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Archive for Quaker Life Magazine – Page 4

FUM News In Brief – July/August 2014

Update on Kaimosi Hospital

Friends United Meeting entered into a temporary arrangement with East Africa Yearly Meeting eight years ago to restore Friends Hospital Kaimosi from the brink of collapse. The hospital’s situation was dire, and Friends around the world answered the call with an outpouring of prayer, volunteer time and financial resources. Under FUM’s leadership, the hospital became financially stable with a well-qualified professional staff and an ever-improving reputation for medical care in the name of Jesus. We praise God for all that has been achieved during these years of FUM’s management of Kaimosi Hospital, including:

• Financial transparency and accountability through a Team Management system
• The Adopt-a-Nurse Program
• Donations of essential pieces of equipment: Portable ultra-sound machine, oxygenators, etc.
• Delivery of a container of medical equipment and supplies through World Medical Relief
• Purchase of an ambulance
• Hiring of a resident doctor to assist the government appointed doctor
• Renovation of half of the main hospital building
• Purchase of medications and other hospital supplies
• Support for the Comprehensive Care Center (CCC) for over 1,500 HIV/Aids and TB patients
• Perhaps most significantly, the staff was paid a living wage, consistently and on time throughout the 8 years.

On 1 February 2014, FUM ceased its involvement with Kaimosi Hospital. East Africa Yearly Meeting, in cooperation with Friends Church Kenya, entered into a new relationship for the future of the hospital. The National Council of Churches of Kenya has chosen this facility to be the flagship of their new “Jumuia” chain of high-quality Christian hospitals and is poised to invest significant funds in upgrading the buildings, equipment and staffing in order to attract patients from across Kenya.

Three months after the handover, Agatha Ganira, director of the hospital’s HIV/AIDS program (called the CCC) stated:

The hospital is running well. We have now settled in and finished our probation of three months. The staff are happy; at the beginning there was a lot of tension but they have relaxed and are working well. We have a devotion and staff meeting every Tuesday where our new Administrator has been spiritually feeding us. Since he is a trained pastor, he has really changed the staff attitude toward this meeting. His teaching and preaching have been building us spiritually. … The community has started using the facility and they appreciate the positive way that services are offered. The Patient Care Service Manager and I visit churches every Sunday for mobilizationand sensitization and it has been fruitful. The CCC still offers free services for HIV and TB and there is good support for these clients from the clinicians. … We are fully now computerized, from registration, outpatient and all other departments. This has reduced a lot of paperwork. … Renovations will be starting soon, and I believe that after renovations are complete there will be a lot of changes including offering of specialized services according to the NCCK’s long term vision. The school of nursing will be reopened so that they can be able to have enough trained nurses. Please continue to pray for us as we go through this transition.

FUM will, of course, continue to pray for Kaimosi Hospital. There are some “wrapping up” costs associated with this transition, and Friends are urged to continue to send donations for Kaimosi Hospital over the coming months. Although Kaimosi Hospital is no longer be associated with FUM, Friends have certainly not exhausted the gospel mandate to offer healing to the sick in Jesus’ name! As we look ahead, we invite all Friends to pray with the FUM Board as it discerns how God might be leading Friends into new forms of healthcare ministry in East Africa.

Update on Turkana Friends Mission (TFM)

By John Moru

Kalokol Youth Polytechnic has been revived by Turkana county government, which has completed fencing and renovation of buildings. An agreement between TFM and Kalokol Youth Polytechnic has been developed for both parts to sign.

The constituency development funds for Loima Sub County assisted Friends School Lokoyo in constructing two permanent classrooms. Now the school at Lokoyo has eight classrooms, a great benefit the community of Lokoyo where there had been donated by CDF a four room building intended to become a dispensary, although medicine and a nurse have yet to be acquired.

Katapakori has placed the mud on the church building and finished the office to include a door that we acquired from the mission office in Lodwar, when we purchased the metal doors for the TFM office. They have also bought approximately 10 plastic chairs.

Katilu has made concrete blocks for putting walls onto their pillars and they are organizing for fundraising for the construction and a cement foundation.

Kanamkemer, a new village meeting, opened in Lodwar 29/9/2012. It is situated on the western side of Nawoitorong Women’s Lodge. On the 25th of May 2014, Kshs 110,000 for purchasing a church plot was raised.

The Ekukurit Friends Women Group in Kalokol and the Kitamunae Friends Women Group in Lodwar received small business training grants of Kshs 403,000 and Kshs 401,500 respectively from Right Sharing of World Resources. Lochuga and Katilu women groups are seeking training funds from the government.

In spite of animals that have moved to look for pasture, the water pump at Katapakori is still working. Drought and famine have struck, spreading malnutrition among both children and adults.

FTC ongoing students Tracy and Etienne are finding their studies rewarding, although raising tuition funding remains a challenge. FTC has afforded them time to complete their studies.

FTC Anniversary Day

By Oscar Lugusa Malande

One’s day of birth occurs once in a lifetime. The celebration of this event — one’s birthday — occurs annually and is a day on which to remember, thank God for the blessings afforded during the year past and continuation of God’s blessings throughout the next year. It is also day of celebration and reflection on which others often express good wishes. Yet, sometimes this day goes unnoticed because of our day to day activities.

Occasionally, however, these annual celebrations pass unnoticed. At the October 2013 meeting of the General Board of Friends United Meeting in Africa, Pastor Aggrey Mukilima, General Superintendant, Nairobi Yearly Meeting of Friends and FTC alumnus realized that the celebration of FTC’ date of birth had been ignored. Subsequent planning and consultative meetings rectified this oversight.

The principal of FTC, Dr. Ann Riggs, had an opportunity to visit the archives of Five Years Meeting and Friends United Meeting at Earlham College, and her research unearthed the roots of FTC reaching back to 1931. She found that the official minuting of the decision to begin the college was penned on 9 September 1941. Several years of planning and preparation later, students attended inaugural lectures on 15 April several years later. A symbolic date each year on a Saturday soon after Easter was proposed for the annual celebration of the birth of FTC, a date coordinated with the study schedules of the residential and school-based (or part-time) programmes.

On 9 April 2014, the first birthday celebration of FTC was held. Conceived as a day to focus on annual African fund-raising for the college, a target for making sure that each current student’s fees have been paid in full and a chance for the alumni to come together to support the college. It was a day marked by joy and ceremony. Above all it was a time to celebrate and to thank God for what he had done, despite the many challenges that have come along the way, to ensure that FTC achieve its remarkable accomplishments. The theme of the day was from Psalm 145:10: “All your works shall give thanks you, O Lord , and all your faithful shall bless you.” (NRSV)

Guests included Friends United Meeting Vice Presiding Clerk for Africa Churchill Kibisu who read the messages of FUM Clerk Cliff Loesch; African Ministries Director John Muhanji, who conveyed the words of FUM General Secretary Colin Saxton; Global Ministry Director Grace Eden and the incoming Principal Dr. Robert Wafula. Additional speeches by FTC board members, leaders from different yearly meetings, leaders of the alumni and other guests were presented.

