Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
Thought for the Week
A spiritual path for our time
This year is the tenth anniversary of the birth of Quaker Quest. It began as a tentative idea. Friends in London had a concern. A concern about the future of their faith. How could they ‘reach out’ to people, particularly the broad community of spiritual ‘seekers’, who knew nothing about Quakerism. They gathered together and, as is the case with many good ideas, threshed their thoughts over time to see what might emerge. The idea they finally decided to develop was, at that stage, only a seed. It was nurtured carefully, tenderly and thoughtfully. It grew.
Quaker Quest, as the first article in our new series ‘Reaching Out’ makes clear, has developed from small beginnings to become a significant Quaker project. It is a tribute to the hundreds of Friends in Britain who have been involved in Quaker Quest that it has done so and that there are branches in all parts of the world. There is now an impressive array of background and support material. An enormous debt is due to those pioneers in London who, a decade ago, were prompted to act.
Every organisation needs, at regular intervals, to refresh itself. It needs to look at what it is doing and how it is doing it. It needs to consider what, and who, it actually exists for. It also needs to look for imaginative and creative ways of reaching out to the world and of being relevant to it.
Quaker Quest is an interesting attempt to ‘refresh’ Quakerism at a grassroots level. In the beginning, it was prompted by a desire to improve ‘outreach’ and to make the Quaker way of worship and life known to more people. It did not set out to attract more members – though it has done so – but to bring hundreds of non-Quakers into our Meeting Houses to share our experience of a ‘spiritual path for our time’. It has managed to do this.
The ‘unintended consequences’ of changes and innovations, however, are often as significant as the intended ones. Quaker Quest, which was set up as a project to improve outreach, has also become an invaluable means of ‘inreach’. It has, over the years, enriched the lives and understanding of many members and attenders by facilitating and allowing Friends to hear the personal testimonies of others in their Meeting. Many Friends have been renewed in their appreciation of, and commitment to, living their lives in a Quaker way – a way inspired and informed by Quaker values and testimonies and spiritually rooted in a gathered Meeting for Worship.
Many Friends who have taken up the invitation to speak about an aspect of their faith at a Quaker Quest event have, also, found it extremely worthwhile. A Friend recently expressed this in words: ‘When you accept an invitation to talk about your faith you have to be able to say what you believe. It is challenging. You have to find words for what, in the past, you have perhaps just taken for granted. It forces you not to waffle and ramble. You have to tease out what you believe and why you believe it and why it is important to you.’
Quaker Quest has created a framework in which people and ideas can grow. Love is the foundation and heart of Quakerism. Quaker Quest has also reminded Friends of the importance of this, of how it must be transformed into actions, and that it cannot be taken for granted. As William Penn wrote:
‘Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity; but, for that reason, it should be most our care to learn it.’
Some Fruits of Solitude, c1690
Ian Kirk-Smith Editor of the Friend the Friend, 6 January 2012