Seeking Faithfulness 2013: Michael Gagné

Lectures, Seeking Faithfulness

Michael Gagné gave the 2013 William Penn Lecture, titled “Toward a Great Turning: Love, Soulforce, and the Future of the Religious Society of Friends”  at Arch Street Meeting House On March 23. Two hundred people were in attendance for the event.

For over 20 years, Michael Gagné has carried a deep concern for the Earth and for future generations. With a background in grassroots organizing and experiential education, he is a trainer of nonviolent direct action and is often a guest educator in high schools, colleges, and universities.

After moving to Philadelphia from Montreal, Canada, in 2006, Michael became an active member of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He has served in staff roles as well as being Clerk of the Committee to Re-Vision the Peace Testimony. While serving as Eco-Justice Organizer, Michael helped create programs such as Called to Action, a six-month training process for Friends exploring Spirit-rooted social action. In 2009, Michael helped launch the Earth Quaker Action Team and its campaign to end mountain-top-removal coal mining.

Currently, Michael serves as the Executive Director of Envision Peace Museum, an emerging museum in Philadelphia dedicated to “fostering insight into the meanings and roots of peace, while empowering people to overcome violence and injustice in their lives and in the world.” In this work, he finds inspiration in working with others to build capacity for compassionate, grounded, courageous, and strategic peace work.

Michael is a convinced Friend and a member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. He lives with his family at Pendle Hill, the Quaker study center in Wallingford, PA.

Toward a Great Turning: Love, Soulforce, and the Future of the Religious Society of Friends

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We live in a time of accelerating and interconnected crises – a time in which there are many social challenges and divisions that “stand against love.” It also true we live in a time of great positive change in which there is a good deal of convergence of love, power, and of the work for peace, justice, human rights, and ecological health. As author Paul Hawken quipped, “things are getting much, much better, and much, much worse simultaneously”.

It has been said that these convergent crises and movements represent a great opportunity for awakening and spiritual growth – a potential “Great Turning” toward healthier relationships with spirit, society, and planet. Embracing this opportunity will, however, require risk, sacrifice, and the uprooting of cherished myths – Quaker and otherwise.

  • How can Friends most effectively participate in this Great Turning?
  • How can love and power, faithfulness and effectiveness be reconciled in our lives, our meetings, our organizations and our movements?
  • What needs to be laid down or set aside in order for deeper transformation to be possible?