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Friends for Racial Equity I had struggled before over whether to speak during worship, but this was different. It was near the close of worship, and a long-time member was sharing a folk tale from childhood. The story clearly moved him, and I can only imagine it was intended as a gift, a tender ministry for all of us in worship. But it was not a gift, at least not of the kind intended. The tale was of an enduring struggle between two iconic opposing figures – one evil, one good. On another morning, I might have let such a story drift in and out of my awareness, a familiar premise with no hint of a surprise ending. Instead, as I listened, I felt my body stiffen; [pullquote]I was paralyzed and mortified. Here it was, in a folk tale, in worship: racist ministry.[/pullquote]

On Cliques (September 2021)

Wanted: News of Quaker Anti-Racism Dear Friends: In their monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings, Friends in the West are rising to the challenge of taking actions that enact equality and justice. We are reaching out to one another to learn what our various Quaker meetings are doing to support Black, brown, and Indigenous lives and to bring down the systems and structures that support White supremacy, within us and without us.

On Cliques (September 2021)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

On Words (November 2021)

The Search Committee “It just isn’t done that way,” the experienced voice responded when a Friend of Color on the Search Committee asked why we weren’t posting the salary. The committee resumed silent reflection. “Keeping salaries confidential is a longstanding way of maintaining wage inequality, especially when persons other than White males apply, not knowing how much others are paid.” More reflection. “It is insulting to qualified young adults to ask them to go through a hiring process, then offer to pay them less than a living wage.” More reflection. In the end, the committee united around our decision to include the base salary in the solicitation.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Individual Decision or Mutual Discernment The test for membership should not be doctrinal agreement, nor adherence to certain testimonies, but evidence of sincere seeking and striving for Truth, together with an understanding of the lines along which Friends are seeking that Truth.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Alternative Realities I met Rachel Heisham Bieri in Missoula, Montana, four months after she had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. She was forty-five then, only fifteen years older than I was, though she was already a grandmother. Doctors had given her two months to live.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (5) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

9th Street Ministries A cold Wednesday evening in May 2017 found me standing, as usual, in front of the meetinghouse on 9th Street in San Francisco. Few people passed by that night. In front of me, one of the many drug dealers who worked our neighborhood was crouched, his back to me. I grappled with conflicting feelings.

On Place (May 2022)

Forging a Relationship with Self When I was a child, I craved quiet places where I could be alone with my feelings. Sometimes I would go along the side of the house where camellia and pomegranate grew or down the stone steps to a small orchard under a tangerine tree in full fruit. Later in life, when I was old enough to be trusted, I would venture to a meadow and lie down in the tall grasses or climb high in a tree. Each of these places offered an essential opportunity to experience my inner being. [pullquote]Children have access to this “still small voice” in nature, preferably alone, where they can connect with their dreams and harness themselves for disappointment, which will surely come in life.[/pullquote]

On Place (May 2022)