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Archive for Quaker Life Magazine – Page 2

Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus

By Scott Wagoner

I am inspired by people who see their careers as more than just a way to make a living. They will gladly accept a paycheck that comes with fulfilling their responsibilities, but the job they do is about more than just getting paid. The job they do fulfills a greater calling in their life.

In the interest of full disclosure, the person that inspired this article is my wife, Lynda Wagoner. I can honestly say that I am not writing about her as a way to win brownie points or because I forgot an anniversary and thus, I have some making up to do. Lynda inspires me because of her dedication to her calling,
allowing her Quaker faith to guide her to faithfully walk in the way of Jesus.

Lynda and I have been married for thirty years this July (smartest decision I ever made). In my journey as a pastoral minister, she has been a faithful and encouraging partner. Even in her role as a “pastor’s wife,” she has never given up her unique identity and sense of call. She has always worked outside the home and fulfilled God’s special call on her life in this world.

Lynda graduated with a B.S and a M.S in Nursing from Ball State University. She is also a Certified Lactation Consultant. For the past eight years, she has taken all her skills, gifts, talents, education and applied them towards helping an often much forgotten segment of society — poor and underresourced mothers.

Lynda works for the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services in High Point, North Carolina, as a Home Visiting Nurse for mothers and new babies. In her work, she follows mothers during their time of pregnancy and after the birth of the babies. Her clients are often on Medicaid and/or on public assistance. Every day she visits young mothers in their homes and brings much needed encouragement, information, resources and provides hope in a sometimes
seemingly hopeless situation.

On an average week, Lynda makes anywhere from 30-35 home visits. These visits may include those who have lived in High Point all their lives as well as families that are completely new to the area. A World Relief office is located in High Point, and therefore there is an unusually high number of refugee families living in the area: from Nepal, Burma, Sudan, Somalia, Vietnam and Iraq. Along with the diverse ethnicity, Lynda regularly interacts with families from other religious traditions. In particular, she will often meet with families who are of the Muslim tradition. Even with the fear and misunderstanding that prevails among many regarding the Muslim faith, Lynda has always experienced nothing but deep acceptance and rich hospitality from these families.

When asked how her spiritual journey shaped and influenced her work and her sense of call, she explained her call is to simply walk in the way of Jesus and
see her work from a justice perspective. For Lynda, her vocation is not just about providing resources and education, but includes providing “justice for all” for those who may not have access to good healthcare and resources.

Lynda acknowledged that her own Quaker journey informs her “that of God” is in everyone. Through this perspective, she is able to provide care for everyone she meets regardless of who they are or their religious tradition. For Lynda, everyone is created in God’s image and deserving of honor, respect and quality care.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— Prayer by Teresa of Avila

With this testimony, my friends, my wife fulfills her calling each day. She does it with grace, empathy, patience and unbelievable compassion for those she meets. She does it with a deep sense of passion for justice, as well as a deep commitment to the dignity of others. Hers is a hard job. The paperwork and
local government bureaucracy can be draining. But in spite of all that, her deep sense of call and her commitment to the way of Jesus propels her forward and keeps her on the front lines of human need.

As I reflect upon Lynda’s public testimony, I find that my faith is inspired in three ways.

First, I am reminded that we don’t have to leave our faith at the meetinghouse door when we head to the parking lot and drive home.

It is so easy to compartmentalize faith and have a “meeting for worship” life and an “everyday life.” With Lynda nothing gets compartmentalized. All that she is and does is part of her calling and God’s ongoing redemptive work in the world.

When compartmentalizing is done, spiritual life ceases to grow and flourish. Faith, then, is built largely around religious activity and making sure the institutional “I’s” get dotted and the “T’s” get crossed. But when our vision is expanded to see everyday life as part of God’s universal ministry, as is Lynda’s testimony, everything that is done bears the weight of God’s glory and love. Then, we become God’s ministers in all we do, and all of life becomes a sacramental experience.

Second, I am reminded that faith can be shared without words. Many times it’s our actions that speak the loudest.

Lynda is not comfortable talking about herself or her faith; but she is very comfortable living out her faith through her actions. Often it is assumed a person’s faith is only valid by a verbal testimony. Faith is meant to spoken by our actions. Many folks provide a vibrant witness in such a way their lives communicate the love and grace of God without a single word.

Lynda’s unconditional acceptance of her clients as well her deep empathy and patience communicates the presence of God. In fact, as one who seeks to follow in the way of Jesus, Lynda brings Christ’s presence into her work. In each moment, she is the hands and feet of Jesus. The young mothers and refugee families may not know it, but they are being served and loved in that moment by the Living Christ.

With this kind of public testimony, the mystical presence of the Resurrected Christ works. Wherever we faithfully show up through our actions, so does Christ. The often used Quaker phrase, “Let your life speak” is never out of date and can be such a powerful way to communicate the love of God. Our testimony should never just be a verbal statement. Our lives have tremendous possibilities of becoming living testimonies that can often speak so much more powerfully than words.

I am reminded of how God’s dream of “on earth as it is in heaven” is demonstrated through the living of one’s faith. God didn’t ask the world to come to him. God came to the world in the form of a person — Jesus. We call this the incarnation. Through us, God continues to come to the world as we incarnate the grace, mercy and presence of God. As God came to our brokenness in order to bring wholeness, we enter into the world’s brokenness in order to bring wholeness and healing. We enter into unjust systems in order to bring justice. We enter into disillusioned lives and despairing circumstances in order to bring hope and healing. We enter into hopeless situations in order to manifest the hope and promises of God. We enter into people’s confusion and fearful state in order to bring a measure of peace. We are the shalom-bringers. We are the peacemakers. We are the presence of God incarnate. We are the kingdom of God in action. Through our faithfulness, we bring to fruition that wonderful promise in the Lord’s Prayer: “On earth as it in heaven.” We bring heaven down to earth.

