Writing Opp: Isolated Friends and Meetings

We know there are plenty of Quakers who only need a little nudge to share their perspectives with a wider audience. If you know anyone who should write about this topic, please share this with them!

Fast Facts:

  • Features run 1200-2500 words
  • Submissions close December 19, 2022.
  • Questions? Email editors@friendsjournal.org

Friends have been a communal bunch. Back in the day, we often clustered in towns to be near one another, close to meetinghouses, ready for worship that could extend for hours. When we traveled to new areas of the United States, we often traveled together, sometimes whole meetings relocating. When some Friends started missionary endeavors, new Friends communities would coalesce around the new church.

A lot has changed. We’ve been becoming a more mobile society for the better part of a century and have adapted. The new meetings movement of the mid-twentieth century planted meetings in towns far from any Quaker center. Among Liberal Friends, the big East Coast yearly meetings lost membership as new yearly meetings formed. We haven’t so much declined as spread out across a wider geography.

Our outreach efforts often flounder on this dispersion. People see our videos or read our literature only to find out the nearest meeting is hours away.

But in the last few years everything has changed. Most of us are comfortable with remote conferencing now. You can get on your computer and participate in daily worship, learn about our history in Quakerism classes, and listen in real-time to lectures given by noteworthy Friends. Fellowship opportunities that would have require hours of commute time are now accessible from our dining room tables.

  • What does it mean to be an isolated Friend or an isolated meeting in the 2020s?
  • What opportunities do we have and what problems do we face? How do our ties to our neighbors and local issues fray if so many of our connections are distant and maintained over screens?
  • How do we build leadership at the local level when we have access to established, well-known Friends from around the country or world?
  • Ministers used to be nurtured and accountable to their monthly meeting; what happens as Internet fame becomes more important than local clearness or anchor committees?
  • In what ways does Zoom not address isolation? What other methods must we employ? And who should be spearheading these initiatives?

Submit: Isolated Friends and Meetings (due Dec. 19)

Learn more general information at Friendsjournal.org/submissions.

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