Several speeches focused on the need that African yearly meetings, especially Kenyan yearly meetings, continue with the spirit of supporting FTC as their own. There was concern that the continuing process of accreditation with Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) requires 50% of operating income to be African. The realization of this goal can be met only with energetic support from the African yearly meetings. FTC Alumni Association chairman Pastor Herman Chibeyia called for the alumni to mightily unite in the spirit of supporting the college. Everyone who attended expressed enthusiasm for a bright future ahead for FTC, recognizing that institution as being the root of Quakerism in Africa.

The outgoing principal, Dr. Ann Riggs, was applauded for her tireless efforts and good exemplary leadership at FTC. Her mentorship in initiating, through training at FTC, a self-propagating, self-supporting and self-sustaining church in Africa was noted and greatly honored. The message of the incoming principal made clear that he intends to build on and expand this legacy that has been motivated and shaped by the Kaimosi mission from its beginning. Continuing with the accreditation process with the Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) and promoting the existing income-generating development projects were among the many he specifically cited.

The celebration was crowned with presentations from FTC students. One of the students presented a poetic metaphor emphasizing Mother Africa’s role in nurturing metaphorical child, FTC, to ensure the full realization of the child’s potential. She admonished that rejection and neglect of the child could result in failure of the child’s capacity to achieve its full potential. As the child, FTC must be nurtured and supported by its mother and other stakeholders, particularly as it seeks to grow on the African continent.

Peter Kiliswa, the ex-officio member of the college’s board from Lugulu Yearly Meeting of Friends, while in discussion with the chairperson of the FTC anniversary day planning committee and ex-officio member of the college’s board from Lugulu Yearly Meeting of Friends, expressed great satisfaction with the success of this the first time event as well as his gratitude for all who attended. He noted that there is need to continue working together to enlightening all Quakers concerning the value of FTC in Africa and the wider world and in training servants of God and humanity for the Friends Church. The chairman noted that there is need for early planning of the coming anniversary and requested prayers as we look forward with much expectation to that day. The Board of Governors has identified 11 April 2015 for the next anniversary celebration.

After this day of celebration, moving to another level in fundraising to support FTC, Dr. Wafula launched FTC Anniversary Funds Drive. All friends of the college are called upon to make pledges on-line and to send in their contributions. African donations may be sent to the FUM African Ministries Office in Kisumu via Mpesa number 0701 781 282. Dr. Wafula requests that donors ensure that they call Judith Ngoya to specify that a contribution is for 2014 FTC Anniversary Fund Drive. Friends living in the U.S. may send donations by personal check, money order or credit card to Friends United Meeting, 101 Quaker Hill Drive, Richmond, IN 47374. Mark the check payable to FTC.

Many thanks to all who have joined in this new effort of celebration and support.

Transition in Belize

By Dale Graves, Interim Director of Belize Friends Mission

My first trip to Belize was with a Friends United Meeting (FUM) short term work project. We were working at La Democracia, under the care of Mike and Kay Cain, building an addition onto a garage. It was a good experience. That experience was a beginning. Since that time I have become more involved and am currently the FUM representative on the board of the Belize Friends School. I attend two of the three board meetings each year by Skype or conference call and the third meeting in person. This gives me the chance to make Belizean friends and to begin — just begin, mind you — to understand some of the issues in the area where the school is located. During these visits I stayed in the home of my close friends Sam and Becky Barber and listened at length to their perspective.

The Friends School serves students who are behind in their studies, typically a young man or woman who did not pass the exam for entrance into high school. Students are given an additional one or two years of instruction and then allowed to retake the test. The school graduates 10-15 students each year and for the past few years, every graduate has enrolled in high school next year.

However, recent conversations have centered on what other work God is calling us to do. Can Friends serve Belize in ways we have not yet thought of? What could an expanded Friends presence in Belize look like? Are there Belizeans who would find the Friends message of Christ as present teacher and guide a welcome one? What can be done about poverty and gang violence on the South Side of Belize City? Do the churches on the South Side of Belize City work together, or could they? And a myriad of other questions that beg for answers.

In conversation with FUM I indicated that I would expect no salary, but that I would need my housing, food allowance, health insurance and travel paid for as well as the costs of doing the work: use of a car, internet access, office supplies (I will be supplying my own computer), money for conference registrations, and so on, and so on.

The budget for my year in Belize is now $32,000, and this is where you come in. I am asking for your support and prayers, but I am also asking you to partner with me in funding this work.

I am looking for 110 folks who will commit to $25 per month for one year By folks, I mean individuals, Friends meetings, Sunday School classes, prayer groups, worship groups, youth groups or any other group who might make a commitment. Would you, or a group you are involved in, make such a commitment?

I promise to:

• answer any questions you might have and visit with you by Skype or phone from Belize;
• keep in constant contact with you about what is going on at the school through Facebook, blogs, and the FUM website;
• keep you posted as the needs assessment and the future plans progress; and
• introduce you to my Belizean Friends as I meet them.

I believe God has great things ahead for Friends in Belize and I really hope
you will be a part of that.

God bless you,
Dale Graves

Transition in Belize

Preparations are underway to launch new initiatives in ministry as Sam and Becky Barber conclude their service at Belize Friends School by the end of August 2014. They and their family will be transitioning back to the United States by the end of the year. During their time in Belize, Sam and Becky have served as co-directors of the school, taught in the classroom and hosted short-term mission teams. Their family of four children was joined by three Belizean children in 2010. All seven children have been encouraged to take part in the ministry according to their individual interests and talents. The Barber family’s unique gift of Christian relationships has touched many Belizeans and made a significant impact for God’s community.

Friends United Meeting’s mission for over 40 years at Belize Friends School has focused on “bridging the gap between poverty and possibility” by providing a second chance to inner-city youth who have failed in traditional educational settings. FUM has been in a discernment process throughout the past two years regarding how to expand ministry and continue to faithfully carry out its purpose statement in a sustainable way in this region of the world.

In the next 12 months, FUM will build upon the groundwork begun by the Barbers toward an expanded Friends ministry. To this end, FUM has approached Dale Graves of Western Yearly Meeting to serve as Interim Director of Belize Friends Mission. Dale’s educational background, knowledge for and love of the Belize mission and availability as a recent retiree make him ideally suited for an interim appointment in Belize. He will begin his one year appointment in August 2014 with a focus on research, community needs assessment and program planning for a holistic Belize Friends Mission that addresses the unmet needs of the south side neighborhood of Belize City.

FUM views this transitional period as an opportune moment to raise up local leadership for the school. Plans are underway to appoint an interim principal. Dale will work with the principal and the local school board to restructure the staffing that will continue the expansion of the highly successful educational program. In addition, FUM intends to strengthen the board and invite its members to work alongside Dale and the interim principal to lay the foundation for an expanded holistic gospel ministry in Belize City. We ask all Friends to join us in praying for faithfulness in this discernment process and for courageous imagination as we seek to follow Christ in Belize.

