In the first years of the Quaker movement, pairs of minister-evangelists set out from England to places around the world, crossing oceans and continents on trips that lasted months or years, to deliver the Quaker message as widely as they could. They crossed cultural and linguistic barriers apparently without hesitation, speaking the Truth that God gave them.... Read More
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt and John Epur Lomuria
Last December, the manuscript of Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices, an international anthology of writing and art by young adult Friends from across the Quaker theological spectrum, was being typeset and readied for publication. However, at that time we, two of the editorial board members for the project, John and Sarah, were in the middle of a desert swimming in Lake Turkana, and the book was one of the last things on both of our minds. We had already read the manuscript and given feedback before meeting up with each other in Bungoma, Kenya to attend the Young Quakers Christian Association of Africa Triennial. After having helped create the book, our main focus was now on living out the kind of relationships we want this book to bring about.
Throughout both the times we've met with the rest of the editorial board, we have learned what it means to have relationships across a wide spectrum of cultural and spiritual beliefs. We've learned how to discuss the hard issues while holding others in love and acceptance. It is hard work but for both of us, it has always been worth it. Such discussions have changed us, changed our viewpoints about each other and left us with the kind of love we ought to show towards everyone we meet.
We have walked the road together with peace, kindness and joy of getting to know each other better. The intimacy this book has created for us will get to be in our minds forever. It has given us the opportunity to live out our notion of bringing all Quaker youth together for a better world. To see in another's eyes a brother or sister where before stood a stranger from a land and culture far from our own has transformed our ideas of who is our neighbor and who is our F/friend. Only by first living out this truth in our own lives are we able to encourage others to live it out in theirs.
For us, through helping put this book together, we learned to join the threads of our diversities together while respecting and preserving our unique practices. Our hope for those who read Spirit Rising is much the same: that people will hear voices they may have never known existed and come to appreciate these voices though in a spiritually foreign tongue. Though listening may be difficult at times as well as spiritually nurturing, our prayer is that people see the heart they were written with and recognize where the words come from. We envision these threads coming together to form a strong rope of faith, preserving each individual string yet braided in strength, holding us together.
While we were in Kenya, we got to see the rope of diverse threads enacted out in a very real way in Lake Turkana. A group of us young adults from three countries: the Netherlands, United States, and Kenya, played games in the desert waters, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Though we came from very different places and lead very different lives, one lake surrounded us and held us up in joy. We made jokes about flying without wings, gave each other new names, traveled through the desert, and overcame problems by finding solutions as a collective whole. It is the kind of life we pray this book will inspire. May it inspire your hearts and touch your lives as much as it has our own.
John Epur Lomuria is clerk of the Young Quaker Christian Association of Africa, presiding clerk of Lodwar Monthly Meeting in Kenya, vice Presiding clerk of East Africa Yearly Meeting (N) of young adult Friends (FUM), and as the treasurer of Turkana Friends Mission. He has served on FWCC nominating committees and has written and edited several articles for Quaker Life Magazine.
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, and spiritual director from Salem, Oregon, US, who earned her master’s degree at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon. She is also active with ecumenical Christian organizations in Salem and Portland and attends Freedom Friends Church. You can find more of her writing and a link to her blog at www.SpiritWaterPublications.com.
If you are interested in purchasing Spririt Rising, please go to www.QuakerBooks.org, and look out for a book release party in your area!
From the back cover:
Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices celebrates, critiques, questions, and reflects on the Quaker faith experience. Writing and visual art by teenage and young adult Quakers from around the world and across the theological and cultural spectrum of the Religious Society of Friends give readers a window on the spiritual riches and witness these Friends offer. The product of the two-year Quakers Uniting in Publishing (QUIP) Quaker Youth Book Project, it includes over 200 contributors from 17 countries who reflect on their faith and lives as Friends, on worship and practice, on Quaker testimonies, community, conversion and convincement, and on service to and in the world. They also challenge and inspire, as they witness to and celebrate Quakerism as it has been, as it is, and as it could yet be.
The voices here come together in a symphony, cacophonous but also deeply resonant. Listen and you will hear the gifts not only of the Quaker leaders and ministers of tomorrow, but also those in our midst today. In them and with them the Spirit – called here by many names – is undeniably rising.