Articles & News

Most Evenings

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:25am

© luckybusiness

 

The road continues up the hill
paved, winding through hot trees
and ditches.
Most days I walk
to the bare top.
There is a horse ranch
and too many miles
to look upon.
Also, the sun.
Horses standing about grazing
then kicking godly into movement.
From the dust, beetles leaping
from blades of grass, in the silence
before each hoof.
They halt before reaching the fence
where a current of knowledge waits.
Not the knowledge of gain or loss.
The knowledge of this is enough.
Not what we want acceptance to be
but what it often is.
Holding up a god
merely by presence.

Too many miles to look upon
and suddenly too alone.
Back down the hill, back to the home.
Back, back.

The post Most Evenings appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Forum, March 2019

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:20am
Streams of Christianity

I appreciated that Friends Journal devoted its December 2018 issue to the topic of Quakers and Christianity, and that a wide variety of individual perspectives and personal experiences were included. Upon reflection, I realized that none of the articles featured a growing contemplative Christian movement, emerging from the writings of Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, Richard Rohr, James Finley, and many others, who are resurrecting contemplative Christianity from its ancient, pre-creed and -dogma roots. This understanding of Jesus and early Christianity has a lot in common with what George Fox discovered in the 1600s.

I first learned of this movement when reading Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault, who shows Christianity to be profoundly rooted in the ancient Wisdom tradition. As a Wisdom teacher, Jesus taught and lived out the path to inner spiritual transformation, which always requires surrender, detachment, compassion and forgiveness. I excitedly wrote to her, inquiring of her knowledge of Quakerism, and also sent her my CD of chants, Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong, thinking it could serve as an introduction. This opened a door to an amazing ongoing collaboration, with me attending her sought-after retreats (“Wisdom Schools”) to teach about Quaker spirituality through the words of early Friends I’d set to song, and with her leading “Quaker Wisdom Schools” to teach Quakers about spiritually transformative concepts and practices rooted in Christianity.

Paulette Meier
Cincinnati, Ohio

For me there is indeed no Christian Mysticism, just Mysticism. I relish the historical foundation of Quakerism in Christianity, but am really pleased to be rid of claims that Christianity is salvific. The real loss in language and experience is nothing specifically Christian, but rather the notion that there are no realms of being other than the physical.

Gervais Frykman
Wakefield, UK

 

On mediocrity

Gabbreell James notes, in “We Are Not John Woolman” (FJ Jan.), that we Quakers often bask in the mantle of John Woolman, Lucretia Mott, and Benjamin Lay, but we do not exert ourselves to match their sacrifices nor to defend the causes that they might embrace were they living today. While I am willing to plead, “Guilty as charged,” I will also make a plea for mediocrity in matters of Christian profession/confession. While these three paragons of Quaker courage and virtue often faced opposition from more trepid members of Quaker bodies, the fact that these three could take a courageous position at all required the existence of Quaker institutions that operated with all of the shortcomings that institutions typically engender.

Without a base of shared mediocrity, a prophetic testimony has no launching pad from which to emerge. And in fact, the Quaker base did not doubt the qualifications of women to take leadership roles, and certain yearly meetings did forbid the owning of slaves during the lifetime of John Woolman. (Some yearly meetings did not.) Compared to the great mass of American culture, these were noteworthy achievements, even if they fell far short of the best insights that some Quakers could offer at the time.

Moreover, if Quaker institutions did not survive today, imperfect though they certainly are, there would be (even) fewer people who would remember the fearless testimony of those Quaker paragons we wistfully recall. The vast Quaker burial grounds near Philadelphia are filled with people who, like us, failed to heed every counsel that the Light could offer them, yet collectively, their worship testified to greater possibilities than they could individually manifest.

Keith Barton
Berkeley, Calif.

What brilliant questions, laced with the stories of people that make sense of them: John Woolman, Lucretia Mott, Benjamin Lay, and Colin Kaepernick. I ask myself these questions—and continue to wrestle with them. I don’t want to be remembered, truly, but I want to have the courage to be a Quaker. I knew a few with that courage in the early 1980s at the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, and they converted me from non-Quaker. I had some of the courage I admired in others when I was a professor of theatre in Virginia, and a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, but since then have moved into the position of spectator. Spectating may have some value for people like me, and I have done it in workshop after workshop, but very little in the world.

Has it always been so few who step forward? What if a larger ground swell rose up, willing to revitalize the Religious Society of Friends with less tradition and more prophetic agitators? Will we be willing to let go of less effective practice and those who insist upon it?

The more I read of this revolutionary issue of Friends Journal, the more I have hope. Thank you for writing, Gabbreell. Thank you for your Quaker faith and courage.

Susan Chast
Lansdowne, Pa.

Much as I would love to claim that my Quaker practice is akin to the Quaker greats, I know I have blind spots and fall short. Thanks to Gabbreell for this call to accountability and to better practice. I will no longer stand aside when I see or hear Friends using our practice to silence dissent. I will allow the Holy to nudge my awakening as I more deeply commit to undoing racism.

Jeanne Marie Mudd
Arizona

It seems that we live in a time of “Do what I say, not what I do.” Where most “do” little or nothing. The few of us in the United States that are Quaker fold into the larger groups of activists and don’t stand out as upholding Quaker values. Without postulating, we need to identify ourselves, not for fame or history, but so that others know there are Friends where it is safe to ponder and act upon these issues. I am of the belief that many who check the box “spiritual but not religious” are really Quakers and just don’t know it, yet. Mindfulness, meditation, settling oneself, are popular ideas now—ones that we as Quakers have been doing since the beginning. Might there be a Mott, Lay, or Woolman out there right now and we just don’t know they are Quaker? We need to invite Kaepernick to a meeting. We need to join and support the activists of our time and proudly state that we are Friends.

Judy Reese
Upper Chichester, Pa.

While I appreciate and support the larger message of the piece, I was troubled from the outset by James’s characterization of the “support our troops” types. What better way to support our troops than to work toward preventing the actions that could lead them into harm’s way. The big lesson we learned from Vietnam was not to hold those sent to fight accountable for the sins of those that put them in that position.

I am from a long line of Quakers, and my mother, who served overseas in WWII, spent the remainder of her life supporting those troops who came home mentally wounded, at the same time she lobbied for peace. In her honor I donate to the United Service Organizations every year, as I work for peace and social justice in my daily life. Surely Quakers and progressives care about and support the lives and well-being of those young men and women who for whatever their reasons have chosen to serve in this manner. This is hardly the purview of the conservatives.

Sue Steinacher
Nome, Alaska

This article’s main message is a call to courageous faithfulness, in the face of staunch or long-standing opposition, in advocacy for a better world, especially for those among us who are most oppressed. That is a brave message which asks much of us. And it calls for our continuous and continual response to be grounded in deep discernment, divine assistance, and love for our communities, hopefully with the support of them.

