Illuminating a Quaker Way of Stewardship

There can be no stewardship without an accounting of what it is that we are charged with safe-keeping. Or, to put it another way, we need to first count our blessings. So many of the circumstances of my own personal experience are the result of good stewardship: a stable and loving home, clear and consistent values, the preservation and sharing of resources however scarce, the inculcation of a spiritual path and the encouragement to continue walking it. No doubt that you, reader, are blessed abundantly, too—perhaps more than you think about daily. As you read on, keep in mind what it is you might be stewarding, whether in your home life or as part of a Quaker, local, or global community.

It’s reasonable to ask what is particularly Quaker about stewardship, which many think of as the second “s” in the SPICES acronym often used as a shorthand for Quaker testimonies. After all, the sacred texts and teaching traditions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims all contain charges for believers to be stewards of the earth and its plants and creatures. What do we Friends have to add to or elaborate on the concept? I’d posit that all of what we think of as our testimonies are interrelated, and stewardship is another angle for us to perceive the path toward right action. Sometimes the connections might be crystal clear, like when discernment in my Quaker meeting about the aged boiler and radiators in our 144-year-old meetinghouse led us to invest in replacing the system with electric heat pumps that could be powered from fossil-fuel-free sources, even though doing so was more expensive up front. And sometimes invoking the testimony of stewardship can be a spark to creative thinking about our resources in a way that we hadn’t before, like when we realized that good stewardship of our meetinghouse might mean finding ways to open the worship room or kitchen more often to community groups during times the building would otherwise be empty and drawing resources to light, heat, and cool anyway.

We are pleased to share in this issue several thought-provoking stories about Quaker stewardship, including the passionate theology of Steven Davison’s “The Quaker Covenant with Creation,” Kat Griffith’s model of a Quaker rapid-response corps in “Stewarding Our Time,” and much more. I hope you find much to reflect on and put into practice in your own spiritual discipline and life.

In introducing an issue about stewardship, I would be remiss not to mention how integral the concept is to everything we do at Friends Publishing. Our organization exists because we have been given a precious gift—the Quaker tradition itself—and our charge as stewards of that gift is to ensure it is communicated clearly, opened up to the light of as many lives as possible, and strengthened along the way, as it strengthens the spirits of those who walk the path. Some of the choices we have made along the way might seem radical, like making all our stories, videos, and podcasts free online for all rather than locked away for subscribers only. But hoarding this gift for only a select few does not lead to the greater strength and vitality we all seek. The key ingredient that will empower us to continue on this generous path is your own generosity. Will you help us ensure that the spiritual gift of Quakerism can be shared, by making a donation this year-end?

I am profoundly grateful for you and the ministry you empower with your gifts.

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