Adopting Rorogio!

By Duha Masri, Head of Ramallah Friends Preschool

The children in our kindergarten are engaged in a project that reflects genuine understanding of our school’s core values of integrity, fairness, respect and justice. Each year we explore academic themes that provide opportunities for the children to collaborate with their teachers, peers and families. This encourages children as they begin to believe that living by these core values empowers them to become ethical leaders and global citizens. They also learn that the time to begin is . . . now!

This year’s theme is on the shared responsibility we hold for our planet. Students began with learning and research. They went far beyond mere academic knowledge by considering how to be personally involved.

During the research and learning phase, children came across the ivory trade of tusks in Kenya that often orphans new-born elephants. Our kindergartners were concerned and looked for a way to take action. With the help of teachers and parents, we got in touch with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust who cares for orphaned elephants.

Children learned that caring for orphaned elephants is made possible by people who step forward, leading them to decide to adopt one. They made and sold holiday cards in the community to raise money and spread awareness of the damage done by ivory trade. As a result, the Ramallah Friends kindergarten now sponsors Rorogio who was born on August 10, 2012, and was orphaned by poachers in Kenya. But she is a very robust little elephant who was lucky enough to be rescued thanks to many people who ensured help came her way and now continue to care for her until she can become independent.

The children did not stop with adopting Rorogio. They are now engaged in conversations with their teachers, families and school partners on how to support a local zoo in Qalqilya, Palestine. Such opportunities for children to know and care for their world are pivotal to us here at the kindergarten of Ramallah Friends Schools. Our children recognize that these opportunities are important to their commitment in solving problems, and that it is possible for them to care for humans, animals and the planet.

Quaker Links

By Joyce Ajlouny, RFS Director

Our school would not have survived 145 years of turmoil and hardship if it weren’t for our noble Quaker mission that is further fermented by the various and precious partnerships we have with Friends from around the globe.

This winter the school had the pleasure of receiving Colin Saxton, FUM’s General Secretary, and Eden Grace, FUM’s Director of Global Ministries. Being that they were both fairly new to their positions, this was an important visit that further familiarized them with the school community. It was heartening to see them interact and build relationships with the students, teachers, administrators and board members. I could see the pride in their faces as they saw firsthand what a profound impact FUM’s work, through the Ramallah Friends School, has on the lives of its students and the wider community. Reading newsletters and reports don’t have the same impact as visiting because “seeing is believing” and more importantly “seeing is feeling” how individual lives are touched. The school community enjoyed connecting with Colin and Eden and asked them to return often.

Back in the U.S., I had the pleasure of attending the Bethesda Monthly Meeting’s (BMM) Spring Fling — a lively annual event that generates funds for the school’s scholarship fund. This program has been in place for over 30 years, thanks to the initiative of BMM member China Jessup and the efforts of many that continued to sustain the program. Attending the function was quite a treat as I really enjoyed the social interaction, food, auction, music and the friendships formed. However, I was most touched by the “behind the scenes” effort of those who organized the event this year and throughout the past three decades. I wish I could have brought our students with me to show them that there are many who care about them, pray for them and raise funds that help transform their lives. For now, they’ll have to make do with my word . . . and some pictures.

At the same time, Ramallah Friends Schools had the pleasure of receiving delegations of students, staff and board members from sister Quaker schools in the U.S. Four of these schools provide a full annual scholarship for one of our sophomores to attend their schools. We recently received news of the generous scholarships our students are provided from Quaker colleges, such as Earlham and Guilford.

Such partnerships, along with those from the various monthly and yearly meetings and from F/friends who continue to send us support, greetings and prayers, are essential as we continue to move forward as a leading school in Palestine. They are an important reminder of our remarkable Quaker testimonies that ensure our students are given hope, dignity and the opportunity to reach their potential as value-led learners and human beings.

Meanderings and Musings – July/August 2014

By Annie Glen, Communications Editor

My family and I love to play board games. One of our favorites is RISK.

“This time I will conquer the world!” My husband invariably predicts, and just as invariably, he is the first one eliminated. When it comes to playing this game, my daughters and I are ruthless — nothing will stop us from world domination! Observing each member’s strategy of play affords great insight into how much each actually dares to risk. I usually hold back until I have what I believe to be a sufficient number of armies. I will take a country next to one of mine, but will generally risk only one adventure per turn.

My elder daughter taunts people into making moves that benefit her. When it is her turn, she attacks with gusto, taking as many countries as she can. Any agreements she made the play before no longer apply. Annihilation is her main goal. Nothing will stop her.

My younger daughter, however, sits and watches. She patiently gathers her forces, observes where weak spots are and plots. She lulls people into believing the players (other than she) are the ones about which they should worry. Before anyone knows it, she has amassed the most armies and frequently wins the game.

I find it interesting to compare how people of faith are much like my family when it comes to taking risks. Some confess that they will be able to face the risk and move on, only to fall smack on their faces. They react to everything that comes their way and boldly make statements of faith that have no substance. With such an individual little time is spent in prayer, gaining discernment and understanding. Others will take a chance only when they can see they are in a position of strength. Little trust is given to the Lord. They will take a risk only when they believe
they cannot lose. Everything has to look like it will work before they move. They don’t act upon faith.

Yet some have faith that they can take risks — but only when it will benefit themselves.

And finally, there are those who wait and move when the time is right. These individuals have seasoned their relationships with God in such a manner that they know the time to move and the time to sit back. Taking a risk is not something frightening, but a matter of the right move.

I wonder, in the walk of faith, which player describes you?

Spreading the Word – July/August 2014

By Micah Bales, Web & Communications Specialist

There are millions of people who would love to do something daring: Live an adventure, take risks, see the world with new eyes. Each one of us, in our own way, wants to experience a life of vivid purposefulness, to live in the eternal now. We yearn for the joy that comes with growing into the life for which God created us.

Why do so few of us find it? In a world so full of beauty, why are so many lives tarnished by ugliness? In an abundant creation, why are so many naked, hungry, homeless? On this earth that God created and said it is good, what is the meaning of all the brokenness we experience in our lives?

At no time in my life have I yearned more fiercely than in my late teens and early twenties. Even though for much of my young adulthood I did not consider myself a Christian, I always hungered for the life and power of God’s kingdom. I wanted to experience a way of living that would connect me with my deepest purpose, unite me with a sense of meaning that went beyond me and my petty desires. I longed to witness a world transformed and to have my life turned upside down in beautiful and surprising ways.

There were a number of obstacles keeping me from entering this life of beauty and power. Not the least of these was my reluctance to take a personal leap of faith. As much as I burned for a world of vivid justice and love, deep down I expected someone else to take the first step. It was as if I were standing on the edge of a cliff, dying from thirst, desperate to taste the life-giving water that I knew lay below. But I could not bring myself to jump. It was too much to bear. What if no one jumped in after me? What if I drowned?

