Power Tools – Online Downloads
This section of “Power Tools” presents on-line resources that are in-depth explorations/explanations of a wide variety of topics that may be of use to Friends’ meetings, large and small, new and old. Their purpose is not just to provide “how to” guidance, but to make explicit the spiritual Truth underlying all that we do within the Quaker way. Reaffirming and intentionally trying to live into this underlying spiritual reality is the strength and attraction of the Religious Society of Friends.
This list will be added to frequently.
To suggest resources, please contact Brent Bill at [email protected]
I. Roots / Foundational Understandings/ Basic Concepts
A Description of the Qualifications Necessary to a Gospel Minister by Samuel Bownas – is a classic statement of what it means to be minister in the Quaker tradition. It is available here to read on-line or to download as an e-book for certain devices.
Apology for the True Christian Divinity as Professed by the People called Quakers by Robert Barclay – is Barclay’s exposition and defense of Quaker faith, set forth as theological propositions (per the tradition of the day). The Apology remains the prime example of Quaker faith in theological language. The introduction to each proposition summarizes the substance quite well, without having to read the entire text. Available on-line and as free PDF and universal text downloads. Readers interested in discovering the theological and biblical underpinnings of Quaker faith will especially want to acquaint themselves with the Apology. It would also be good for small group studies or adult religious education.
Autobiography of George Fox by George Fox, edited by Rufus Jones – recounts George Fox’s (the catalyst of the Quaker movement) key life events, including his religious development and insights, and the struggles he faced for proclaiming that there was one “even Christ Jesus, who could speak to [his] condition”. Available to read on-line or as a free download in PDF or RTF formats. This book is must reading for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the roots of Quakerism and the milieu in which it came into being. This is not the only edition of Fox’s Journal available. For print readers, we recommend John L. Nickalls edition.
Earlham School of Religion’s Digital Quaker Collection -- is a digital library containing full text and page images of more than 500 Quaker texts from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a wealth of early Quaker writings and you can read each “book” “page-by-page” as if sitting in a library. This site is perfect for those who would like to research or understand early Friends views on a number of topics.
North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Journal – This site has a number of helpful downloadable texts. They are all written from a Conservative Friends perspective, and the topics are of interest to Friends across the spectrum. Some of the topics are vocal ministry, queries, discernment, and caring for creation. These materials would be appropriate for personal study, small group study, or adult religious education.
Peace Be with You: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony by Sondra Cronk – a completely free version of Sondra Cronk’s classic writing on the Quaker peace testimony. Of special interest to Friends meetings are the chapters “The Meeting as the School for Peacemakers,” “The Meeting: A Center for Transformation,” and “The Meeting: Where Forgiveness Is Offered.” This is a pamphlet, not a longer book.
Quaker Heritage Press’s Online Texts – this is a compendium of historical texts – from Robert Barclay’s Apology to pamphlets from just before the Hicksite/Orthodox separation to the works of Isaac Penington and much more. These materials would be especially helpful for those who would like to understand the roots of Quakerism and its early practice.
Tract Association of Friends – this site is a wealth of Quaker publications, from a downloadable Quaker calendar to tracts and pamphlets on a wide range of topics (congregational silence, a study of the spiritual basis of peace testimony, and more). These materials are ideal for small group or adult religious education studies.
What did George Fox teach about Christ? (New Foundation publications #1) by Lewis Benson. The late Lewis Benson was one of the leading student of George Fox (1624-1691). His word to present-day Quakers and indeed all who are seeking a deeper Christian faith adequate to modern spiritual needs is that it can be found in the writings of George Fox. This paper is a report of a week-end Summer Gathering held in July 1974 at Friends House, London, and introduces some of George Fox’s principal teachings. It is good for small group or adult religious education studies.
II. Worship / Spiritual life
Clearness Committees and Their Use in Personal Discernment by Jan Hoffman – is a strong piece on clearness committees and is excerpted from Companions Along the Way (which is available in its entirety at insert link). Good for use by individuals and clearness committees.