Those whose faith is evident in their action are living reminders of Teresa’s words. We are inspired when we see these folks live such faithful lives and the world is a better place because of their faithfulness.

I am blessed to be sharing my life with one such example.

Quaker Life – January/February 2015

Leading a Scattered People

We live in an age of isolation. Even sitting together in the same room, we live in private worlds. We stare at our personal screens, separated by our own hobbies, interests and ambitions. When we do connect, it’s often through shared consumption. We find shallow unity in products, images and ideologies: the spectacle.

We were made for something deeper. Our hearts long for a shared creativity that has the power to bind us together. We thirst for the creative Spirit to energize our lives. We have a hunger that can only be satisfied by a communion that transcends personal projects, lingering hangups and the fear of missing out.

We find true unity with one another in moments of self-forgetting creativity. Before all the arguments and criticisms come simple acts of joyful creation. We’re the spitting image of our Father when we cry out: “Let there be light!”

This is what we were made for. When we live with a heart-knowledge of our Creator — when our lives are drenched in love and wonder — the divisions that lie between us no longer divide. Disagreements become dynamic tensions that spur us to even greater acts of creativity.

In the face of all the world’s darkness, we say: “Let there be light!”

Micah Bales – Web & Communications Specialist, Friends United Meeting

Listening and Learning at FUM Triennial – By David Herendeen


“Does Friends United Meeting have enough common ground for us to remain in ministry together? I am convinced that it does.”

Read more

The Stranger Walking With Us – By Rita Willett


“Jesus exemplified the spirit of nurture as he listened and recognized the spiritual hunger of his disciples on the road to Emmaus.”

Read more

We’ve Got to Get Back to the Garden – By Katherine Murray


“George Fox believed strongly in the ‘perfectibility’ of mankind; he maintained that earthly perfection was possible for all who choose to turn to the Light.”

Read more

Private Quaker, Public Quaker – Part 2 – By Norval Reese


“We need to open our doors, invite the world in and heartily embrace friends from all sectors of society.”

Read more

FCNL Spring Lobby Weekend – By Neil Snarr


“The influx of young adults has transformed Friends Committee on National Legislation’s lobbying and its impact.”

Read more


Other Articles In This Issue:

Staff Columns

Let There Be Light! – Micah Bales
Meanderings & Musings – Annie Glen
Out of my Mind – Colin Saxton

FUM News and Updates

FUM News in Brief

Other Content

Live as though there is Hope – Sam Saxton
Missions Movement: Women Caring for Women in Kenya – Jeremiah Kehenzi Akoto
Ask Tom: Who is the oldest known Quaker?
Passages: Quaker Obituaries

Meeting God in the Grocery Store

By Annie Glen – Communications Editor

I’d like to think that my public testimony falls right in line with my spoken testimony. I’d like to think that when I encounter anyone, they see Christ. But there are times, truth be told, that my outward testimony has nothing to do with my perceived reality of my spiritual state.

It was a few days before Christmas and I was at the grocery store with at least 45,000 (I am exaggerating) other last minute shoppers. Everyone had a frazzled look upon their face. My countenance was the worst. I had just left work, had several Christmas presents to buy, the house needed to be cleaned, the groceries had to be purchased, family members expected me to solve life’s problems and I was in a hurry!

As I was scurrying to the express checkout, my friend ambled up next to me and asked how I was doing. I said, truthfully, I wasn’t doing well at that moment, I didn’t like anything that was happening in my life and I was in a hurry. He turned into the line next to me and said, “I think, maybe, this is the exact time for us to stop and chat.” With those words he stopped and looked at me with an expectation that I would do the same.

Now, imagine for a moment in the midst of a crowded grocery store, a perfectly peaceful and calm man standing next to the cartoon character, the Tasmanian Devil, who is spinning up a whirlwind, and you will have a pretty good impression of our encounter. My daughter, who was with me, tried to find a hole into which to crawl and just watched, as I stumbled over my excuses for my hurry — which I cannot remember. But all the way home and throughout the evening, the calm and peaceful public testimony of my friend pursued my inner most being. What exactly was my hurry?

What was so important that I couldn’t take the time to fellowship with a friend? Then it hit me; nothing, truly, was that important. In my hurry, I missed a moment of grace. How many did I miss as I allowed stress and chaos to rule my actions at the store? As a follower of Jesus, I have every right to fully feel the stress and chaos of exciting times. However, the stress and chaos does not need to run my life. Jesus has given me the freedom to move and have my being in him. But, with that freedom comes the realization that there are responsibilities. One of which is to act as if Jesus Christ does continue to move within the chaos of exciting times.

As writer Bruce Epperly states, “We are connected and what we do can bring beauty or ugliness, growth or diminishment to those around us. Hospitality invites us to give as much consideration to the well-being of others as ourselves. When we ‘die’ to self-interest, we are born to a larger, healthier self, and our world is healed one moment at a time.”

The encounter at the grocery store was a tale of two testimonies: Both spoke volumes.

This article first appeared in the March/April issue of Quaker Life under the title “Meanderings and Musings”.

