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Practices Productivity Quaker

Elizabeth Gurney Fry’s Checklist

I’m am interested in checklists, setting annual goals for myself, and working on specific habits I want to create or break. For example, I am currently working on a 2020 goal of “building a consistent habit of exercising.” So far I have been successful at this goal, going to the gym 4-5 times a week in 2020, because the goal is about the habit, not about a particular benchmark (lift x pounds, lose x pounds, etc.). In fact, I just finished the very interesting and inspiring read, “Atomic Habits,” which goes into greater detail about how habits can be formed and broken.

Imagine then my delight when I came across Quaker and prison reformer Elizabeth Gurney Fry’s journal entry (at age 18) on rules for her own behavior (I came across this in Barclay Press’ fantastic Illuminate Bible Study series on Paul’s letter to the Romans).

May 8th, 1798, Elizabeth records in her journal some rules for herself:

I want to set myself in good order for much time is lost and many evils committed by not having some regular plan of conduct; I make these rules for myself:

First – Never lose any time; I do not think that lost which is spent in amusement or  recreation, sometime everyday; but always be in the habit of being employed.

Second – Never err the least in truth.

Third – Never say an ill thing of a person, when I can say a good thing; not only speak charitably, but feel so.

Fourth – Never be irritable nor unkind to any body.

Fifth – Never indulge myself in luxuries that are not necessary.

Sixth – Do all things with consideration, and when my path to act right is most difficult, feel confidence in that thy power alone is able to assist me, and exert my own powers as far as they go.

Description: Extract from the diary of Elizabeth Fry
Date: 8/5/1798
Source: Norwich Millennium Library holds a complete diary of Elizabeth Fry that can be viewed on microfilm by the public.   

Not only is it pretty amazing to find a list like this from a member of my faith tradition from a long time ago, but these rules are inspiring and challenging. These are things I too can and need to work towards.

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Creativity Featured Practices

End of the Year Reflections

We had some friends over for New Year’s, which was a lot of fun and just the right way to close out the year. Having a variety of people from across various social groups gather and enjoy one another’s company was a very real way for us to see how far we’ve come in Greensboro over the past 3.5 years. We really are starting to root ourselves, build community, and make this place home.

Finding New Ways to “Not Always Be Working”

In keeping with some of the things I’ve been reflecting on since reading marlee grace’s book, How To Not Always Be Working, over break, I decided to take the opportunity of having a little get together at the house to do something I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while: smoke meat on my charcoal grill. I think this is part of my learning more about Southern culture, and partly because I really love smoke meats that I thought it would be fun to try something new. So, I smoked a turkey. I found the process of learning about how to do it, reading a variety of recipes, and talking to people on the phone who I know are great at smoking meat (including my dad and a good friend who lives in town), really added a whole extra layer of interest to the adventure. It all turned out great, our friends loved it, and I found the whole experience to be a restful one, reminding me that rest can be something that comes in many forms. Here are some photos from the experience.

How about for you? If you have had a little time off over the holidays how did you spend your time? What did you do to rest and “not work?” Make a list of 3-5 things you did to rejeuvenate and stick that list in your notebook. Next time things get a little wild or stressful pull it out and do one of those things on the list. Or better yet, make it a habit to do some things each week that help you pull away from work so you can have increase your self-awareness and care.

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Featured Practices

On Traveling in the Ministry

Learning How to Travel in the Ministry: The Past Bears Weight on the Present

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write about my traveling in the ministry with Lloyd Lee Wilson, a member of Friendship Friends Meeting and North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) this past June. It is about my first experience of traveling in ministry and what I learned in the process.

Lloyd Lee and I have gotten to know each other since we moved to Greensboro in 2015. With monthly lunches at a favorite local spot, he and I “talk shop,” swap ideas, and enjoy challenging ideas and imagining new ways to help revitalize Quaker community. One of the things I know about Lloyd Lee is he does a lot of what Quakers call, “Traveling in the Ministry,” and to be more specific to Lloyd Lee’s approach, “traveling in the ministry in the old style.”

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Featured Practices Quaker

A New Kind of Nursery of Truth – Part 3

Revisioning
Photo Credit – Eric Muhr

This is the third of a three-part series on whether or not Quakers can be “Publishers of Truth” today. In this series I want to talk about how I think early Quakers understood what it meant to be “publishers of truth” in earlier years (Part 1), just a couple challenges we face when it comes to a conversation about “truth” as Friends in 2017 (Part 2), and what it might look like for us to have a new the nursery of truth and be “Publishers of the pert near true” today (Part 3).*

For a quick recap, in the previous post, I suggested that those who consider themselves politically/theologically progressive can get caught in a cycle of thinking of truth as facts stripped of any emotion, narrative, or even joy. If this is anywhere near an accurate assessment then the next step is to invite you, my dear readers, to consider becoming people who utilize ethical and creative storytelling, humor and other similar methods, such as what Stephen Duncombe calls “Ethical Spectacles,” to subvert dominant narratives and to serve social justice. Telling the truth slant and or being purveyors of the “pert near true” (something that is so true that it doesn’t really matter whether it happened or not) is something that can and should be used in service for the good, just as Jesus himself exemplified.