Yes, that is a high aspiration, one that we might choose to avoid and, in so doing, we would indeed verify “We are not John Woolman.” I, for one, prefer to take up Gabbreell’s challenge and attempt to faithfully follow our Guide as fiercely as did those who I hold in high regard, knowing I will fail and try again innumerable times. Reflection on her queries scattered throughout this piece will help me illuminate that path.

Viv Hawkins
Philadelphia, Pa.

 

More takes on Quaker survival

Five months ago, I left Omaha Friends after attending for 25 years (“Can Quakerism Survive?” by Donald W. McCormick, FJ Feb. 2018). The meeting declined from 20 or so attenders to 2 or 3. This decline in a city area of over one million and several colleges was not understandable to us.

My reason for leaving was an underlying emphasis on progressive liberal ideology at the expense of any spiritual concerns. Second hour discussion would often devolve into an argument with someone walking away hurt. This became more extreme with the election of Trump. I didn’t vote, but the constant negative reaction was dispiriting.

My attraction to Quakers is the direct experience of the Light of Christ within, which Fox so elegantly described. This experience is very real to me, and I felt a kindred spirit in Fox. However, I had Quakers tell me the Light really doesn’t exist or is just a metaphor.

My attempts to refocus the meeting on Spirit was a lost cause. Quakers have a great potential to help lead toward a positive future by following leadings from that stillness rather than following others that have a darker agenda.

Frank Griffith
Bellevue, Neb.

I, too, have my discomfort with my meeting and find spiritual nurture more often than I wish in a traditional Anglican church that has included moments of silence into its liturgy. However, I miss our Quaker silence very much when I am away from it for too long. But too many egos spoil the soup, so to speak.

I can assure you the Inner Light is not a metaphor, but a very real manifestation that some of us are fortunate to experience on a conscious level. It doesn’t happen often, but can never be forgotten when it does reveal itself. For those who have not had that conscious experience, it is still within and they are no lesser for not yet having experienced it directly. Where metaphor comes in is when communicating spiritual experiences via storytelling, for how can one possibly describe the divine mystery directly in human language? But metaphor is secondary; it is not the experience itself, rather a pathway to it.

As the older generation has passed away from our yearly meeting, a massive loss of wisdom, it has left a huge gap. They were not a coddled generation, and their heartfelt fellowship cannot be replaced, it seems.

Kirsten Ebsen
Vancouver, B.C.

The post Forum, March 2019 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Occasions for Plain Dress

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:15am

I would like to propose that there are occasions when our ministry to the world might be strengthened by our donning some form of plain dress.

Although our numbers are few, Friends have been among those who led prophetic movements for social justice. As a result, Quakers have a reputation—sometimes undeserved—as people of faith who speak truth to power and who put their convictions to work where work is greatly needed.

In the present highly polarized state of society in the United States, signs of racism, scapegoating, and other forms of bullying in officialdom have often been met with widespread outrage that too often hardens into hatred and vitriol. When hatred meets hatred, the Inner Light is often shrouded in widening darkness. In this context, protesters and other persons working for justice who wear clothing signifying the faith basis of their actions give a check to the demonizing processes. For example, in regard to a June 2018 protest led by interfaith clergy against the immigration policies of the Trump administration, Los Angeles police sergeant Barry Montgomery was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying that arresting faith leaders wasn’t easy for him; in fact he “hated” doing it. Clearly, the leaders’ clerical and other religious garb was speaking an important truth.

Some form of plain dress might serve for Friends on such occasions. Although at times our forebears have dressed in brown, black, or other subdued colors, Quaker dress is usually associated with gray, so that would be the color most likely to communicate our identity. A few of us with thespian affinities might like to appear in full William Penn or Lucretia Mott attire; most, however, would probably prefer ordinary present-day gray pants and shirt, while our signs, “Quakers for …” or “Quakers against …” explain who we are. Or we could produce T-shirts and sweatshirts with a message such as “Quaker—Friend to the World,” and perhaps a logo such as a flame or sunburst representing the Inner Light. I plan to order such a T-shirt, and will be glad to order more for interested Friends.

Modified plain dress of this sort might be valuable on other occasions beside protests: e.g., prison or hospital visitation, feeding homeless persons, safeguarding polling places from voter suppression and intimidation (as do members of the group Lawyers and Collars).

“Let your life speak” is still a phrase that guides us, but that does not preclude occasionally using our clothing to speak as well.

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Categories: Articles & News

El Paso Quakers on the Border Today

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:05am

© Jiri

What’s it like to be a Quaker in El Paso, Tex., these days? At a recent meeting for business, a visitor from New England suggested that other Friends might like to know how we’re involved in all that’s going on recently where we live at the border with Mexico.

“Organized chaos” is the expression a visitor from Pennsylvania used, with enthusiasm, to describe his two-week stint volunteering with Annunciation House. That organization is one of the mainstays providing assistance for the asylum seekers who need a place to stay, rest, eat, clean up, recover their strength, and firm up travel plans between the time they are released by government agencies and the moment they set off by plane or bus to the relatives and friends who will house them until their hearing dates. It’s been around for more than 40 years, largely the result of El Pasoan Ruben Garcia’s early call to serve the vulnerable.

As the numbers have increased, so has the Annunciation House footprint. It recently added satellite shelters with the help of many local religious organizations and financial support from countless individuals and from El Paso Community Foundation’s Migrant Family Relief Fund. Besides Annunciation House, that fund buoys up Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, both of which provide legal services to asylum seekers. Also working in this field are the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee and the Border Network for Human Rights.

El Paso Quakers work with these groups and field questions from concerned Friends all over the country. We corresponded with a meeting in North Carolina that wanted to contribute financially. One family here housed a Spanish-speaking Quaker lawyer from Georgia who worked night and day reuniting families, and the same family later accompanied a man sent to us from a New Mexico meeting who needed a place to stay, hurriedly finding him an interpreter to help at his hearing. We also linked the mother of a young baby with Annunciation House folks who could provide her with help when she arrives in town for her hearing. We’ve been happy to extend hospitality to Friends from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who came here to volunteer.

We’re a small group, about a dozen at our strongest. El Paso Meeting has been here almost 50 years, and more than 100 Friends have passed through, though never very many at one time. Our numbers reflect the fact that El Paso has always been a place where many people, including Quakers, come and go.

Some of us have regular weekly appointments at Annunciation House shelters to pick up mountains of bedding and towels, launder them, and return them to duty. Others are on call to respond to various needs: organizing and distributing donated clothing and toiletries; preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals; making spur-of-the-moment trips to the store; or just showing up to do whatever needs doing.

Many may have read about the times when hundreds were dropped off unexpectedly at the bus station without liaison with Annunciation House. The Disciples church, from which we rent our meetingroom, was tasked with suddenly providing a meal for 200. A group of us helped serve and clean up, and we also directed some money to the project. We were happy to hear that “the Quakers provided the chicken for lunch.” Although much of the chaos can be organized, efforts have often required creativity, speed, and flexibility.