Passages: Quaker Obituaries – January/February 2015

BABCOCK Fern Elaine Carper Babcock, 94, died on October 21, 2014, at her home near Winchester, Indiana. She was born in Winchester on May 5, 1920, the first child of Harry Walter Carper and Vada Berniece (Love) Carper. She was later joined by her sister, Mary Kathleen and brother, William Frederick. They grew up in a rural home northeast of Winchester (the house now owned by Elaine’s daughter Sharon Reynard and her husband Terry). Her father worked for the New York Central Railroad. Elaine received her schooling in the McKinley Schools and spent her hours outside school helping at home with household and gardening chores and with her mother’s egg business. Elaine graduated from McKinley High School in 1938 and soon got a job at Anchor Hocking Glass in Winchester. About five years later, Elaine got acquainted with Raymond Babcock, a soldier in her cousin’s Army unit in Ohio. They exchanged letters for a year, fell in love and got married on August 5, 1944 at her family home. Elaine and Raymond set up housekeeping in a small apartment in Akron, Ohio near Raymond’s father. Raymond was then deployed to Europe for a year in early 1945. Soon after Raymond’s return from the war in March 1946, the Babcocks moved to Winchester where he found work as a welder at Anchor Hocking Glass. They moved back to Akron in 1947 for a year of trade school, then returned in May 1948 to Winchester where Raymond landed employment with New York Central Railroad. Elaine worked alongside him as wife, homemaker and mother to their daughters, Sharon and Carol, born over the next four years. Elaine’s life revolved mostly around her family and faith community. Elaine joined Winchester Friends Church as an 11 year-old in July 1931. She and Raymond became active participants at Winchester Friends and in the William Penn Sunday School Class after their return to Winchester in 1948. Elaine served on several church committees and in the work of the USFW, and her daughters also remember her faithful ministry of prayer for family, church and friends. As an expression of their faith to the community, Elaine and Raymond often worked together as volunteers in the local clothing center and the food pantry. She was a caring, quiet, happy person who loved to be outdoors working in her garden and flowerbeds, enjoyed reading and solving jigsaw puzzles when she had to be indoors. Elaine was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Raymond Babcock in February 2005, her sister Kathleen Hartzell, and her brother Bill Carper. She is survived by her daughters: Sharon Reynard (husband Terry) and Carol Thornburg (husband Max); by her granddaughters: Laura Noble, Emily Walton, Vicki Morgan and Britni Thornburg Hoover; and by great-grandchildren: Angellica Collins, Thomas Noble, Katherine Noble, Timothy Morgan, Annabel Morgan and Briggs Walton.

CARTER Peter Macauley Carter attended LeGrand Friends Church of Iowa Yearly Meeting faithfully since his birth December 29, 1979. Peter passed away on July 22, 2014, in Marshalltown, Iowa. Peter was born to Jane and Macauley Carter, Jr of Marshalltown, Iowa. He was educated at East Marshall Schools where he received his high school diploma in 1999, at Marshalltown Community College where he received an Associate of Arts degree in 2001 and at Wartburg College where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003. Peter was a member of the Boy Scout of America Troop 320 of LeGrand, Iowa from childhood. He was an Eagle Scout and, in recent years, an Assistant Scoutmaster. He was an athletic young man of unusual endurance and physical strength, a man of moderation in habits and tastes, a strong swimmer and triathlete, and a splendid and experienced long distance runner with a long record of distinguished performances in Iowa community road races. Left to cherish Peter’s memory are his parents: Jan and Mac; and his sisters: Catherine, Caroline and Mary Patricia, along with their families.

COOK Marie Cook passed away April 8, 2014. She was a member of Bear Creek Friends Church. Velma Marie Barnett was one of six children born to Bruce & Florence Wright Barnett. She was born on January 27, 1918 in Linden, Iowa. She was very involved in school and graduated with the “All Round Student” medal in 1935. On August 27, 1940, she married Leonard Ortha Cook. They made their home on a farm south of Linden where they resided for 17 years. Marie played the piano and organ for over 70 years at churches in Linden, Bear Creek, Stuart Guthrie Center and filled in several times at Earlham Methodist and Presbyterian Church. She served as a Sunday school teacher & superintendent, treasurer and was a member of the USFW at Bear Creek Friends Church. Marie wrote Bear Creek News for 15 years for three area newspapers. Marie was always willing and able to give a testimony, word of praise or word of gratitude for her Lord and Savior. She had a good and busy life and leaves to celebrate her life four sons: Marven (Melinda) Cook of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Noman Cook of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Marion (Dawn) Cook of Earlham, Iowa and Merlin (Jennifer) Cook of Harleton, Texas; 15 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; brothers: Robert (Mary Ellen) Barnett of Newberg, Oregon and Rollin (Velma) Barnet of Salem, Oregon. She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years; her parents; eldest brother, Paul Barnett; sisters: Celine Mendenhall and Wilma Applegate.

MAXSON Leon Maxson, formerly of Redfield, Iowa passed away on July 22, 2014. Leon joined Bear Creek Friends following his marriage to Eloise Coulter in 1963. He is remembered for loving his job as a car salesman in Earlham, Iowa. Leon was preceded in death by his wife Eloise, his parents, both of his sisters and a nephew. Leon is survived by two brothers-in-law: Eldon (Marilyn) and Marvin (Melanie) Coulter; one sister-in-law, Martha Mendenhall; five nieces; one nephew; five great-nieces and nephews; a great-great niece and nephew and many friends who will remember him fondly.

