I have been coming to the Meeting since 1970, and was always attracted by the openness of Friends. At Walthamstow, we now have our own Meeting House, after 60 years at an Adult Education Centre, originally begun by Friends in the early 20th century. We have a lovely, light, airy meeting room, surprisingly peaceful on Sunday mornings, despite being so near the main street. I feel at home here, and hope that we offer a space where others can experience tranquillity, friendliness and spiritual enrichment. Everyone is welcome to join us, occasionally or more often, as they wish.
Negotiating road-works, trying to remember whether my wife already bought the Sunday paper yesterday evening … arriving at the Meeting House … catching sight of one or two Friends plodding or scurrying towards and through the doors – there is a ‘homing’ feel about it. Who will be there? What interesting character may have dropped in this Sunday? Will Philip have a suitable table for the Children’s Meeting? Has Jeanne found the book she promised to lend me? These are the thoughts that go through my mind as I come into the Walthamstow Friends Meeting House.
We moved to Walthamstow about eight years ago, when plans for a move to new premises were being actively worked on. From the historic Friends Hall education centre we moved to a completely reconstructed factory. This was a busy, happy time, which bought all concerned together in work and discussion. The Meeting is now happily settled in the excellent building, and there is a very fine garden that has been created round it.
Many organisations enjoy its facilities, and it is a very happy place.
Having been a member of four meetings over my 18 years as a Quaker, I joined Walthamstow meeting in 1993. The fact that we were about to embark on the task of having our own Meeting House was very exciting. It was completed in 1998.
I felt that we had created a home for ourselves, and a space for our neighbours to share for community use. It has been hard work getting there and keeping it going, but I feel that it has proved to be one of the best things Quakers in Walthamstow have done in many years.
I moved to Walthamstow meeting from a larger one. I like both types of Quaker meeting. There is more ‘going on’ in a big meeting, but a smaller one, like Walthamstow, is good for really getting to know other people. We don’t crowd each other, we have our own space. We don’t always know the spiritual journey others are on, but we are able to enrich each others’ lives wit our different experiences.
All that we do is underpinned with love.
I like to come to Meeting because I can look forward to an hour of quiet contemplation with others in a group. During this time, I can relax myself and pray and meditate, especially if I haven’t managed to do much of that in the past week. I feel better for it afterwards.
I’m a long-term attender at Walthamstow. Our meetings at Greenleaf Road Greenleaf (in the education centre where we used to have meetings), we were in the heart of the local community, with education courses and workers’ groups. I came there for self-development group counselling, so it meant something special. At Jewel Road (our new premises) we are near Hoe Street – a busy area. Our building is an oasis of peace – there are big windows and we sit under the skylights. Friends seek peace away from the ‘traffic’. It feels like ‘stripping down’ and ‘stoking up’ new energy. With our current government’s military philosophy of war at any cost, I need to do this … I need the blessing of peace which often occurs at Meeting …
Fellowship is LIFE!
Lack of friendship is death.
I thought about the Quakers for many years before I first attended a meeting, which was three years ago. Points in my life came and went, when I thought, ‘That might be the place where I can try to work out what “it” is all about.’ But I did nothing. Then I moved to Walthamstow – a move that coincided with a particularly traumatic time in my life. I saw the Meeting House, so near to my own home, and I thought, ‘This must be time.’ And it was. I found the peaceful Meeting House, the lovely light room and the little walled garden behind it, and the gentleness of the Friends, which all combined to create the feeling that ‘Here there is a place where one can be, and work things out’. Sometimes, there is help from Friends and at other times, sitting in silence, it is possible to be in touch with whatever that ‘thing’ is, that some people call ‘God’. I’ve never regretted coming to Quaker meetings.