Clearness Committees: An Excerpt from Sacred Compass by Brent Bill – is a free download of a section from Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment that explores how a clearness committee works. This excerpt was prepared for use in Britain Yearly Meeting. Meant to be used by people requesting clearness committees or those asked to serve on a clearness committee.
Fostering Vital Friends Meetings: Part Two: Resources for Working with Quaker Meetings compiled by Jan Green and Marty Walton – contains a plethora of resources on a variety of topics, including ministry and counsel, membership, racism, the Bible, and much, much more. The authors list reads like a who’s who of Quakerism and represents all variety of Friends. This book would be very helpful to ministry and counsels, outreach committees, religious education committee and more.
Online Books of Faith and Practice at the Quaker Information Center – a helpful collection of on-line editions of various yearly meeting’s books of faith and practice, organized by types of yearly meetings (liberal, conservative, pastoral, evangelical and more). These books cover a multitude of topics (including worship and spiritual life) that readers will find helpful in understanding the Quaker way in context of a yearly meeting.
Survival Sourcebook: The Care and Maintenance of Small Meetings and Worship Groups by North Pacific Yearly Meeting Outreach Committee – this handbook shares the experiences of Friends in the Pacific Northwest in sustaining and nourishing the Quaker way in their region. It is filled with helpful resources, ideas and information compiled with small meetings and worship groups in mind.
The Reality of the Spiritual World by Thomas Kelly – is a free download of Pendle Hill Pamphlet #21. In it, Kelly presents four lessons on accessing spiritual reality through the Holy Spirit in prayer, fellowship, God, and the spiritual world. Ideal for personal study, small groups, or adult religious education.
III. Corporate life/ Community/ The “Body” (including Religious Education & First Day School)
Companions Along the Way: Spiritual Formation Within the Quaker Tradition: A Resources for Adult Religious Education edited by Florence Ruth Kline with Marty Grundy – was developed from plenary and workshop sessions at the Companions Along the Way conference held in 1998 at George School in Newtown, PA. The impetus for the conference was to encourage spiritual formation in the Society of Friends through strong adult religious education. Now out of print, this wonderful collection is presented here as a series of PDFs. While there was some loss of resolution in the conversion process, these materials will still be helpful for religious education committees, spiritual formation groups, and other meeting planners. The entire book can be downloaded by clicking the series of links in the “Files” section below.
Get Ready, Get Set, Teach: Starting, Restarting or Revitalizing a First Day School written by Beth Collea, Religious Education Coordinator for New England Yearly Meeting. This helpful document shows, step-by-step, ways to get a religious education program for children underway or revitalized. It's practical and achievable.
Living with Oneself and Others by New England Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel – consists of articles on aspects of family life containing queries and advices for Friends meetings and individuals. This piece could be particularly helpful to ministry and counsels, pastoral care committees, or for small group study.
The Call by Charlie Basham – is a play that raises questions about the nature of a call to ministry in our time and how meetings might provide nurture, support, and mentorship, especially for young people. It can be used in a variety of ways, as a group study, a play, for individual study, and more.
The Individual and the Meeting by Martha Paxson Grundy – appeared in Quaker Religious Thought and explores relationship between individuals and others in the meeting. This piece would be especially helpful to ministry and counsels, membership committees, newcomer classes, and for self study.
IV. Business / Structure / How It Works
Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting Handbook of Meeting Procedures –A document showing how one meeting has organized its life together. This is not to be used as “the” model as much as it is an example of things to think about in meeting organization and business. Each meeting will need to take into consideration which of these fit, which are different, and what is unique to their life together.
Handbook on Records by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Committee on Records – is a set of clear and concise guidelines pertaining to the taking, preservation, and use of Monthly Meeting records. It divides content areas among various record-related issues, including descriptions of such functions as Recorder, Archivist, Historian, and Recording Clerk; types of records to be preserved; guidelines for preserving and storing records; information on indexing of minutes; the role of computers; oral history; sample forms; and a glossary of terms. Users should be aware that some of the punctuation did not convert exactly in its adaptation to an on-line document (quotation marks became question marks, for example).