MURCHINSON Marian Kirkman Murchison died Wednesday, November 26, 2014 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Marian was one of a set of triplets born June 3, 1924 to Clark and Cora John Kirkman of Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. Within a month of the triplets’ birth their mother died. Their beloved aunt, Lelia B. Kirkman assumed the responsibilities, along with their father, rearing the triplets and older brother C. H. Kirkman, Jr. Marian received her formal education at Pleasant Garden High School, Guilford College and graduated from Woman’s College (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) where she received a B.S. degree in home economics. She was employed by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services and served as Assistant Home Demonstration Agent in Vance County, Henderson, North Carolina. Marian married Victor Murchison, a Quaker minister, September 14, 1947. She was a supportive partner in his ministry for 59 years with Friends meetings in Winston-Salem, Goldsboro, Asheboro and High Point, where she taught in the children’s Sunday School department and sang in the choir. She was an active member of the First Friends Meeting at Greensboro, the North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends, as chairperson of the Christian Education Committee and President of the North Carolina United Society of Friends Women 1970-1973. In addition to her work in the church, Marian served as an active member of the Home Demonstration Club, Guilford County Professional Home Economics Organization and the Greensboro Exchangette Club. She was chairperson of the Flowers and Decorations Committee at Friends Home Guilford where she enhanced the attractive atmosphere of the retirement community. She was preceded in death by her parents, her aunt Lelia Kirkman, her devoted husband Victor Murchison, and brother, C.H. Kirkman, Jr. and triplet brother, Stacy Kirkman. Survivors include her cherished triplet sister, Mary K. Routh (Charles), sister-in-law Frances Kirkman and several beloved nieces and nephews.

STEPHENS Pandora Jones Stephens, 97, of Liberty, North Carolina, passed away October 19, 2014. Pandora was born on July 15, 1917 to the late Arthur McGruder and Bertha Jeannette Jones and was also preceded in death by her husband, Raymond Binford Stephens and sister, Lucille Andrews. Surviving is her daughter, Brenda Hardison (Jim) of Kinston, North Carolina; two grandchildren, Jennifer Veasey (Jay) and Jeremy Hardison (Amy); four great-grandchildren, Jacob and Jordyn Veasey, Ivy and Will Hardison. The family wishes to express their most sincere gratitude to Sherry, Jeff, Brenda, Shirley, Diane and Amy at Magnolia Cottage and Vickie and Pat in Liberty for the compassionate care given to Pandora during her declining health.
TURNER Carolyn Gabel Turner, 85, September 15, 2014, Plainfield Friends Meeting, Indiana. Carolyn was born November 17, 1928 to the late Albert and Ruby Rinkard Gabel. She was the widow of Dean F. Turner. They were married for 59 years and were farmers, where they raised dairy cows, pigs and crops. Carolyn was a graduate of Avon High School and a life-long resident of Washington Township, in Plainfield, Indiana. She was instrumental beginning the first Avon kindergarten and the Hendricks County Meals on Wheels program. She was past president of the Hendricks County Extension Homemakers, Avon Home Economics Club, Plainfield Woman’s Club, Hendricks County Hospital Guild and the Plainfield Quaker Homebuilders. Carolyn was also a Hendricks County precinct committee person, was the recipient of the Avon Citizen of the Year Award for 2008 and the Avon High School Alumnus of the Year in 2011. She and her husband were very involved with the Hendricks County 4-H Fair and the Indiana State Fair. She was a life-time member of Plainfield Friends Meeting, where she was married in 1950. She also served as recording clerk and presiding clerk for the church. Survivors include children: Cynthia (Roy) Simmons, Dean “Rocky” (Cindy) Turner, Jr. and Luanne Turner; grandchildren: Adriane Turner, Ryan (Melissa) Simmons And Gabel Turner; and a great-granddaughter, Amelia Ann Simmons.

Ask Tom: Who is the oldest known Quaker?

By Tom Hamm
Professor of History; Archivist/Curator, Friends Collection
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana

I can only answer this in the sense of: “Who is the oldest Quaker Tom has found any record of?” Before I answer the question, I must first offer some remarks on Quaker longevity. Observers, both Friends and among the world’s people, have noted that Quakers have tended to live longer than outsiders. In 1890, an otherwise obscure San Francisco health reformer, Louise P. McCarty, offered statistics that showed, among other things, that Quakers lived significantly longer than the general population, so much so that she predicted that by the year 2100, “the plurality of Quakers will be centenarians.” She explained Quaker longevity by pointing to their “methodical way of living,” which included, among other things, avoiding “boiling hot soup and frozen ice cream!”

But then, long lives may be linked in other ways to Quaker practices. Douglas Steere tells the story of a scholar who visited a Quaker burying ground and, after reading the tomnbstones, was impressed by how long Quakers seemed to live. When he mentioned this to a Friend, the Friend replied that was because Friends took so long to decide anything.

Who is the longest-lived Quaker I have found? That distinction belongs to a Friend born in Perquimans County, North Carolina (or perhaps Virginia) about 1729. His name was James Parisho, or Perisho, as most of his descendants spelled the name. The records of the Sandcreek/Azalia Monthly Meeting in Bartholomew County, Indiana, show that he died 5th Month 10, 1839, aged about 110 years!

His longevity was remarkable enough that Friends in Indiana sent a death notice to the Friend in Philadelphia. It recorded that he “lived a single life” until he was in his sixties. In 1797, he was married under the care of Westfield Monthly Meeting in North Carolina to Ruth Jessop, who was forty years his junior. They moved first to Ohio, and then to Indiana, where, remarkably, he apparently outlived his wife. Their youngest child was born in 1810, when James would have been past 80. A stickler for accuracy, however, would point out that James had no record of his birth, and the loss of early records from Perquimans Monthly Meeting means that we are unable to confirm his claim.

Does anyone know of any Friend who has lived to a greater age?

Do you have a Quaker history question to “Ask Tom”?
Send questions to

Missions Movement: Women caring for Women in Kenya

By Jeremiah Kehenzi Akoto, as told to Eden Grace

I first visited Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northwest Kenya in 2010, as part of a mission trip as a student of Friends Theological College. I was deeply moved by the passion the Kakuma Quaker community had for the word of God. It was then that I vowed to work with these refugees from Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to help them improve their lives.

missions movement_jeremiah akotoI began telling the members of East Africa Yearly Meeting North about our refugee Friends and in 2013 the yearly meeting invited the Kakuma Friends Choir to attend their USFW conference. As a result of that visit, the women leaders decided to visit the camp to see for themselves how these Friends live and worship. I agreed to accompany the team as their guide.