We’re border people, used to the many joys and occasional concerns of living here, where the line at the edge of the United States generally doesn’t pose a barrier to community. What you hear about in the news is in the news because it’s new.

From what we’ve seen, there are some really nice people coming to stay with us in hopes of making their safety more permanent. Recently I was employing my clumsy Spanish to distribute clothing and encourage people to take a coat if they were bound for a cold place; one woman told me her destination and it sounded more like a song than a place name. When I looked perplexed, she laughed and pointed to a friend, going to Boston, who could say the name for her. It was “Philadelphia.”

They’re on their way from us to you. If the lady wearing the El Paso trench coat looks chilly, maybe you could offer her a sweater, too.

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Categories: Articles & News

News, March 2019

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:00am

© GioRez

New York Quakers sue to reinstate meetings at Green Haven Prison

On September 18, 2018, Green Haven Preparative Meeting and related Quaker plaintiffs sued the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). The suit, filed by attorney Frederick Dettmer, a member of Purchase (N.Y.) Meeting, alleges that the termination of quarterly and business meetings by DOCCS violates the constitutional and statutory rights of the Quaker prisoners to practice their religion without government interference and asks for these meetings to be reinstated.

“This case is not being brought to recover monetary damages,” Dettmer told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “It’s being brought to recover the right to practice of the inmates in Green Haven and of the Friends in the community around it.… It was the outside Quakers’ opportunity to worship with the inside Quakers.”

According to the official complaint, “Green Haven Meeting has served as religious home for inmates at Green Haven Correctional Facility seeking Quaker worship, fellowship, and community since 1976.” Green Haven Friends had been gathering three times a week: for meeting for worship, for a book club, and for meeting for worship for the conduct of business. Also, since at least 1980, quarterly meetings were held at Green Haven, filling a Saturday with worship, business, fellowship, and workshops; the event also included Friends from the surrounding community who could not come to the other meetings. Currently there are eight incarcerated individuals registered with Green Haven Meeting, including Yohannes Johnson whose article is featured in this issue of Friends Journal (page 6).

Don Badgley, co-clerk of Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting and a co-plaintiff in the suit, had been attending quarterly meeting for several years when they were canceled in 2015. He told the Poughkeepsie Journal that quarterly meetings were “an opportunity for us to do a broader kind of ministry with the men who are members inside the prison.” He said that having quarterly meeting canceled violated not only inmates’ rights but his right to practice his religion by visiting those in prison.

In 2012, Green Haven members within the Green Haven Correctional Facility sought to have their quarterly meetings listed on the DOCCS calendar of religious holidays. Their request was not fulfilled, and further, in 2015, they were told that their quarterly meetings were being canceled as the “one Protestant family event was … Pentecost,” meaning Quakers were lumped in with the 19 other Protestant groups. In July 2018, their meetings for business were also canceled, in apparent retaliation for attempting to have quarterly meetings reinstated.

Dettmer believes the case will be resolved within 2019.

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Categories: Articles & News

William Penn: A Life

Friends Journal - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 12:00am
By Andrew R. Murphy. Oxford University Press, 2018. 488 pages. $34.95/hardcover; $23.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

The name William Penn evokes an image of a pudgy, kindly man wearing a white wig and dowdy, colonial garb—the Quaker Oats man as history. Penn (1644–1718) is known for founding Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and the Holy Experiment of Pennsylvania, where diverse religious groups and Native Americans tried to live in harmony. He wrote wise, important books like No Cross, No Crown and Some Fruits of Solitude. He was a champion of religious liberty and a central leader of the early Quaker faith.

Penn was all these things, but he also was much more. His life, far from serene, was chaotic and stressful. At times, he presented beliefs that modern Quakers would find far from Quakerly. And the man who once advised people to “Cast up your income and live on half” was absolutely terrible with money.

The many triumphs, tragedies, complications, and contradictions of this extraordinary life are explored in Andrew Murphy’s new biography, an exhaustive, well-written, and thoughtful work. It’s one of the best books about a Quaker historical figure that I have read in a while.

Of course, Penn was the subject of past biographies, some of them quite good. Others have veered toward hagiography. Murphy, a Rutgers University–New Brunswick political science professor and an expert on Penn’s political thought, has produced something rare: a thorough, scholarly work devoid of jargon or agenda.

Penn’s life was full of religious devotion and good intentions. He was a man of conscience who believed all should follow their own spiritual convictions. Once when under arrest, he declared, “Tell my father that my prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot, for I owe my conscience to no mortal man.”

Penn was a close friend to leading Quakers, including George Fox and Thomas Ellwood, and helped the faith grow in Europe and the American colonies. He fearlessly defended Quakerism against a horde of critics.

Penn’s faith was central to his adult life. It formed the core of his character from the moment he joined the religion in 1667. But as Murphy states, Penn’s life “is too complex to be viewed through only one lens.”

The colonial leader was, like all of us, flawed. He was beset with contradictions, hypocrisies, and worries. He was plagued by poor financial decisions and ensnared repeatedly by palace intrigue. His Holy Experiment (Murphy challenges the exact meaning of the phrase) was in fact a political mess with Quakers, Anglicans, and others battling for political control. Penn’s colony—which he visited only twice—was a perpetual headache.

William Penn: A Life is full of illuminating detail, like the fact that Penn first wanted to call his colony “New Wales” but later decided to call it “Sylvania.” Officials made it “Pennsylvania” in royal records despite Penn’s attempt to stop them. Murphy shows that Penn’s treatment toward Native Americans was financially murky and that Penn had no moral qualms about owning slaves.

Penn’s longest standing personal failing was his inability to manage money. He spent lavishly, got into debt, then borrowed from friends and family. After his first wife died in 1694, he remarried two years later to a much younger woman, the daughter of wealthy Quakers. The marriage raised eyebrows, but the influx of cash did little to solve Penn’s self-inflicted money woes.

Penn’s debts finally caught up with him when a Quaker family sued him for unpaid loans. Murphy describes Penn numerous times as “self-pitying” over legal problems that he himself caused through imprudent spending and borrowing.

Murphy does a masterful job of putting Penn’s complicated life into context, explaining the Great Fire of London, epidemics, European political turmoil, colonial expansion, religious battles, and even pirates. Murphy clearly presents the evolution of Quaker beliefs and the Religious Society of Friends’s unique organizational structure.

Murphy is careful when offering speculation about Penn’s life or motives, and sticks closely to his own comprehensive research. He tells readers only what he can support with letters or documents. The comprehensive citations in the book underscore how much research the author undertook to produce this impressive book.

Refreshingly, Murphy is just as quick to tell you what the record doesn’t show: a key example is his noting that the exact circumstances and timing of Penn’s convincement—his conversion to Quakerism—aren’t known. They likely never will be.

