This past Christmas day, a devoted son made a gift to a mother he loved whose life he wanted to honor. In doing this, he both helped the Quaker Faith and also created a lasting tribute to the person who nurtured and raised him–Irene Ranck Christman. [Read more…] about Irene Ranck Christman Legacy Fund Gift on Christmas Day
As the nation welcomes new leadership in Washington, and our state health systems continue to confront Covid 19 with vaccine roll-outs, it’s important to celebrate what we have right at home: faith, connection, and fresh ideas.
This Christmas, PYM worship communities and meetings needed to reconsider exactly how to engage Friends in virtual or distanced Christmas celebrations. With the help of many people, including resources shared by PYM’s Youth Religious Life Coordinator, Melinda Wenner Bradley, Friends came up with the wonderful ideas shared below. [Read more…] about How Meetings Coped with a (Mostly) Virtual Christmas
Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections is now accepting applications for its 2021-2022 fellowship program. Fellowships are available to scholars at any stage of their careers; projects funded by these fellowships should engage with our collections in unique and creative ways.
We are pleased to offer two fellowships this year
- Gest Fellowship, for research on religion, historical religious practices, history, literature, material culture, Quakerism, or other topics supported by collections material
- Scattergood Fellowship, for research in the history of mental health
We recognize that there is still great uncertainty about travel and collections accessibility in the coming months due to COVID-19. Quaker & Special Collections offers virtual appointments and extensive reproductions, which will be available to all Fellows.
- Applications are due February 8, 2021.
- Full information on the fellowships and application process
Providence Meeting’s Middle School Friends led a highly successful vigil for immigrant rights at the Delaware County Courthouse on October 3, 2020. The event was to focus attention on the treatment of immigrants on the U.S. border and a call for action to address this issue. Supporting our middle school Friends were a large contingent from the Movement of Immigrant Leaders of Pennsylvania (MILPA) and local elected officials. [Read more…] about Providence Young Friends Host Immigration Vigil At Delaware County Courthouse
The Johnson House is Philadelphia’s only documented, accessible, and intact Germantown stop on the Underground Railroad. It is open to the public as a place of historic importance. Johnson House was built in 1768 and owned by a family of Quaker abolitionists who worked with free and enslaved people to secure a safe passage to freedom for numerous African Americans.
Access to technology and social connection has become ever more necessary, particularly for those who for a variety of reasons remain predominantly inside their current place of residence. This includes seniors and people with disabilities across ages. TechOWL – part of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University – is a lending library sending iPads, laptops, and internet connections (via hotspot) to seniors and people with disabilities throughout Pennsylvania. This technology would allow Friends to participate in online community activities, including worship and sessions, as well as to stay connected with family and attend telehealth appointments.
All devices can be borrowed for 4 weeks with an option for longer. The program is free and a local TechOWL specialist will:
- work with you to select the right device;
- load the software and the apps that you need and want;
- support and teach you throughout the process.
As the pandemic continues, and this week our nation struggles once more against the legacy of racial injustice and violence, our children look on.
Children and teens are experiencing the continued uncertainty of Covid and its impact on school, peer relationships, and future plans. Additionally, the events in Washington D.C. on January 6 were deeply disturbing and young people may feel anxiety, confusion, fear, sadness, or anger, and have questions about what they see and hear in the media and from friends. As parents, we’re holding space for our children’s feelings alongside our own anxiety, fury, and questions about moving forward. What follows are resources specifically for children, youth, and families.*
Where to Put Feelings
I was reminded by a Friend that worry dolls are a simple way to acknowledge children’s concerns and help them to find a place to put them. Sitting with a child while they share their worries, fears, and questions with the small doll and put it under their pillow at bedtime may not resolve the feelings, but it models healthy sharing and perspective.
Children need us to hear their concerns, and we can provide reassurance even if we do not have answers. Offering up our concerns in prayer is another way to acknowledge and place them in a larger “container” of our faith. This set of coloring pages “Prayers For When You Feel Anxious” includes both suggested prayers and three different sets of images for mindful coloring.
Young children cannot always articulate their feelings, and they may show us how they are feeling through play or behaviors. Sadness may look like: anger, tiredness, boredom, numbing out (often on screens), displaced frustration, resisting direction from adults. Their anxiety may show up as: anger, negativity, difficulty sleeping (particularly falling asleep), defiance, avoidance, lack of focus, over-planning, and chandeliering (“flying off the handle”).
