A Unique Quaker Offering to Chautauqua

Religion is one of the four pillars of the Chautauqua experience (along with The Arts, Education, and Recreation).  The Department of Religion has a long, rich tradition of supporting denominational houses that enrich the religious and spiritual experiences of visitors at the summer assembly. The Quaker House at Chautauqua is the newest, only 3 years old, bringing the total to 15.  Our mission it to seek the Living Water at the intersection of Chautauqua and Quakerism; to provide spiritual nourishment. 

Each denominational house has a weekly Chaplain. Using more Quakerly language, we call ours, Friend of the Week.  The Friend of the Week’s role is to deepen a Quaker presence at the House and on the Chautauqua grounds, contribute to programming, and participate in the community. Programming includes Sunday Meeting for Worship, Brown Bag lunches for presentation and discussion, social hour, and a Friend in Residence workshop, plus special events. The Friend of the Week is integral to the Quaker House program and community. 

We seek to match each Friend of the Week with a weekly theme about which they have background knowledge and expertise.  They facilitate relevant conversations and overlay a Quaker perspective onto the issues that arise. We listen to them talk about their work in the world and how Spirit has led them along the way.  We engage a diverse group of Friends of the Week (ethnicity, gender, age, Quaker affiliation, life/work experience) to bring multiple voices to our conversations.  The Friends of the Week help us live into the intersection of Chautauqua and Quakerism.

Find a listing of our Friends for the Week for 2023 here.

Quaker House Hosts Homeboys and Homegirls

            Home boys and Home girls have found their Chautauqua home with the Quaker House – their official host at Chautauqua.

Music brings us together

Three groups of 4, each group comes for a week and stay at the QHC.

Food brings us together – Taco night!

Entering into the Chautauqua sabbatical experience, they take home experiences of sailing, new friends, and affirmation of their humanity from a radically different world. They experience theater, opera, and pottery, leaving behind for us their witness of amazing human transformation based on the vision of Father Greg Boyle founder of the world’s largest program of gang rehabilitation and reentry.                 https://homeboyindustries.org

Ready to see Chautuaqua Lake up close

It is based on the premise that we are all exactly who God meant us to be and that through love, mutuality and kindness we can discover our true selves.

Safety on the water

And always celebrating with homemade ice cream.

Doesn’t ice cream make us all smile?


Blog post by Sue Tannehill — Steering Committee and web support.

Each month during the off season, a member of our Steering Committee posts a reflection for our blog. This  month’s blog is late and as we are almost at Thanksgiving time, gratitude seems like a good theme for November. Western New York just finished shoveling out from a “Snowvember” event that left as much as 82” of snow in Hamburg, NY ( about 45 minutes from Quaker House).  North of Buffalo, where I live, we only got about 15”. I am grateful to all who plowed the streets and for the amazing ways in which people pull together and help one another at times like these.

Bestor Plaza last year –not as much snow as 2022!

 At Quaker house, we are making use of this down time by winterizing the building, evaluating policies and planning programming for the 2023 season. This year, winterizing doesn’t mean draining the pipes, it means insulating walls and crawl spaces, working to get the building usable during the winter. We are grateful to Fredonia Friends Meeting – located about a half hour away – which offered us funds to do this work. It will expand the kinds of hospitality that Quaker House can offer during the off season.

Quaker House had much to be grateful for during the 2022 season.  People stopped by our newly created patio and ate grilled corn cooked by Gary (Check out the zany Corn Song  that is going viral) enjoyed wonderful conversations and music too!

Making music on the patio

Our Friends in Residence agreed to a multi-year agreement, building on the relationships they forged over the summer 2022 season. Kriss is also building relationships among the Denominational Houses, which hold a unique space on the grounds of the Institution. Her work means increased communication and support among these houses. Gary’s music gifts bring people together. The entire Steering Committee is delighted!

Making ice cream on the patio

  As a parting gift for the season, Kriss created a photographic essay that imitates the rhythm of the book, Good Night Moon. I put a button to it on the home page of the website. Please take a look!

Reservations will open for previous guests December 1st 2022, and for new guests Jan 1st 2023. We hope that your summer plans include a visit to Quaker House! If you live nearby, remember that Sundays are always free and you are always welcome.