The post William Penn: A Life appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Quakers in Bolivia: The Early History of Bolivian Friends

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:55pm
By Emma Condori Mamani. Publicaciones CALA, 2017. 117 pages. $20/paperback. Buy from the FUM Bookstore

When in 1919 Friends undertook missionary work in Bolivia, it was with Fox-inspired leadings and a decided conviction to succeed. Challenges came with planting a ministry on the heels of missions established by Methodists, Canadian Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Catholics, and Protestants. Early Quaker missionaries had to contend with resistance and problems of language acquisition (Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua), native ancestral religious traditions and practices, the military, warring political factions, a feudal system, economic instability, and shortages of supplies and personnel.

Through the lens of an adult retrospective gaze, Emma Condori Mamani shares with readers recollections of Quechua family life, and her formative education through secondary school among Friends missionaries. She witnesses her parents and siblings contend with embracing Protestant (Friends) over Catholic worship. After a family tragedy, her mother becomes a convinced Friend, while Condori Mamani embarks on a spiritual journey of her own.

When young Condori Mamani attends Santidad Amigos (Holiness Friends) Yearly Meeting for the first time, she is convinced that she is nearing the stage of being “in the Spirit with God.” Enrollment in Manantial (Water Spring) Friends School, and afterward four years at Holiness Friends Yearly Meeting Bible School, leads to an experiential encounter with God, after which Condori Mamani begins to teach Bible school and toil as an evangelist. Encouraged by the presence of God within her, she ceases to feel oppressed as a woman and gathers strength as she navigates Bolivia’s patriarchal society and assumes a leadership role within it. She equates her Christian calling and responsibility to serve God with that of the first pioneers. Condori Mamani’s story ends when she graduates and contemplates relocating to La Paz to pursue higher education.

The author is at her best when describing how the overlapping roles of missionaries as educators, activists, and medical specialists attracted the native populace to worship:

Many Aymara people were drawn to Quakerism because Aymara Friends experienced the transforming power of God in their lives. Aymara converts … inspired the missionaries to do social justice work on a large scale among Bolivians. Through such efforts, the Aymaras felt the sparkle of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, for Aymaras, the Kingdom of God received in their heart was not hidden—it was lived out in their communities.

Condori Mamani’s sympathetic perspective dramatizes Quaker acceptance of the Aymaras’ capacity to embrace Christianity. Bolivia’s indigenous cultures served as the staging ground for proving that God’s grace was visible in the trials of Friends. Quaker missionaries, adept at demonstrating the presence of the Divine in human endeavors, revealed the creative hand of God as manifest on Bolivian soil.

Central to the history of Friends in Bolivia and Condori Mamani’s moving narrative are the original labors of stalwarts such as Mattie Blount, the Hinshaw family (former publisher Alva Holler and Sarah Mabel) from Kansas, Walter E. Langston and Emma Morrow, Esther Hunt, Emma Canaday, William Abel, and Helen Cammack, amongst others, who hailed from parts as diverse as Oregon Yearly Meeting, Central Yearly Meeting of Friends, Indiana Yearly Meeting, and Union Bible Seminary. It was not unusual for working relationships to result in marriages that further empowered commitments. The missionaries’ own body of testimonial prose enriches the content of the book. Print material played an advocacy role in engaging novitiates, and The Friends Minister (1913–1920), a semi-monthly periodical out of Union Bible Seminary, was most influential in raising funds for and extolling the virtues of mission work.

I was captivated by the fact that in 1920 the Hinshaws insisted on shipping a printing press to Sorata. The sheer volume of correspondence, books, diaries, articles, and reports that document those initial years underscores the effectiveness of the missionaries’ spiritual and literary campaign, and offers invaluable ethnographic data on indigenous beliefs and practices.

The third section of the book, “The Current Quaker Bolivian Community,” contains four interviews with Bolivian missionaries, followed by seven with Bolivian Friends leaders representing the country’s six yearly meetings. Despite the departure in 1975 of Friends missionaries, Bolivia possesses the third-largest Quaker community worldwide.

Notwithstanding controversies that arose in their missions, Friends in Bolivia broke through socio-cultural, political, and religious barriers. Condori Mamani’s personal story, informed by the rich legacy of turn-of-the-century pioneers, exemplifies the long reach of missionary labors within the framework of Quaker humanistic values.

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Categories: Articles & News

A Practical Mysticism: How Quaker Process Opens Us to the Promptings of the Divine

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:50pm
By Elizabeth Meyer. Pendle Hill Pamphlets (number 453), 2018. 36 pages. $7/pamphlet. Buy from QuakerBooks

This Pendle Hill pamphlet is an excellent explanation and guide to Friends’ way of conducting the business of our meetings because it emphasizes our connection with the Divine. That is the original purpose of our process: to create a method that is predicated on corporate listening for Divine guidance. Meyer points out that for “business meetings to be truly worshipful, all present must engage faithfully, trusting the process.” She then spells out 12 steps to this process—steps it behooves each of us individually and in our meetings to read and ponder carefully.

First is the point that the “Clerk is the Shepherd of the Process.” The emphasis is on the process, not the results. We need to recalibrate away from the secular world into the paradigm of seeking to discern and obey the will of God as we sense it together. To facilitate this, the clerk tends to both the “worshipful nature of the work” and the “blessed community” in which each Friend is included in the process.

Meyer illustrates some of her points with stories from her own experience of clerking. She stresses the need to speak with kindness, and to listen carefully to one another with cell phones turned off. She reiterates the importance of having written reports prepared in advance, and advises that any submitted report is turned over to the meeting and no longer “owned” by the submitter or committee. Humility in offering one’s efforts, rather than defending one’s turf or opinions, is critical.

Meyer faces the sticky issues with clarity. Unity does not require unanimity. Wrestling with thorny issues again and again over time can be transformational—rather than a sign of failure—because they require deeper worship, more effort at letting go of our own need to be right. We can learn that the meeting’s sense of God’s will can be accepted even if we do not like it, because our faith community is more important than being personally right. It is helpful to remember that Friends worship the Living God rather than Quakerism with its beloved and seemingly quirky traditions and practices.

It is also helpful to remember that done in right order, Quaker process fosters love, and love facilitates unity. Every meeting for business is an opportunity to teach and learn Quaker process. How can we stay away?

Meyer concludes with some helpful advice for clerks. My only quibble is her instruction to “Be sure the minutes reflect all concerns; this signals that all views are respected.” It is only within my lifetime that minutes have attempted to do this, as we have moved toward a secular “democratic” process. In earlier times, the minutes included various tasks or services that were assigned and any decisions that were made. The arguments and opinions preceding the decision were deemed unimportant compared to the sense of the meeting, when that had been discerned. An issue could be laid-over time after time, but the old minutes do not spell out the wrangles. The underlying assumption was theocracy: we meet together to discern the Divine will for us on a specific agenda at a specific time. Each Friend who speaks may offer a piece of that Divine will; it is discerning the will that is important, not who said which part of it.

