A Quaker’s Wanderlust

Smithfield Meetinghouse, Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Photo (cropped) © Jean Schnell.

Like many who will read these words, I’ve been a bit cooped up lately. As I enter the fifth month of coronavirus-imposed quarantine, my physical world has felt much smaller. I’ve missed the kind of summer vacation I usually look forward to—a trip to the shore or the mountains . . . a long family road trip to see relatives. I haven’t even had the chance to so much as shake the hands of my beloved fellow meeting members.

In these strange and lonely times, we find ways to cope and adapt. For me, it has been a blessing to dive back into books and stories to sate my need for new experiences. The surprising ease with which so many Quakers have adopted videoconferencing technology to facilitate worship in different configurations and with different fellowships of Friends has lifted my spirits.

The pastoral Friends tradition represents the modern evolution of distinct and important threads in a remarkably diverse religious body. In reading and re-reading the pieces our editors have compiled in this issue of Friends Journal, I find myself not only longing to travel, but to visit and experience worship with Quakers who practice differently than we do in my unprogrammed Friends meeting in Philadelphia. It may well be that our new reality of Quaker worship over Zoom makes that more accessible than ever, at least virtually. I hope, reader, that these stories might kindle an interest in broadening your experience, as they did for me.

One of the ways Friends Journal has responded to the pandemic is by intentionally seeking, commissioning, and sharing more immediately responsive content. While much of this makes its way to our pages, such as the Quaker antiracist reading list and the articles by Vanessa Julye and Steve Angell in this issue, even more appears on our website at Friendsjournal.org. And in the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to roll out a faster, more readable evolution of our website. Why not check it out and share it with your friends?

We’ve also kept up production of our QuakerSpeak videos during the pandemic, conducting interviews remotely and continuing to lift up vital and diverse ministries. If you have not yet made a trip to QuakerSpeak.com as part of your weekly media routine, perhaps now is the time! Like Friendsjournal.org, our QuakerSpeak website has been freshly updated.

The third piece of website news I want to share is that we now publish Quaker.org, which has relaunched with a wealth of basic information about Friends. We designed and curated it with the intention of introducing web visitors to the Religious Society of Friends, connecting them with real-life Friends and with the vast library of Quaker media resources we’ve created for the world. Quaker.org is a work in progress and one we hope you’ll be glad to share with people in your lives whose interest in Friends might be piqued.

None of these upgrades would be possible without the support of curious and committed readers like you. Thank you for your ongoing engagement and support. Happy reading and viewing!

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