United Society of Friends Women Fall 2016 Brunch by Hannah Billen ‘20

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.

Excerpt from Abe Kenmore’s (’17) Meeting for Worship Message from August 2016

And yet — I feel like being a Quaker is every bit as important to me as it was when I arrived on campus, having chosen it in part for the QLSP program and the Quaker ethics. My personal faith has not changed overmuch, but what I have gained is a new appreciation of community. When I applied to colleges, I intentionally went for small liberal arts schools where the community — academic and otherwise — would be strong, rather than a larger or more prestigious school. I had grown up in communities — Quaker communities, social justice communities, my home-schooling community. But I had never been in a community quite like the one offered by QLSP.

In my year level, we have often joked about how much crying we did the first year we were all together. It seemed like ever check in, someone had some issue weighing heavy on their heart. I have never been in a community that was so open to sharing not only joys but sorrows, and I think that without it, my experience at Guilford would have been much harder.

…And when I studied in England, one of the first things I did was seek out a meeting there. It was a large meeting, and at the end of 5 months of attendance, most people still did not know who I was, and I would have new introductions every week. But I joined a community of other young friends who gathered for worship and baked potatoes every week, and we had potlucks and pub visits together, sat around and talked about school and home, ran into each other at college, and more. We could share our feelings of frustration or loneliness or hope and excitement, and know that they were being heard.

I have not had many theological revelations in college. When I sit in silent meeting, my mind still wanders more than not. And yet, I have discovered in the past few years a power in community that I had not realized, at least consciously, in my home meeting. I miss meeting when I don’t go, even if I spend the hour of silence hour thinking about my essays, or a book I’m reading, or something even more mundane. But then I go sometimes to QLSP and share the grief and joys on my heart, or I go to Friendship and hear a powerful message that keeps me thinking and meditating. I eat potluck with Friends, or drink tea, and talk about life. And I find myself grounded to the world, to my community, and to myself, for another week. It is this — the necessity of spiritual community, a community that can truly hold grief and joy and everyday life — more than anything else, that I have learned while at Guilford.

Abraham Kenmore, College Meeting for Worship, 28 August 2016

Students Go to Belize – Reflections from Laura Adair

Reflections on the work trip from Laura Adair (Class of 2017):

Being from California I have never been able to go home for Guilford’s fall break; and as always Frank Massey invited me to come on the work trip with the Friends Disaster Service group, also known as FDS. This has been a routine trip for me every fall that I have been at Guilford, so of course, I was so excited. However, once I received the list of people who were going I started getting a little nervous because I didn’t really know anyone going on the trip. Since I really didn’t have any other option, I decided to go knowing what a rewarding experience it is to help build a house and to have discussions with people who don’t have the same experiences as me. It started with a very quiet van ride to Evergreen Virginia especially because I was in the van with only four Guilford students. Thankfully, once we arrived at our destination silence was never a problem again. Almost all of the other students knew each other, being either first-year students or international students that had crossed paths before. I, thankfully, was welcomed immediately by many of the older FDS workers who remembered me even though it had been almost two years since I’d been on a work trip.  All of the international students and people I didn’t know from Guilford welcomed me into their circle. As the week went on our relationships grew stronger, our work got better, and our laughter was louder. By the end of the work trip, whole group had grown much closer and really felt like a family. It was so wonderful to be building a house for someone in need while building our own community with all of the people from Friends Disaster Service, United Methodist Disaster Response and the Guilford College students.

Arlene Wesley Cash shares on the topic of believing for All College Meeting For Worship.

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Arlene Wesley Cash, Guilford College’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, shared on the topic of believing during our April All College Meeting For Worship.

(Friends Center)

Erin Dell speaking about “Uncertain Certainty,” growing up Quaker and what it means to embrace the unknown.

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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.

(Friends Center)

Judith Weller Harvey Quaker Scholar Michele Tarter

“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.

You can listen to the file here but you will first need to request access as it is a private download.

A Trip to Peru for FWCC World Plenary

As we think about the future of Friends Center and the Quaker Leadship Scholars Program at Guilford College, one area we want to grow into more is with worldwide Quakers.

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.

To read more updates on Twitter about the trip follow this link.

A Trip to Belize

Frank Massey, Campus Ministry Coordinator, led a January Term to Belize to learn of the work of Belize Friends School (BFS).  Thirteen Guilford students participated in the program, tutored and engaged with the BFS students several hours each day of the two week program.  The students will present a program to the campus community this spring, and write a history of Belize Friends School.  Another trip is planned for January 2017.