In 2018, Friends at Burlington, Haddonfield, and Salem Quarters connected to discuss a program on meetings with dwindling memberships. Together, they explored ways to collaborate and increase communications and activities among the three Quarters. The idea for a South Jersey Quakers website emerged, one that would use the same name as the Facebook account already publicizing local events. The website is now live, and they are still building a variety of content to offer.
The Quarters came together with specific goals in mind for the South Jersey Quaker project. Their short-term goal is to increase attendance by new seekers at meeting for worship and other activities, primarily through online advertising. They are targeting demographic groups deemed ‘most likely’ to become interested in Friends’ beliefs and practices. They also want to strengthen their Friends community by sharing information and increasing Friends’ attendance at other meetings’ activities.
During a conversation by Zoom, Linda Lotz, Haddonfield Quarter’s Coordinator, detailed the website’s key features and explained the goal of building a digital space where people can find links to Quaker information and resources, plus a well-curated list of Quaker events/experiences. A framing question for the project – was, ‘what are you going to offer that someone from the public would still want to come and see even if they weren’t interested in the religious aspect of Quakerism for themselves.’
Linda told PYM News & Events, that, “We decided upon topics like parenting based on Quaker values, and local history and its impact. And its role in developing South Jersey.”
Since 2018, the group has been actively working on building the website. Their effort has been supported by various groups – D’Olier Foundation, Membership Development Granting Group, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and Westfield Monthly Meeting. Carleton Crispin, Salem Quarter Communications Coordinator, added this insight, “I learned how much more the three quarters need to interact. I’ve been heavily involved with Tri-Quarter (annual event) my whole life, but that was often the only time I would interact with another quarter the entire year.”
Tony Capozzoli, Treasurer, Burlington Quarter, shared his vision for this project, “My hope for the website is that it generates engagement from both the outreach and “inreach” perspectives. Friends in South Jersey have an opportunity to share something of their communities through this website. To do that well and thoughtfully, we might need to become better recorders of our community life. This is something of a new ministry for many meetings – creating visual messages that can show seekers something of our community at the local level.”
The Steering Committee for SouthjerseyQuakers.org includes Carleton Crispin, Communications Director, Salem Quarter; Tony Capozolli, Treasurer, Burlington Quarter; Linda Lotz, Coordinator, Haddonfield Quarter; Sarah Miller, Member, Steering Committee, Burlington Quarter; Josh Ponter, Youth Coordinator, Haddonfield Quarter; and Jared Valdez, former Communications Director, Salem Quarter.
Filled with a sense of gratitude, Carleton Crispin added, “I want to thank everyone who has worked—and continues to work—on this (marketing) project and the three Quarters who support it. I’m very hopeful that this project and adjacent projects going forward will help boost membership to our meetings, and at the very least, let the world know that yes, Quakers are here to stay!”
The South Jersey Quakers website has been shaped by the need to connect with the community around South Jersey through spiritual grounding. Follow their work and visit their website for updates or interesting historical stories, recent news, and upcoming events.