On Thursday, March 21st, the Friends in Business Steering Committee, Joe Evans, Norval Reece, Mark Myers, and Lauren Hastings, met with Governor Tom Wolf to thank him for speaking at a Friends in Business dinner with Quakers last December.
They brought with them a print of Edward Hicks’ painting, The Peaceable Kingdom, presented as a framed gift of thanks and a reminder of Friends’ hope for peace and unity in governance.
A coach and sign painter now recognized as one of America’s great primitive painters, Hicks was also a founding member at Newtown Meeting. Hicks painted some 100 different versions of The Peaceable Kingdom because he loved the biblical story from the book of Isaiah.
Norval Reece noted that the wood for the frame was harvested from a 300+ year-old oak tree grown on the Bucks County land of the Quaker farmer, Sam Snipes. The frame was then hand-made by Newtown member and wood worker, Hugh Harr.
Governor Wolf, who ran a hardware and building supply business for decades, credits William Penn for his Quaker concern with integrity, education, and religious freedom. The Governor based his own business on similar tenets. As he accepted the gift of Hicks’ artwork, he talked with the group about William Penn’s Commonwealth, and the changes brought to Penn’s Holy Experiment by history, revolution, and leaders like Benjamin Franklin.
Norval Reece, Joe Evans, and Governor Wolf traded stories on how Pennsylvania’s Constitution (its fifth) is still based on William’s Penn’s revolutionary 1682 “Frame of Government of Pennsylvania” and the 1701 “Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges.” The Charter and the Constitution set forth many of the individual rights adopted nearly 100 years later in the US Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Mark Myers noted how docents at Independence Park occasionally overlook Penn’s contributions in favor of highlighting Benjamin Franklin’s larger than life persona and impact on the city.
The Governor then received a surprise visit from “Flat Stanley”, a hand colored paper character introduced to him by West Chester Friends’ students Emmett and Fiona Hastings. Flat Stanley, a book written by Jeff Brown, tells the story of a little boy who got flattened in a bulletin board accident, but discovers his special flatness allows him to travel to many interesting places in the world. Emmett and his sister, Fiona, were brought along on the visit by their mother, West Chester Meeting Member, Lauren Hastings.
Some 10,000 Quakers continue to have a strong presence in the region through 100+ monthly meetings. Friends serve their communities and local institutions as elected representatives, medical professionals, human rights lawyers, financial advisers, environmentalists, educators, social workers and volunteers, making many professional and private contributions for the common good. Friends in Business’ Steering Committee seeks to network these Friends through their twice annual dinners, convening discussions on topics of interest as led.