At the Friends General Conference Gathering in Johnstown last June, Mary Jo Clogg and Elaine Crauderueff facilitated a weeklong Quaker Quest training workshop for Friends with "a concern for the future of Quakerism." In the workshop description, the leaders wrote: "We will discuss simple, radical, and contemporary ways of articulating Quaker spiritual practices and testimonies to others and to ourselves, including how to use the Quaker Quest program that is so effective in Britain."
The Quaker Quest program, which began in Britain in January 2002, involves local Friends meetings offering a series of public outreach sessions on various aspects of the Quaker way. Typically, three to six topics are offered by a local meeting in repeating weekly sessions that are heavily advertised and promoted. Topics have included "Quakers and the Experience of God," "Quakers and Worship," "Quakers and Simplicity," and "Quaker Faith in Action."
While the topics vary, the format of a Quaker Quest outreach program is always the same. A host welcomes the attending seekers and introduces three Friends who each give a five- to-six-minute presentation about their own spiritual journeys in relationship to the topic. After the presentations, the session participants break into small discussion groups, which include one local Quaker and a few seekers sharing their own thoughts and feelings about the topic. After this, the three chosen Quaker Quest speakers give another round of short presentations—this time focused on how the session topic has come to impact their lives personally. This second round of presentations is followed by a general question-and-answer period, which is then followed by a half-hour meeting for worship so that all visitors can gain an even deeper sense of the Quaker way. At the close of worship, the host invites the seekers in attendance to stay for refreshments and informally chat about the session topic or check out the literature table.
On the third day of the Quaker Quest training workshop at the 2008 FGC Gathering, Mary Jo Clogg and Elaine Crauderueff facilitated a two-hour simulation of what a public Quaker Quest outreach session would look like. The selected speakers for that session were Christina Repoley, Rex Sprouse, and Steve Chase, and the chosen topic was "Quakers and Jesus." This article is meant to let you listen in on these presentations and get a taste of what happens in a public Quaker Quest session.
Round One Presentations
Hi folks. I have to say that Jesus did not play a very big part of my spiritual life when I grew up in my Quaker meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up, we just didn’t talk about Jesus very much, if at all. I learned a lot about other faith traditions and I learned some really important lessons about community, peace, and justice, but very little about Jesus and radical Christianity.
So, because of the religious education approach of the adults in my home meeting, I grew up feeling pretty ambivalent, not having very strong feelings one way or the other about Jesus. The only time I really remember studying the Bible was when the kids in the meeting went to see the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Seriously! I remember sitting there with a tape recorder, listening to the soundtrack, stopping it and flipping to the Bible story with which that song corresponded. And that was really