Quakers, Chautauqua and Historical Research – Part 2)

blog post by Mary Finn —

(See part One in the  February 2022 blog post)

Early Tenting on Chautauqua grounds.

When I learned a few years ago that Quakers met at Chautauqua in 1900 to form Friends General Conference (FGC), “The most influential center of American Liberal Quakerism in the 20th c.” (Hamm, 2020), I was surprised and intrigued. Who were these Quakers and why had they come to Chautauqua to create this new organization?

I had not seen any reference before to a special connection between the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Chautauqua Institution although of course there is a Quaker Meeting here on Sundays during the nine week “season”. But most mainline religious denominations have Sunday services here too so it hadn’t occurred to me that there might be more to the story. However, when I saw that not only had up to 2000 Quakers spent a week here during the middle of August, 1900, and that their organizational activities had been a major part of the Chautauqua program–with every meeting and event listed in the Daily and reviewed by the newspaper staff—I decided to keep digging.

My questions and tentative answers:

Who were those “Hicksite” Quakers who founded Friends General Conference?

They were Liberal, reform-minded Quakers from seven “Hicksite” Yearly Meetings. Many also were or had strong connections to “Progressive Quakers” who had formed their own yearly meeting in Longwood, PA in 1853, after almost 20 years of struggle for reform within the Hicksite yearly meetings. The conflict over reform began shortly after the 1827 Separation that divided the Religious Society of Friends in the U.S. into two rival streams generally referred to as Hicksite (liberal) and Orthodox (conservative).

The story of the founding of FGC in my view is the story of the “Liberal” Quaker response to the steady decline in the number of Hicksite Quakers, the undemocratic structure of the Society of Friends, and the need for social reform. So the story becomes WHO were those Liberal Quakers and what exactly was their reform mission? How has Quakerism practice today been impacted by their reforms?

The hero of the story, again in my view, is Henry Wilbur, a birthright Quaker member of New York Yearly Meeting that you have never heard of but who drew the disparate interests of FGC founders into a shared commitment to Outreach, to sharing the Truth Quakers had discovered.

What drew Quakers to Chautauqua from Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Genesee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois Yearly Meetings* to establish this new organization?

Four Associations had formed within each of the seven Hicksite Yearly Meetings to address Quaker concerns: the First Day School Association; the Union for Philanthropic Labor; the Religious Association, and the Education Association. Beginning in 1868 the Associations from each yearly meeting began to gather together to address their shared concerns. These gatherings had always previously met in “Friendly” neighborhoods where Quaker ‘peculiarities’, which were gradually being discarded, were accepted as part of the scenery. Why did the process that had been in place since 1868 change? Was this first stepping out motivated by the desire to conduct outreach?

*(combinations of Friends’ local Monthly Meetings located in loosely defined geographical areas)

Why did two Methodists from Ohio, John H. Vincent, a minister and Lewis Miller, a prosperous entrepreneur, who co-founded Chautauqua Institution in 1874, invite Liberal Hicksite Quakers to hold their 1900 gathering at Chautauqua in the midst of the Assembly “season”?

According to Deborah Haines (2000), “The relationship between Chautauqua and Friends General Conference has yet to be researched.” But I have identified some areas of common interest that offer clues if not definitive answers to these questions. It’s a complicated story with many intersecting topics but it seems clear that the founders of Chautauqua, and those who founded Friends General Conference, shared the outlook of Religious Liberals, a widespread movement in the late 19th c. that sought more liberty in religious beliefs, and a vastly expanded access to a liberal and liberating education.

Lastly, How can we discern the import of these events for Friends and Chautauquans today, one hundred and twenty-two years later?

Chautauqua Institution, a quickly growing educational concern, had, during the twenty-six years preceding the 1900 origination of FGC, devised and developed one imaginative educational innovation after another, some more successful and lasting than others, but with enough value overall to earn CHQ respect in the history of adult education.

Quakers, in 1900, had been around for 350 years and, in America, had suffered from division and conflict and their own low-grade civil war for decades. The founding of FGC in 1900 promised a greater ascendancy of the Liberal and Progressive elements within the Society of Friends, a story that has not been properly told.