In her article, Five Things Kids Need in Order to Learn and Thrive During this Pandemic Year (linked below), Stephanie Malia Krauss names children’s need to:
- Feel safe: physically and emotionally
- Know what’s going on (within age-appropriate parameters)
- Feel socially and emotionally connected
- Have time, space, and support to learn and create
- Feel loved and know they belong
Resources for Adults Supporting Children:
Spiritual Practices for Use During a Traumatic News Event from Traci Smith
A Kids Book About Anxiety by Ross Szabo from the “A Kids Book About” series. The inside covers suggests, ”This book is best read together, grownup and kid.”
It’s Not Just Adults Who Are Stressed. Kids Are, Too. — Identifying your child’s emotional and behavioral reactions to stress is crucial, experts say, especially when anxieties are high.
“It’s okay to just be sad” from Courtney Martin and her blog, “the examined family.”
“Coping with COVID-19: A Work Book for Kids and Teens” Designed to help children and teens communicate and cope with their feelings and emotions regarding the global Covid 19 pandemic. Includes writing and drawing prompts to help create a therapeutic experience and provide an opportunity to have open conversations. A good resource for pastoral care for young people (this resource does not touch on death or bereavement).
“Death feels closer”
There may be times in coming days when, in our experience as a meeting, or as a family, or as friends and neighbors, there is a child or young person dealing with loss. A research study published by Penn State University last summer concluded that every Covid-19 death leaves an average of nine survivors who have lost a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse or child. Millions of Americans are in mourning for friends and relatives, co-workers and community members.
Some of the more difficult conversations I’ve had in the past months with my own children have been about death. My college-aged child remarked during a conversation one day, “Death feels closer,”and has expressed anxiety about family and friends getting sick. A younger sibling has shown up at my bedside unable to sleep, and shared their deep uneasiness about the inevitability of death. “Darn existential questions!,” he tried to joke through tears.
As a parent, I hold my children close and provide what comfort I can. I’m glad for the Godly Play stories they heard and wondered about as younger children, which gave them images and language for big questions about the Divine and created spaces to come close to existential questions we all face about death and aloneness.
Thinking about how we talk about death and helping children develop a vocabulary for loss and grief is pastoral care preparation we can also do across ages in meeting communities. There are excellent resources for children through adolescents for talking about death and dying, that could be recommended to a family in need of support. In addition to this list of books about grief for young children through teens, the titles below are highly recommended.
Suggested Books about Death and Grief:
Giants by A.E. McIntyre, illustrated by ElisaBeth Steines. A gentle treatment of a child’s grief story, written by a parent who lost their own parent as a young child. Website for the book.
The Pear Tree A folktale retold by Luli Gray and illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight. Probably better for older children, the message is that death is a reality of life, but there is always hope.
Death Is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham is part of the “Ordinary Terrible Things” series. A realistic and moving read-along for a child and adult.
The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup is a story about remembering and letting go, and what remains — the forest animals lead the way.
A Little Blue Bottle by Jennifer Grant, illustrated by Gillian Whiting. Thinking about the sadness of losing a neighbor, and what our grief means to God. Includes a page, “Best Practices for When a Child Is Grieving.”
A Kids Book About Death by Taryn Schuelke from the “A Kids Book About” series. The inside covers suggests, ”This book is best read together, grownup and kid.”
*Pastoral Care for our Community during the COVID-19 Outbreak is another resource by my colleague George Schaefer, Care & Aging Coordinator. Adults seeking support can also reach out to the Friends Counseling Service.
Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator email@example.com. (My children gave their permission to be quoted in this piece.)
The events that have happened in our nation’s capital are deeply concerning. Below is a quote from Faith and Practice followed by a message from your Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Co-Clerks, Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch and Frank Barch, and the General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer [Read more…] about PYM Statement Concerning the January 6th Capital Insurrection
Quakers are interesting people, and they see things differently – because they are often looking for a sense of faith and connection in the smallest things. So when we came across the Twitter feed of Abington Friend, George Eastburn, we noticed the Quaker eye, and we also appreciated his voice. [Read more…] about George Eastburn’s Twitter Feed – A Quaker Voice in Social Media
The following story was submitted by Lehigh Valley Meeting member John Marquette. He attended the Zoom talk with Andrea Seabrook on January 6th. As a former NPR National Political Correspondent, Andrea created the event in response to the January 6th storming of the capital by Trump supporters. The Zoom was attended by more than 20 Quakers and friends, and served as a window into the soul of politics as seen by Andrea and others. [Read more…] about Zoom with former NPR Correspondent, Andrea Seabrook