by Roger Knight
People play an important part in our spiritual journey. I wish I could say that mine was significantly influenced when I came through the door at Westminster Meeting and was welcomed with smiles and laughter by dear Doris.
However many years previously I was at Blackheath meeting for about three years, where I was warmly welcomed and absorbed into their Meeting. I was amazed that they ‘took me in’ without question and allowed me to be part of the Meeting very quickly.
From that period I still have a copy of Christian Faith & Practice. There I soon identified with Quaker beliefs and took them into my heart. My fundamentalist back ground was being challenged and replaced. I may have been part of a fore-runner of Quaker Quest at friends House as I helped with a monthly Sunday evening for enquirers and ran the book stall. I learnt the profound truth that doubt is an element of faith, The influence of people at Blackheath was crucial. I can remember their faces and personalities but not one name!
Sadly I did not stay at Blackheath. I returned to the Church of England with my wife and was involved there for many years. But the seed of Quakerism was sown in my heart which would never die. I had responded to the Quaker way of life. I read Quaker literature, including the life of Margaret Fell; Introducing Quakers by George Gorman; Towards a Quaker view of Sex and Quaker by Convincement by Geoffrey Hubbard. My convictions about peace were helped which had been frustrated in the Church of England. In those years was born my Quaker convincement, why I became a Quaker later.
When I became a volunteer at St Martin’s Social Care Centre it was my joy to work for Kath Shaljean. Kath was another influential step and a treasured friendship.
About 4 years ago I came through the door at Westminstrer Meeting. I sat in the Meeting house and it was like coming home. I decided that I was there to stay. So many at Westminster played their part in my continued journey of faith and I applied for membership.
How a Quaker?
How? Through all the encouragement and friendship of so many lovely people in the Meeting. Through the working out in my life of the Advices and Queries; through the study of the lives of Quakers, in history and today. Through applying my findings practically into my daily life. I fall short and struggle. But Meeting for Worship is such a well of inspiration.
I have found too how to carry on the experience and practice of silence into my daily life and draw great strength from this. The sharing of faith with others here at Westminster is such a help on my journey of faith and the working out of the Quaker Testimonies. There are so many lovely people at Westminster who are such a strength and joy to me. Without them I could not carry on. So, late in my life I have found a new and fresh journey of faith and freedom. The journey of faith is not easy, much has been turned upside down in my faith and life.
Finally some words of George Herbert
Come, my light my feast, my strength
Such a light as shows a feast
Meeting for Worship is a feast and enables me to be a Quaker, with deep gratitude.
This talk was delivered at Westminster Friends Meeting on 1 December 2010.