This annual meeting was held in Scotland in October 2009 and eight women representing
the 4 Nations (England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland) came together at The Bield in
Perth for one night. Out of the 8 there were 6 different denominations represented.
Owing to the constraints of time and money only one night had been booked at The
Bield and the programme designed to allow each nation 1 hour to report and instead
of each nation offering a time of worship we would join in with the house prayers
and have a joint evening prayer time together.
The Bield has a chapel constructed out of the old carpenter's shed and during our
time together we placed the stones we had brought with us into a small cairn on the
prayer station (above) representing our nations and lit candles as we prayed for
our special requests.
Copies of the report from Network of Ecumenical Women in Scotland (NEWS ) were given
out along with leaflets about the URC and Episcopal churches in Scotland. The NEWS
report explained that in view of the huge possible agendas members had prioritised
topics of special interest into three areas of concern - Domestic Violence, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and Human Trafficking. These priority areas will be maintained
for 3 years and members take special responsibility to report on them. It also reported
that Devolution had resulted in an easier access to Government and a good relationship
As communication in Scotland is poor between churches and women's groups ,NEWS intends
to send out an email newsletter to the main women's organisations every quarter so
that they can disseminate the information. We hope this will lead to more informed
women and reduce the unnecessary duplication of projects.
The concern about Human Trafficking was discussed by the whole 4 Nations group and
we decided to send a letter to the UK Home Secretary expressing concern that the
Metropolitan Police Commission was to close the Police Unit dedicated to Human Trafficking
and amalgamate it with other Police Units. This was to be written by one of the
English representatives and passed round for all our endorsements.
A Quaker idea which was well received was "Circles of Support" where 4 or 5 people
support a vulnerable person while they are in and after they come out of prison.
The people supported and held to account might be paedophiles, drug addicts, sex
offenders, rapists who will find it hard to re adjust in the community.
General discussion followed. We spoke about the need to fill vacuums - when someone
has moved on from an addiction there is a void which needs to be filled with something
else and we remembered our Bible reading that morning which spoke of positive action
and that to do nothing is not an option .
The whole meeting was peppered with discussions about the need for women's meetings
but the increasing difficulty of obtaining funding for them. Young women do not
have the time or commitment for meetings and use modern technology more and more
but we felt that meeting, sharing and worshipping together is important and leaves
a lasting impression on the participants. How can we open up more to young women
and find family friendly times suitable for them?
Members of the 4 Nation's are also trustees for the Pauline Webb foundation which
provides funding to enable young women from ethnic minorities to attend ecumenical
meetings. Owing to the restrictive qualifications no applicants had come forward
this year and we need to advertise it more.
We decided to recommend that the 4 Nations in 2010 reverts to the two night format
if possible - tiredness was an issue at the 2009 meeting. People had travelled from
early morning and even though the programme was cut short and gave equal time for
all nations to report and the worship was done "in house", people were too tired
the first evening to enjoy it.
The exhibition being held in the barn at The Bield at the same time as the meeting
The sheep wall hanging in the dining room at The Bield.