Chapter 13 » 13.19

The listed informal groups

The listed informal groups are independent groups through which Friends may share common interest, seek affirmation or carry out witness. The groups are seen by their members as arising from their Quaker faith and provide a way in which conviction and witness can be explored and developed outside our formal structures – but perhaps returning to them when the concern has been tested by action or reflection.

The informal groups at present in action within and around the Society are all concerned, in one way or another, with the renewal of Quaker tradition and insight or with the application of these to contemporary issues in a way that is inspired and guided by our perception of God’s leadings. If this is so, then their credentials are established, and whilst the activities of individual groups may seem to some odd or eccentric – in some cases even inappropriate – their intent must be accepted as striving to seek new light. We need to remember that spiritual development for many of us entails trips along cul-de-sacs, and that these sometimes, surprisingly, turn out to be highways. Whatever the outcome in any one instance, the courage to explore them with an open but not uncritical heart is a hallmark of both spiritual and intellectual integrity.

Hugh Valentine, 1982

The recognised listed informal groups are listed annually in the Book of meetings, and the criteria for recognition may be obtained on application to the Recording Clerk. Being independent bodies outside the structures of Britain Yearly Meeting, the listed informal groups have no right of communication by minute with them.

Groups using the name ‘Quaker’ or ‘Friends’ in their title are reminded of the responsibility to uphold our testimonies, and that care is needed in case the work and witness of the group is understood to be part of the yearly meeting’s corporate activity when it is not.

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