Haines (2000) provides a Brief Historical Overview of FGC as a start in remedying the fact that the creation of FCG has been largely overlooked in the history of the “spiritual re-awakening” that transformed American Quakerism in the late 1800s. Strangely, however, her story of the Liberal Hicksite founders of FGC opens with a discussion of the impact of the spiritual re-awakening on the Orthodox version of Quakerism that competed with Liberal Quakerism. Fager (2002) has an explanation for Haines’ lapse but that comes later in the story. The significant point for now is that the Liberal/Progressive version of Hicksite Quakerism provides a vision that could today, as was proposed in 1900, begin to reverse a decline that threatens the very existence of the denomination.

Liberal Quakers shared the Chautauqua founders’ vision of the way forward through education to both;

a) modernize the understanding of Bible stories, and the structure of religious organizations,

b) increase each individual’s belief in their power to think for themselves and to demand a just democracy through a liberating education.

The story of these common interests and shared values begins with the Sunday School movement that originated in England in 1781. Sunday Schools were introduced in America shortly thereafter, 1786. But we’ll skip ahead a century—to the post-Civil War rapid expansion of Sunday and First Day Schools and consider how Sunday Schools contributed to the Chautauqua founders’ goal of eliminating the “opportunity gap” resulting from lack of education for adults, and to FGC’s founders’ desire to share with adults through outreach the core Quaker doctrine of establishing a “democracy of opportunity”.

Watch for a future blog on the rise of Sunday Schools and First Day Schools

Goodbye Season

Good-bye Orange

Good-by Red

Good-bye Bestor Flower Bed
Good-bye Shadow
Good-bye Chalk

Good-bye Private Lakeside Dock

Good-bye Park
Good-bye Bricks
Good-bye Rowing boats with sticks

Good-bye Season – Hello Fall
Peace be with us one and all.

Closing Chapter of the Summer

This blog is from Friend in Residence Kriss Miller – a reflection on her first year as Friend in Residence along with her husband Gary.

I’ve read a lot of good books in my life, but I have read very few books that became so
intertwined with my own longing that I slowed the pace of my reading to delay the ending. Those books are rare and delicious and require a particular kind of savoring. They teach one about their own dreams and desires. I love those books.

This summer at Chautauqua was one of those “books” for me. I came to this position with
curiosity, excitement, and a heartfelt desire to do all I could to support the Quaker House and its mission. As the summer wore on I felt my growing connection to these grounds, the founding ideals of Chautauqua, and the Quaker House intersection with these more deeply than I could have anticipated. I was introduced to a wide range of characters that brought joy, insight, and meaning into the story of my summer. The settings and storylines ranged from beautiful and idyllic to stressful, even terrorizing, in ways that would have been almost unimaginable at the beginning of the season.

The Chautauqua experience is both a tale of fiction and non-fiction. The storyline is unique; messy, beautiful, creative, and mystical. This story is filled with dynamic and interesting characters; talented, inspiring, and living lives of paradox. It is an ongoing story where current chapters are being written that clarify both the facts and fiction of past chapters. It is a riveting story that develops characters who are part of an experience and experiment of what it means to be in community with humans striving for high ideals in both the best of times and the worst of them. Each of us here this summer took our place in this story.

The 2022 season went by so fast. Too fast. This was a “beach read” that I couldn’t slow down. It was an immersive practice of being in and savoring the moment. It was a recognition of the importance of engaging in this practice of being every day as we write the story of our own lives.
Be in peace, friends.

Week 5 Blog Post

Guest post from our Week 5 Friend of the Week, David Wakeley.  David is from Wilmington, Delaware and is a member of Centre Monthly Meeting in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

The theme from Week Five was “Democracy and the Vote.”  As I thought about how to view this theme through my Quaker filter, the words of Isaac Pennington from over 350 years ago came to me.  “Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.” (1667)

I heard this advice from Rev. Jordan-Simpson in her sermons several times throughout the week.  On Sunday she asked us “to not stop looking for God in the eyes of your neighbor.”  She went on to say that if we do so, hope cannot be defeated.  I heard this advice again from her on Tuesday when she reminded us that the most radical thing we can do when the worst things happen is to stand with one another as a friend and just listen for a while.  Later in the week she asked us to remember that we are all held together as one and we all have a place.