In this final post, I want to suggest a few, very limited, ideas about what we might do to create a new kind of nursery of truth for today, where we could learn these practices together in community.

A New Nursery of Truth

How do we take all of this into account and really begin to re-envision a nursery of truth for today?

Are there ways in which we can respond to polarizations, speak into pluralistic spaces and be far more creative in our approach to truth?

If we are to be publishers of truth today (or the “pert near true” if you like), we need a nursery of truth that takes into account the many challenges we, and the people in our communities face in these times of racial injustice, religious bigotry, class struggle, and attacks on LGBTQ+ people. One that understands that any claims to truth must really be able to account for and be in solidarity with those most vulnerable.

How do we publish this truth, and more importantly live it, in ways that are effective and shape a new generation’s imagination and practice?

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Blog Entries Practices

Outline for a Candlelight Christmas Eve Worship Service

Immanuel Print from Emily L. Daniels

 Immanuel, God With Us.

I enjoy putting together meditative worship services. A couple years back I posted this resource for using with a Christmas eve Candlelight Service. I have been working to make an updated one and since it’s just about complete I wanted to post it here for those of you who might be helped by something like this.

This is being shared under the creative commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International” so please feel free to use it, remix it, and make it work for you.

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Featured Practices Sermons

Participatory Church and the Trials of Falling Asleep (Luke 22:39-46)

Flickr Image by Brandon King

“He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” [Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.] When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” (Luke 22:39–46 NRSV)

Participation as Production

The word participation is an important word for our church. We talk about being a participatory church but what do we mean by that? I want to unpack that a little here.

Participation means to partake, to partner.

We live in a participatory culture. Back 50 or 60 years ago when you listened to a story around a radio, it was one way. TV in its earliest stages was one way. There was someone who wrote a story, produced a show that he or she thought consumers would like. But nowadays things are very different. Reality shows like Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance (my favorite), American Idol and many others build on the content that the audience gives. It could be through voting. It could be through suggestive story lines. Producers are constantly looking for interest of fans and which characters they like most, which ones they connect with, which story lines are most popular. There are shows like Arrested Development, Veronica Mars or Joss Wheadon’s Firefly where when they go off the air the Fans rally and actually get the producers to make more of their favorite show, even in helping raise money for the show to get it back on the air.

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Featured Guest Post Practices Quaker

Meeting is a Muscle: Teaching Worship To Children / Chad Stephenson

Children Meeting for Worship / Photo PYM

This is a guest post written by Chad Stephenson a Quaker from San Francisco. It is a response to the Friends Journal article “Bringing Children to Worship” and my follow-up article found here. This article comes largely from Chad’s work with children as a librarian as the San Francisco Friends School. He’s a good friend of mine and I’ve always appreciated his insights and thoughts, I think you’ll find the same is true for what he’s written here.

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Practices Quaker

Describing “Silent” Worship to Children

http://www.flickr.com/photos/prh/8564737045/
Race Street Meetinghouse

Awhile back I did a Godly Play story during our meeting for worship. We invited the children to say with the adults and participate in our listening to the story. After the story we had our normal 15 minutes of silent, or waiting, worship. This is a description I wrote up and used that Sunday. I borrowed some ideas from my friend Chad Stephenson who is the librarian at the San Francisco Friends School where their students have meeting for worship during the school day.

Mind you this is just one attempt and there are things missing from here that I would like to say. I tried to connect it to the language of Godly Play since that’s what our kids are most used to. In trying to write up a description I was challenged to be concrete, simple and succinct in describing worship to our children. It is a good exercise for all of us to try.

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Practices Quaker

Thoughts on Bringing Children To Worship

Children in Worship

As parents bringing children and teens to a time of worship can be a struggle. We place a lot of expectations on our kids and often hope they won’t “misbehave” during church. Plus, it is easy to succumb to their rowdiness, distraction and desire for entertainment. The last thing on earth most parents seem to want to hear from their kids is “I am bored.” The response often tends to turn our time of gathered worship into an opportunity to have free babysitting or shuffle them away to some place else, entertain them, or even give them a gadget that will hold their attention.

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Featured Practices Sermons

Curators and Caretakers and the Practice of Giving (Gen 1. 28)

This is what a curator looks like*

“Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule…all the living things that creep on earth.”

_Curators and Caretakers

The church often uses the word “stewardship” to generalize things that have to do with resources that we share in common. We have stewards who take care of our budget, our building and other resources that we have. But it might be a little misleading in that when I think of a steward I think of as someone who brings me meals on a plane…or at least used to, now they bring me a little bag of wheat-thins. In our culture today we often think of a steward as something like a waitress, someone who waits on us. This makes it sound to one-sided.

The truth is that we are all, everyone here, to be caretakers of one another, of what we have and of what we share in common together.