Tony Weekes, Member of South Belfast Meeting and a good friend of QCA, writes:
We are blessed in South Belfast Meeting with a large number of children and young people, from toddlers to teenagers, and – from time to time, we organise an all-ages Meeting with a theme. This year’s theme was based on the work of Quaker Concern for Animals and inspired by issue 30 (August 2009) of Journeys in the Spirit.
The meeting opened with one of the young people briefly explaining what was going to happen. “It was to be”, she told us “a Meeting with a difference in that some of the ministry would be in the form of a short dramatic presentation … but other, more familiar, forms of ministry would also be welcome” After a short silence, another of our young people read A&Q 42 from Quaker Faith and Practice.
About half an hour into the Meeting, the dramatic presentation began. Two of the “older group” played the part of presenters in a radio “Farming Today” type of programme. One interviewed a farmer who was running a battery style poultry farm, and then spoke to some of the chickens (played by the younger children), who described – in different ways – how sad they all were; how little space they had; how little light they saw.
The other presenter then interviewed an organic farmer, who explains that he is a Quaker, taking his heritage from John Woolman. Talking to some of the hens, we hear how pleased they are to be alive. One says how they hold ‘wing stretching’ competitions and how she often wins.
The presentation ended by reminding us of the extent to which the food processing industry relies on battery- produced eggs.
The drama was carefully scripted and carefully presented. The children returned to their seats and Meeting continued with silence and other occasional contributions. At the end, one Friend managed to gather a small group of children for a photocall on the Meeting House lawn. The enthusiasm is plain to see.
The Children’s Committee Convenor, Megan Corrigan, writes:
The All Age Meeting on Quaker Concern for Animals went really well thanks to a team effort and the dedication of the young people, turning up regularly for practice and learning their pieces.
Issue 30 of Journeys in the Spirit provided much of the raw material and inspiration – the comparison sheet on Battery and Free Range hens provided me with the basis of a play which I wrote for the young people to perform in the middle of the meeting. A musical member of the meeting taught us a lovely song from a Quaker song book and this, with stories and readings which spoke to the young people, completed our meeting.
QCA says: Many thanks to all at South Belfast Meeting!