Minutes of meeting Saturday 10 October 2020

Minutes of meeting Saturday 10 October 2020

Attended via Zoom with 10 F/friends present (names redacted)

Notes

After worship, co-clerks Yvonne and Zem introduced the meeting. It follows the AGM held on 1 October.

QGSDC has been going since FHF was started in 1973, its fellowship role has been constant, while our advocacy role has evolved. The committee currently comprises Zem Moffat, Chloe Scaling and Neil Macdonald and has not been strong for a couple of years, though we are grateful for Zem’s holding of the treasurer role. Yet over recent months there has been great strength in our shared Zoom meetings and in the activities of networked groups, in particular the midlands, Chichester and Scotland.

We benefit from a rich variety of experience from Friends who were engaged in early equality campaigning, to Friends pushing the boundaries of inclusion. Yet this variety of experience has made us tentative about putting our voice out.

Our history is a wonderful gift; we want the stability to continue on firm foundations of love, minutes, archiving and consistency. The threat from wider society against the freedoms we fought for are increasing. How can we serve our community and strengthen our commitment? How can the committee work more openly? How can we be more networked across the country? How do we make our voice heard? How do we develop a dialogue with wider society? How do we transition into joy?

Minute

QGSDC Friends from across the country with different committee and regional involvements met on Saturday 10 October. We came together for a meeting for sounding out a way ahead for QGSDC.

We heard about some of the changed circumstances leading to the need for this discernment. Fellowship is core to our purpose; we are here for Friends who may be isolated.

We felt there could be a different way of organising our committee and decision making, grounded in Quaker worship and the Quaker way, following models of organisation we have heard from Quaker Lesbian Group, North Wales AM, Young Friends General Meeting.

We will provide a regular gathering and a consistent way of meeting, safe and accessible for all, bringing our different gifts. Every two months we will invite members to online gatherings, embracing and sharing our diversity (as we experienced at the Woodbrooke residential weekend) and nurture a way of ‘staying in the room’ with each other, be comfortable with our differences despite our differences on pressing issues.

We will look towards the committee being a clerking group, to maintain continuity between gatherings, and we invite the committee to bring new names into that clerking group.

The group will secure its foundations through minutes, archive records, and a protected membership list.

A shared ownership of QGSDC would feel exciting, where our relationships with each other will enable us to  straddle struggle and strength.

QGSDC has to grow into a leadership role – many LMs and AMs, sometimes unable to accept good ideas and insights from other Friends or groups, look to QGSDC for leadership on inclusion and pastoral support and resources. For example, YFGM has prioritised trans and non-binary inclusion for some time but QGSDC is looked to for the leadership and unity. This leadership includes normalising practices such as respecting pronouns.

QGSDC will promote in-reach amongst Friends, where differences may be invisible and pastoral care overlooked.

Our regional groups at SOGII, midlands, Scotland show the ways in which communities of fellowship prosper, with human contact where possible, but we also recognise that sharing and support is possible on Zoom. Social media is problematic and not enough for our community and not a route to discernment. But by opening up inclusive gatherings we can discern together and grow confidence to lead.

The point of being Quaker is to be a model for the world, where we build communities of friendship and affinity, but where we break down harmful barriers, cliques and tribalism.

We agreed to hold the next gathering on Saturday 12 December at 10.30 on Zoom.