Participating in God’s Power: A new Quaker program

Do you yearn to open more deeply to a greater sense of God’s presence, power, and guidance? Do you ache to live from the Divine Center? To live a life both deeply grounded and on fire with the Spirit?

The School of the Spirit board joyfully announces the launching of a new program, Participating in God’s Power.  After more than a year and a half of shepherding its beginnings, we celebrate the launch of the website and registration.

Living in solid connection with the Divine is transformational.  But when that Inner Teacher points us to places that aren’t easy to go, what keeps us from following God’s leadings fully and courageously?  The School of the Spirit’s newest program – Participating in God’s Power — models a resilient and thoughtful set of tools for exploring how we let our own brokenness get in the way of a robust trust in God’s guidance.

Participating focuses on ways in which we unconsciously resist being with God’s love, how unhealed or unrecognized aspects of ourselves inhibit our being fully present and alive, and how we can release what obscures our Inner Light. The program also explores ways of repatterning our lives to support living in ongoing transformation.

Through engagement in four residencies and three webinars led by core teachers Angela York Crane and Christopher Sammond, this program will build self-awareness and capacity for wise, brave, Spirit-led risk-taking. Through Quaker worship, structured exercises, and small group practices you will be invited to open more deeply and honestly to God’s presence, guidance, healing, and power.

This year-long program is particularly geared for Friends (and others) who have already participated in a spiritual formation program or the like and who want to go deeper yet, or who seek some renewal in their spiritual lives.

We will begin with an opening retreat in New Hampshire in August 2019; our closing retreat will be in the Philadelphia area in September 2020. Come and be a part of this movement of the Spirit. And please share this widely with those who you think might be seeking  just this opportunity.

The School of the Spirit is a ministry of prayer and learning from a Quaker perspective. For more information, visit their website. A number of LEYM Friends have gone through their year and a half “On Being a Spiritual Nurturer” program.

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Anti-racism update from FGC

How are people in Friends General Conference (FGC) creating community that is accessible, equitable, and transformational? FGC’s task force on our “Institutional Assessment on Systemic Racism within FGC” offered this summary of the ongoing work as of November of 2018:

“Two years after Friends General Conference’s governing body approved the initiation of an institutional assessment on systemic racism within FGC, a summary with recommendations and a full report are now available.

Based on these, FGC’s governing body, Central Committee, has approved a minute to commit FGC to becoming an anti-racist organization in a multi-year process. There was strong unity in the body, which gives hope to many.”

The full report notes that “This will be a multi-year process to uproot from within ourselves the on-going reality of white supremacy that spiritually harms us all.”

Last weekend, FGC’s Executive Committee approved the names for a task force charged with implementing the recommendations and moving the work forward within FGC and with FGC Friends. Stay tuned for further developments.

You can read an interview with the co‐clerks of the original Task Force from the January 2019 issue of Friends Journal.

Marvin Barnes (Birmingham) and Caroline Lejuste (Red Cedar), Lake Erie Yearly Meeting Friends, served on the Task Force. LEYM and individual LEYM meetings have contributed generously toward FGC’s Institutional Assessment. A number of LEYM Friends serve on FGC working groups, committees, Central Committee (the governing body), and Executive Committee.

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Letter from Pittsburgh Friends Meeting

Posted 11/13/18

Dear Friends,

We are so grateful for your words of support as well as your prayers for our community and our nation.  It makes a significant difference in these moments to be reminded of the connections we have with each other.

Recognizing the unique role of guns in this violence, we approved the attached minute at our November Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.

Like you, we want this and all similar events to translate into Spirit-led action.  Right now there are immediate needs – if you’re led to make financial contributions, THIS link supports families of the victims. The roots of this violence are deep, however, and we pray that the tragedy also renews our vigor, dedication, and perseverance in addressing those.  A sampling of ideas that have surfaced for us so far include:

  • Reassuring immigrants in our communities that they are welcome and have our support – they know their presence in this country was a motivation for the violence.
  • Establishing relationships, or deeper relationships, with any group that feels outside of our normal circle (potentially the Orthodox community, people of other political persuasions, or any number of other groups)
  • Increased pressure on technology companies and elected officials to take responsibility for the social effects of their platforms

There are many other potential actions on individual, group, and institutional levels.  Hillel the Elder’s words sound the clarion call more than ever – “If not now, when?” We pray that all of us will find ways to let our lives speak powerfully to these times.

In the Light,

Kathie Hollingshead, Susan Loucks, and Richard Shaw
Clerks, Pittsburgh Friends Meeting

Pittsburgh Meeting: Minute Responding to Gun Violence in our Society

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Sign up for monthly e-mails on Quaker books

Friends General Conference’s bookstore, QuakerBooks, sends out an e-mail each month about books that Friends might be interested in. You can sign up for these e-mails if you’d like to keep up-to-date on what books of interest to Friends are available.

Sign up

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Update on FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Racism Oct 2018

Posted 10/5/18

Lake Erie Yearly Meeting strongly supports FGC’s Institutional Assessment on Racism with both donations and participation. The Assessment is looking at where FGC Friends currently stand in being complicit with the institutionalized racism that permeates North American culture and how Quakers can move toward being anti-racist in our culture and institutions.

