Our Meeting House
Today, the 5th of July 2017, we were given the keys to our new Newark Quaker Centre at number 1 Queen's Head Court. At last we have our own Meeting House. Nine of us walked through the town centre after a short, and our last, Business Meeting concluded at our local Methodist Church. After excitedly exploring the premises we quickly organized ourselves to start filling and painting in the next few days.
Watch this space!
Newark Quaker Meeting Article in 'The Friend' 3/02/17
Many people will have driven past Newark on Trent as they travel north or south along the A1. Newark though, as far as we can tell, until recently, never had a regular Quaker Meeting. In the 1650s and 60s the villages to the north of Newark along the River Trent were hotbeds of Quakerism. Trentside Monthly Meeting was at one time the largest monthly meeting in the East Midlands but of Newark there is little mention. The only record we have so far found is of two meetings held in 1659...
‘On the 7th of November this year (1659) William Dewsberry preaching at a meeting at Newark upon Trent, was insulted and much abused by the people……..
On the 11th of the same month, being the first day of the week……….. while the Testimony of Truth was declaring, a rude multitude broke in, throwing down both men and women, buffeting, punching and stoning them, so that some were thrown down, others had their teeth beaten out and their faces bruised: Women had their head-clothes pulled off: After this manner they continued to abuse about an Hundred Persons who were there religiously assembled, and all bore all patiently, as Christian Sufferers. These things were acted on the day they called their Sabbath, by a people who deemed it a Profanation of the day to travel five miles to a meeting, and whose consciences could admit them to exercise such barbarity on the day in which they would have thought it a crime to be employed in any honest labour.’
The Sufferings of Quakers in Nottinghamshire 1649-1689 Percy J. Croppper (1892)
Friends who live in the Newark area currently travel to Brant Broughton Meeting in Lincolnshire which is eight miles due east of Newark, but Newark itself, a rapidly growing town with over 35,000 people had no meeting.
Brant Broughton with its beautiful 1701 meeting House has been slowly growing in numbers in recent years. In 2010 it set up an outreach group whose aim was to look for ways of raising the profile of Quakers in the local area, to let people know we exist and to try and find ways of letting more local people know something about Quakerism.
So over the next few years we launched into a number of projects. We put together exhibitions, gave talks, organised a variety of musical evenings in the Meeting House, set up a website. We noticed that our local newspaper The Newark Advertiser had a weekly ‘Credo’ section (Thought for the Day) written by the members of local churches so a phone call saw us added to the rota to which we have contributed regularly ever since. It was back in 2011 that we had the idea of organising meetings at a lunchtime in our two neighbouring towns of Sleaford and Newark. We tried Sleaford first but only attracted our Brant Broughton regulars. The response in Newark was much better, and so we decided to concentrate our energies in Newark and to persevere with the lunchtime meetings in Newark, advertising them in the local press as ‘Silence in a Busy Day’. We held a short 30 minute meeting on every second and fourth Wednesday. Initially we used a Yoga studio, but then persuaded the Newark Methodists to let us use the attractive foyer to their Barnby
Gate Methodist church which ever since has proved a very comfortable and convenient location for our Wednesday lunchtime Meetings. Our numbers slowly grew and we attracted new attenders who became regulars and started to form the nucleus of a Newark group. By summer 2012 we were thinking of adding a Sunday meeting once a month on the third Sunday. This started in September 2015 and has proved successful, though as the Methodists are meeting at the same time we have to use one of their smaller rooms in the next building. Special thanks are due to Barnby Gate Methodists for the support they have given us including insisting we join them for coffee after their service and our meeting have finished.
Some of us who had been involved with the Newark meetings from the start were becoming a little concerned as to where the meeting should go next; so in December 2016 we held a meeting of our Newark group. Thirteen Friends were present and the strong feeling of the meeting was that it was time now to establish Newark as a separate local meeting.
One problem was that the original Newark initiative had come from Brant Broughton Meeting which is in Lincolnshire and many Newark Friends were members of Brant Broughton and therefore Lincolnshire Area Meeting but Newark of course is in Nottinghamshire. Fortunately, we had already been in contact with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Area Meeting who had wholeheartedly supported our Newark efforts. So our Newark group wrote a minute to be sent to Brant Broughton which was supported at their business meeting and forwarded to Lincolnshire Area Meeting. On Saturday January 15th the establishment of a new meeting in Newark was supported by Lincolnshire Area Meeting.
Thanks, are particularly due to Brant Broughton Meeting for their spiritual and financial support. Fears that the creation of a Newark Meeting might have a negative effect on the Brant Broughton Meeting seem so far not to have been realised. Newark is still at present meeting once a month on a Sunday and Friends at Brant Broughton report there is no noticeable change in attendance on those Sundays. The Newark initiative has brought new Friends to Brant Broughton who have become regular attenders and members. It is our sincere hope that the two meetings will complement each other.
The growth of the new meeting in Newark offers many opportunities. Many of our Newark group are new to Quakerism and are very much centred in Newark. We feel being in the centre of this growing town gives a new dimension for our Quaker witness and an opportunity to be part of that growing community. It is now three hundred and fifty-eight years since that early meeting in 1659. So far, the response has been much more positive!
WORK STARTS ON QUAKER CENTRE
Building work has started today October 16th on our new Quaker Centre in Newark.
February 4th Upstairs is finished and ready for our first Meeting in our new Meeting room.
February 13th all Meetings are now back in our new Quaker Centre.
The opening of our new Quaker Centre by Geoffrey Durham
Saturday 13th October.
Friends making Peace Bunting Wednesday lunchtime
The conservatory is finished!