The Quaker Institute is a new collaboration between Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting and Pendle Hill. Its purpose is to develop and present programming that deepens the quality of our faith and practice in community. It does this by assembling teams of experienced workshop leaders—who have worked locally, nationally and internationally—to grow spirituality, religious education, clerking, and deeper worship within Quaker communities. The program will launch on May 30th and run through the morning of June 2nd.
Think of the Institute as a retreat program devoted to growing your meeting’s sense of itself as a faith community. This work will support the quality of your spiritual programming, your ministry, and your acculturation of Friends who are new to the Faith. It will develop open minds, listening hearts, and Friends who’ll leave with new tools and skills.
Meetings have indicated a need for this.
Quaker faith communities become distracted by the need to pay attention to individual member/attender needs, property issues, religious education, committee work and meeting for business. The Quaker Institute organizers—John Meyer, Communications and Outreach Coordinator and Francisco Burgos, Director of Education—note that:
“meetings get consumed by paying attention to the needs of individuals and cannot answer the call to generate … care of the whole meeting. This four-day event tries to serve as a platform for people representing different meeting communities to share, learn and explore together how we can have more vibrant communities in living out Faith and Practice.”
Given the constant flow of committee work and business to be done, Friends become so pressured by leadership issues that attention to the quality of worship gets sidelined.As Francisco says, “when we focus on the surface of things, we find that’s where we actually end up.”
The Quaker Institute responds to this by taking monthly meetings to a deeper place – one where we live our faith in worship as a community.
What Quaker skills will be taught?
The program, which runs from late afternoon Thursday through Sunday morning offers a variety of speakers and workshops—all centering on “Quaker skills” like discernment, naming gifts, and spiritual nurture, while considering how strengthening individual skills in these areas can support corporate worship. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, participants will have a choice of workshops focused on different topics. On Saturday there is a rich panel discussion on “Building the Fabric of Community in our Meetings”.
Clerking, pastoral care, and religious education (with a focus on young people) are linked topics that get explored across the program.
Who should attend?
To maximize impact, and coverage of all issues, it is best to send a group of three people from your meeting community. However, one is better than none, and two or three are much better than one! Many meetings have dedicated funding for this purpose, so a conversation with your Spiritual Life Clerk or the Clerk of your meeting can help determine whether financial support is available.
In addition to proving tools and time for reflection, Pendle Hill staff sees the weekend as a bonding experience that helps meeting communities transcend siloed committee work. It’s a way to share, learn and explore new ways to build a more vibrant Faith community with in your meeting – and of course live out the vision expressed in Faith and Practice.
Sign up is through the Pendle Hill website.
Other support you can find for your faith at PYM and Pendle Hill
At PYM there are resources for youth and families, meetings dealing with challenges like interpersonal conflicts, the death of key Friends, plus grants for the renovation of a building, travel or witness (Young Adults) and more. There are collaboratives and sprints that exist to support specific initiatives. Pendle Hill offers an annual clerking workshop, and pastoral care programs, plus many other solutions addressing a range of needs. More information can be found on our PYM website and at PendleHill.org.