The pamphlet ends with some thoughtful discussion questions. It would be a good exercise for meetings to consider these questions together.

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Categories: Articles & News

The Healing Power of Stories

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:45pm
By Michael Bischoff. Pendle Hill Pamphlets (number 454), 2018. 27 pages. $7/pamphlet. Buy from QuakerBooks

Why do we get cancer? While there are risk factors such as exposure to certain substances, chronic inflammation, alcohol abuse, and bad diet, there are many other causes (known and unknown) for why and how we get cancer. We occasionally ask, as many have, why bad things happen to good people. Why do things happen the way they do?

But that’s not what this Pendle Hill pamphlet is about. The Healing Power of Stories by Michael Bischoff is about healing one’s life while living with cancer. First diagnosed in apparent excellent health at age 44, he started medical treatment and set up his own website where he connected with others to share stories and find support and encouragement. He organized his own storytelling group and then helped others organize their groups.

Many of us learned of his being diagnosed with glioblastoma (the most aggressive kind of brain cancer) in 2016 in Don’t Postpone Joy: Adventures with Brain Cancer, co-written with his wife, Jennifer Larson. Bischoff wrote an update in the January 2018 issue of Friends Journal, where he continued his story.

During that first year of surgeries, chemo, radiation, and experimental treatments, Bischoff started a spiritual practice of sitting at a favorite spot along the nearby Mississippi River. The river invited him to toss out his negative thoughts and let them float away. An old turtle lumbered by, eldering him in the ways of patience and persistence. The graceful flight of a blue heron invited him to find joy in his life. He thought of those moments by the river as he sat in worship with Friends. Wading into the water reminded him that he was wading deeper into the river of life.

This pamphlet continues the narrative, some three years after his diagnosis. Friends continue to follow him on Facebook and share stories of health journeys through CaringBridge.org, which enables loved ones to connect through personal, private websites.

Bischoff writes: “A good story brings us deeper into life. It keeps us wondering what happens next, bringing us back into the flow of our embodied emotional lives.” He found that we can keep our own story in perspective when we see our lives as part of the larger human experience. Our narratives can touch us as no mere argument can, because they reach our whole selves—body, heart, and mind. Mary Jo Kreitzer, from the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, assured Bischoff that healing is always possible, that we can open up to life even though we may not survive our cancer.

Quite apart from all that one can do to get through an illness, whether or not one survives is ultimately a mystery, dependent on factors such as luck, economics, quality of medical care, privilege (or the lack thereof), geography, and timing. Bischoff writes:

If I die tomorrow, that doesn’t take away from the miracles and healing that have already happened. Healing isn’t a one-time result but an ongoing process that doesn’t stop with death. Seen as a spiritual practice, the primary goal of healing stories isn’t just individual survival and physical health, but union with the larger flow of life moving through us. In response to George Fox’s challenge to us of what canst we say, I answer, “There is a healing river coming for all of us, and it is unavoidable.”

I contacted Bischoff and asked how this pamphlet might be used to help form a healing story group. He suggested that such a group could be started with two people who would be willing to tell a short version of their journey toward healing as they went through an illness or traumatic experience. The sharing could be structured around a set of questions like those suggested here by Jonathan Adler and Annie Brewster in their organization Health Story Collaborative:

  • Whom do you feel connected to and who has been there for you?
  • In what ways have you been an active rather than a passive character in your journey?
  • What do you have control over?
  • What have been the “silver linings”?
  • How do all of the different stories of your life fit together and make sense?

Michael Bischoff has found a path toward healing one’s life. “As we confess ways we are broken, testify about the Spirit’s movement in us toward well-being, and proclaim what we are learning as a core spiritual discipline, we can live out the healing power of stories.”

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Categories: Articles & News

Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:40pm
By Gary Dorrien. Yale University Press, 2018. 632 pages. $45/hardcover or eBook; $30/paperback. Buy from QuakerBooks

In Breaking White Supremacy, Gary Dorrien, professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of religion at Columbia University, makes a convincing case that Martin Luther King Jr. should be understood as part of an underappreciated religious tradition, the Black social gospel. Dorrien argues that this “neo-abolitionist theology of social justice” was the animating tradition that informed King’s thought and action, motivated his organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and led to many of the victories of the Civil Rights Movement. This book is the follow-up volume to Dorrien’s earlier work, The New Abolition: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Black Social Gospel, which won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion in 2017 and covered the emergence of the Black social gospel in the early twentieth century. Breaking White Supremacy can profitably be read on its own, but together the volumes form a remarkably comprehensive study of the role of religion in the struggle for black freedom and are certain to become a standard work on the subject.

The book is a series of biographical accounts of key Black religious leaders, covering their childhoods, educations, and activist careers. Topics include Benjamin May’s efforts to find a way to approach God that would be relevant to the social struggles of African Americans, Boston University chaplain Howard Thurman’s mystically inclined approach to religion, and Pauli Murray’s attempts to develop an intersectional approach to theology that could be both feminist and in favor of racial justice. As one might expect, the figure who receives the most attention is King. Dorrien skillfully documents how King welded together several different streams of thought, from the Black church upbringing he received as the son of a pastor to the white liberal Protestant theology of his graduate training and Gandhian ideas of nonviolent social change.

King’s persistent vision for nonviolent social change and his knowledge that his witness would lead to his death make him seem almost Christ-like; much of the book, however, makes clear he had human faults. Dorrien sees King as a model for laying out a progressive religious vision in his economic agenda, which grew toward democratic socialism and began to include demands for policies like a federally guaranteed minimum income. Quaker readers may find the detailed discussion of how King tried to balance his idealistic devotion to nonviolence with the realism of political action to be particularly helpful. It is quite clear that King stayed committed to his nonviolent vision until the end of his life.

The book rightly portrays the Black leaders it depicts as heroic figures, but it manages to avoid becoming entirely celebratory. One high note is the nuance with which the book dealt with the life of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the Harlem minister turned influential Democratic congressman. Powell was a master of political intrigue who used his talents to advocate for civil rights legislation while living a celebrity lifestyle with numerous extramarital affairs and legally dubious financial practices. Powell was not always a firm ally of King and notably tried to blackmail him with the false allegation that King and Bayard Rustin were a gay couple. Dorrien’s account does not shy away from showing Powell’s ambitious and Machiavellian side, but also takes his religious life and moral commitments seriously, showing how Powell tried to live out his personal vision of Christianity.

This is a book that offers a rich reward to those who want to devote the time to go through it, but it is lengthy and so comprehensive that casual readers or book groups may feel deterred. Breaking White Supremacy is not suited to serve as an introduction to those seeking an understanding of the Civil Rights Movement because it assumes readers know at least the outline of the major events in King’s life. It offers considerable detail on topics that seem of less urgency than the work of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, such as the many pages that are devoted to the career of Mordecai Johnson, the president of Howard University, and discuss Howard’s institutional politics at length. For its intended audience, who already know the basic facts of King’s life but want to better understand his place in American theology, this book is invaluable.

