I would like to shake your hand and say thanks. You, reader, are a part of a special community, one in which I am proud to be a part.
We have something to celebrate: this year, Friends Journal was honored by the Associated Church Press as the “Best in Class” denominational print magazine. That’s big news! In our Center City Philadelphia office, we have award certificates and plaques from the ACP going back to 1982—a testament to our enduring strength—but we’ve never gotten this one (we came as close as third place in 2000, 2009, and 2013). We couldn’t have done it if the Quaker community weren’t so vibrant, so engaged, and so interesting. We couldn’t have done it without you.
It’s appropriate, perhaps, that the theme of this issue is “Almost Quaker.” When the ACP’s judges shared their feedback with us, they cited our “tight focus on the Quaker community while also being an excellent ambassador to readers outside the faith.” In this respect, it is gratifying to see that what outside observers see is exactly what we’ve been trying to do. And I would humbly suggest that in being a part of the Friends Journal community, you have the power to be an excellent ambassador to those at the edges of the faith—the almost Quakers.
There’s one more thing. I would like to invite you, if you haven’t had the opportunity yet, to go online and check out QuakerSpeak.com, now in its third season. Every week, we publish a new short video to share Quaker voices and perspectives on faith and life within our community and beyond. This project won an Award of Excellence from the ACP this year, as well, where the judges called it an “outstanding example of the power of video.” We couldn’t agree more.
As a baby, I was baptized in the Catholic church. In Anchorage, Alaska, where we lived, my radical Catholic parents fell in with Friends. The Quaker way has been mine for a long time, but I carry a deep affection for all those who are open to dialogue with Friends where our paths cross in the clearings of the woods of faith. There is always room for us to grow within our community, but perhaps even more room when we face outward. We grow when we embrace kindred spirits, as Deborra Sines Pancoe and Elisabeth Torg suggest we do in their piece of the same name, in which they share stories of ongoing Quaker influences in Friends schools.
But another thread will emerge when you read the heartfelt stories in this issue. Not only should we understand and embrace our ministry to others, such as that of our schools and of Pendle Hill, but we should also try to draw lessons from the ways in which almost Quakers feel that Friends have fallen short of being the kind of community that could serve as a home. Authors Lisa Rand and Kimberly Fuller, describe in their articles the hospitality that was absent and impeded their full communion with Quakers. It is entirely possible to love what we have and to preach it with our lives, while also looking with open eyes on the ways our communities aren’t reaching their potential. We can learn from both of these attitudes. I think we have to. Thanks for reading.