I excused my lack of courage by appealing to the importance of community. Surely I couldn’t do something so rash, so dangerous without others supporting me in it! Jesus was inviting me to abandon my priorities, my possessions, my very self, to come and be his disciple; seeking first the kingdom of God. But I wanted assurances. “I’ll jump,” I told myself, “but I need a community of people who are willing to hold hands with me and jump at the same time.”

I met together with other seekers like me. We talked about community, about what it might look like to hold hands and make that leap of faith together. We talked, and we talked some more. But we never jumped. We loved the beauty of the water below; we thirsted for it together. But when it came time to make a commitment, to make a life-altering choice, we walked away from the edge. We went our separate ways. We discovered that we were a community of dreamers, not cliff divers.

Still, I longed for that life of power that I knew could be mine, if only I would release my need for control and fall into the loving arms of God. But if it wouldn’t work to wait until there were others who were willing to hold hands and take the plunge with me. What alternative did I have? Did God really expect me to go it alone?

I discovered that there was another way down to the water: I could climb. Taking a little risk now can be more powerful than dreaming about a big risk in the future. Rather than demanding the immediate perfection that I imagined, I committed myself to the life-long journey of personal transformation. And, to my surprise, I found community there. I came across other climbers along the path, women and men following Jesus in the way of life.

As I grow into this community of everyday risks, I find God inviting me into bigger ones. As I draw closer to the water, it becomes less unthinkable to jump in. As I discover so many fellow risk-takers along the way, I find courage to move forward in faith, even when no one is holding my hand.

Equipping to Serve: Through Training

Equipping a Nation to Serve All Children

By Eden Grace

Approximately five percent of all children in the world, according to the World Health Organization, have a moderate-to-severe disability. In some countries, these children can expect to receive excellent care and education allowing them to reach their highest potential. In Palestine, however, there are no government-funded educational services for children with disabilities. The public schools will not accommodate them. There is an unfortunately high rate of institutionalization for these precious children. In all of Palestine, there is only one school that accepts these children: Ramallah Friends School. Friends don’t just “accept” them; everyone on the campus loves, cherishes and sees each child as important and fully-integrated members of the school community. The Friends School sees the face of God in these special children.

This approach is utterly innovative in the Palestinian context. The special needs program at RFS began about 16 years ago when a particularly-assertive parent and an unusually visionary teacher persisted in advocating for the importance of mainstreaming children with disabilities. Today, the school is able to serve two or three students with severe disabilities at every grade level. These students are fully integrated into the educational and social life of their peers, while also receiving intensive one-on-one support from trained learning specialists. In overcoming social stigma against people with disabilities, the school has become a model for how differentiated teaching in a diverse student body leads to better outcomes for all children.

But two or three students per grade — only about 40 students across the whole school — is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the number of Palestinian children with moderate-to-severe disabilities. Parents, school administrators and government officials are pleading for help. In response to this huge unmet need, Ramallah Friends School is preparing to become a training center in full-inclusion special education, teaching and mentoring those who are attempting to replicate RFS’s program in other schools. This idea is still in the planning stages, with many questions yet to be answered, but already the level of excitement is rising. RFS is poised to equip the entire Palestinian educational system to serve children with disabilities, and by extension all children, as precious sons and daughters of the living God.

Quaker Life – March/April 2014

Gathered in Community

Growth in ministry requires us to deepen our shared life with other people. Much of the authority to serve others that Jesus gives us comes from the quality of the relationships that we develop over time. Do people know that they can trust me? Have I established a track record of fairness, honesty, wisdom and compassion? When people interact with me, do they see Christ’s reflection? These are some of the challenging questions that we must continually ask ourselves as we seek to participate in Jesus’ work of reconciliation and peace.

No amount of process and procedure can create this kind of relationship. It is only through our openness to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can live together in genuine community. In this Spirit-filled community, we find the strength to embrace the fullness and variety of ministry into which Christ invites us.

Where do you find support for your ministry — spiritually, emotionally, financially and practically? What does it mean to be part of a fellowship in which we find friendship, inspiration and a collegial community of fellow workers with a variety of gifts and callings? Do the patterns, focus and procedures of your local congregation facilitate this work of equipping each person for ministry? How can our communities become centered with a shared experience of Jesus, who calls us into his ministry of reconciliation?

Micah Bales – Web & Communications Specialist, Friends United Meeting

Gathered in Community: Growing in Ministry – By Dorlan Bales


 
“The heart’s response to the Spirit’s call is the decision to follow Jesus. That choice and continuing recommitment to Christian discipleship takes place in the context of a spiritual community.”

Read more
 
 

Gospel Re-Ordering – By Chuck Orwiler


 
“Jesus was eminently practical. He taught the Kingdom way. He lived what he taught. He told his followers to go do the same. ‘Learn from me,’ said Jesus, and, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man.'”

Read more
 
 
 

The Growing Edge of Ministry – By Scott Wagoner


 
“Intentionality is one area where the Church falls short today. There just aren’t enough Christ followers purposely engaging in the discipleship of others.”

Read more
 
 

I Want To Learn Peace – By Pete Serete


 
“All of the communities within this vast refugee camp have now embraced AVP, and the impact of this ministry continues to grow and transform lives.”

Read more
 
 

Speaking About Christ Among Friends – By Rita Willett


“As we hunger for the love of our Creator and thirst for the spiritual nourishment of his Spirit, we become propelled into service with a great outpouring of joy.”
 
 
Read more
 
 

Gentle Giants – By David O. Williams


“Longevity, adversity and community are three essentials for the healthy growth and development of Giant Sequoias. Three essentials for the healthy growth and development of spiritual giants as well.”
 
 
Read more
 
 

A Hidden Gift – By Sarah Katreen Hoggatt


 
“It’s because of those times spent with God, centering down into God’s presence, feeling Love embrace me, that I’m able to sit with others in their time of need.”

Read more
 
 
 

Other Articles In This Issue:

Staff Columns

Out of My Mind – Colin Saxton
Meanderings & Musings – Annie Glen
Amazing Grace – Eden Grace
Spreading the Word – Micah Bales

News and Updates

FUM News in Brief
Sarah Thompson appointed CPT Executive Director
Everence and Praxis Mutual Funds revamp environmental screening policy

Other Articles

The Joy of Everyday Ministry – Diane Andrews
Queries for Missional Communities – Colin Saxton
Ask Tom: How did early Friends develop and grow as ministers? – Thomas Hamm
We Are All In This Together – By Noel Krughoff – FUM representative to FCNL
Think Outside The Bus – Diane Raflo-Andrews
Passages: Quaker Obituaries

Passages: Quaker Obituaries – May/June 2014

ALLRED Gene Samuel Allred, 93, died at his residence after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease on March 13, 2014. Sam was born in Burlington, North Carolina, to the late William Stanley and Rose Grant Allred on August 2, 1920. He served in Africa and Italy as an airplane mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Corp during World War II. Sam was employed at Charles D. Roberts Co. for many years but his life-long profession was as a singer. He entertained audiences all over the world as a professional singer for over 26 years and with his beautiful voice comforted many bereaved families when he was called upon to sing at funerals. Sam was a loving and devoted husband to Becky Allred for 66 years and a wonderful father to six children. He was the light and life of their home and leaves behind a legacy to his children and grandchildren of loyalty, strong moral character and an enthusiastic outlook on life. He was a hard worker who could repair or build just about anything and will be remembered as a very talented cook whose stews, chicken, cornbread, fresh garden vegetables and peanut brittle fed many. He loved the Lord and was a member of Glenwood Friends since 1975, where he served as minister of music and choir director. Surviving Sam are his wife, Ella Rebecca Scott Allred; six children and their spouses, Marilyn Trivett, Sharon McMurry, Teresa Inserra, George Allred, Samuel Allred and Joe Allred; 14 grandchildren; three great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and 11 siblings.