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Categories: Articles & News

The Joy of Job: An Investigator’s Perspective on the Most Righteous Man on Earth

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:35pm
By Maribeth Vander Weele. Sagerity Press, 2018. 138 pages. $24.99/paperback; $9.99/eBook.

The Epistle of James speaks about the “patience of Job,” but in this little book, Maribeth Vander Weele speaks about his joy. She quotes Bildad’s statement to Job, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (Job 8:21).

Vander Weele presents “an investigator’s perspective.” She is the founder of her own investigative firm, the Vander Weele Group, and she explicitly uses the tools of her trade to study the book of Job. In a concluding word, Vander Weele outlines ten elements that investigators look for, and then she summarizes how each of these elements relates to her study of the book of Job. (In many ways, one should read this section first.)

On the cover appears a portrait of Vander Weele’s father, Dr. Harold Vander Weele, drawn by her sister Susan Vander Wey. (It’s a family affair!) Vander Weele learned from her father the value of “the throwaway line,” which she argues is important to the investigator and to the book of Job.

The book’s title page includes an additional subtitle: “An Extraordinary Story of Repentance and Restoration.” And Job’s story is certainly extraordinary! It is also familiar: Job is a good man with many possessions. Satan tells God that if everything is taken away from Job, even his own health, then he will curse God. God lets Satan do with Job as Satan will: he takes away Job’s property, children, and health. Job remains faithful, and God eventually restores his fortunes.

Sagerity Press published this book and apparently only this book. The only other occurence of the word “sagerity” that I could find was Sagerity Investigative Intelligence, a service provided by the Vander Weele Group. Vander Weele does not discuss the origins of this name “Sagerity,” which seems to be a neologism. I can only assume that it derives from the fact that Job is often classified as wisdom literature, along with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Vander Weele does not refer to academic research on Job at all. In all fairness, however, scholars have not written a lot of books on Job for the general public. Indeed, the only really accessible scholarly book on Job is Stephen Mitchell’s 1994 poetic translation and commentary, simply entitled The Book of Job, which Vander Weele does not reference. She does, however, refer a number of times to an 1827 work by John Fry entitled A New Translation and Exposition of the Very Ancient Book of Job. Scattered throughout are occasional quotations of folks such as C.S. Lewis; David Wilkerson (of The Cross and the Switchblade fame); and her pastor, Daniel Meyer of Christ Church of Oak Brook, Ill., who gushes about the book on the back cover.

Vander Weele is in dialogue not with scholars but with her child self. She says she was taught that the lesson of Job was that innocent people can suffer without reason, that God’s ways are mysterious. Job 29 is Vander Weele’s point of entry. Her calling Job “the most righteous man on earth” in the subtitle is a bit sarcastic because her contention is that Job is unrighteous and that God is righteous.

This “investigator’s perspective” is very much a Christian perspective, with lots of support from pastors, according to the acknowledgments. (She does refer to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s book on religious violence, Not in God’s Name.) Vander Weele’s many footnotes primarily cite Job but also other verses in the Hebrew scripture and New Testament. I appreciate her attempting to ground Job in the Christian Bible.

The book is interesting if a bit idiosyncratic. In some ways, it is a personal journey but strangely impersonal. Vander Weele is an investigator, so she keeps her own emotions and story out of the equation, but I expected a bit more when I saw the tender portrait of her father on the cover. Friends might read this book with profit, though the only explicit reference to the Society is a paragraph about “the Quaker Capitalism of the Nineteenth Century,” in which she refers to a book by Deborah Cadbury about her chocolate-making ancestors. For modern interpretation of Job, I am partial to two twentieth-century dramatic works: Archibald MacLeish’s 1958 play in verse J.B. and Neil Simon’s 1974 comedy God’s Favorite. It seems that the stage has captured—or unleashed—Job better than the written word.

 

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Categories: Articles & News

… And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:30pm
By Michael Hudson. ISLET-Verlag Dresden, 2018. 340 pages. $29.95/hardcover; $26.95/paperback.

The authors of the Bible never guessed how puzzled we would be by things they didn’t think needed explanation. Why did certain people want to kill Jesus? Why would he accuse the Pharisees of “neglecting the weightier matters of the Torah: justice, mercy, and good faith” (to paraphrase Matthew 23:23)? It isn’t obvious to us, from 2,000 years away, that these “weightier matters” were laws about land, debt, interest, foreclosure, and slavery. Modern Americans don’t understand how or why the Torah could have demanded loans without interest or foreclosure, or land sales limited to a seven-year term. The idea of the Jubilee (years when debts were forgiven and land returned to debtors) seems marvelous, yet we’ve doubted it ever could have taken place.

From his experience as a modern economist, a historian of economic theory, and a scholar researching ancient economies from their Near-Eastern beginnings to the end of the Byzantine Empire, Michael Hudson says that clean slate proclamations had been widely practiced by previous civilizations. Far from being radical innovations, they stabilized a society by reversing its built-in tendency to downward mobility.

A Near-Eastern ruler wanted small farmers working and fighting for him, not losing their land and families to powerful creditors. When a new king came to power, or faced war, or simply found an occasion to celebrate, he would proclaim a clean slate, restoring farmland to previous owners and freeing everybody enslaved for debt. Commercial loans, houses within cities, and people captured in warfare were unaffected. It was the small farmers who unavoidably fell into debt for minor fees and operating expenses, and were forced to incur interest charges that staple crops—however essential—could never cover. These people, the bulk of the population, rejoiced at clean slate proclamations. Their creditors did not.

We find this kind of law fairly early in the Bible, before the stories of Saul and David. Then, under the monarchies of Judah and Israel, prophets often denounce the elites for coveting—and taking—their neighbors’ wives and property, but they say nothing about Moses making such things illegal. Under Jeremiah’s influence, we have the only example of a biblical king calling for the release of all Hebrew slaves, and this, as Hudson points out, comes as a military response to a threat from Babylon.

When the Babylonian army turns aside, the Judean elite immediately force their bondsmen and bondswomen back into slavery. That, according to Jeremiah, ensured that Jerusalem would fall to Babylon, that its leaders would soon be taken away into exile. Years later, when the exiles’ descendants returned to rule Jerusalem under the Persian Empire, they were still compiling their Scriptures into their final form, and they had learned from Babylonian tradition that periodic clean slate measures were needed to keep an agrarian state in good order. Hence, Hudson says: “Jewish religion and its biblical narrative reflected an economic conflict that culminated in taking the role of protecting debtors out of the hands of kings and placing it at the center of Mosaic law.”

Jesus has been depicted before as a defender of the Torah’s provisions for the protection of the poor, but Hudson’s background gave me a better sense of why he would approach (and naturally fall afoul of) the Temple priests in Jerusalem. No book can provide a complete explanation for Jesus’s life and teachings, but this one is an improvement over the unsatisfactory “harmless teacher” and “nonviolent insurrectionist” alternatives we’ve typically been offered.

