FGC on Quaker Religious Ed

One of the pieces I helped put online in my role of FGC web­mas­ter is FGC Reli­gious Edu­ca­tion: Lessons for the 21st Cen­tu­ry, by Beck­ey Phipps. It’s def­i­nite­ly worth a read. It’s com­prised of inter­views of three Friends:

Ernie Busce­mi: “It is the most amaz­ing thing, all the kids that I know that have gone into [Quak­er] lead­er­ship pro­grams – they’ve dis­ap­peared. I see the same thing [hap­pen­ing] as a woman and per­son of col­or, we are doing some­thing wrong.”

Mar­ty Grundy: “Our branch [of Friends] has dis­card­ed the tools by which ear­li­er Friends’ prac­tices were formed. We’ve lost our under­stand­ing of what it is that we are about.”

Arthur Larrabee: “We need to tap into God’s ener­gy and God’s joy. Ear­ly Friends had that ener­gy, they had a vision, they had the con­nec­tion with the inward Christ, a source of infi­nite ener­gy pow­er and joy.”

While I wish this could be extend­ed a bit (e.g., why not ask the ‘kids’ them­selves where they’ve gone), at least these are the right questions.

  • Tim Kennedy

    It is not uncom­mon for young peo­ple to leave the rel­gious ori­en­ta­tion they in which they were raised or even turn atheist/agnostic for a while. Patience and perserver­ance in friend­hip will bring them back. We all need a spir­i­tu­al connection.

  • Hi Tim,
    I agree with you – I’ve seen peo­ple leave for awhile and then come back to their faith. It seems like a nor­mal (or at least com­mon) path these days.
    If I had to guess I’d say that few of the par­tic­i­pants of the youth lead­er­ship pro­gram were actu­al­ly very involved with Friends to begin with. And the pro­gram itself was prob­a­bly devoid of much Quak­er con­tent – one promi­nent pro­gram focus­es on gar­den­ing & vol­un­teer­ing at local social ser­vice agen­cies. Because we’re so afraid of alien­at­ing twenty-something “birthright” Friends, we present them with a very watered down ver­sion of Quak­erism and even then rarely ask them to choose or not choose it.
    The col­lo­rary is that at the same time that some are leav­ing, oth­ers are com­ing: young adults who have left their tra­di­tions and are now explor­ing about Quak­erism. How do we wel­come these twenty-somethings?
    We dote on the chil­dren of promi­nent Friends, giv­ing them oppor­tu­ni­ties like young adult lead­er­ship train­ing, board mem­ber­ships, etc., and we look the oth­er way when they bring dis­tinct­ly non-Quaker prac­tices into the meet­ing­hous­es. I don’t think this is the way to keep the kids in Quak­erism and I’m not sur­prised when they drift away. The inter­est­ing ques­tion: how do we pre­pare the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends to wel­come them back? And how do we wel­come the thou­sands of twenty-something inquir­ers who often want a rig­or­ous Quakerism?

  • Julie DeMarchi Heiland

    The tru­ly sad thing (or anoth­er tru­ly sad thing) is that many boomer Quak­ers and oth­ers take YEARS (as in, many) to even notice that some­one is no longer around. Or they sim­ply fail to notice cer­tain peo­ples’ absence at all. It is as if cer­tain peo­ple are com­plete­ly invis­i­ble. Often, these peo­ple have been invis­i­ble or wished by the dom­i­nant Quak­er cul­ture to be invis­i­ble the whole time. They are too loud, too bois­ter­ous, too full of right­eous con­vic­tion, too reli­gious, too what­ev­er, and point out the ele­phants in the mid­dle of the room every­one else pre­tends do not exist. And it is very often these peo­ple who Quak­erism needs the most, because what Quak­erism is left with is bland­ness, indif­fer­ence, sec­u­lar­ism, and medi­oc­rity. Par­don me for not being among the polite.