Survey of historical meanings and functions of Quaker testimonies, evolving through different eras, reflected in queries, pamphlets, journals, disownments. How did/do they feel? Consider their role in Quaker identity and what testimonies were and were NOT, with space for fresh consideration of the possibilities of God working through the RSOF.
a. Your expectations and objectives for the week.
My hope is to help participants understand that, historically, Quaker testimonies were – and are – wider, deeper, and richer than simplified categories first proposed by Howard Brinton. My hope is that participants catch their own visions of testimonies – tradition and future – as spiritual paths, rather than as fixed containers of expectations.
b. A list of the specific areas or topics that you expect to cover.
1. How have Quakers in different places and centuries understood, used, and written about testimonies ? Fox, Balby elders, Barclay, Penn, Gurney, Brinton, et al. – London YM Extracts 1783, Philadelphia YM Discipline 1806, Richmond Declaration 1887
2. Intros to critical histories of two from Brinton’s categories: likely, peace (Isaac Sharpless, Peter Brock, others) and plainness/simplicity (Jack Marietta, Jerry Frost)
3. Intros to two “forgotten” testimonies: witness again State churches, and marriage out
4. Use and misuse of abstract values as doorways to spiritual growth – where might the testimonies be going from here ? Interviewing other Gathering attenders re their opinions…
This workshop will NOT provide a beginners’ introduction to Quaker testimonies, nor advocate for specific issues of peace, equality, justice. I envision it as an opportunity for worship and reading, for bookish, experienced Friends interested in history. (If we do get newbies, we will adapt to work with them.) More critical scholarship, minimal rant re “what’s wrong with the RSOF” and/or “aren’t we wonderful.”
c. A rough description of format.
My personal need is for at least a half-hour’s worship, so will schedule 40 minutes, to start each morning. Presenter talk, enriched by participant questions, will be followed by structured discussion and/or worship-sharing. Breaks as needed. No field trips, but ask participants to interview 3-4 other Gathering attenders re their views of testimonies, report back.
d. Specific recommendations for advance reading, or reading assignments during the Gathering. Full bibliography available as email. Books of discipline from different YMs, especially 19th century. Peter Brock, The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1660 to 1914, and other works. Jerry Frost chapter in Quaker Aesthetics. Thomas Drake, Quakers and Slavery in America. Clyde Milner, With Good Intentions: Quaker Work among the Pawnee, Otos, and Omahas in the 1870. “Homework” every night, readings from primary sources, distributed as repro’d handouts or as advance email.
e. Specific requests for items to bring to the Gathering, such as artwork or manuscripts in progress. None
About the leader :
Did this workshop in 2006, 2007, 2008 -- then had to cancel in 2009, after already scheduled, little crisis with my aged mom. Considerable experience, over decades, doing workshops at Ben Lomond Quaker Center and in work with AFSC.