This is not primarily a religious book, but it supplies some long-needed background on how and why Judaism and Christianity have taken the forms they have. It also provides a wealth of detail on the politics of debt relief from its Sumerian origins to its eventual suppression in the civilizations of Greece and Rome. The complexities of the debtor-creditor conflict from one time and nation to another are somewhat overwhelming but very well explained.

Hudson is not an apologist for what John Kenneth Galbraith used to call “the conventional wisdom”; like Galbraith, he is a clear writer focused on the politics and workings of actual contemporary economies. He writes:

Mainstream economists depict money and debt as only a veil, not affecting the distribution of income and wealth except to finance growth. Even in the wake of the 2008 debt crisis and subsequent Greek national bankruptcy, this ideology is silent as to the socially corrosive effects of debt prying away control of the land, natural resources, and the organs of government.

The post … And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Elisabeth Brewster Potts Brown

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:20pm

BrownElisabeth Brewster Potts Brown, 78, on July 6, 2018, of an unexpected heart attack, in her beloved summer home in Pocono Lake Preserve, Pa., where she had spent her final days in a week-long family reunion. A birthright Friend, Betsy was born on July 19, 1939, in Philadelphia, Pa., the oldest daughter of Jane Elisabeth McCord and Edward Rhoads Potts. She grew up in Southampton (Pa.) Meeting and lived in Bryn Gweled Homesteads in Bucks County, Pa., an intentional community founded by Friends.; attended Abington Friends School; and graduated from George School.

She met Allan Brown through connections at Swarthmore College, and they married in 1962. In 1963–65 they lived in Vietnam, working at the American School in Saigon—Betsy in the school library and Allan as a teacher. After returning to Philadelphia, they belonged to Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia. Once the children reached school-age, she earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in library science from Drexel University. She was a librarian at Medical College of Pennsylvania, American College of Financial Services, and Springside School before serving as the bibliographer for Haverford College Library Quaker Collection for the final 20 years of her career. She was also secretary of Friends Historical Association for many years and a member of Germantown Friends School Committee.

After she and Allan divorced in 1988, she lived in intentional neighborhood Tanguy Homesteads until 2002, when she retired and moved to the final unit in newly formed Jackson Place Cohousing in Seattle, Wash., in time for the birth of her first grandchild. She transferred her membership to University Meeting in Seattle and then to South Seattle Meeting when it became a monthly meeting. Her kind, direct wisdom helped guide the formation of the meeting and leavened weighty issues at her faithful attendance at business meetings. She was recording clerk for several years, a member of the Arrangements Committee, and an integral member of the Older Friends group.

A conservationist and lover of nature with Quaker values in all aspects of her life, she was devoted to her family and community and always looking for a way she could help. Her home life was spare, but she was generous with her possessions, her time, and her love. She enjoyed music, math, and language; was curious about the way things worked; and was a lifelong learner and constant reader with a wry and quirky sense of humor. She loved fast cars and in an alternate life would have been a race car driver; the Mini Cooper she owned near the end of her life was a dream come true and a nod to that other self.

Her final few years were difficult, as she struggled with anxieties stemming from mental illness and confusion from the early stages of dementia. In 2016 she moved to the Horizon House retirement community, where she was involved in the library, choir, worship group, and cat lovers circle. Friends remember her as kind, cheerful, caring, intelligent, and straightforward, with a ready smile and a bit of a silly side that endeared her to all.

Betsy is survived by her children, Jonathan Wistar Brown, Rebecca More, and Sarah Elisabeth Brown.

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Categories: Articles & News

Christopher Henry Hodgkin

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:15pm

HodgkinChristopher Henry Hodgkin, 74, on June 11, 2018, at home in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Wash. Christopher was born on May 22, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pa., to Ruth Walenta and John Pease Hodgkin. He was a cousin of Eli, Sybil, and Rufus Jones on his mother’s side and a grandson of Henry T. Hodgkin, the first director of Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa. He attended Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, where he was a birthright member. Before he started kindergarten, the family moved from Philadelphia to Bryn Gweled Homesteads, a cooperative community in Bucks County, Pa., that his parents and 12 other couples, many of them Quakers, had founded in 1940. He attended public schools; enjoyed soccer and week-long bike trips; and played piano, trumpet, and French horn. He spent summers sailing and canoeing at the Jones family farm on China Lake in Maine, which later led him to guide youths on months-long wilderness canoe trips in the lakes and rivers threaded through the North Maine woods. He attended St. John’s College.

During the Vietnam War, rather than apply for conscientious objection as a Quaker, he was led to avoid taking advantage of his birthright and practice as a Quaker to exempt him from military service as a conscientious objector, when non-Quaker objectors to killing on moral grounds could not be so exempted. So he turned himself in as a non-registrant and spent two-and-a-half years in Allenwood Federal Penitentiary. After his release he earned a master’s in business administration and worked as business manager at Quaker institutions and schools, including Pendle Hill, Sandy Spring Friends School (where he also taught English literature), Oakwood Friends School, and Staten Island Friends School. In 1978, he transferred his membership to Staten Island (N.Y.) Executive Meeting.

He moved to San Juan Island, Wash., and married Margaret Scott Bryan, called Peggy, in 1980 and two years later transferred his membership to University Meeting in Seattle. After a law degree from University of Washington, he opened a law office in Friday Harbor. He continued his love of the Great Books and classic fiction, leading several online book groups for many years. His Facebook page photo shows him seated in front of his Great Books bookshelf reading a Great Book. He enjoyed time in his vegetable garden; creating in his extensive woodshop beautiful items for use and enjoyment (many of which he designed himself); and playing bagpipes, hammered dulcimer, concertina, pipe and tabor, harmonica, and recorder.

After treatment for acute myeloblastic leukemia in 2017, he returned home in remission, enjoying his last few months with his family before the disease returned and took his life. On August 18, 2018, Southampton (Pa.) Meeting held a memorial meeting for Christopher and three of his Bryn Gweled contemporaries who had died that year.

Christopher’s brother, David Hodgkin, died in 1948. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Bryan Hodgkin; three children, David Hodgkin, Katharine Sears, and Dorothy Sears; five grandchildren; and a sister, Margaret Hodgkin Lippert.

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Categories: Articles & News

Jane Reppert Jenks Small

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 11:10pm

SmallJane Reppert Jenks Small, 96, on August 26, 2018, at Foxdale Village in State College, Pa. Jane was born on August 3, 1922, in Philipsburg, Pa., the oldest of six daughters of Eleanor Rae Runk and James Harold Reppert. She grew up in Plainfield, N.J.; graduated from North Plainfield High School in 1940; and attended Swarthmore College and Wheelock College of Education in Brookline, Mass., before marrying Barton L. Jenks Jr. in 1943. Joining State College Meeting in 1952 when Bart began work at Pennsylvania State University, five years later she worked with others in the community to establish Schlow Centre Region Library. Once her children were older, she returned to school, obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Penn State in 1965 and later doing graduate study there. She worked for a time in the Swarthmore College Alumni Office, but the career she cherished was as a teacher for 17 years at Matternville and Ferguson Township Elementary Schools in the State College Area School District.

