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Among Friends December 2013

The Call to Call Out

My colleague Martin Kelley and I heard Thomas H. Jeavons deliver the presentation that became “Sharing Our Faith with the Nones” (p. 6). The venue was Earlham School of Religion’s annual Quaker leadership conference in Richmond, Ind.; our theme was marketing from a Quaker perspective. The query that served as the prompt for Jeavons’s piece was almost plaintive: “Can we, should we, market our faith?” The answer that resounded throughout the conference was simple: Yes, we can market our faith. And we should. In fact, we need to.

While “Sharing Our Faith with the Nones” offers some very straightforward and practical advice for our meetings in basic outreach, the truth is marketing isn’t easy. It’s not easy even for those of us for whom it is a job requirement or a spiritual calling. My belief is that, just as you would hesitate to host a dinner party if your floors need vacuuming and the sink is full of dishes, we Friends refrain from doing marketing because we are tacitly insecure about whether what we have to offer the world is good enough. But as Micah Bales points out in “Let God Out of the Meetinghouse” (p. 14), we are not really inviting seekers into our house, but rather into a transformative awareness of the Light within every person. No one, no house—and no faith community—is perfect, but what is essential is that we make an effort to be truthful about who we are now and who we want to be, and that we seek to lovingly share in one another’s journeys toward a life fully in the Light. I think that’s the important lesson. Practical steps, such as those Friends Jeavons and Bales suggest, will follow. And we will grow.

A Simple but Important Request

Friends Journal exists to communicate Quaker experience in order to connect and deepen spiritual lives. We reach individuals, families, libraries, and faith communities in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries internationally. Friends in the unprogrammed, pastoral, conservative, evangelical, and independent Quaker traditions connect and commune through Friends Journal. Through the Journal’s website, hundreds of thousands of individuals from around the world come to learn more of the Quaker way. Dear reader, all of this in-reach and out-reach is possible because people like you understand the power and necessity of this mission and give generously to support it.

As the year draws to a close, I ask that you please include generous support of Friends Journal in your philanthropic plans, in whatever way defines generosity for you. You may send a check to us at 1216 Arch Street, Suite 2A, Philadelphia, PA 19107, or give online at Friendsjournal.org/donate. Together, we will ever more faithfully communicate Quaker experience, connecting and deepening spiritual lives.

Yours in peace,

Gabriel Ehri
Executive Director
ED@friendsjournal.org

Gabriel Ehri is the executive director of Friends Journal.

Posted in: Among Friends, December 2013

4 Responses to Among Friends December 2013

  1. Robin Mohr December 3, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    It is also true that if you know you are having a dinner party, the house will get cleaned. So maybe we need to send the invitations first and then work on the dusting.

  2. Gabriel Ehri December 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    City & State
    Philadelphia, PA
    A true enough extension of my metaphor. Somehow the most important cleaning gets done, and whatever crud is left when the guests arrive demonstrates a bit of character.

  3. Tom December 28, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    City & State
    Philadelphia,PA
    Greetings and Happy New Year. I’ve worked at Friends Hospital for 37 years, attended several Quaker meetings and have some familiarity with Friends worship. I’ve always admired the Quakers and have “flirted” with joining, especially after the horrible scandals within the Catholic Church.
    I don’t understand the different Quaker ‘styles of worship’ and quite honestly would have hoped all Quaker meetings would be un-programmed. Guess this is my current reaction against any type of clergy.
    Can you provide any sort of understandably brief explaination of how some Quaker meetings can have a minister, singing, etc ..
    Thanks.
    — Tom Walsh

    • Gabriel Ehri December 30, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Hi Tom,
      In Philadelphia, most of the Quaker meetings you’re likely to encounter worship in the unprogrammed manner. But elsewhere in the country, in addition to unprogrammed-worshipping Quakers, you may find Quaker meetings whose worship services more closely resemble those of other Protestant churches, with a sermon, Bible readings, hymn singing, and a relatively brief period of “waiting” or silent worship. A good resource for learning more about the breadth of Quaker worship and belief (in addition to Friends Journal) is this website. How this came to be is a historically complex question — it’s safe to say that Quaker groups evolved in different ways in response to the many influences and trends in American and world religion, especially in the 19th century.

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