All the speakers from both the 10:45am and 2:00pm lectures articulately and forcefully laid out the challenges facing our democracy today.  Trevor Potter reported that there is widespread dissatisfaction with our institutions and leaders at levels not seen for a few generations.  Sherman Clark later that day observed that the public rhetoric today (as we all are surely aware) is divisive and angry.  Public rhetoric, he noted, is indicative of the kind of community we wish to be.   Linda Chavez reminded us that a functional democracy is fully dependent on absolute trust, something which has eroded measurably across the political spectrum in the recent past.  Frank Thomas spoke forcefully about the human tendency to lie in order to explain away irreconcilable differences to convince ourselves that our motives are pure and consistent.  (e.g. It’s not about voter suppression, it’s about making sure that the vote is fair and secure).  In short, we are a fractured nation which has lost confidence in our government to provide for the common good, and we are at once increasingly incapable of civil dialogue and increasingly concerned about violence in our elections.

All week I found myself wondering how we came to such a place.  When I was a kid growing up, we seemed to be a nation that dreamed.  We envisaged sending people to the moon and then did it.  We imagined that we could perhaps end poverty and for a time at least tried.  And of course Martin Luther King had a dream.  I think that Americans still dream, but our dreams seem to be drown out by the polarization of our politics and our public discourse, and maybe fear or doubt that we cannot do what we dream.  I believe that we can do almost anything that we dream, but doing so requires that we regard one another as neighbors, not enemies. 

So as I ponder the challenges to our democracy and nation as laid out during the week filtered through Friend Isaac Pennington, there are a few things that come to mind that resonate with Quaker theology:

  1. Let us begin by listening to each other. Really listen, and deeply listen.  Listen to people you disagree with, not with the intention of changing them or changing their mind, but just to learn something about them.  As Valerie Kaur wrote, “Listening does not grant the other side legitimacy. It grants them humanity—and preserves our own.” 1  So we must listen earnestly, with wonder and curiosity.  Instead of asking what is holding a person back from changing their mind, we might ask ourselves, what are we holding on to.  Listening in this way leaves open the possibility to be changed by others.  If we can listen to one another like this, we will not be able to make an enemy out of our neighbors. 
  • At the same time we must not look away or avert our gaze, nor let ourselves go numb to the real problems we face.  In these days when all hell is breaking lose we can’t afford to let power structures which distort truth extinguish our hope.  George Fox understood that when he called out the hypocrisy of clergy during his time.  John Woolman and the many other abolitionists would not let wealthy landowners who enslaved people avert their gaze from the truth that owning people is inconsistent with the Gospel. And Lucretia Mott and the suffragettes would not let the male political structure look away from the truth that denying women the vote was nothing other than a pitiful attempt to deny women political power. 
  • We must have the courage to stand up to lies and name them as such, but we must also do so in a way that separates the lie or the action from the person.  It is possible to love people who think things and do things that hurt us.  I think we all have had that experience.  We must “bear with one another and forgive one another.”  It’s hard, but it’s possible and it’s consistent with the teaching of the Gospel and Friends’ theology that we are all united as one with God through an inextinguishable divine spark. 

Let me close then with this passage from John’s gospel:  22 The glory that You have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and You in me, that they may become completely one.”  (John 17:22-23)  May we one day learn to be completely one.

1  Valerie Kaur, “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love,” (Random House: New York), 2020.

David is a 2022 graduate from Earlham School of Religion with a MA Peace and Social Transformation.  In September, he will begin a residency in hospital chaplaincy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

What is Quaker House? What is Chautauqua?

Blog post by Max and Jane Carter Friends of the Week-

Our Friends of the week, Max and Jane Carter had never experienced either Quaker house or Chautauqua. enjoy their perspective with “new” eyes.