She and other Quaker mothers established the Cooperative Playschool for three- and four-year-old children in the basement of the State College meetinghouse. A spiritual mentor to many younger Friends and others, over time she served on every committee except Finance, and she clerked many of them, including Building and Grounds. Her positive attitude informed her interactions with people and facilitated her transitions in life. She retired from teaching in 1981. She was an early supporter of State College Friends School, serving for many years on its board of trustees; a member of the League of Women Voters for 60 years, serving on its board; and a member of the American Association of University Women for more than 50 years.

She and Bart were part of the small group that started Quaker continuing care retirement community Foxdale Village. They moved into a cottage there in 1989, even before the Community Building was finished. Bart died in 1995.

In 1998, she married Peter B. Small, who died in 2006. In addition to her parents, her five sisters, and her husbands, Jane was preceded in death by her daughter, Effie Jenks, in 2014. She is survived by a son, Barton Harold Jenks (Janet Lewis), and one grandchild.

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Categories: Articles & News

Sad News from FUM

Friends United Meeting - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 10:44am

The global community of Friends United Meeting grieves the loss of DaleGraves, who died on December 10, 2018, eleven months after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Until January, 2018, Dale served as Interim Director of Belize Friends Ministries, an FUM field staff position. In this capacity, he gave tirelessly to fulfill God’s call on Friends to witness to the love of Jesus Christ among the Southside community of Belize City. He was instrumental in helping FUM reach clarity on that call, and led the work of finding, buying, and rehabilitating a new facility in which to house a burgeoning ministry.

Dale and his wife, Sylvia Graves, are beloved by Friends from around the world, who experienced their humble and generous gifts of service over many years. Eden Grace, FUM’s Global Ministries Director, shared these thoughts:

“Each morning in Belize, Dale would rise before the sun and set out on a jog along the seashore. This morning routine was not only a time for physical exercise, it was a time for spiritual sight, in which he attuned himself to the beauty and wonder of his surroundings. Many mornings, he would return from his run to post a breathtakingly-beautiful sunrise photograph on Facebook as testimony to the glory of God and the gift of a new day. Dale’s collection of sunrise photographs have served as many things for me – background images for powerpoint presentations, memes, and screen savers – but also as visual reminders of the wonder and joy of each moment in each day, in all things vast and minute. Dale’s unique combination of good cheer, hard work, and spiritual perception have left an indelible mark on countless people, and he will be dearly missed.”

A service of thanksgiving for the life of Dale Graves will be held on January 5, 2019. Details will be shared as they become available.

Categories: Articles & News

New Director of Belize City Friends Center Called

Friends United Meeting - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:51am

Friends United Meeting has called Nikki Holland to fill the position of Director of Belize Friends Ministries! This full-time, long-term field staff position will have primary management responsibility for coordinating all of FUM’s work in Belize, including supervising the staff, managing the facilities, developing donor relationships and coordinating with the FUM headquarters in Richmond, Indiana, USA.

Three years ago, Friends United Meeting committed itself to pursue a significant expansion of its ministries in Belize. Building on more than twenty years of success in operating a small non-traditional school for at-risk inner-city youth in Belize City, FUM is now working to:

  1. Gather a worshipping body of Friends in Belize through incarnational and relational evangelism in the Southside neighborhood of Belize City
  2. Grow the Belize Friends School to serve more young people, to offer primary-level education to adults, and to provide pastoral counseling to students and families
  3. Facilitate the Southside community’s transformation from a place of hopelessness and violence to a place of hope and peace through multiple ministry initiatives, beginning with the re-launch of the Alternatives to Violence Project in Belize
  4. Identify and develop suitable facilities to house the expanded Friends work in Belize

As the Director of the Belize City Friends Center, Nikki will lead the staff team: the school Principal, teachers, administrative assistant, Pastoral Minister, and other staff and volunteers. She will participate actively in the ministries of FUM in Belize, serve as a member of the Belize Friends School Board, write grants and develop donors, manage the physical plant, and host Living Letters visitors and volunteers. Nikki will also work with the FUM Communications and Global Ministries staff teams to share compelling stories of what God is doing in Belize, cultivate relationships with government and non-governmental entities in Belize, and build networks among the various stakeholders in the Southside neighborhood, and, as way opens, build relationships among the wider Friends community in the Caribbean region.

Nikki is a member of The New Association of Friends and has spent the last four years living in Mexico. During this time, in addition to raising a family and working, she has been part of starting a Quaker worship group; has been studying for an M.Div at Earlham School of Religion; and has been investigating potential solutions for problems with domestic violence that exist in her city.

Nikki writes, “Each of these activities has taught me about what kind of ministry I have been created to do. I am called to a ministry of spiritual hospitality. I am called to make space for people to rest and grow in the love of God. I believe that my calling is consistent with the role of Director of Belize City Friends Ministries.”

As a member of the FUM field staff, Nikki will work with the Global Ministries staff to raise prayer and financial support sufficient to sustain the ministry. Communications staff are already at work preparing her magnets, pledge cards, and more.

General Secretary Kelly Kellum says that Nikki brings a lot of energy and capacity to the work in Belize, and that “her teachable spirit will serve her well in a new cross-cultural environment and her experience in working internationally will greatly benefit the Friends Center. Most importantly, Nikki is enthusiastic about Jesus and about being a Friend.” In addition, Kelly says, “I’m certain that she will fit well within the FUM community and become the leader she is being called to be,” and he encourages the beloved community of Friends to support her with prayer and financial pledges.

About her sense of call, Nikki writes: “The work that I see happening in the Belize City Friends Center (BCFC) is about transforming difficult situations. It’s about offering second and third and fourth chances. It’s about believing in youth to live into their potential. BCFC makes space for young people to rest from turbulent pasts so that they can grow in a loving and encouraging environment. An inspiring team of people are doing this work in the same spirit that I see in the gospel work of bringing the Kingdom of God to this world.”

“Peace overcomes violence. Hope grows in frustrated circumstances. Love never fails—

“It is beautiful work and I feel honored and excited to have the opportunity to participate in it.”

Nikki, her husband, Brian, and their three boys, are hoping to make the move to Belize by July 1.

Belize Friends Ministries Mission Statement: Building on the existing Belize Friends School ministry, Friends United Meeting will engage in a holistic Christian Quaker ministry that is deeply grounded in the discernment of God’s direction in Belize. We seek to witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit through our witness, including worship, discipleship, education, leadership development, alternatives to violence, community building and economic empowerment.

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