Friends General Conference

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Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Notes from the Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting 2nd Annual Cross-Pollination Event, February 23, 2014

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Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting
2nd Annual Cross-Pollination Event, February 23, 2014: NOTES

Hollister Knowlton and Margaret Wood presented the aims of the afternoon’s event—for Friends to congregate organically around interest topics that a recent survey had identified as being of interest to significant numbers of respondents (initially including Care & Counsel, Environmental Sustainability, Gifts and Leadings, Economic Justice, Racial Justice, Decarceration Issues, Peace & Justice, Outreach to Young Adult, Outreach to People of Color, First Day School, and Clerks). As Friends gravitated to different areas, other topics emerged (Bible and Mental Health Issues were mentioned).


Each group was asked to examine three questions: What are you doing well? What do you need help with? What needs to be lifted up in the Quarter?
Groups reported back as follows:
 Clerks: A new clerk had a longer-term clerk share his experiences.
 Care and Counsel: It was recommended that more attention be paid to visitors and new attenders.
 First Day School/children’s religious education: Meetings vary widely in the size of their young populations from maybe six to a dozen to forty. A major challenge is finding teachers.
 Worship & Ministry: The focus is deepening the spiritual life of each meeting. Friends’ experiences pointed to the importance of emphasizing the powerful/positive ministry shared rather than the problematic.
 Gifts & Leadings: The group’s focus was on naming, claiming and nurturing the gifts and talents of all members in the body. When we do so, the work of all committees can be affected and enhanced. One point was that new members and attenders need to have their gifts explored more than superficially—an accountant may have a deep spiritual talent for something other than finance. Perhaps the “wor(k)ship” practice inventorying spiritual gifts that one participant has done for his meeting could be brought to the Quarterly level.
 Environmental Sustainability: Participants covered the topics of divestment; fair trade and Equal Exchange as a specific company that can bring affordable products to individual congregations; Sustainable 19144. The Quarter could provide resources to help meetings and individual members consider changing energy providers.
 Decarceration, Racial Justice, Targeted Populations, New Underground Railroad, Abolition of Capital Punishment: There are many names for these interconnected issues and also many organizations in which we can usefully be involved. Some Friends are working in the Strawberry Mansion community to demonstrate what can be done through this movement.
 Outreach to Young Adults: The group recommended an attitudinal shift—young adults, rather than simply feeding into existing structures, should have their leadings recognized and
incorporated into Meetings’ life and. Friends could further consider financially supporting an expansion of the role of the YAF support staff at the Yearly Meeting level and providing Quaker connections on college/university campuses.
 Peace, Justice, and Radical Mental Health: A focus of the conversation was neurodiversity—how our different brains bring varied gifts to community—and understanding emotional distress in the context of systems of oppression.
 Outreach to People of Color: Quarter-level networking would be useful both for seeking help from one another and sharing good news. There was sharing about experiences of isolation and discovered community. What vehicles can we use to communicate?
 Adult Religious Education: Some of our meetings have laid down related committees, but Friends recognize continued need for teaching/orienting newcomers. One meeting has invited Ben Lloyd as a Quakerism 101 presenter as well as Hal Taussig, author of A New New Testament; they have studied various books (including Letters to a Young Seeker).
 Quakers in the Arts: A participant lifted up the concept of a Quaker testimony of beauty. Friends noted feeling as though, aside from prose, many members’ creative pursuits (poetry, cinema, visual arts, music and more) seem to fall between the cracks. The Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts was recognized as a valuable support; perhaps there can be a chapter in the Quarter. It was also observed that the Friends General Conference Gathering this summer will furnish opportunities to display art (contact Phil Furnas for more information).


Ross Hennessey asked for a moment to share about the Quaker Voluntary Service program now they are at midpoint through their year. He expressed appreciation for Friends’ support. They are seeking venues to share about the experience and also are looking to recruit participants (21 to 30ish) for next year by the application deadline of March 15.


Hollister Knowlton noted that there are significant developments at the Yearly Meeting level, including a proposed new structure and the General Secretary search. She and Margaret Wood proposed, and Friends approved, adding an hour exploring the above to the May 4 meeting of the Quarter (to be held after worship at Germantown MM); this would extend the program until 3:30 PM. Jean Warrington, as part of Long-Range Planning Committee, expressed appreciation for this opportunity to bring the conversation to the Quarter.


Tricia Walmsley noted that the Quarter-sponsored potluck and worship at Stapeley will be at 5 PM (potluck) and 6:30 PM (worship) that same day; Friends are welcome to proceed directly from Germantown MM to Stapeley. Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting is coordinating.
Friends closed with worship and shaking of hands, followed by song.
—Notes submitted by Sara Palmer, assistant recording clerk for the Quarter

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