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The Ministry of the Written Word

Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) is an international consortium of Quaker book publishers, book sellers, authors, and periodical publishers. This year its annual meeting was held at Pendle Hill, and its theme centered on the challenges faced by Friends periodicals. I had the pleasure of attending its sessions, along with Senior Editor Kenneth Sutton, and Assistant Editor Bob Dockhorn.

It was thrilling to have representatives of so many publications gathered together in one spot to share joys, ideas, and challenges. Yet it was sobering to hear of the difficulties faced by many: declining readerships, rapidly rising postal and printing costs—and for some—reduced budgetary support from their governing Quaker bodies.

As an independent Quaker publication, receiving no funding except those funds we raise ourselves, Friends Journal is not in danger of losing significant financial support in the event that a line item in an umbrella Quaker organization’s budget is cut. And, happily, I can report that our readership has increased by 4.3 percent over the past 18 months. But we do face the same tremendous hurdles of rising postal costs, increasing printing expenses, and keeping up with computer technology that our sister Friends periodicals are encountering.

One of the financial pillars of the Journal is the deep loyalty of its readers. You good folks are the ones who donate our articles, poetry, art, photography—and add your financial support. With this reality in mind, it is my pleasure on occasion to introduce individuals who are volunteering significant time and skills to help us put together such a strong publication.

This month I’d like to introduce Brent Bill, who has been working for several months as our assistant book review editor. Brent is a member and pastor of Friends Memorial Church in Muncie, Indiana. He also is instructor of religious creative writing at Earlham School of Religion and the author of nine books and numerous magazine articles, short stories, First‐day school curricula, and more. Brent serves as a yearly meeting representative to Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, where he is on the Finance Committee. He also is on the board of Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, Indiana. Additionally, I am pleased to introduce Kay Bacon, who has joined the wonderful little group of volunteers who help us with our renewal mailings each month. Kay has returned to the Philadelphia area after many years of living in New York state, both in New Paltz and Old Chatham, where she and her late husband, Bob, were very active members of Old Chatham (N.Y.) Meeting. Kay and I first became acquainted at Powell House, the retreat and conference center of New York Yearly Meeting, when she was one of Powell House’s very loyal supporters and most dependable volunteers. She is now a member of Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting. I’m quite delighted to have the opportunity to work with her again!

While at the QUIP meeting at Pendle Hill, I was struck by how very rare and precious it is to have worship, fellowship, and communication with Friends across the branches of Quakerism who feel called to the ministry of the written word, and who are faithfully endeavoring to be Publishers of Truth. On page 15 we feature an interview with one of these Friends, Anthony Manousos, energetic editor of Friends Bulletin, whose work with Western Friends in the three independent yearly meetings (Intermountain, Pacific, and North Pacific) has led to his editing of A Western Quaker Reader: Writings by and about Independent Quakers in the Western United States, 1929–1999. I encourage you to read the interview and get a copy of his book!

Posted in: Features, May 2001

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