Producer-Director Janet Gardner and Senior Producer Richard (Dick) Nurse are celebrating this October’s World Quaker Day in an unusual way.
The Gardner Documentary Group’s film–‘Quakers: the Quiet Revolutionaries‘ has been picked up by WHYY, Philadelphia’s Public TV station, for a 6:00 PM airing on October 6th. The two Princeton Friends Meeting members have labored for more than seven years to bring the documentary to completion, so they relish the public attention a WHYY screening affords and are hopeful that their deft and thoughtful Quaker history will raise the profile of a uniquely grounded Faith.
Janet Gardner, a field producer, film editor and news writer for NBC News and WNBC-TV, WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.) and CBS News got the idea for making a film about Quakers during a ‘Quaker Pilgrimage’ trip she took to England with her husband in 2010. As part of the trip, which is organized as both faith tourism and a teaching of history through experience, Friends Council on Education took the group on a climb up Pendle Hill, the Lancashire mountain that Quakerism’s founder, George Fox, climbed in 1652. Upon reaching the top, Fox had a vision for an entirely new Christian faith community, one that would attract other seekers who were looking for a direct relationship with God unhindered by the forms, rules, and oppressive history expressed in Catholicism, by the Puritans, and the establishment Church of England.
From the heights of Pendle Hill, Fox had a vision of ‘a great people gathered.’ From this moment he shaped a movement that soon became the Quaker Faith. Aided by other visionary thinkers, like Margaret Fell, Fox quickly grew the Faith to a community numbering 100,000 Friends strong. Persecuted in England for their refusal to pay tithes and attend church, many followed William Penn to America, purchasing shares of farmland and building a colony grounded in religious freedom.
Returning home from England, Gardner started to research whether any documentaries on the founding of Quakerism existed. She noticed films about Islamic, Jewish and other faiths, but came up short when she looked for films on Quakers. From this void, Gardner’s quest to create ‘Quakers: the Quiet Revolutionaries‘ was born.
Funded by individual donations, a Kickstarter campaign, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and gifts from Quaker Meeting communities or foundations, the film covers the history of Quakerism all the way up to modern times. It tackles Quaker social justice movements, the work to end war, environmental activism, and the mission to provide care for displaced and suffering peoples in the aftermath of World Wars I and II.
The film’s selection by WHYY is a tribute to the value of a good idea, individual persistence, and the gift of a fascinating story. All in all, it is a fitting way to celebrate World Quaker Day 2019. Thank you Janet and Dick! Your film is a testament to the power of faith.