Writing Opp: Leadership

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 post with them!

The June/July issue of Friends Journal will look at Leadership.

This can be a complicated topic among Friends. Our process is inherently collaborative, yet as with any human group, certain people hold more power, either because of position, experience, group ties, personality, wealth, or any number of social factors. Our Quaker process tries to ensure that decisions will be made in “good order,” but can itself be misused to shut out voices, especially those less well-versed in “quakerspeak.”

Who is a leader in a Friends meeting anyway? Is it someone recognized for their ministry or activism or raised to a formal position like that of clerk? And who speaks for Friends? Any Quaker with an opinion? In staffed Quaker organizations, we often consider the executive director (aka the “general secretary” or “superintendent”) as the leader, but what of the organization’s clerk or members of various committees?

Real change often comes from the margins. I can think of any number of concerns among Friends that started with a small group of outsiders who organized themselves into small affinity groups and started writing, lobbying, and agitating for formal Quaker organizations to support their concern. Many historical Friends who we hold up as beacons of greater clarity today often weren’t appreciated by the Quaker leadership of their era. How can Quaker leaders and organizations stay open to opportunity or change? How do we lead and how do we get out of the way to let others lead? How should we support new voices while balancing new ideas with our established Quaker understandings?

Another possible type of article could look at Quaker leadership in non-Quaker religious or social movements. There are many causes in which we’ve been over-represented, such as abolitionism, feminism, and civil rights,. Why has that been? How have our Quaker values, processes, and customs motivated, sustained, and trained Friends in these lines of work? Today, how explicit are we in our religious identity as we take leadership in outside movements? And how do we find support among Friends to keep us going?

Submit: Quaker Leadership (due March 20)

Learn more general information at Friendsjournal.org/submissions.

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