Sunday, a day of rest, a day of contemplating. A day of going to church? Well, how many people are still going to church? According to statistics (2011), in Bude live 9.900 people. This is what I found on religion in Bude:
55,7% Christian = 5.514 people
0,2% Buddhist = 20
0,2% Muslim = 20
0,1% Agnostic = 10
0,1% Hindu = 10
0,1% Jewish = 10
9,3% Other = 920
34,3% no religion = 3.395 people
I’m having a friend visiting: Loes, who lives in Essex. Loes has something in common with Kate, another friend of mine. They both sympathise with the Quakers. What I know about Quakers (or Friends) is not much. They come together in Bude every fortnight and quite by chance this Sunday a meeting is scheduled. I asked Loes if she is interested? Oh, yes. I asked Kate if we would be welcome? Of course, we are.
So we went to the Neetside Community Building on the early Sunday morning. We were welcomed in a room upstairs. Present were already four Friends. A circle of chairs to sit on. Loes and Kate and I picked our seat. Everyone settled. The silence began. Then there was bit of noise, downstairs. Doors slamming. Fast footsteps on the stairs. Two people rushed in, smiling apologetic. Settling.
We sat together for an hour, nine people, in total silence. When the hour was finished, we all had to grab each others hands, holding them for maybe five seconds. Done. The cerebral part was over.
Then there was room for remarks. The present Friends were a bit curious about our attendance… So we introduced ourselves and after that the Friends introduced themselves to us. There was coffee, tea and a chat.
Quakers don’t need a church building for their meetings. They don’t preach either. They do feel “there is ‘something of God’ in everyone – though Quakers will use a variety of words and ways to try to do the impossible in describing ‘God’. They try to be tolerant”.
And another quote from their booklet: “From the start, Quakers have felt strong concerns to improve social conditions and the environment. Help for slaves, prisoners, mental patients, refugees, old people, war casualties – quite a few charities and campaigns for reform have started as the concern of a Quaker.”