BRUSH Miriam Kelly Brush, 98, died peacefully on February 12, 2014, in Medford, New Jersey, with loving family at her side. Born on November 9, 1915, in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the only child of Richard Ernest and Susan Kean Kelly, a naturalized citizen who emigrated from Ireland as a young girl. A graduate of the Girls Latin School (1933), she received an A.B. cum laude in chemistry (Mt. Holyoke College, 1937), an M.A. in chemistry (Oberlin College, 1939) and a Ph.D. in nutrition (Iowa State University, 1946). Her professional, community and religious life were devoted to service and she was a friend, mentor and model for authentic living for many. A Professor Emeritus of Nutrition at Rutgers University, she retired in 1986 as Professor and Chair of the Home Economics Department and Director of the Graduate Program in Applied Human Nutrition. She served her department, Douglass College and the wider university in many roles over 30 years. The author of numerous scientific articles on human clinical nutrition, she was vice-chair of the task force on voluntary action by health organizations for the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and was on the editorial board of topics in clinical nutrition. Upon her retirement, she was recognized by a number of professional organizations for outstanding contributions and distinguished leadership. Active over many decades in Piscataway, New Jersey, she served on the board of education (1955-67), where she was the first woman member and the first woman president. As a member of Piscataway Library Board, in 1961 she was instrumental in municipalizing the then private library. She was a member of the Piscataway Charter Commission, which in the late 1960s initiated changes in the form of township governance. After retirement, she was a volunteer consultant to Head Start and a volunteer tax preparer. A member of the Religious Society of Friends, her Quaker faith and values were central to her life. In 1940, she participated in an American Friends Service Committee summer work camp on Little Silver Farm in South Carolina. After she and John met at Concord House and were married at Chicago’s 57th Street Meeting in 1942, their activities among Friends became an integral part of their lives. Members of Friends’ meetings in Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri and Plainfield, New Jersey. They were among several families with young children who founded New Brunswick Meeting in 1954. She and John were also among the founders and directors of Quaker House, an international, interracial, coeducational cooperative house (1964 to 1984) for Rutgers’ students with a concern for social issues, justice and world peace. Her active involvement with Quaker organizations included service as: presiding clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting; presiding clerk of New York Yearly Meeting; board member, assistant presiding clerk and presiding clerk of Friends United Meeting; and board member of Oakwood Friends School. One of the founders of the New York Yearly Meeting retreat center, Powell House, she served for many years on the Powell House Committee, including time as presiding clerk. In 1963, she and John purchased rural property near Powell House as a family retreat. Upon learning of her death, many fellow Quakers noted her wisdom and the depth and breadth of her spiritual gifts. One wrote: “She was an amazing person who, while never presuming to have authority or expertise, was widely recognized as having it. It could well be that this was in part because she always seemed to exercise economy in what she had to say and when; and in part because she matched a wealth of experience with the discipline and the habit of examining it thoroughly, and not letting it go to waste.” Always up for a new challenge, she began a formal exercise routine at age 80 and, despite almost no vision, continued with determination until just weeks before she died. She enjoyed listening to WHYY and had a standing order from Recordings for the Blind for 30 books at a time. She is survived by her children: Jonathan, and his wife Anita Greenbaum Brush; Kamala and her wife Lucy Baruch; and Timothy and his wife Ki Brush; as well as by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son Steven, in 2006 and her husband of 64 years, John, in 2007.

HADLEY Margaret Haworth Hadley, 92, passed away peacefully on March 1, 2014. Margaret was a life-long member of Dover Friends Meeting in Port William, Ohio, where she served a pianist for the past 50 years, as well as treasurer. She was also a strong advocate of several organizations serving children in need of a loving home environment. She was proud to be a member of Clinton County’s First Families, acknowledging the contributions of the Haworth family to the community since 1803. She was active in various other organizations including Church Women United, Turn the Corner Club and the United Society of Friends Women. She was a graduate of Port William High School and Earlham College. Margaret was a loving farm wife, mother and grandmother, pre-deceased by her parents and husband of 40 years, James Hadley. She will be greatly missed by her surviving children: Catherine Hadley, Sylvia Lankford Hadley (Larry Lankford) and Alton Hadley (Beth); her three grandchildren: Jim Hadley, Maggie Lankford and Willie Hadley; as well as her brother-in-law and sisters-in-law and many nieces and nephews whom she held dear.

HINSHAW Bernice “Bunk” Hinshaw, 93, died January 20, 2014, at Siler City Center, North Carolina. Ms. Hinshaw was born in Alamance County on July 10, 1920; the daughter of Harrison and Margaret (Pike) Hinshaw. Bunk was a member of Bethel Friends Meeting. She had worked at A J Schneierson but spent most of her working years as a floral designer, having worked at Friendly Florist, B & B Florist and Beckie’s Boutique. She was supportive and a faithful encourager of youth in their formative years. She served as a counselor at Quaker Lake, a youth Sunday School teacher and a 4-H Club leader. Bunk was known for her chocolate cakes which she shared at family reunions. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers; George and Clinton Hinshaw and a sister, Glenna Blair. She is survived by brother: Zim Hinshaw and wife, Jeanette of Asheboro, North Carolina; and a host of loving nieces and nephews and their families.

JONES T. Canby Jones, 92, died February 13, 2014, at Paoli Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania after a brief bout with pneumonia. Jones was born on September 25, 1921, to Thomas E. and Esther B, Jones who were Quaker missionaries in Karuizawa, Japan. He grew up on the campus of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; graduated from Westtown School, Westtown, Pennsylvania, in 1938; graduated from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1942, and Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in 1952, and his Ph.D. in 1955, specializing in Quaker founder George Fox. A lifelong pacifist and as a conscientious observer, he served in CPS during World War II constructing farmsteads and pouring concrete. He joined the faculty of Wilmington College in 1955, retiring from full time teaching 32 years later in 1987. He also taught briefly at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. Under a strong concern throughout his life to visit among Quakers for ecumenical purposes, Jones travelled all over the United States, to Europe, to Africa and four times to East Asia. He married Eunice Meeks August 19, 1945, who preceded him in death nine years ago after 58 years of marriage. He is survived by their son, Timothy H. Jones of West Chester, Pennsylvania and his sister, Catharine J. Gaskill of Orange City, Florida.

