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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Friends Journal has been a steady companion on my spiritual journey since I began attending meeting over 35 years ago. I’ve found challenge, support, and guidance in its pages. When it arrives monthly in my mailbox, I relish the chance to curl up and quietly commune with my religious community.

From Milestones to articles to news notes, each issue offers the experience and wisdom of Friends far and wide, presented with simplicity and beauty. The Journal feeds my soul and gives me support as I struggle to understand my role as a faithful Quaker working for the well‐being of all in our troubled world. I’m not alone in my enthusiasm; many of you have told me yours is a similar experience.

I think the founders of Friends Journal would be very pleased to hear about our enthusiasm, 50 years later. In 1955, in the first issue, the editors wrote: “We believe that our religious witness, as well as our testimonies for peace and social and racial reconciliation, requires a vigorous journalistic expression. Friends Journal will endeavor to speak to the spiritual situation of modern people and support, or stimulate, the aspirations of our meetings for worship and the more tangible efforts of Friends along various lines of practical endeavor. Our future pages need, in turn, to benefit from the spiritual essence that lives and grows in our homes, meetings, and schools.”

Perhaps the most important part of that statement for the development of the magazine is the last sentence.

The Quaker understanding that expressions of the Spirit arise from the whole worshiping community has led to an open policy of printing largely unsolicited material. Most of what you see in the magazine comes from you, the readers, including the beautiful graphics. Our editors receive over 400 unsolicited pieces each year. They understand their role as facilitators, picking and choosing what to print, by discerning what best reflects and nurtures “Quaker thought and life today.” They say it feels like a small miracle when it all comes together each month and I agree that it is.

Friends Journal is extraordinary among denominationally affiliated religious magazines in that it is not a line item in the budget of (or under the care of) any Quaker body. It is published by an independent publisher, Friends Publishing Corporation, and is FPC’s primary product. This probably goes back to the Journal’s origin in the unification of Hicksite and Orthodox Friends in 1955, which unified yearly meetings but established no overarching body. Friends General Conference, an association of the Hicksite yearly meetings, has always appointed members to the Board of Trustees (now 6 of 30 trustees), but that independent Board has continued to grow in geographic and Quaker diversity and to set policy that encourages staff to reflect Quaker thought and life from a broad perspective.

As in the beginning, Friends Journal continues to be a vehicle to articulate Quaker testimonies in the wider world. Each issue is crafted to nurture, educate, and challenge not only those within the Religious Society of Friends, but to inspire and energize others to join us in seeking peace and justice for all.

Please celebrate our 50th Anniversary by enjoying this wonderful issue in which staff, former staff, members of the Board, and others write about the history and the inner workings of Friends Journal.

Consider also celebrating by participating in one or more of the many anniversary events listed on our website calendar through a link on our homepage at https://​www​.friendsjournal​.org. Or join by submitting materials articulating your experience, becoming a regular contributor to help meet Friends Journal’s financial needs, and/or volunteering in one of the many possible capacities. As the founders planned it, Friends Journal continues to reflect “the spiritual essence that lives and grows in our homes, meetings, and schools.” I invite you to increase your engagement in that process and celebrate the small, monthly miracles that so many Friends, with lots of help from the Spirit, continue to make.

Posted in: Features

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