Three Lake Erie Yearly Meeting Friends serve on the Institutional Assessment Task Force: Marvin Barnes (Birmingham Meeting), Carolyn Lejuste (Red Cedar), and Dwight Wilson (Ann Arbor). The Task Force has just provided an update on the progress of their work as they prepare to bring recommendations for change to FGC’s governing body, Central Committee, later in October.

The report and links to background on the Assessment

More recent news as of 11/10/18

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Building culturally inclusive communities of faith

Emily Provance, a young Friend, has recently launched a new four-year ministry called Holy Experiments. She explains: “Holy Experiments is designed to support Friends with an aim toward following Spirit adventurously and building culturally inclusive communities of faith. This will happen in a variety of ways. One piece will be skill-building – looking at culture and structure methodically, with a lens to understanding and learning to perceive unintended effects. The second piece will be what I’m calling ‘along the way’ – affirming the spiritual conditions necessary in a faith community that’s doing hard things. A third element will be weekly queries, and a fourth will be concrete, specific experiments – things that Friends are encouraged to try, to see what happens, and then to keep or release, as led.

Friends are welcome to engage as able. You can step in, drop out, participate fully, be an observer…and that level of participation can change over time, day to day, week to week, whatever you can do. You can receive weekly emails and you can receive a weekly query by text message. Sign up for emails by clicking here or by texting HOLYEXPERIMENTS (all one word) to 84576.

There’s also a Facebook group for regular interaction with other Friends.

I want to come and speak with Friends in your area about this work; please invite me. This ministry is under the tender care of my support committee, which is itself under the care of my local meeting, which is Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting in New York City.”

More information on Holy Experiments can be found here. You can also email Emily and request to receive occasional e-mails in which she shares her reflections and recent experiences traveling in the ministry.

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Send used stamps to support Right Sharing of World Resources

Since 1996, the Quaker Missions Stamp Project has collected and sold used postage stamps and used the proceeds to fund Quaker organizations. Currently, Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) is the sole recipient. RSWR is an independent Quaker not-for-profit organization pursuing the abundance of God’s love through wealth redistribution. RSWR funds micro-enterprise projects with marginalized women in Kenya, India, and Sierra Leone.

Send in your stamps!

The stamp project is happy to accept used stamps of many types from all over the world. Please note that while in the past we have accepted and sold collectibles in addition to stamps, we are now only able to process and sell stamps. In order for the stamps to be salable, please follow these guidelines:

US stamps:

Cut or carefully tear the corner bearing the stamp(s) from the body of the envelope. If more than one stamp has been used for postage, remove the stamps as a group on the paper (do not remove separately). Leave a border of 1/8-1/4 inch around the stamp or group of stamps.

Especially desirable are:

– Harry Potter or other popular culture stamps (television, movies, singers, comic books, etc.)
– Stamps bearing values greater than 50 cents
– Zazzle and personalized stamps

Please do not send USA flag stamps, USA nonprofit stamps, or USA stamps from mail sent before 2000. These cannot be profitably sold.

Foreign stamps:

If the envelope is intact, send the complete envelope, Otherwise, cut or carefully tear the corner bearing the stamp or group of stamps, leaving a 1/8-1/4 inch border.

Mailing address:

In 2017, Indianapolis First Friends Meeting became the new home for the stamp ministry.

Mail stamps to:

Stamps for Right Sharing
c/o Indianapolis First Friends
3030 Kessler Blvd. East Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46220

If you have questions about the stamp program, please contact RSWR at (765) 966-0314 or rswr@rswr.org

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Quaker actions for Human Rights

December is Human Rights Month.

How can your meeting promote the cause of human rights throughout the year? Here are action steps to consider provided by FGC:

Compose queries for your worship community to discern during Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Business, and during quiet moments for reflection in daily life.

Approve a Minute on Human Rights. This Minute was adopted by Hanover Friends Meeting of New England Yearly Meeting in December 2016.

Visit the Friends Engage page of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website for resources and opportunities to connect.

Buy a copy or two of Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist for your meeting’s library (note: QuakerBooks.org will resume online ordering in January 2018).

Learn about the history of Quaker efforts to promote human rights by reading this resource from Quakers in Britain.

 

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Resources to help meetings

As autumn approaches are you looking for resources to help you welcome newcomers, revitalize worship, do outreach, or deepen spiritual life in the meeting? If so, check out FGC’s Quaker Meeting Toolbox for a curated list of tools to help you as you create a dynamic Quaker community.

Click here to access the Quaker Meeting Toolbox.

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FGC resources to help families live sustainably

In the age of instant gratification, technological dependency, and mottos like “bigger is better,” a question arises that becomes more urgent with each passing moment:

How, right now, can we live more sustainable lives?

Friends General Conference has pulled together written resources for families who wish to live more lightly on the earth. They include:

Can We Live Sustainably? by Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting
Stewardship of the Earth by Maury River Friends Meeting
Stewardship Definition from AFSC
“Practicing Sustainability” from Quaker Earthcare Witness
Faith & Play Guide and Play Kits from QuakerBooks
Earth Stewardship Reading List from QuakerBooks
Earth Day Reading List from QuakerBooks

Go to web page on FGC website

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