience we are reaching out to with this poster.

    (Note: this comment appears in the 1 August 2008 letters page).


    Mary Stone, 31 July
    The article on National Quaker Week 2008 in the Friend of 11 July began: 'Quakers will be supported in their outreach this autumn by a striking new poster from Friends House. Thou shalt decide for yourself. No one telling you what to believe Just the peace and quiet to work it out for yourself.

    I'm saddened to see that this can be regarded as our message. If I were someone without any knowledge of the Religious Society of Friends, I wonder how I might react to reading this poster?

    Perhaps: 'This is a group called Quakers who provide places and occasions for peace and quiet where one has the opportunity to work through one's problems for oneself.'

    Is that really what we do in Meeting for Worship? Are we no longer a Religious Society of Friends?

    When I go to Meeting, I try to be open, with others, to the guidance of the Spirit. It is a joint venture and the outcome may be demanding. We should come 'expecting not only to receive but to be used'. Quaker faith & practice 2.45.

    And again, 'as an individual centres down, there gradually develops a feeling of belonging to a group who are together, seeking a sense of the Presence'. Quaker faith & practice 2.47.

    There is no hint of this in the poster. Group experience is something different from my private quiet times. I hope it will be possible next year to create a poster that captures something of the essence of a Meeting for Worship.

    (Note: this comment appears in the 1 August 2008 letters page).


    Don McQueen, 31 July
    Until fairly recently, I believe, it was customary for Quakers to address each other as 'thou'. It is all the more surprising, therefore, to see a linguistic anomaly in the poster designed for National Quaker Week that proclaims 'Thou shalt decide for yourself'. Any Quaker should know that 'thou' is followed by 'thyself', not 'yourself'.

    (Note: this comment appears in the 18 July 2008 letters page online).


    G Gordon Steel, 31 July
    Surely not, what a poor advertisement for Quakerism!

    It might help a bit to add 'within a caring and supportive Quaker community'.

    (Note: this comment appears in the 18 July 2008 letters page online).


    Helen Porter, 31 July
    Oh dear, is the 'Thou Shalt' poster really the only one available for Quaker Week? It seems to me to be a bit of an own goal. What it say to me is 'Quakers don't believe in anything or stand for anything. In fact anything goes. You can just come and sit and be comfy and unchallenged. Indeed you might as well sit and be comfy at home (except you won't get the tea and biscuits).'

    Yes I know we know we are talking about the difference between a set of dogma and a set of principles to live by. And we know that trying to live by those principles is very challenging. But if we are too embarrassed to say so any people attracted by this poster will be drawn in under false pretences and I suspect many others will be reinforced in their (dismissive) view of Quakers.

    (Note: this comment appears in the 18 July 2008 letters page).



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