My Life As A Quaker

by Apr 17, 2024My Life As A Quaker, Sutton Quaker Meeting0 comments

“You’ve made it,” my husband said as I reached 90 years of age. He meant 83 years as a Quaker, 75 in Sutton Meeting. If you’ve done your sums you will know that I became a Quaker at the age of seven.

My parents, John and Christina Holland were pacifists and joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1939 when war broke out, drawn to it by the Peace Testimony.

Quakers do not have a creed but a number of Testimonies, a guidance to a way of life, much of it embodied in the book Quaker Faith and Practice (we sometimes call it the ‘Red Book’). They are the Testimonies to Peace, Truth, Equality and Simplicity.

Advices and Queries are a set of paragraphs from it published as a separate small book that help Friends to consider their way of life and sometimes a reading from it is used in Meeting for Worship as part of vocal Ministry.

In the 1940s our family attended Sunday morning Meeting for worship at the big Mount Street Meeting House in Manchester. And at the age of ten I went away to the Friends School, Wigton a co- educational boarding school, moving on after three years to Sibford another such one. including the harsh winter of 1947 when the snow was higher than the hedges and my friend and I were snowed in at the house where we were boarded out for a term. Some of the pupils at these schools and at the other Friends’ Schools in England were refugees from war-torn Europe, some brought over by Kindertransport.

Meanwhile my family had moved first to Sutton Coldfield and the Meeting there and then south to become part of Sutton Meeting. I went to the local Girls’ Grammar School with my younger sister then on to Teacher Training College.

I taught for eight years, first in a primary school in Battersea then in a the primary school that was part of a residential home for children in the care of London County Council, in Firtree Road Banstead. While there I married and left after a year to spend time as a home-maker, a mother to two daughters and a foster parent. then an adoptive parent to our son.

Gordon came to the Meeting in 1957 to study for a PhD at Institute of Cancer Research laboratories at Belmont. We married in the Meeting and are still here, 63 years later. We were the first to marry in the new extension of the old Meeting House in Worcester Gardens, choosing the Quaker promise to be “Loving and Faithful so long as we both shall live”. I have been an Overseer, Elder, Treasurer, and served on most committees at some time over my 75 years in the Meeting. Together with Gordon we hosted the Tuesday evening discussion group in our home from 1967 to 2018 – 51 years!

Now Gordon and I edit the Sutton Meeting Newsletter.

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