Al’s Years at Strawberry Creek Quaker Meeting in Berkeley
As a boy, Al was raised in the United Church of Canada, (similar to Methodist and Presbyterian). He left the church when he was a teenager and did not pursue other spiritual avenues until 1990, when he got involved with the Quakers, eventually finding his way to Strawberry Creek Meeting (SCM) in Berkeley.
In addition to clerking and/or serving on almost every committee over his 20+ years with us, Al brought his gifts of discernment and innate creativity to Strawberry Creek. Al was a catalyst, a motivator who made things happen and SCM is the beneficiary of his many contributions over the years. Among them:
Valuing and Preserving our Quaker History
Al had a keen interest in remembering, educating and helping to preserve our history as Quakers. Before an audience, he interviewed and recorded notable friends such as Barbara Graves and on another occasion, Laura Magnani, inquiring into their lives as Quaker activists.
As the Meeting grew larger, Al helped us match names with faces by taking photos of individuals and creating the first photo directory of ‘Strawberries.’ This practice has evolved into the SCM annual group photo, which continues today.
Concern for the Environment
Love of nature and the outdoors was an important part of Al’s life; hiking and camping were keen interests in his younger years. At SCM, his concern for the environment brought him to become a core member of Eco-Berries, one of the groups which has been pivotal in moving SCM toward embracing environmental issues.
In 2003, it was Al’s idea for a ‘self-tax’ for our environmental use that has now become the Dime-A-Gallon Fund. Users are encouraged to impose a ‘surcharge' on their personal use of oil at the rate of a dime per gallon. The money raised allows SCM to help support a number of environmental causes.
Encouraging Community and Membership
Realizing the benefits of membership at Strawberry Creek Meeting for himself, Al made it his task to personally encourage other attenders to become members of SCM, as well. He worked diligently at this endeavor over the years. Numerous members of our SCM can trace their membership back to having had a conversation (or many conversations) with Al on this subject.
Started SCM Worship Sharing group
Worship Sharing is a Quaker practice where a small group sit in silence to consider a particular question (query) and then speak out of the silence. It is a thoughtful way to explore and express our feelings on matters of importance.
Al started the SCM worship-sharing group on the 3rd Sundays of the month, just before Meeting for Worship. This group had a rotating group of attenders which ran for 5-8 years (no one remembers how many). Al would arrive at 9am with coffee, bagels and the queries. He often wrote them himself, or researched historical queries, in order to help us connect our Quaker past with our lives today.
We at Strawberry Creek Meeting are grateful for the many years Al Thompson spent withus. He will be greatly missed; remembered for his self-effacing manner, kindly disposition and his ready smile.