Twelve USFW leaders representing the quarterly meetings of North Yearly Meeting left Kitale on August 27 and started the long bus journey 481 km north to the camp that lies in the middle of the desert. From the very beginning of the trip, we felt the hand of God protecting our mission. We were late arriving at the bus stage and missed the 1 p.m., bus. Instead, we boarded the 7 p.m. bus. While we were still in the mountains, our bus broke down, and we had to wait for a part to be brought from Kitale. As the repairs were completed and we were beginning the journey again, the driver got word that the 1 p.m. bus had been ambushed by bandits and one passenger was shot. We took refuge in a police station for the night and began the journey again in the early morning. This is a dangerous part of the country and our team members were frightened, but we knew that God protected us by causing our delays.

When we finally arrived at the camp, we were met with such joy by the Kakuma Friends women. They had never hosted so many visitors before, and they had been praying night and day. The North Yearly Meeting women brought white headscarves with the blue USFW logo to tie on the heads of the Kakuma women — in Kenya the white headscarf is a sign of identity and unity among all Kenyan Quaker women. The refugees are not Kenyan, yet they are members of our body now.

During our time in the camp, the women were able to speak to the widows, widowers, orphans and the sick. They restored the broken hearted by visiting refugee homes and praying together. They brought food and clothing to donate and were able to give these out despite the fact that what they brought was small compared to the need. However, they were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the refugees. The visitors were cared for with so much joy and generosity; these refugees have so few material resources, yet they are greatly rich in Spirit.

After four days in the camp, Mama Margaret Chelimo, a visitor from Mt. Elgon, left Kakuma a changed person. She compared the Kakuma Friends to the Macedonian church — they had nothing, yet they were very generous. Just as Paul had said, “they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us (2 Corinthians 5:8).” As Mama Margaret traveled home from Kakuma she felt God convicting her because she had not been faithfully tithing. Inspired by the Kakuma women, she recommitted herself to faithfulness in generosity.

Truly we saw the will of the Lord fulfilled, for “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ (Colossians 2:2).”

About the author: Jeremiah Kehenzi Akoto is a 2013 graduate of Friends Theological College and is currently serving as a church planting pastor on Mt. Elgon among isolated mountain people who have never heard the gospel.

Out of My Mind – January/February 2015

By Colin Saxton
FUM General Secretary

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. — Hebrews 10:23-24

“I don’t believe in God,” the man said to me matter-of-factly. “I don’t see any evidence of a divine being in a world this screwed up, and I can’t think of any argument that would change my mind.”

Just so you know, the two of us were not arguing about God. This man simply asked me what I did for a living. And then asked what motivated me to choose a life of ministry, particularly when the impact of anyone’s good deeds seem to be like a droplet falling into an ocean-sized container of need.

While there are days when it is hard to argue the “screwed up” nature of things and the, at times, overwhelming nature of need, how can one who knows God respond any other way?

After all, and I presume like all of you, I have glimpsed Glory. I have felt that overwhelming wave of Mercy wash over me. In the stillness — I’ve heard the thundering Whisper that knew my name and spoke to the condition of my heart. Like you, I have been dazzled by Beauty. Been overcome by indescribable Joy. Felt the Life and Power reshaping and guiding me in ways that are inexplicable and undeniable. I have seen the face of Christ in the lives of the broken and the vulnerable and in the sacrificial service of saints that I love and admire. I have stood amazed at the entrance of the Empty Tomb and heard the Voice say, “Follow me.” All of us have felt the Kiss of Love upon our heads and trembled in the Divine Embrace. When it comes to “believing in God” it is not a matter to argue or a notion to debate. It is an experience to rejoice with and abide in.

And yet, how often do I — and maybe you — forget all of this? Despite the overwhelming “evidence” of God’s presence; I fail to remember. Inexplicably, I lose track of those moments where something sacred occurred among the otherwise ordinary, mundane, even “screwed-up” moments of my life.

My own bouts of amnesia have made me a bit less judgmental with the characters found in the biblical text. You know, those men and women who couldn’t seem to remember manna dropping from heaven, a sea conveniently parting for passage, a Voice sounding from heaven, baskets of extra fish or a dead man walking. It seems several of us struggle to remember that which is most memorable.

I am convinced this capacity to forget is one of the main reasons we are called to community. We need others around us who will remind us of what we have seen, felt, tasted and heard. I need — you need — companions who won’t let us forget where we left our shoes on the day the burning bush erupted into flame in front of our very eyes. We need Friends who heard us speak our vow of faithfulness — and will recite it in our ear when we might otherwise be apt to go our own way. I need a few courageous and committed Friends who lovingly and persistently prod me into action when I am tempted to retreat to the safety and security of my sweet sanctuary rather than wandering through the broken streets of our “screwed up” world. Left to my own devices, I am prone to forget and hunker down to focus on my own well-being and safety. Surrounded, however, by kindred spirits, my memory is apt to get jogged, my faith and hope rekindled, and my life awakened to the possibility that every drop of love and good deeds will one day fill an ocean-sized container of need to overflowing.

May the Spirit of Christ and a few good Friends muster up all of the energy and will needed to be God’s vessel for love and goodness!

Let There Be Light!

By Micah Bales
Web & Communications Specialist

We live in an age of isolation. Even sitting together in the same room, we live in private worlds. We stare at our personal screens, separated by our own hobbies, interests and ambitions. When we do connect, it’s often through shared consumption. We find shallow unity in products, images and ideologies: the spectacle.

