There aren’t many Quakers in Jackson, Mississippi. In fact, when Janine Bruton moved there in 2010, she was the only one. Janine attended her first Quaker meeting at age 15, and before moving to Jackson she had been very active in several meetings over the course of many years, including serving as clerk. She found it very difficult to not have a meeting as spiritual and community support. But when she thought about starting a meeting, it seemed overwhelming to contemplate. She visited her old meetings and others when she traveled and went to FGC Gatherings and to Pendle Hill, and pieced together a spiritual community by visiting a Unity Church, the local Unitarian Universalist fellowship, a liberal Baptist church, meditating with Buddhists, and learning centering prayer with Catholics and Episcopalians.
Things coalesced for her when she met New Meetings Coordinator Brent Bill at the Gathering of Southern Quakers and Caelin Hanna Slevin, an Episcopalian who had worshipped with Quakers in college. Caelin expressed a deeply sincere interest in worshipping together and offered her office for Sunday morning worship. Janine was not a proselytizer, but wanted a critical mass of three or four attenders before beginning a worship group. But at the opening worship at the FGC Gathering in July, a message came to her: Why wait? She and Caelin would be two who gather in His name and could hold meeting for worship whenever they chose to be together with that intention. She texted Caelin to say, “Let’s meet together next Sunday for Meeting for Worship!”
Jackson Quaker Worship Group meets for worship at 10:30 on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. At 11:30, they have worship-sharing and learn together more about the Quaker way. As many as six attend. Brent Bill helped her pick out a library of foundational books for newcomers, and the worship group has two New Meetings mentors to advise and guide them as they grow.
Janine says that when you’re steeped in Quakerism like she was for so long, it’s easy to forget that there are huge swathes of the country that have never even heard of Quakers. She has found that the national network of Quakers can provide them with support and strength to offer the Quaker way in Jackson.
Interested in providing support as a New Meetings mentor? Fill out the form here and Brent Bill will contact you..