“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The challenges for liberal religions

One of the highlights for me of the recent General Assembly of Unitarian & Free Christian Churches Annual Meetings was the keynote speech by Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain. He spoke movingly about the future of liberal religions from a Quaker perspective. I would guess that most of those present could identify strongly with the challenges he spoke about:

    Paul Parker (photo by John Fitzgerald)
  • to try to understand what is going on with our membershhip, in terms of age distribution etc
  • being confident about who we are and what we offer and being able to talk about it to others
  • how to answer the question "I'm a Quaker [Unitarian] - ask me why" in language accessible to new people
  • living up to what we say and believe - putting our faith into action
  • how do people know we exist - how to raise visibility
  • making sure that people can find us, and that they feel welcome when they do
  • being vibrant, effective communities
  • recognising the variety of ministries within the Quaker [Unitarian] community - acknowledging what gifts people bring and the service they offer
Like the Unitarians, Quakers are a minority faith in the United Kingdom, but have a wonderful and important message to share with many spiritual seekers who are looking for just such a faith. So dealing with these challenges is vital for our future.


  1. I too found Paul Parker's speech to be a highlight of the meetings. I was impressed by his deep yet gentle spirituality, his humility and his wisdom. Quakers in their similarity to us offer us a wonderful opportunity to learn from them, yet they are different enough that we can give each-other a sympathetic "outside" point of view that can help us all as we navigate the world of faith.

  2. Hello Joseph,

    I wish you had made yourself known to me at the meetings - it would have been nice to meet you "in the flesh"!

  3. Hello Sue, I would have loved to meet you at Keele. I must be honest and say that I did not spot you, but shall look out for you at any future gatherings :-)