We were made for something deeper. Our hearts long for a shared creativity that has the power to bind us together. We thirst for the creative Spirit to energize our lives. We have a hunger that can only be satisfied by a communion that transcends personal projects, lingering hangups and the fear of missing out.

We find true unity with one another in moments of self-forgetting creativity. Before all the arguments and criticisms come simple acts of joyful creation. We’re the spitting image of our Father when we cry out: “Let there be light!”

This is what we were made for. When we live with a heart-knowledge of our Creator — when our lives are drenched in love and wonder — the divisions that lie between us no longer divide. Disagreements become dynamic tensions that spur us to even greater acts of creativity.

In the face of all the world’s darkness, we say: “Let there be light!”

Dwelling in the beauty of this light, we submit ourselves to one another gladly. We no longer fear the power that others have over us, because we have become children of the dynamic, loving power who forged the stars. We are free to become the radiant creatures that the Father had in mind when he pulled us up from the depths and placed us on dry land. We have nothing to fear from chaos any more. The great Orderer is here.

In a culture that is shattered into warring factions, disconnected consumers and myopic interest groups, we are invited into an unexpected unity. In a world where there are many gods and many lords (1 Corinthians 8:5), we are discovering the focus and vitality that comes from serving God alone. Not our ideas about him, but Christ the substance. Not ideologies derived from words about him, but Jesus himself.

Our unity is in him. Christ in each one of us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Real unity isn’t something we achieve through the force of will. Neither a perfect Quaker process nor a flawless interpretation of the Bible can provide the organic coherence that we experience when we follow Jesus together. This energizing, equipping, connecting unity of the Holy Spirit is a reality that can never be controlled, only invited to come and dwell in our midst. This kind of unity humbles all pretenses of human authority.

Are you ready to experience true unity? Are you prepared to face your fear of chaos and isolation, following Jesus far beyond the boundaries of your own reasoning, strength and desire for control?

Let there be light!

FCNL Spring Lobby Weekend

By Neil Snarr

This spring 186 young adults from 27 states, 16 colleges, five high schools and 20 monthly meetings arrived in Washington D.C. for the annual Lobby Weekend sponsored by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). The purpose of the trip was to talk with participants’ own members of Congress about repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Forces (AUMF) and the use of drones. All together they participated in a total of 42 lobby visits — 10 of which were face-to-face meetings with Congressional members. “Attendees spent four days in Washington participating in skill building, policy seminars and making change happen,” stated organizers.

In the late 90s, Wilmington College began to bring students to the annual meeting of FCNL. Slowly the number of students increased until FCNL appointed a director for young adult activities, and soon this annual event focused specifically on utilizing young adults as lobbyists. In each of the events, FCNL selected a focus for the lobbying effort. Usually, one day is geared toward teaching about the issue or issues selected, another day toward learning lobbying techniques and the third day visiting the offices of their Congressional Representatives. (Students were matched with their hometown/state congressional representative/staff.)

Students, at first, are generally apprehensive concerning the visits to offices. However that feeling seems to be short lived judging by the number of students that return for a second, third or even a fourth year. The sessions generally run from 15 minutes to an hour, and students usually visit three such offices.

When considering the age of those involved in FCNL’s various efforts at peacemaking and social justice, this influx of young adults has transformed FCNL’s lobbying and its impact. Quaker meetings/churches need to support this effort in every way possible!

Below are a few of the student’s responses of their experiences lobbying their Congressional Representatives:

Freshman, political science major:

The lobbying part was a much better experience than I expected. Learning about the drone/AUMF problem in class and through the panels helped me get acquainted with the issue over time and then showed me the reality of the troubles. I was a bit nervous at first, but once I started talking to the staffer, I realized that I knew and truly cared about the topic. The whole trip made me want to be more involved in the politics of this country and get real experience for the future. This weekend made me feel the connections through learning and interaction.

Freshman, biology major:

Not only did I have fun during our free time but I actually had fun when we were lobbying Representative Michael Turner. Lobbying is such a thrill. I didn’t think I could do it, but in the end, I have never felt so proud of myself for taking a stand in what I believe in and showing others that they could do it too. To me lobbying was a great experience, and I believe that others should lobby too.

Freshman, Accounting major:

As for the lobbying itself and working with FCNL, I thought it was great that they had so many people to come and talk to us. I loved the panel discussions where the audience could get involved. I was very happy that Maraya Wahl and I befriended Jim Cason from FCNL. He was able to come with us to our staffer meeting. I was surprised that I found myself wanting to talk about the issue as much as I did, since I’m normally very shy. I thought that FCNL did an excellent job of preparing us with the necessary information, useful tactics and developing the confidence to go in and say what we wanted to say with passion and taste. Overall, I was very happy with my experience and look forward to going again next year.

Senior, art major:

The 2014 D.C. Lobby trip was great this year! I loved everything about the trip and would definitely recommend it to any of my friends. The workshops and speakers helped out the process of lobbying a lot more than I thought they would. I went into my representative’s office confident, focused and prepared to lobby against drones. FCNL did a great job organizing our lobby visits, our workshops and free time in the most comfortable way. I plan on lobbying for FCNL for many years to come!

Freshman, education major:

The Washington D.C. trip was such a great experience. The trip gives students, like myself, a chance to experience something new. It is an experience that gets students out of their comfort zone to discuss something they are passionate about. It also gives students confidence because they know that their words are being heard by their representatives and that they can create change. In today’s society most people do not use their voice anymore because they do not believe they are being heard, but this trip teaches otherwise. This trip taught me that my voice does matter. If I’m passionate about a topic, then, I need to go out and pursue change within that topic.