A New People to Be Gathered

By David Jaimes

The Latino people are the next face to be included in Quakerism. The great Quaker founder, George Fox, once saw a vision of people who were gathered together on a hill and recounted: “I came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered (Rufus M. Jones (ed.), The Journal of George Fox, (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1976), 150).”

I often wonder what Fox might have seen. How vast was this group of people? What kinds of people were they? What would set them apart? If today the various sects of Quakers would gather, and George Fox himself would be there to witness it, would his vision be confirmed? Does this great and gathered people include those who are of color? Is there room for those who are Hispanic? How diverse are Quakers? These are important questions for Friends to consider.

Quite honestly the answer to these questions offers a different picture than the one Fox proclaimed. At a glance, there seems to be little progress in reaching diverse people groups at home when compared to our efforts abroad. Recent statistics from the Friends World Committee for Consultation show that there are more than 377,000 Friends in the world, and 20% of them are from North America (Finding Quakers Around the World, 2012). Even though the numbers are seemingly low in North America, there is a tremendous amount of influence coming from North America that impacts the rest of the multi-faceted Quaker world.

Recently, I became connected with an organization known as World Relief as part of their Cross-Cultural Internship Program. I labored alongside church leaders in tackling the issue of immigration reform. This opened the door for me to see a broad perspective of injustices: such as, the criminalization of people that have not committed damage to the country, families being torn apart and the marginalization that is prevalent in the lives of so many families of different nationalities. Many of these people are of Latin-American descent. Through this experience, the Lord has revealed to me his compassion towards these growing peoples and how the church, mainly the Friends church, can embrace these people to become included in that greater vision of George Fox: “A great people to be gathered.”

Immigration is a politically charged issue in my home state of California. I was invited by World Relief to partake in an important relationship-building effort to assist the church in supporting their immigrant neighbors and connecting with their communities as Christ once did for us. I traveled to our nation’s capital for the purpose of advocating for a fair and just comprehensive immigration reform. There was an opportunity for me to attend a national gathering of Evangelicals called “Pray 4 Reform.” As we met with politicians and other leaders, I realized the goal of this event was to bring together Evangelicals from all across the nation to fight for the cause of immigration reform. I was able to gain knowledge about what it means to be an active citizen of the United States. Being from California, I visited the offices of more than five California congressmen and women and their staffers.

After returning from that trip and reflecting on many other meetings in Washington D.C., I have come to the conclusion that we as Christ’s ambassadors should be concerned about injustices in the treatment of immigrants in this land (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). The cause of immigration reform is a cause for every Quaker. The inhumane treatment of families that are torn apart because of deportations, the marginalization of an entire people because of their heritage and language, the abuse of their labor and not granting them a pathway to citizenship for their investment are some of the moral concerns that immigrants face today in these United States of America. It must stop.

To be a great people we must include the marginalized around us. Jesus said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is not a greater posture than to put someone else before you. Christ did and so should we, as a people of the Light; especially as people called out by God, to gather his holy diaspora and reconcile each other to God. Latinos in this country are as much a part of George Fox’s vision as others. Let’s be attuned to the Spirit and keep gathering the great people.

David J. Jaimes is a graduating senior at Barclay College studying Bible/Theology. Born in Peru, and raised in California, David comes from a continuing lineage of pastors. In 2008 Rose Drive Friends Church planted a small Spanish-speaking church in Fullerton. David was impelled by the Spirit to serve alongside his father and establish “Iglesia Amigos Puente de Gracia.” He served three years as Youth Director and then pursued his degree in Kansas. David is called into Pastoral Ministry to persons who are marginalized by poverty, race, and hate. David hopes that he can serve wholeheartedly the Kingdom of God with the message of hope and love in Christ.

Ask Tom: When did standing committees become so pervasive?

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

Occasionally Tom, who lives for books and still takes all his research notes on 4 by 6 cards, concedes that digital collections can be useful. He often uses the Earlham School of Religion’s Digital Quaker Collection, which makes available on-line dozens of Quaker works published before 1923 and is keyword searchable. A search there for the word “committee” is revealing. In Quaker works published between 1650 and 1800, “committee” appears 22 times. Between 1801 and 1900, it appears 78 times. A post-1900 compilation, were it possible, would doubtless show an explosion.

Why did this happen? Obviously, it reflects institutionalization and bureaucratization of a sort. Friends moved in this direction as the functions and focus of Quaker organizations changed in the 19th century, because Friends felt called to a variety of new tasks as expressions of their faith. Reading the minutes of 19th-century monthly meetings, one finds typically standing committees on education (overseeing the monthly meeting school), the poor (relieving Friends in need), and facilities (usually looking after the meetinghouse and burying ground). The select meeting, or meeting of ministers and elders, functioned like the current ministry and oversight or ministry and counsel committee.

By the mid-19th century, however, Friends felt called to do more. Sometimes they copied other denominations, in setting up First Day schools, which needed a committee. Then came the Civil War, when Friends took up as a particular concern the needs of freed people. So there were “Freedmen’s” committees. After the Civil War, Friends formally assumed responsibility for certain groups of Native Americans, so there were Indian committees. Many Friends saw a need for formal work against the dire effects of alcohol, so there were Temperance committees. As Gurneyite Friends developed a strong missionary impulse after 1860, Missionary committees became common. The number of examples could be multiplied by the concerns.

The changes in worship adopted by most American Friends in the late nineteenth century also contributed to the growth of committees. Finance committees became important as pastoral salaries had to be raised. Music committees took responsibility for that aspect of congregational life. In back of all of this was a feeling that the most efficient church work required clear organization and s specialization, which would have been a given among Protestants at the time. And so God graced, or afflicted, Friends with committees.

Do you have a Quaker history question to “Ask Tom”?
Send questions to annieg@fum.org.

Grassroots Ministry: Energizing and Equipping in Uganda and Tanzania

By Marian Baker

Within a week of retiring, I had a deep sense that God was calling me to go encourage women in ministry in East Africa and not to be tied to any one institution. Since following that leading, I have been amazed at what God has done. It has been far more than I could have dreamed.

I travel in the traditional Quaker way, with a travel minute from my monthly meeting endorsed by my quarterly and yearly meeting. Following the advice of my support committee from the United States, I collected a committee of Kenyan women to advise me which of the places I felt led to go were most urgent and to assist me in finding suitable traveling companions. The Kenyan committee first chose Uganda. Pastor Eileen Malova from Kakamega YM also felt a calling to go to Uganda, but her duties as a pastor and head of a vocational college prohibited her to do so. She felt led to be a companion with me, but wasn’t sure how to travel or where to start. Together, we followed God.

