Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

How to Organize a Spirit Rising Event

This page is intended to be a resource as well as a forum for questions, reflections, and ideas. We encourage you to leave those in the comments sections and hopefully it will spark discussion. For hardcopy and distribution purposes, click here to download a .doc file of this page. 

Spirit Rising events are not just promotional events. They are attempts to carry on the book’s work of lifting up and empowering the voices of young Quaker writers, artists, leaders, and ministers. Spirit Rising events also empower and promote the book’s use as a teaching tool and catalyst for intergenerational, international, ecumenical dialogue and renewal among Friends.

Each Spirit Rising event will be different. Some are speakers’ panels, others are writing workshops or facilitated dialogues. Below are some suggestions for how to organize a successful event and ideas for different components that could be combined to make an event that is appropriate for you and your Quaker community.

Financial support for events is unfortunately not available from Quakers Uniting in Publications. Fortunately, it is easy to organize a Spirit Rising event with little or no cost, especially if they are hosted by a Friends meeting or church.

IDEAS FOR DESIGNING YOUR EVENT

Reading aloud from the book

            Reading aloud can be a powerful way to embody and transmit the written word; it is a kind of storytelling, something people of all ages seem to hunger for and enjoy. Reading aloud from Spirit Rising can is an excellent introduction to the book – it gives listeners a taste of what is available there.  Select pieces in advance to read aloud in their entirety or in excerpt. Not every piece lends itself to being read aloud, so select pieces intentionally. Readers should read in a strong, clear voice – which will require practice in advance for some. If contributors to the book are present at the event, they can read their own pieces. When a piece is read, the name of the author and their Quaker affiliation should also be spoken. When reading multiple pieces, allow a few moments of silence between each piece. Click here to see video of Spirit Rising readings.

            In some instances, very short pieces or excerpts can be distributed among audience members to be read aloud. This can be a way to include many voices – both voices from the book, and voices in the room. Be sure to invite people of different ages to read. 

Inviting the audience to respond

            After reading aloud from the book, invite the audience to consider and respond to two queries. First ask them, “What about this piece nourishes you?” Allow silence and encourage people to speak out of the silence from their own experience (sometimes called “worship sharing”). Then ask the second query: “What about this piece challenges you?” This can be an excellent way to engage deeply with a piece that comes from a  different tradition of Quakerism than most of those present.

Contributor and/or editor panel, and history of the book

            If editors and contributors are present, they can each tell their story of involvement in the book. OR, if basic background is desired but no one present is comfortable giving it, read the introduction (“Where The Words Come From”) from the book aloud.

Keynote/prepared message

            Ask someone to prepare a short message or keynote address to be given in conjunction with discussion and presentation of the book. This message can really be given by anyone: Friends involved in the book, Friends enthusiastic about the book, a young person in the meeting, an older person in the meeting, etc. Who’s voice do you want to hear? You might ask that person to speak to a certain subject, such as What is the importance of intergenerational fellowship among Friends? or How can we navigate cross-cultural differences among Friends? or What does it mean to be “related to” Quakers whose lives and beliefs are very different than our own?

Writing or Art workshops

            Give a workshop using the model developed by Spirit Rising’s editorial board members. The writing workshop model is available here and the art workshop model is available here.

Worship

            Incorporating Friends worship – whatever that means to you – into a Spirit Rising event can help it to feel grounded and connected to the sacred. Think about how you can incorporate silence, a reading from scripture or a Faith and Practice or Book of Discipline into your event.

Worship sharing

            Queries from the Call for Submissions, also available on the website, can be used to spark intergenerational worship sharing.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE EVENT

Determine a day, time and location. Friends meeting houses and churches are often excellent locations. Having an event after worship on Sunday may enable more Friends to attend; weekday evening events can also work. What is the best time to attract Friends in your community?

Advertise well. Write a short description of the event including the day, time and location and begin circulating it by e-mail and Quaker publications (such as a church or meeting newsletter) at least a month in advance. Advertise again as the date gets closer, such as a week in advance. You can also create a flyer.

Invite Friends of all ages to attend. This means extending a general invitation but also personal invitations. Personal invitations are powerful and necessary for assembling an intergenerational group, or for attracting young people to an event.  It tells people their presence is wanted. Make a list of Friends who you would like to attend, and speak to, call or e-mail them. Encourage them to invite others.

Organize childcare for Friends who have young children, and note the availability of childcare in your advertising. Remember, many young adult Friends have children – as do older adult Friends! If we want them with us, its important to also welcome and care for their children.

Design your event based on suggestions below or interests from your organizing group or Quaker community. Events can be organized by just one person or a group of people  - do what makes the most sense for you. Try to  avoid a scenario in which younger Friends speak or present and older Friends only listen. Certainly one goal of these events is for the voices of  young people to be heard, but another is to spark intergenerational dialogue.

SAMPLE ADVERTISING PARAGRAPH

Please join us for an event celebrating the publication of the international and cross-branch youth anthology, Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices.

Teenage and young adult Friends involved in the book will share their work and reflect on their experiences, and together we will discuss how what it reveals can be shared and embodied by Friends everywhere. All welcome.

[DATE, TIME, LOCATION]
Childcare Provided
[Contact information for organizer(s)]

EXAMPLE SCHEDULE FOR BASIC SPIRIT RISING EVENT

1. Welcome everyone and go over schedule for the evening. (5 minutes)

2. Invite everyone, presenters and audience, to introduce themselves. You might invite people with connections to or enthusiasm for the book to quickly share their story.  (10 minutes, more with a big group)

3. Give background  and/or history for Spirit Rising. This can be done easily by reading or paraphrasing the introduction to the book, “Where the Words Come From.” (10 minutes)

4. Read aloud from the book. Pieces should be selected in advance, longer pieces can be excerpted. (30-40 min)

5. Invite audience response  through worship sharing, etc (30 minutes)

6. Closing