Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Friday, May 02, 2008

My visit to Quip

I had the privilege to attend the Quakers United In Publishing annual meeting held at Brown Summit, NC, on April 24-27. I had been invited to come to speak on a panel discussing Quaker blogs. This was my first exposure to QUIP and I really did not know what to expect.

The first thing that I discovered was how diverse the membership of QUIP is. They have two co-clerks, one English and one American, and two treasurers, again, one English and one American. They rotate their annual meetings between England and various parts of North America in some more or less regular pattern. There were participants from all branches of North American Quakerism. What was most gratifying to me was that these people all got along with each other. No one questioned the theological beliefs on anyone else and they were able to focus on the work at hand.

I was able to have informal conversations with people from yearly meetings in FUM. It is clear that there are a range of views in those yearly meetings. At the level of the FUM board the yearly meetings are sometimes seen as discrete entities that speak with a single voice on various issues. The reality is much less simple than that. There are liberal and evangelical voices within many yearly meetings.

The other thing that was clear was that when Friends do have common interests and are sharing in work that is mutually beneficial, they can work very well together. I saw it with QUIP and I have had glimpses of this at the General Board.

Robin Mohr, Gil Skidmore and I were the blogging panel. Gil moderated the discussion and talked a little. Robin and I shared more extensively from our experience and we had a good discussion. One of the themes of the meeting was dealing with electronic media and how to adapt to the changes in the world of publishing. There was quite a bit of discussion of what we bloggers were about and also some of the mechanics. There were also a number of bloggers present who were not part of the panel.

On Saturday we went to Guilford College and visited the Quaker Archives. I was pleased to see people who were excited by questions of how to archive electronic media for future historians. What will happen to the records of Usenet groups like soc.religion.quaker that was one of the first places for the Quaker discussion on line? Do Quaker organizations have a responsibility to archive this against the day that Google stops? What about the Quaker mailing lists that continued the discussion? I am glad that there are people who are thinking about these things.

In conjunction with this meeting the editorial board for the QUIP Youth Book project met. On Saturday night the editorial board had a panel in which they introduced themselves and what they hoped for from the project. One of the questions that they were asked was what qualified them for their position on the board. Their responses were pretty awesome.

As I listened to them I remember that it was when I was a Young Adult Friend that I first experienced the power that can happen in meeting for worship. I had my first experiences of trying to live a faithful life. I also first became frustrated that the adult meetings just did not seem to get the treasure that was in their midst. They seemed to be content with just a bare shell of what they could have. In fact I still have that same frustration today.

As is often the case, the best part of the meeting was not the formal program but the opportunities to speak with a variety of Friends from different backgrounds and to get to know them a little better. I had the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers C. Wess Daniels and “Elizabeth Bathurst”, the Quaking Harlot. And while looking up these links I discovered that Sarah Hoggatt is a blogger, too. All in all it was a favored time.

The question I am left with is this: How can we be publishers of truth in this changing world?

Blessings to all,

Will T

6 Comments:

Anonymous Kenneth said...

I'm glad you had the opportunity to get to know QUIP. It remains one of my best experiences of Quakers working together.

May 05, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

It was fun, wasn't it? It was good to see you again, and to have a chance to reflect and speak about blogging as ministry in the Quaker sense together. I look forward to our next opportunity to meet, whenever that may be.

May 06, 2008 11:11 AM  
Blogger Will T said...

Kenneth,
I think QUIP is one of the hidden treasures among Friends. I hope you are doing well.

Robin,
Yes it was fun. I am sure we will have other opportunities to meet. In the meantime I will keep reading your blog.

Will T

May 06, 2008 7:42 PM  
Blogger s.son said...

I was really appreciative of Friend's presentation on blogging. It is exciting to see that the theological discourse of Quakerism has found a new home, especially one so open and easily accessed. It strikes me as very Quaker that blogging has brought the discourse around our Faith to the level of every individual (or rather, internet-accessible) voice, and not just professors and certain weighty Friends.

However, a smaller point has stayed in my mind. We as Quakers have always done well at talking amongst ourselves, but how do we reach out and engage the broader audience through this blogging medium? In talking with Barbara Mays she mentioned that while at a different and secular publishing conference, another publisher likened Quaker writers to frogs calling to one another, in similar tongues across a small pond. True, there are certain voices that have reached outside of that (Thomas Kelly comes to mind). Still, I agree and think there is a need there that has yet to be met. Perhaps the frequent Quaker results of the beliefnet survey would support this?

So I am left wondering: how can Quakers reach out to meet these seekers where they are? How can we engage with the larger ecumenical/inter-faith discussion through this new medium (and also through the old mediums as well)?

May 06, 2008 8:23 PM  
Blogger Will T said...

Stephen,
I share your concern that we do a better job of talking about Quakerism to non-Quakers. The Quaker blogs are a start because sometimes non-Quakers do stumble upon them and they may even end up at a meeting as a result.

Another image of Quaker discourse, especially here in the blogosphere is that of an orchestra tuning up. I have found for myself that writing here has helped me to find my voice. I think that there is a lot of that going on. I don't know what form it will take but I think that a Quaker voice will be heard beyond the shores of our little pond.

Will T

May 06, 2008 9:11 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Hey, Will, thanks for the report!

In response to S.Son's comment about reaching out to a broader audience, there are a number of Quakers who blog for a non-Quaker audience around non-Quaker themes (Peterson comes to mind for me). Occasionally those bloggers add a bit about their journey among Friends, or link to a Quaker site, what have you, which becomes a more organic sort of "outreach"...

Even blogs like good ol' Martin Kelley's reach folks beyond Quakers as many if not most of us Quaker bloggers have expanded the scope of our writing beyond Quakerism.

It's nice to hear that QUIP is counted as a treasure among Friends. I'll have to hope that it meets in the heartland of the U.S. at some point when I'll be able to attend!

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

May 10, 2008 11:37 AM  

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