On Saturday, September 17th, I had the opportunity to attend the United Society of Friends Women (NCYM) annual gathering with Wess Daniels. Growing up in an unprogrammed meeting in Seattle, the Bible and Christianity were not central to my experience as a Quaker. So, attending a gathering of Christ-centered Quaker women was a little out of my comfort zone. Although I am coming to value and love the Bible as a part of my faith, I am still not used to sitting in pews and hearing Bible readings during Quaker gatherings. It is sometimes hard for me to connect this type of Quakerism to the faith that I was raised in. One of the only things I am sure about my Quakerism is that it believes in the Light (or the Light of Christ, the Divine, the Spirit, that of God, etc.) within all people, and the women of USFW are clearly living out this belief through their service and mission work. Their support of Friends Campus Ministry NCYM, Friends Center, Belize Friends School, FEMAP, and of many other wonderful programs is an inspiring testimony to their commitment to their faith and to Christ-centered service. The theme of their gathering was “Joy in His Presence” (Psalm 16:11). Not only were they joyful, but they were passionate, loving, powerful and incredibly welcoming. There was a deep sense of community which I felt was extended to me without a moment’s hesitation.
I grew up completely disconnected from Friends outside of my Beanite, unprogrammed yearly meeting. Most of the Quakers I interacted with had theological beliefs and practices very similar to those of myself and my family. I love and appreciate that community which has been so generous and supportive, but my beliefs about what it means to be a Quaker were not often challenged. Programmed Friends were “the other branch”, and I almost never interacted with them. Moving to North Carolina and seeing what it means to be Quaker for others, like the women I met at the USFW annual gathering, has pushed me to think about my faith in ways that are exciting, sometimes difficult, and always fulfilling. I am so grateful for the women of USFW for their gracious welcome and for their support of Friends Center.
This is Guilford College’s March 2016 edition of “All College Meeting for Worship and Reflection” with Erin Dell speaking about “Uncertain Certainty,” growing up Quaker and what it means to embrace the unknown.
“Life Sentences: Writing with Wisewomen Behind Bars”
This is Guilford College and Friends Center’s “Judith Weller Harvey Quaker Scholar” Lecture given by Michele Tarter, an early American Literature professor and Quaker scholar. In the lecture she talks about her 15 years of teaching Woman is the Word, a memoir-writing workshop in a prison for women. She will also talk about early Quakers, especially Quaker women, who spent quite a lot of time in jails.
Part of this means that we are dreaming of what a Global Quaker Center for Quaker Leadership might look like. The landscape of the Quaker world has shifted considerably towards Friends in other parts of the worlds with vastly different experiences, practices and languages than our own. We want to be training young leaders for the Quaker tradition globally and not just for those primarily in the United States. To this end we are focusing some of our work on traveling and building more diverse connections home and abroad.
With that in mind, I had the great privilege to travel to Pisaq, Peru this January for the FWCC World Plenary with two of our QLSP students: Elena Robles (‘17) and Katie Claggett (’19).
The purpose of the trip was to learn more about global Quakerism, especially Latin American Quakerism, build connections with international Quakers, raise the profile of Guilford College and Friends Center and begin building a list of names of people we can connect with in recruiting international Quaker students.
The trip was positive in all these aspects. The soil has clearly been ploughed. The reputation of QLSP, Friends Center and Guilford College is very strong among Friends globally and there are many hungry and interested in our program. We made many new friendships and plans about how to move forward.
This trip south, and other work of similar nature, will impact the direction of our leadership program, our scholarship, recruitment, and fundraising. We see the need to expand our reach into more international circles so that we can be supporting more Quakers globally. This is only the beginning and your help is needed. The interest is there and now we need the resources to make it happen.
This is the audio from Ben’s talk at New Garden Friends Meeting on Nov. 11, 2015 titled: “Open For Transformation: Being Quaker.” In the talk, Ben shared his understanding of what makes Quakers Quakers and some of the unique gifts and challenges Friends face in today’s world.