Stephen Dotson has served Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as the Middle School Friends Coordinator for the last three years. During this time his spirit-led enthusiasm has inspired, challenged and engaged Quaker middle schoolers. The gatherings have been intentionally crafted to exercise the mind, body and spirit as well as to foster community and lasting friendships between the MSFs and each other as well as the adults who volunteered to care for the Middle School Friends.
Stephen is more than a little goofy. He would often be seen demonstrating a silly walk or striking a dramatic pose. This frivolity has been pivotal to the enjoyment and engagement of all at the gatherings. He also modeled spiritual groundedness by worshipfully holding workshop leaders in the light and creating varied vehicles for silent worship such as walking meditations. He introduced the program to new active cooperative games, especially Frazelyrham. The cross between basketball and soccer, only with a lot more barn yard animals and cooperation has become tradition for MSFs. Stephen’s programming strikes a balance between play and reflection and breathes life into this spiritual community.
Stephen’s attention and scope extended beyond the MSFs to the engagement, growth and experience of those he recruited to be Friendly Adult Presences, including myself. He drew us from parents, his social circles and from other Quaker communities. The program has provided a much needed opportunity for intergenerational friendship and collaboration. MSF has also been an ideal venue for Friends to gain experience working with youth and leading programming but it is also a place for adults to grow spiritually.
Stephen Dotson has been a splendiferous servant leader to the middle school aged segment of our yearly meeting community. He worked to instill the message that the best possible thing you could possibly be is your unique, sometimes strange, sometimes silly self in all involved in the Middle School Friends program the last three years. He will be missed.
Kamali is a middle school Friendly Adult Presence. She served as one of the first Emerging Leadership Scholars, an intern program Stephen developed to bring Young Adults into relationship with middle schoolers (and now children and Young Friends) as well as provide them with training in youth ministry and programming.