The new traveling ministries

Quak­ers are a bit infa­mous for our opaque acronyms but FWCC’s is worth remem­ber­ing. The Friends World Com­mit­tee for Con­sul­ta­tion bridges togeth­er Friends across the­o­log­i­cal and geo­graph­ic dis­tances.

Tonight I got to hear a pre­sen­ta­tion on the trav­el­ing min­istry corps host­ed by FWCC’s Sec­tion of the Amer­i­c­as. I was phys­i­cal­ly in the audi­ence but you can watch too via the mag­ic of Pen­dle Hill con­fer­ence center’s livestream:

For more bite-sized videos, you can check out the minis­eries they spon­sored with Quak­er­S­peak.

Can Quakerism Survive?

Some­times I’m remiss at actu­al­ly shar­ing arti­cles I’ve worked on as part of my duties as Friends Journal’s edi­tor. It’s espe­cial­ly iron­ic this week giv­en that one of the most talked-about recent Quak­er arti­cles comes from the Feb­ru­ary FJ issue.

Don McCormick’s piece has a bold title: Can Quak­erism Sur­vive? He talks about thr decline that many Friends geoups have been expe­rien­ing and won­ders who it is that might have. vision for twenty-first cen­tu­ry Friends.

The arti­cle has gar­nered over eighty com­ments. The range and depth of that con­ver­sa­tion has been hum­bling as as edi­tor. But this is a good cross-section of visions of Quak­erism. An excerpt from McCormick:

Over the past 40 years, I have been part of and seen orga­ni­za­tions that had high ideals and did good work but were focused on inter­nal dynam­ics and paid lit­tle atten­tion to threats to their exis­tence. As a result, they went under. I wor­ry that our year­ly, quar­ter­ly, and month­ly meet­ings will also.

“Quakerism has ruined me for other faith experiences”

Great tweet­storm by life­long Friend Susan­na Williams on why she left Quak­ers and why she remains so attached to Quak­ers:

Quak­erism has ruined me for oth­er faith experiences- I was empow­ered from an ear­ly age to have a direct & per­son­al rela­tion­ship with God, to give vocal min­istry (as I first did when I was 12), to dive into silent wor­ship.

Where are the new Quak­er meet­ing plants? Where are the din­ner wor­ship groups? Where is the con­nec­tion with the Spir­it? Where is the space for Friends to encounter and share authen­tic faith jour­neys?

This reminds me of some of the themes I wrote about in The Lost Quak­er Gen­er­a­tion (turn­ing fif­teen this year) and 2013’s Quak­erism Left Me by Bet­sy Blake. Should the kind of Friends com­mu­ni­ty Susanna’s look­ing for real­ly be all that rare? Click on the link to read the 10-part sto­ry.

Does our continued existence matter?

I’m always hap­py when Johan Mau­r­er wades into an online dis­cus­sion, as he can often gives a steady­ing long-term view of pan­ics. He’s jumped in with per­spec­tive on the viral arti­cle of the week, Don McCormick’s Can Quak­erism Sur­vive? from the Feb­ru­ary Friends Jour­nal.

Johan reminds us that alarms about the future of Quak­erism has long been ring­ing and draws on Joshua Brown’s warn­ings about New York Year­ly Meet­ing from 30 years ago! Lest we chalk all this up an inces­sant alarmism, Johan gives some stats about that year­ly meet­ing. Uh-oh:

7,070 (in 1955)
5,124 (in 1985)
3,241 (in 2015)

But Johan goes beyond that to ask some ques­tions that we real­ly need to sit with. For exam­ple, he asks:

Giv­en that we are a micro­scop­ic per­cent­age of the world Chris­t­ian move­ment, do we have an inflat­ed sense of our own impor­tance? Or, to put it more pos­i­tive­ly, could we rest con­tent­ed that our influ­ence on Chris­t­ian dis­ci­ple­ship will last beyond our insti­tu­tion­al sur­vival?

This is a must-read blog for any­one any­where on the Quak­er spec­trum

QuakerSpeak DVDs for new visitors

So I’ll admit some­thing: although I’m the senior edi­tor of Friends Jour­nal, and the Quak­er­S­peak YouTube video series is a project of Friends Jour­nal, I’m still jeal­ous of the way it pro­vides a far supe­ri­or entrée to Quak­er thought and life. The way you get to know some­one with such imme­di­a­cy for ten min­utes or so is very pow­er­ful.

Every year, Quak­er­S­peak video­g­ra­ph­er Jon Watts has put togeth­er DVDs with col­lec­tions of that season’s videos. There’s a bit of irony in pay­ing for DVDs of free videos but the col­lec­tions are use­ful for shar­ing in meet­ing­house fel­low­ship rooms as part of First-day class­es.

But this year’s DVD is spe­cial. It’s only eight videos and they’ve been curat­ed with a very spe­cif­ic audi­ence in mind: new­com­ers and first-time atten­ders. Because the entire DVD runs a bit under an hour, the per-disk price has been made low­er. Low enough hope­ful­ly, for Quak­er meet­ings to buy them in enough bulk that they can be giv­en out to atten­ders who come to vis­it.

Quak­er wor­ship is an alien con­cept to a lot of reli­gious seek­ers. And it’s very pos­si­ble to attend a Quak­er meet­ing and leave not know­ing much more about Friends’ beliefs and val­ues than a vis­i­tor had walk­ing in that morn­ing. Imag­ine hav­ing some­thing you could hand them to teach them more about the diver­si­ty and depth of Quak­er belief. That’s what these DVDs offer (and, if they’re from the cord-cutter gen­er­a­tion, they can always use the print­ed playlist to open YouTube on their phones).

The dif­fer­ence between a curi­ous per­son vis­it­ing once and a reg­u­lar atten­der (and some­day mem­ber) is some­times just a bit of fol­lowup. I’m excit­ed to see if meet­ings take up this oppor­tu­ni­ty. I think Quak­er­S­peak has been the most impor­tant Quak­er out­reach pro­gram of recent times; this DVD is yet anoth­er way that we’re bridg­ing it with on-the-ground Quak­er meet­ings. Check it out.

Quak­er­S­peak DVDs