Meet the Staff: nova george and Johanna Jackson
Thanks to the generosity of donors to FGC’s Gathering Together campaign, our community has been enriched by two new staff members in the Communications and Spiritual Deepening Departments. nova george is the new Spiritual Deepening Associate while Johanna Jackson is the new Communications Associate. They recently interviewed one another. An excerpt of that conversation is below.
How did you find your way to the Quaker faith?
nova: When i was about ten years old, i found a book in the library that planted a seed of wonder. It was called North by Night and was a glimpse into the life of a girl named Lucy, whose town was a stop on the Underground Railroad. One of the characters in this book, called Jeremiah, was a Quaker. ‘Quaker’ was a new word to me, and i was a curious child, so i learned what i could from the book, then consulted reference materials: a dictionary, an encyclopedia. Upon learning that Quaker was a religion, i filed all of the information i gathered away. My child mind saw my family’s denomination as my only option, but like any seed, the thoughts about Quakerism took root inside of me and here i am!
Johanna: I first attended Ann Arbor Meeting in 2009, and later became a member of the State College Meeting. I traveled to my first FGC Gathering in 2017. There I met so many people my age who cared about Quakerism. I hadn’t had a spiritual peer in seven years. It was so refreshing! After the Gathering, I formed a mutual support network, the Tuesday Worship Group, with several other Friends under 55. We helped each other be faithful to our spiritual gifts. While at the Gathering, I received some tender accompaniment from older ministers and elders who helped me grow. They introduced me to the practice of naming and claiming spiritual gifts.
What formal Quaker groups, service trips, schools, or programs have you been part of in the past?
nova: i worked at Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn for five years. While i was there, i participated in the Leadership Institute through the Friends Council on Education. i also spent some time doing odd jobs and tasks at the New York Quarterly Meeting. i’ve spent the past couple of years attending the Ministry on Racism’s Worship for Friends of Color through FGC. Also, i am currently discerning membership at Brooklyn Monthly Meeting, where i have been an attender at the virtual 9:00 am meeting.
How are you active in the Quaker faith today? What groups (formal or informal) make up your spiritual community today?
Johanna: I carry a ministry, Forward in Faithfulness with my partner, JT-Dorr-Bremme. We work for inner transformation and collective renewal. We began by listening to people’s stories. We met with Friends under 55 and asked about their spiritual journeys. So many people told us about barriers within Quaker spaces that we began advocating to change those barriers, starting in 2021.
nova: i am of the mind that everything is spiritual if we allow it to be. my spiritual community in an institutionalized sense includes Union Theological Seminary, Brooklyn Monthly Meeting, People of Color worship spaces through FGC, and an online community called Celebration Spiritual Center. Outside of institutions, my spiritual community includes all the ocean, my beloveds, my wife and chosen family, the tree behind my house, and the turtle dove that wakes me up on summer mornings.
At seminary i am studying a combination of Biblical Studies, Worship Arts, and Black Religious Experience. i designed the program myself and call it “bible, blackness and belonging.” my research focuses on engaging classical Biblical literature from a Black queer perspective and lifting up art that is born of Black experience as a companion to the legacy of Biblical storytelling.
What are you looking forward to or excited about in your new position?
nova: There are lots of things that i look forward to in my new position. i look forward to learning more about the intersections of Quaker theology and practice. I look forward to deepening and exploration. i am excited to consider new ways we might discern what Spirit has to say to us, in community and individually.
Johanna: I care about whether Quakers are meeting the needs of younger Friends, and I think that FGC is well attuned to those spiritual needs. As the Communications Associate, I’ll be working to support websites, social media, and our online presence. I’m excited to join a team that is both forward-thinking and grounded.