We traveled as humble servants of Christ, willing to learn from those that need help. Throughout our journey we listened, provided encouragement, while we traveled by local means (crowded matatus, on the back of motorcycles, and on foot) to reach the Ugandan Friends.

These Friends were puzzled, since missionaries usually arrive in cars. If one uses an official vehicle, the visitors are welcomed like royalty, with songs and feasts. The people then share what they think the visitors want to hear and then ask for financial support. However by arriving through local means, the welcome is much different: one is treated as a friend and sometimes given the funds for the returning bus fare when the visit is over (an African custom).

Upon our arrival, Eileen told them the story of Peter and John who went to pray and a begging lame man. Peter said “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus of Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3).” She then shared that we had come to help them find ways to stand up, and encourage them that they had the ability within to help themselves.

We were led to follow Christ’s advice to travel lightly and accept any hospitality they offered (Luke 9:2-5). By staying in homes, we learned more about them and their needs quickly. The women kept us up until late each evening asking for advice and prayers on things they are facing. Throughout our visits, real sister relationships were developed with these women.

When we began, we feared that the leadership of the yearly meetings (in Africa almost all leadership positions are held by males) would give us trouble for working with women. Yet, the majority of all church members are women. The male leaders said if we helped the women, who in turn would teach others; the whole church would be strengthened. Earlier when I went with Dorothy Selebwa and Jane Mutoro to Samburu, I learned the value of women to women visits. The women were full of questions for us and had many issues they wanted advice on that they could not share with men in their culture.

In Uganda, we first felt led to visit the meetings all around the country, taking the general secretary and two women leaders with us. It was the first time for some of the Ugandans to travel outside their home areas. We rejoiced as we found three new meetings in their first year growing rapidly with active, motivated women. In Lira, located in northern Uganda, we were shown the graves of two leaders whose deaths were the catalyst for the demise of their meeting. Uganda Yearly Meeting had not known of these changes and began to see the need for more visiting and having better communication with all meetings. With the help of USFW Kenya, we helped three women from the new and three from the older meetings attend the USFW Kenya Triennial in Kaimosi to see how women can organize and run a conference (over 800 women attended!).

In Uganda, we found that women tend to depend on men to provide leadership. The men chose the women leaders and planned out the women’s conferences. The first time we gathered with the women leaders, Eileen and Pastor Olivia Salano spent hours in counseling and prayer. The Ugandans invited Eileen to be the main speaker at the women’s conference last year. We found we needed to help our sisters learn how to run the conference, which kept us very busy. (Meanwhile Pastor Margaret Musalia went to be main speaker at Tanzania’s USFW Conference. She similarly found she was called upon to preach, teach, guide, counsel — doing four jobs at once.)

This year we first organized a leadership training seminar in Uganda and asked Judith Ngoya and the FUM leadership team to help. The FUM trainers were excited to realize how ready and eager the new leaders in Uganda were for training. In response to the training, five leaders of Uganda Yearly Meeting sat down and pledged to collect within one week the amount of money needed to get the Friends Church registered with the government. (Registration is required to own land, hold bank accounts, and conduct weddings and funerals.) What a change Eileen and I have witnessed from our first finding Ugandan Friends as beggars but who now host us, raise their own funds, and work on detailed plans for their future. Praise God!

Pastor Joseph Kafuka from southern Uganda attended last year’s women’s conference as he was challenged by Modesta Guloba’s (new USFW President) lesson on agriculture. She said, “Don’t complain fertilizer and pesticide are too expensive. Just combine cow urine with red peppers and ash from your cooking fire, to make a free pesticide and mix cow manure with banana leaves/vegetable scraps, for free fertilizer.”

In her workshop at the women’s conference, Eileen challenged all to use their fertile soil (one of the richest in the world) to grow something that would be needed and marketable as a means towards self-sustainability. Joseph Kafula’s home meeting had many acres with squatters encroaching. Joseph was able to get a Quaker Earthcare Witness Mini-grant for tree planting in Uganda. Eileen delivered the tree seedlings and indigenous tree seeds to him at Uganda Yearly Meeting sessions in August. By October, Friends had planted 25 acres by hand (using small mattocks). The trees were five feet high! Eileen was frugal and managed to also give passion fruit seeds to all the leaders at the training seminar and gave cabbage, kale, and wattle tree seeds to all the women who registered at the December women’s conference. Now Ugandan Friends from all over the country are busily planting seedbeds, beginning their way towards self-sustainability.

This year we took a team of Kenyan women to the Uganda USFW Conference.

Pastor Juliet Namono, the only trained Uganda woman Friends pastor, was the main speaker. Eileen plans to return in April to help the Ugandan women plan their own conference, choosing the topics they want. Two Ugandan women leaders gave reports about their visit to the Kakamega USFW Conference. They returned to Uganda with so much joy of Christ and full of ways to improve their own USFW they said they were “jumping like frogs.” The Kenyans left the conference energized and feeling the need to return or go to other others to help build up other women in the work of the Lord.
I also took a team of four Kenyan women to Tanzania USFW Conference, which was held in a church with no roof and it rained. A young FTC student gave a lesson about giving/tithing/stewardship. The Tanzanians were so moved they raised 45,000 Tanzanian shillings ($28) which we six from Kenya matched. When the church was first started they’d planted some trees, — now large trees. Now they’re sawing the trees to make a roof. One local Friend was so moved that he brought five new iron sheets the next day!

As we were helping the Tanzanian women form a nominating committee to choose new leaders, the male leaders visited us one late afternoon. They explained they’d had problems with a former group in Mwanza (partially between rural poor and urban richer Friends), but one woman’s humble gifts of helping them with meals and making friendships, caused the women elect her as their new women’s pastor for Tanzania Yearly Meeting! The male leadership has changed and are now all supporting the new leaders. A time of reconciliation!

Reconciliation, rejuvenation, new members, completion of a meetinghouse, wow! The conferences are energizing to all of us.

Eileen continues her ministry in Uganda and Margaret in Tanzania with the support of USFW Kenya. Thanks to those who’ve been praying for us. We encourage you all to lift up your eyes and be willing to spread the Good News to people outside your usual circles. It doesn’t have to take large funds for us all to work for our Lord.

Marian Baker is a recorded minister in New England Yearly Meeting. She worked for FUM in Kenya years ago, teaching in Friends girls high schools and training Kenyan women to take her place. She now does volunteer ministry in East Africa for three to six months each year as way opens.

Serving from Our Times of Worship

By Steve Olshewsky

The old joke has a stranger wandering into an unprogrammed Quaker meeting and sitting in silence until finally asking the Friend nearby, “When does the service start?” The Friend politely whispers in response, “As soon as we finish worshiping.”

This joke, however, invites additional questions. When we come together in worship, does our joint worship experience propel us to serve others? How can we extend to the world around us the benefits of the faith communities we have built?