What is Quaker House at Chautauqua — and for that matter, what on earth is a Chautauqua?! After a week there, it’s still hard to describe a house of hospitality that “becomes” whatever the many people who visit it weekly bring to the house — and an Institution that offers more than 50 programs daily, from which one can only reasonably take in a handful!

As Friends-in-Residence for week #8 of Chautauqua’s summer season, we were delighted to try to begin unpacking the meaning. Having never been to the Institution, let alone Quaker House, before, we had little idea of what was in store for us. Soon we learned: it’s like drinking from a fire hose! First off, the hospitality offered by our hosts at Quaker House, Kriss and Gary, made us feel wonderfully welcomed as “newbies” and “outlanders” from that realm of Quakerism so many in the North have less clue about than we did about Chautauqua: the South! It certainly helped that we shared common roots in Indiana and that Kriss’s best friend in high school was Max’s campus ministry student worker when he was at Earlham College! But beyond that, our hosts guided us through the rich array of daily offerings, accompanied us to various programs, and invited us into stimulating conversations and opportunities. Kriss even digitized many of the Quaker history slides Max had mothballed since retiring from teaching at Guilford College seven years ago!

Our offerings at Quaker House were meager in comparison with what we gained. There was a brown bag lunch discussion about Max’s spiritual journey from a circumscribed farm and evangelical Quaker background to a more expansive theology and work in multi-faith campus ministry and peace & justice service in Palestine. And there was a reflection on the week’s theme at Chautauqua, “New Profiles in Courage.” Choosing to emphasize “holy obedience” rather than “courage,” we shared the stories of Quakers who have displayed what most would call “courage,” but which those historical figures merely described as “obedience:” William Edmondson, Levi Coffin, Alice Shaffer, and Annice Carter. We also enjoyed informal conversations each day with our hosts, visitors to Quaker House, and the other guest for the week, Welling Hall.

It is harder to describe the rich smorgasbord of programs that we got to choose from. Daily worship with Kelly Brown Douglas; musical offerings; speakers ranging from Sr. Joan Chittister to Prima ballerina Misty Copeland to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa — and many, many more — moved, entertained, and inspired us. It was almost more fun, enjoyment, and stimulation than Quaker propriety might allow!

Max wrote daily Facebook posts about the experiences. We’ll conclude with his summary of the talk given by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). His comment about being informed by the “Golden Rule” espoused by Rabbi Hillel echoed a common theme of almost all the speakers during the week, whether “right,” “left,” or “center.” In our troubled times, we need to use whatever platform we have — not to promote ourselves but seek to elevate all by “doing unto others as we would have done to ourselves.”

With Liberty and Justice

(art by Christy Schee – ©Folding Hamster)

With Liberty and Justice

By Kriss Miller – Friend in Residence

As the days begin to shorten and we head towards what will soon be Fall, we will leave here to face a democracy in crisis. It was pretty much unanimous. Every speaker during week 5, where the theme of the week was Democracy and the Vote, mentioned the same thing over and again; we need to spend more time listening to each other. Every other, even the “other” others.

It seems like solving this problem might be easier for Quakers. Listening is in our cultural DNA. In the divisiveness of the political climate it is incredibly important to both model and share this practice; perhaps more than ever before. But easier isn’t always easy.

Today as we still sit in the balm that is Chautauqua we must wrestle with how to synthesize all that we have been offered in the 4 pillars of this special place; Religion, Arts, Education, and Recreation are the courses of daily manna offered here. We attend morning devotions from myriad faith practices, consume nearly hourly lectures from dawn to dusk while being offered 10+ weekly opportunities to sit in community and digest what we have taken in. This delectable experience is all scooped into a cone and served up with a symphony on top.

So rich is this experience that it cannot be the sustenance of our daily lives; this is a vitamin for envisioning, a spiritual supplement to make us strong enough to undertake the difficult job the founders of Chautauqua set forth for us all; take the message into your communities.

As we work towards a world of Liberty and Justice we must engage our capacity to listen. We must expand our capacity to hear beyond the words. We must listen for the rumbling hunger in our neighbors; a soul hunger rooted in exclusion, inequity, poverty, prejudice, loss, misinformation, and a deep craving for the deliciousness of connection. May we attend that hunger. And as we wait in the still silence may we remember to listen with our hearts as well as our ears.

