Leighton Buzzard Friends Triennial Report 2013-2015
Spiritual life of the meeting.
We have continued to meet twice a month for Worship. We have a strong core of members and attenders and welcome occasional visitors. Our recorded membership is twelve, though half of these are never seen at meeting for worship. Of the ten recorded attenders most are very committed. Attendance at meeting for worship has been hovering about nine or ten, though sometimes we have had only three or four. On one special occasion we had eighty or more, to help celebrate a couple’s fortieth wedding anniversary. This meant we opened up our partitions for the ﬁrst time for many years. We do not read Advices And Queries regularly, but spoken ministry is offered often, if not at every meeting for worship. Sometimes this ministry includes quotations from Faith & Practice or Advices & Queries. We play our part in Churches Together in Leighton Linslade.
We continue to deepen our spirituality through study sessions. We have had four on Quaker testimonies in 2014 and another four in 2015, resourced from ‘Being Friends Together’ on different aspects of Spirituality (worship, ecological living, drawing on our tradition, and building community). All of these were led by local Ffriends. We continue to add to our library with regular purchases from a book budget.
We have become a more fully functioning meeting. We were well served by the elderseers who held the meeting together in a difﬁcult time. We have appointed new two elders, who are also overseers, together with another overseer, and we have appointment two Co-Clerks. We are grateful for the help of Clerks from Milton Keynes meeting who helped us through the difﬁcult transition to this stage, and for the continuing help of our Treasurer who is part of Milton Keynes Meeting. Meetings for worship for business have been held regularly since 2012. Last year we had these meetings on the ﬁrst Sunday of the month. They begin with quarter of an hour of worship, and we aim to complete our business within an hour. Next year we will alternate between the ﬁrst Sundays and ﬁrst Fridays. The meetings are well attended, with about the same number as those who come to Meeting for Worship. We adhere to right ordering by keeping minutes of our meetings properly and have made no new deposits to the County Records Ofﬁce in this triennium.
We have managed to hold two Quaker Week events this triennium. In 2013 we invited Owen Everett to speak to us about Peace-making. He was young, passionate and articulate. After his presentation he was joined by two Friends from the Area who gave their personal testimony about living in a peace-making way. We were pleased to have several local residents and some from other local meetings join us. In 2015 we invited Alastair Fuller, Head of Outreach Development for BYM to speak on Living Adventurously. The attendance was smaller than in 2013, but two members of the Methodist Church came and a Friend from Bedford. Both events were worthwhile in giving the meeting encouragement as well as making our presence known in the town.
Last November we hosted a Quiet Day in the Meeting House, on the theme ‘Live Adventurously’, which was led by two local Friends. It was offered to ecumenical and other faith participants. There were six participants, ﬁve from our Meeting and one non- Quaker.
We have continued our involvement with Anglia in Bloom through the Open Garden days. They have been a spur to our work in the garden, which has been improved by pruning, weeding, new planting, and relaid gravestones. Through the Open Days we have welcomed visitors, who have discovered a haven of quiet in the centre of town.
This year we contributed and beneﬁtted from a scheme to sponsor local schools to make hanging baskets, two of which we had displayed at the Meeting House. We received commendation for an ‘improving’ garden. We have also made available our Meeting House for the annual Historic Churches Bike’n’Hike day in September. One year we offered tea and cakes as refreshments for those who came on bikes or walking. This year the building was in use but we still offered a welcome and an opportunity for those who come to register their visit. Our website is kept up to date with current events and features several photographs. We have had several enquires as a result of our presence on the web, though most were related to using the building. We are continuing to explore how to use the website for outreach.
A lot of our time and energy has been spent on the premises. We have established a Premises Group which has been dealing with both details and broader issues. We have been greatly helped by all those who have dealt with lettings. Our ﬁrst paid Lettings Agent left in June 2012. One of our own meeting then served admirably, to the end of the triennium, ﬁrstly in a paid capacity and then voluntarily (at his own insistence). Our relationship with our user groups has generally been good, and linking with them is an enjoyable part of the role of Lettings Agent. More demanding has been care-taking, which has been exacerbated by repeated visits to the Meeting House to set out rooms, check the boiler timer, and occasionally responding to cries for help from hirers. We have recently agreed to separate these two aspects, of lettings and care-taking. We are looking to appoint a new Lettings Ofﬁcer. We will carry the care-taking duties between us, which will be easier thanks to a new 24/7 timer on the boiler.
A major piece of work has been the renewal of the side path, as part of a refurbishment programme. There has been slow but steady progress on minor repairs, e.g. to the brickwork and porch. We have had extra loft insulation and instigated electrical work to meet ﬁndings of a safety inspection and increased the number of sockets. A replacement of the crazy paving and uneven path from the entrance gate to the two doorways is agreed and in hand, with attention being given to the state of the cobbled courtyard which is part of the conservation area.
Financially, our best year was 2013 when Lettings income was high. Since then there has been a drop in income, but we hope the refurbishment of the building will lead to increased revenue. We have begun to contribute again to Area Meeting and Britain Yearly Meeting, and though we no longer host Leighton Linslade Homeless Service we are giving them ﬁnancial support.
Life within the Religious Society of Friends
We have been represented regularly at Area Meeting and several of us have attended Yearly Meeting. Though we do not have any children or young people worshipping with us, we have taken note of Safeguarding issues and we are discussing the way forward. When there were young children present for the special meeting to celebrate a wedding anniversary, they met separately for a time with their parents with them and were supported by several Friends. We have four people in the meeting who are CRB cleared for work with children and vulnerable adults in other contexts.
We are still a very small meeting and this shows particularly when it comes to nominations. However, we have been active in lobbying our MPs recently and taking part in the climate change march. We are also living out our Quaker Faith in caring, visiting, and through our involvement in the activities of our local community. We are in good spirits, and hope to continue growing in numbers, in action, and in depth of spirituality.