Sophomore, agriculture major:

The visit with the Speaker’s staffer was a little tense. At first things were going great. He loved what I had to say about John Boehner buying my lamb at a junior fair, but when we started talking about the issue he became edgy. I really liked what his staffer had to say about the issue, though. I even got an e-mail from him thanking me for coming and seeing him in the office. I thought it was really neat and I knew they really remembered that I was in there.

Freshman, political science major:

My experience is Washington D.C. was absolutely incredible. I honestly think the weekend went flawlessly. Obviously the tourist part was a ton of fun but I absolutely enjoyed sitting through the meetings. I feel FCNL absolutely prepared me to lobby. Initially, I was extremely nervous about it but after hearing the many testimonies of retired soldiers and other men and women who care greatly about the repeal of the AUMF, I realized quickly that FCNL was equipping me with the tools necessary to lobby. I cannot wait to go back next year, I mentioned in a cover letter for my internship that I was going on a lobbying trip and I ended up receiving that job. I think that Spring Lobby Weekend is an incredible experience and I have and will continue to persuade others to go on the trip next year.

Neil Snarr, Emeritus Professor of Social and Political Sciences at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio.

Private Quaker, Public Quaker – Part 2

By Norval D. Reece

Continued from Quaker Life, Nov/Dec 2014

The Society of Friends is not in great shape at the moment; we have an incredibly inspiring history with an impact on society way out of proportion to our numbers; there are some signs of new vitality and great potential — if we act on it.

We are the investors. The owners. We are the stewards. So, what could we be doing? What should we be doing?

Be Active Stewards

First, we need to do something different. As a religious group, we are perceived to be in decline. Membership is getting older and fewer in numbers. To return to Cape Cod for another analogy, there is a saying among sailors that, “When you’re racing a sailboat, if it’s not doing well, do something different.” When you’re sailing you are dealing with several variables: the speed and direction of the wind, the speed and direction of the tide, the set of the sails, the rudder and where the weight is distributed in the boat. Any of these things can slow down or speed up your efforts to get you to where you want to go. So, if we Quakers want to do better than we are doing, we have to “do something different.”

Second, it seems to me that we need to be more accepting of each other and of those who visit our churches and meetings. We need to be a big tent with an open door and a welcome mat. Each of us is in a different place in his or her spiritual journey, and we need to accept that with patience and love. We need more listening and less talking about our differences. Our history as a Religious Society of Friends has its own irony. It is punctuated on the one hand by courageous stands for people’s rights and liberties around the world, and on the other hand, by internal strife that has divided us into many factions.

This sounds odd to any group of Quakers, but I think we Quakers need to practice more humility and forgiveness of each other and spend less time being security guards on God’s highways. We need to leave the security and checkpoints to God. Our efforts should be to keep the highways open to everyone. I struggle with this all the time — having the humility to recognize that people are at different stages in their spiritual journeys and that someone else’s journey is at least as important and valid in God’s eyes as my own. At times, it’s tough.

Third, we need to share our beliefs.

These three points are all related — changing the way we do things, being a big tent with a welcome mat and an open door, and getting outside the tent to share our beliefs with others.

George Fox, of course, shared his beliefs — dramatically at times. He walked barefoot in the winter through the streets shouting “Woe to the bloody city of Lichfield!” And he interrupted a Church of England service by walking down the aisle shouting up to the Anglican priest in his elevated pulpit, “Come down thou deceiver!” He was not a private Quaker.

Quakers Going Public

In our present “age of spirituality” as contrasted to “organized religion,” there is considerable data to suggest that what we believe as Quakers is what a lot of people are searching for. I am told by a marketing professional that the word “Quakers” receives an average of 27,000 searches on Google each month. We’re not sure who these people are or why they are searching for the term “Quakers,” but it’s a lot of people.

Why then are Quakers not more dynamic, more visible and growing more as a Society?

Partly, because people don’t know we’re here. A marketing and branding specialist, Bill Fellows, a member of Newtown Meeting, recently gave a presentation to our adult class. He said he knew of no scientific studies of current public perception of Quakers but his distinct impression from contacts around the country is that when most people think of Quakers, they think: 1) we’re dead, 2) we’re Amish or 3) we make oatmeal.

We need to get out of our comfort zones in front of our metaphorical Quaker TV sets, get out of our Quaker cocoons and spread the word that we’re alive and well and receiving visitors. In our eagerness not to proselytize, we need to take care not to deny to others that for which they may be searching in their own lives.

I believe that proper stewardship of our local Quaker churches and meetings involves both outreach and in-reach. Outreach: making sure we are known and available to people in the wider community. In-reach: making sure we are taking proper care of our meetings and churches of which we are the beneficiaries, making sure we are “leaving our Doctor’s Boathouse” in better condition than we found it.

Newtown Meeting decided to “go public” 16 years ago. We opened our doors, told people who we were, where we were and invited them in. The results have been remarkable. While Quakers in North America have decreased in membership over the past 50 years by 36%, membership in Newtown Friends Meeting has increased by 46%.

From January 1, 1997 to May 4, 2014, the membership in Newtown Meeting increased from 210 to 307. There are now 244 adult members and 63 children members under age 18. And, there are a total of 77 (It’s recently been as high as 92) children registered in Newtown Meeting’s First Day School! And we have more applications for membership in process as we speak.
That’s steady growth of about 2 1/2 % or about 5-6 new members a year.

So what specifically does Newtown Meeting do and what are some things we can do to help Friends churches and meetings prosper?

Here is my personal list of suggestions:


Pick skilled managers for projects and clerks of committees. Relying on people to volunteer for jobs may not get the best people for the tasks. When running a business, one has to pick the most experienced and best skilled people for the task at hand. Quakers should feel the same burden of responsibility to our churches and meetings to try to match skills and experience with jobs to be done.

