This year’s William Penn Lecture was given by Mary Crauderueff, who led a program titled “Spirit Works: Exploring Quaker Leadership.” Mary is curator of Quaker Collections at Haverford College, and is active in the Young Adult Friends community. She has been working on a Pickett grant funded project – Spirit Works: Journeys of Quaker Heads of Friends Organizations – interviewing Executive Directors and General Secretaries of Quaker organizations to explore their spiritual and career paths.
For the 100th anniversary of the lecture (and the 6th one that Young Adult Friends have hosted this century), the planning committee was interested in playing with the format of what the William Penn Lecture is – what could it look like if we moved beyond just someone giving a talk? Mary’s project was focused around interviews – what if she interviewed people live during the lecture?
So we switched up the format; Mary recruited a panel for the lecture – Barry Scott (Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting), Becca Bubb (Abington Monthly Meeting), and Jada Jackson (Trenton Monthly Meeting – Jada wasn’t able to make it on the day of lecture), all Friends who have held leadership roles in our Quaker communities, but with a diversity of background and experience. When asked why include other voices in the program Saturday night, Mary said it was important “as a reminder that there are more paths to leadership than paid positions, and that we need all of us in our Philadelphia Yearly Meeting community to step forward into roles – leadership or otherwise – to create a supportive, whole, beloved community.” There was also a survey leading up to the lecture (mostly through the registration form for Continuing Sessions) asking Friends across PYM what leadership means to them, and to submit questions to ask the panelists.
During the lecture, Mary spoke about how she was led to this project by her commitment to Friends and her interest in finding ways to build, teach, and acknowledge leadership skills in our Quaker communities. She shared quotes from heads she had interviewed on their spiritual practices, leadership, discernment, and staying grounded (plus what they wanted to be when they were 15 years old.) Mary said of the interviews, she went in expecting responses to be “separated into spirituality and then work and then the intersections between the two, and I really quickly found that it just all was tangled up in each other. That by the time I got to the intersections, I was like, I’m not introducing this as the intersections, these are just all together all about life.” Lives where job, vocation, family, and spiritual life are interwoven.
The program then switched to a panel – Mary asked Barry and Becca questions about their experience as leaders among Friends. A common thread in the responses was community – our Quaker communities being a place where we can come for spiritual renewal, where our gifts can be seen and lifted up, where we can practice our skills.
When asked what she hopes people will take away from the lecture and the Spirit Works project, Mary said: “That we all have different paths, and that there are many ways to be leaders within the Society. We all have gifts and talents, and stories to tell.”
This year’s William Penn Lecture was given at Arch Street Meeting House on Saturday, March 19, 2016, the evening of PYM Spring Continuing Sessions. A video of the whole lecture plus full bios of the speaker & panelists are now up on the William Penn Lecture webpage, and you can also read all the interviews from the Spirit Works: Journeys of Quaker Heads of Friends Organizations project on the Spirit Works website.
– Elizabeth Piersol Schmidt, Young Adult Friends Coordinator
Pictured above – Barry Scott, Mary Crauderueff, Becca Bubb