Questpost 7: on the cusp

Imported from iWeb:

Questpost 7: on the cusp In two days, on Sunday April 6th, Quaker Quest will appear in America for the first time. And I say, hallelujah.

I have been so deeply dug into the minutia of preparations, that I haven’t had the time to reflect. Even now, writing this, I am reluctant to say anything, except that we are ready. The speaker have been rehearsing, the “team” is prepared to staff the session, I have rehearsed and gotten feed-back on my “spiel” as host. The yard signs and posters are up, the radio spots are running and I have received one call, and seen some web-discussion too (i.e. “I’m going to Quaker Quest Sunday – anyone need a ride”?)

There is a longer post forming inside me, or an article. It’s gathered around several points.

We were able to prepare and offer Quaker Quest more quickly than recommended (four months, not six), mostly because I was hired as an Outreach Coordinator for my meeting. This is in itself an innovation – that my meeting was willing to create, through grant money – a position devoted to creating connections to the wider community around the meeting. Seen in the light (or shade) of our history of withdrawal from the world, I regard the support my meeting has given to the Outreach Coordinator position a marked departure from Quaker tradition.

It has also brought to my mind a concern about the way we view paying Friends to do work for Quaker causes. There is a reluctance to pay Friends for work they do in support of the Testimonies. This seems to many to be against our tradition of not having “hireling ministers”. But, speaking as one who works joyfully for my meeting, and is paid for it, I can say that I could not do what I have been able to do if I was not paid. The reason? My economic circumstances are such that if I was not working for the meeting, I would need to be working somewhere else (part-time), in order to support my family. And so my concern is that in not paying some willing and able Friends for work they do, we are creating a classist system in which the only people able to be fully engaged in a meeting are the ones rich enough to not worry about money that much. For the rest of us – some of whom are like me, working three or four part-time jobs per year to get by – committing the number of hours required to do meaningful work in a meeting without a pastor, is nearly impossible.

Anyway, that’s a backwards way of saying “thank you” to my meeting for hiring me, and for giving me the opportunity to participate in the process called Quaker Quest . . . which is only just beginning.

PS: I’m going to try posting photos and movies of QQ sessions here later!

Friday, April 4, 2008