Welcome to Newcomers

Although I grew up with Quaker neighbors next door who were close family friends (and relatives who’d joined Friends), and I’d attended lectures at Pendle Hill during college, when I first came among Friends in 1977 as a staff person for Friends Journal and an attender of a Friends meeting, there were practices, perspectives, and language that was foreign to me. Each new step into my chosen faith community was intriguing and exciting, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by seasoned mentors who helped me find my way as I deeply embraced Quakerism.

We’ve designed this issue to provide a bit of that assistance for those who are newer among us—seekers, attenders, brand-new members who still may have some ropes to learn. (It’s been 26 years and I’m still learning!) It’s our hope that this issue is one that can be handed to new folks along with a warm welcome—and that will provide resources that are valuable both to newcomers and for the meeting community. In the vernacular, we hope you’ll regard this issue as a "keeper." Please take some time to look over the table of contents and be sure to let us know what you think of it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve introduced newcomers in the group of outstanding volunteers who regularly help us with the work of the Journal. I’m happy to report that we have added five new volunteers since my last mention. George Rubin, a former clerk of New York Yearly Meeting and active with Friends World Committee for Consultation, retired this past year to Medford Leas and has joined us as one of our regular news editors. George’s wide familiarity with the Religious Society of Friends serves us well as he spots items of broad interest for us. Scott Shrake has taken up the task of searching the Internet for relevant news items as our Web news editor. Scott is a published writer, editor, and translator. A native of Detroit and attender at Birmingham (Mich.) Meeting, he spent most of his adult life in Germany and Philadelphia, where he did his graduate work. Ruthanna Hadley, a retiree at Foulkeways, is a regular helper during our congenial monthly mailing parties when renewals are prepared. The daughter of a Friends administrator, she was born and raised in her early years among Friends in Cuba, and grew up later in Richmond, Indiana, where her father was general administrative secretary of the American Friends Board of Missions. In recent years, she was invited by Cuban Friends to attend the 100th anniversary of the first arrival of Friends in Cuba. Teresa Jacob Engeman arrives weekly from Kendal at Longwood to help us with copyediting and correspondence. She was for 12 years the editor of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting News and currently does freelance copyediting and writing. Jennifer Lenik, a member of Woodstown (N.J.) Meeting who has a strong interest in religious education (serving her meeting’s and also Friends General Conference’s RE Committees), is now assisting our circulation department weekly with data entry and other projects. An environmental health specialist by profession, she tells us that she’s "been working with the public for over 20 years," a good qualification for the customer service skills needed in our circulation department!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a public word of thanks for volunteers who’ve moved on. Cam McWhirter, a news editor for us since 1999, moved this year from Detroit to Atlanta, where he continues as a newspaper reporter. His new duties preclude work for us, and we miss him! Tom Hartmann came weekly to help with editorial tasks during the past two years. A new job teaching English as a second language to Japanese students takes him from us, and he too is missed! Finally, I can’t end this column without a few words about Robert Sutton. Bob served us as a Board member and circulation volunteer. "Faithful" is the word that comes to mind for this modest, kind, and generous Friend who helped us for many years. Bob passed away this past February 17, and though he is missed, we rejoice in his years with us.