Many of us are already doing all we can to juggle our regular jobs, our family, our children, our health, our homes and the tireless demands of daily life. Having a time of escape and refreshment in worship anchors us as we navigate our week. When we rise from that time given to God — and these our Friends — to enjoy the after effects of worship, how do we share our blessings?

Individually, we share the benefits of membership in our churches and meetings by passing along the smiles exchanged on Sunday mornings, or by discussing what we remember hearing. It seems that Sunday afternoons are the best time to hold doors open for others or let the next person go ahead in line. However, even when we generously give of ourselves, are we serving the Religious Society of Friends. Where is the we or us in what an individual might do? Our actions, no doubt, express our faith.

At the same time, Quaker faith has traditionally involved more than personal goodness; it has led us to act for the common good. We still feel that passion, but do we use it fully? Even as we take our faith into the world, individually seeking to do justice and service, we can take our connections to the worshiping life of our meetings with us.

When nine teenaged Quakers from Florida visited the Immokalee tomato fields, as part of a weekend retreat, they were moved to take social action against the inhumane working conditions they saw. In the course of their discernment, and sharing their concerns in good Quaker order, they came to involve other teenaged attenders from around the nation. In turn, the full teen group involved the Friends General Conference gathering in their action last July.

The larger gathering of teens organized a protest march to a Colorado Wendy’s over fair pay for Immokalee tomato workers. It was well planned and advertised, but more importantly it expressed the coming together of Quakers to take a collective action. The efforts of these teens had a ripple effect throughout the community, and their work became that of the national congregation.

It seems that these teens were able to bridge the gaps that sometimes dampen other social initiatives. For whatever reason, we often fail to bring our concerns to our meetings where we could request a clearness committee to help test our convincement. Instead, we should strive to be responsive to leadings we become aware of, whether they are our own or our fellow worshipers.

Collective action was not invented by modern teenagers. In Luke 10:1-24, we see 70 sent out, perhaps as the Valiant Sixty felt called at the beginning of the Quaker movement to go as itinerant preachers and become known as Publishers of the Truth. While the 70 appointed in Luke went two by two, a style common to the Valiant Sixty, they were working in concert for a common good with their home group. The 70 in Luke, and the Valiant Sixty, heralded the immediacy of the kingdom of God which is at hand for everyone even today.

Luke 10 and the earliest Quakers provide models for going out into the world and sharing our good news that “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Verses 9 and 11 insist we share this message with those who welcome us and those who do not — so clearly, we want to share our experience of love and forgiveness beyond the place of worship where we gather with Friends. The personal encounters we have with God in worship can call us to share messages with others. So, too, an entire meeting can be called to witness a message to the world.

When it comes to experiencing the kingdom of God, no individual ministry can convey the sense of the meeting. Although a teenager presented Wendy’s with a request to join the Fair Food Program, it was the Religious Society of Friends marching tight loops on surrounding sidewalks that made it our witness instead of just hers. Collectively sharing this message catalyzed further actions. In Atlanta seven months later, this nurturing support encouraged six of the original Florida teens to organize a similar march on Publix with 63 Southern Appalachian Young Friends and 16 adults.

Ten of those Young Friends came home to Berea, Kentucky after their Atlanta experience, proposed a minute supporting the Fair Food Program, and convinced their monthly meeting to seek further endorsement from their yearly meeting. These teenagers provide a model that answers George Fox’s request to “be patterns, be examples” so that our “carriage and life may preach” in a way that reaches out to that of God in others. Not only have these Young Friends reached out to unite fellow Quakers in a common experience, they sparked a witness to the world that for Quakers, the Kingdom of God is at hand.

These teenagers revealed something essential about Quaker community and worship. Patiently experiencing the self-discovery that comes with waiting upon the Lord prepares us to respond to messages articulated by others. As individuals share their leadings, their voices need to be embraced and lifted up. If we can unite and carry through with supporting action, we can thereby reach out to the world. Ministering broadly in this way attracts people into the Light without being coercive.

Fox would ask that we “answer that of God” when hearing the ministries of those led to share their spiritual insight. This sharing is communal in an obvious way, but that communality can go deeper into the heart of what it means to be Quaker. As we open our hearts to God’s callings as expressed by others, we can share what we learn outside the immediate audience. Fox preached that “Jesus Christ has come to teach his people himself.” It is this people (the community), not individual persons, who can share what we have been taught as a people gathered.

This collective sharing attracts people to the Quakers. In this way, it is an effective form of evangelism available. Ideally, our ability to respond to our own callings, and those of our fellow Quakers, inspires in others confidence that they will be heard and nourished as they bring their activities into our corporate efforts.

I am personally encouraged by how Kentucky Quakers united in joint efforts to abolish the death penalty. Every Quaker in Kentucky has responded to this call for abolition according to their own measure, but the cooperative support of all Quakers facilitated more than the sum of individual efforts. As all three Kentucky meetings approved minutes of endorsement, all Kentucky Quakers made the work possible.

On the practical side, Kentucky Quakers helped each other get to Frankfort to meet with lawmakers. Lobbying for abolition, I can only share fully the good news of God’s love and forgiveness by demonstrating what all Quakers believe about love and forgiveness. In simpler terms, I can share my views, and other Quakers can even hold me in the Light as I do, but speaking Truth to power on behalf of those Quakers where I worship shares the religious teachings of a Quaker society. Lawmakers regard the exact same words more seriously coming from the Quakers, rather than from a singular Quaker.

Traditionally, when Quakers feel led to do something outside of their meeting, they are careful to consider whether their actions are a fair reflection of their religious community. For this reason we have clearness committees to help us know that our leadings are divinely inspired and not merely our vain egos. Armed with such validation, someone speaking Truth to power can share the endorsement of their Quaker society as a formal Minute addressed to decision makers. This puts an onus on the church or meeting to worshipfully consider the project and whether or not they are able to fully unite in approving of the action contemplated.

Opportunities for service come in the projects of our fellow Quakers as we are able to join in with their efforts. Some might say they are not able to understand enough to support or oppose an issue, but can we all understand enough to trust in the collective efforts of Friends gathered together for the purpose of discerning proper action? Can we create a place supporting right actions by lending our attention, our prayers, our signatures or our time to the activities of others proposed to our committees and business sessions?

Plenty of good Quakers are doing plenty of good things, but that can distract us from the responsibility of the wider body to reach out. As long as we know someone else is taking care of a concern, we can leave it to them. This is comforting, but untrue, as relying on others compromises our work. No individual proxy can convey the aggregate approval of Quakers, so we need unified bodies to join the efforts.

Our places of worship equip us to go out and preach the good news in other places thereby extending our community. Fox says that finding the right place within ourselves will empower us to “preach among all sorts of people, [all] over the world,” but can that be done alone? We all need the active support and involvement of the full Quaker body to accomplish the ministries we are called to do.

Steve Olshewsky works against the death penalty with Kentucky Quakers and state lawmakers. This article benefited from the Earlham School of Religion’s Writing as Ministry program.