A Letter from the Board Clerk

Dear Friends,

I write to you with a deep sense of gratitude for the outpouring of support in recent months for FRIENDS JOURNAL and Friends Publishing Corporation (FPC). To be part of such a broad representation of the Quaker community that is FRIENDS JOURNAL has reminded me community can be and is a sacred, mystical experience. This heart-felt gratitude extends to all the readers of FRIENDS JOURNAL and those who have offered valuable support in many different forms; and to Board members for the additional hours contributed during extra weekend meetings, multiple conference calls, and intensive planning for FPC’s future. Most of all, special gratitude goes to the gifted staff who have contributed their expertise, skill, time, and energy above and beyond what would be expected of any of us.

While I am happy to report the JOURNAL is doing much better financially at this point (in the black), the Board and staff are very aware that we need to double our efforts to reach wider audiences and to increase our income to be sustainable for the future. Friends Publishing Corporation is committed to providing high quality service to the Religious Society of Friends and, to serve this end, we are engaged in special planning meetings to prepare for and move into the future. Some changes you may have already noticed include reducing FRIENDS JOURNAL from 12 to 11 issues per year and reducing the printed page count. We have ongoing plans to expand our Internet presence to have room for more article submissions, and to reach a wider audience.

We are living in a time of remarkable change, evidenced by global economics, the publishing industry, and our Quaker and personal lives. The good news is that Quakers often shine during challenging times. Perhaps it is our core belief in continuing revelation, our work towards positive change itself, or our strong sense of community. Whatever the reason, we are in good company as we work together, listening for the Inner Guide. Notably, many Quaker agencies are in leadership transitions at present, and FPC will join them in the coming year as our valued publisher and executive editor, Susan Corson-Finnerty, plans to take early retirement in late 2011. I remember hearing Alice Walker articulate that change is a relay race—that our job is to do our part, run our section of the race, and then we pass it on. Someone picks it up, and it keeps going. She concluded with, "And that is how it is. And we can do this." (Interview broadcast, Nov. 11, 2008) And listening to the Spirit, we can.

I have been privileged to work with Susan as Board clerk in recent years. Susan has a unique set of skills and abilities that has enabled her to accomplish successfully the work of both a publisher and executive editor at FPC. Since Susan took this position in 1999, FPC has launched the http://friendsjournal.org website, paid off the mortgage, and reconfigured the editorial process to involve volunteer editors more extensively. Many have commented on the high level of quality of the magazine during Susan’s tenure. FRIENDS JOURNAL has won numerous awards from the Associated Church Press including honors in the "best in class" category for denominational magazines as well as for editorial courage. Susan has been instrumental in selecting articles, poetry, reading submissions, and in instituting twice annual special theme issues, the latter of which has proven popular among Friends meetings in First Day adult education and other Quaker study groups.

In 2003 Susan replaced unreliable financial auditors with highly competent ones, which is witness to her transparent fiscal management to constituents, donors, and the FPC Board. Over the years, Susan has not slowed in her dedication, and this year, working closely with the Board, FPC launched an electronic subscription option and a Quaker online advertising network.

Susan is a supportive supervisor, encouraging and mentoring staff in their various positions and providing relief when they have faced serious illness or other life events. This supportive atmosphere has fostered a dedicated, committed staff at FPC, without whom the JOURNAL would not come into being each month.

Under Susan’s management, the job of publisher and executive editor has grown to be more than one single staff position. While Susan has continued to fill the position effectively, it is clear there is much change on the horizon. With an additional focus on having a more robust website with community material to complement our print magazine, Susan has discerned that this pivotal point in the life of Friends Publishing Corporation would benefit from someone at the helm with as strong a background in digital media as in print media.

Susan has provided FPC with such a high level of stability during her tenure that it is a bit like being between trapezes to think of her retirement. With good Quaker practice in our corner, however, we will look to the time of grasping the next swing, trusting the Inner Light. In the meantime, please continue to hold FPC in the Light, as we know that it is only through working together we can dream new dreams and continue to seed peace and hope in our world of change.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.—Hebrews 12.1