Delegate authority. If someone has the ability to do a specific job well, don’t saddle him or her with a committee unless the task requires corporate consideration. Name tags, press releases, notes of congratulations and condolences and web sites are all activities that can be done by an individual member. Sometimes even Quakers don’t need committees for a task.

Trust people. This goes with delegating authority. If there is someone experienced and knowledgeable willing to do a job, trust them to do it.

Periodically review the need for all committees. Down-sizing can be a positive experience. It can force one to look hard at priorities, trim the sails and become more efficient — it might even increase attendance at meetings for business.

Have term limits. Having term limits helps rotate responsibilities, avoid stagnation in leadership and involve new ideas and new talent.

Use Ad Hoc Committees for short-term tasks. Don’t burden standing committees with short-term jobs best done by a few skilled people. Shock everyone by laying down an ad hoc committee once the task is done.

Manage your money. Adopt realistic budgets based on current income. Protect your principle for major capital improvements or rainy days. Ask your most experienced finance and business people to handle the money.

In-reach and Outreach

Hold First Day classes for adults and children. A survey of members and attenders at Newtown Friends Meeting said this is second in importance only to the meeting for worship, and it is number one for young families. This can be a key factor for growth.

Have designated greeters. Our places of worship should be more welcoming than any commercial establishment. We need to go out of our way to talk with visitors, ask where they’re from and how they heard about us.

Host social events. Developing friendships is important bonding for any organization. Plan small group activities, have after-worship refreshments, ask visitors to introduce themselves at the rise of worship and sign a guest book, organize Friendly Eights dinner parties at people’s homes, schedule kids’ nights and family nights.

Monthly Newsletter. Provide hard copy for those who want it and put it on the website for others. This is your regular communication vehicle to those in college and remote locations as well as the homebound.

Encourage young folks to have their own projects. Simple Suppers, Lasagna Dinners, sales of donated books — these are great mixers and ways to raise funds for needy causes. Newtown Meeting kids have also helped make four popular “Healing Quilts” with handprints of meeting members to loan to people who are ill and give them a “hug from the meeting.”

Invite attenders to join committees, activities and your church or meeting. Put people to work right away. Be sure your guest book has space for kids’ names and ages, phone numbers and email addresses. It’s helpful to the person who follows up. Have “How to Become a Member” on your literature table (one page, five short steps). Don’t forget to ask long-term attenders to become members. Quakers have offended more people by not asking them to consider membership than by asking them to do so.

Get a website if you don’t have one. This is important. In political campaigns, we used say, “if you’re not on television you don’t exist.” Now, if your group doesn’t have a website, folks think you’re dead or dying. Include photos. For detailed information about this, ask a teenager.

Put up a new sign and get in the newspaper. It will cause tongues to wag. And people will know where to find you. Most towns have a local, weekly shopper. They have little staff and love getting articles — especially if you write them. Newtown Meeting has an article in its local paper almost every week. Keep it short and simple, attach a photo and always try to include something informative about the people who call themselves Quakers.

Don’t neglect your friends. Invite early and often to your church or meeting people in nearby Friends schools and organizations. If you don’t have any nearby, make your first day school/Sunday school into a religious education school for the community and promote it. “Quaker education” is an attraction with a strong brand name.

Contact new arrivals in town and update your literature. Every new family that moves into our area code of Newtown, Pennsylvania, gets a nifty 5″ x 7″ picture postcard that says “A Hearty Welcome from Newtown Quakers.” Update any Quaker literature on your table that has that “1957 look.”

Do QuakerQuest. Quakers are great entrepreneurs. British Friends a few years ago came up with “Quaker Quest.” It’s a proven step-by-step program for opening the doors of your meetinghouse to the outside world. The Friends General Conference Quaker Quest conducted an impact survey in 2010 of 62 Meetings in 30 states, and found that 76% of the Quaker Meetings which had a full day workshop or public session of Quaker Quest experienced growth! Check it out at their website

And, finally, announce Quaker Week this fall. Newtown Friends Meeting (PA) has done this and it is encouraging all others to do so. This is another gift from the British. Quaker Week 2015 is England’s ninth annual Quaker Week. It will run October 4-11. Quaker Week is strictly voluntary. Churches and meetings can take part or not as they feel led. And if they
don’t like the dates, they can pick another week to fit in with local events.

The goal is to get every Quaker Church or Meeting to have one event each year to which they invite the public — an open house, a short talk about “Why I am a Quaker,” or “My Spiritual Journey” by a member. Or it could be a talk about the founding of your local church or meeting or yearly meeting. Or about some well-known Quakers like John Woolman, Judi Dench, William Penn, Lucretia Mott, John Greenleaf Whittier, the Barclays of Barclays Bank, Joan Baez, Susan B. Anthony, the Cadburys of Cadbury Chocolates, or Bonnie Raitt. Or about some well-known people most folks don’t realize were raised as Quakers like James Michener, Daniel Boone and James Dean. You get the idea.This is something you can do right away. Send out news releases statewide and locally.

We need to open our doors, invite the world in and heartily embrace friends from all sectors of society — economic, ethnic, political, racial — get on with sharing the gift George Fox and others have given us. Fox extolled us to “be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you go, so that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

To me, that’s being a public Quaker. That’s what we each need to be. That’s stewardship.

Norval D. Reece is a birthright Friend and former Chair of the Board of Advisors of the Earlham School of Religion, former clerk of Newtown Friends Meeting (Pennsylvania), and former Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Friends Fiduciary Corporation, George School, Haverford College Corporation, and the American Friends Service Committee’s Centennial Campaign Leadership Committee. He and his wife, Ann (Benson) have been married for 47 years and they have two grown sons, Tim and Stockton.