Reflections from a Kenyan Quaker

Please note: This is a post from our week two Friend of the Week, Sussie Ingosi Ndanyi

“We are considering you to go to Chautauqua in New York State. Expect an email soon.” These words from one of the planners at the Quaker House at Chautauqua brought a sense of excitement within me. I had come to the United States over a year ago from Kenya and had not gotten an opportunity yet to visit this wonderful country. The thought of getting a glimpse of the topographical view of the various States across America as we take a road trip from Richmond, Indiana through Ohio, Pennsylvania into Chautauqua, New York was exhilarating. As I write this, I am sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of Quaker House, on 28 Ames Avenue in Chautauqua surrounded by huge trees providing a canopy of safety, imagining what kind of history these trees hold. Bikers are enjoying their uninterrupted rides; I see an elderly couple walk by hand-in-hand and marvel at their sense of joy. Yes, this peace of mind, I feel it too. The cool evening breeze is so refreshing for me, an international student currently undertaking studies at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana having come from Nairobi, Kenya. Chautauqua indeed is magical.  

I think of the theme for this week- The Wild: Reconnecting with our Natural World, and I am coming to terms with the reality of how far we as a people have moved away from the essence of life in terms of relationships with our creator.

One night, I attended the symphony concert, the very first-time live performance in my life. In listening to the organ and orchestra I was transfixed at how a different form of music, distinctive from my African drums, that involves singing and high impact energy is a source of entertainment. As the orchestra played the music, marked by periodic silence and building up to a crescendo, it wove a beautiful, melancholy music and I was totally captivated by it. This was a whole new experience. Sometimes the silence in our lives, when we intentionally listen, gives breath to the music when we have a discerning ear. Sometimes those silences bring a precious and new appreciation to life. In that moment I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, I smiled, feeling the connectedness with others in the amphitheater, for what the Lord had allowed me to experience in a faraway country among a different culture from my own drum-frenzy African experience. What might appear as the diverse dissonance in music is an opportunity to lean in, to have an attentive ear and enjoy the music.

This was truly wild.

I liken Quakerism to a rainbow with various colors in the Universe, its diverse styles of fellowship, be it silent worship where we allow the inward spirit to minister to our self or listening to the spoken word via a Pastor and therein lies the voice of God or a mixture of both, brings a spectrum of varying traditions and cultural experiences together in worship to express our Quaker message to the world.

Beliefs are embedded in the community. There are Quakers of all religious backgrounds, races, education, sexual orientation, gender identities and classes. We believe that every person is loved by the divine spirit. I am an African Quaker, where worship involves listening to a Pastor espouse the message from God. My belief is in a personal relationship with my creator, God as a friend whom I continuously communicate to through reading the bible, singing, and listening to Him especially when I take solitary walks, in so doing, receive clarity in my mind. This friendship with Jesus is conditional: “you are my friends if you do what I command you” John 15:14.

As I continue to mature in my Christian faith, I am tendering towards a commitment to always speaking my truth-so help me God. I often say more than is helpful when I could instead be curious to listen to and learn from people making different opinions. Such instances are an opportunity to lean in, to pay attention to the music that creates tension and release, dissonance and consonance. This is what my experience at Chautauqua was all about.

I kept reflecting on my Social location that in rooted in an African Quaker religious hierarchical background where the men have dominance in the church and women leaders are few. The unmarried women or single female parent are rarely welcomed to this table of leadership nor are they invited to participate in policy making at Church, yet they form a majority of members

My mission is to provide a voice of this marginalized group, I long for the day when I shall witness a female as head of Church in Kenya. I know for sure an army, a workforce of dedicated committed young women, wholeheartedly serving the body of Jesus Christ is in our future. What gives me confidence to work in the vineyard is expressed in 1st Thessalonians 5:24 that, “The one who called You is faithful, and he will do it.” The only thing I believe I have beyond everything else, is my voice, to be used in speaking up, to say the things that need to be said. If you are conscious of how things work, how things move, you will always find a place where your voice is needed. You will find there will always be gaps and and in those gaps, your voice is needed.

Another tenet of the Quaker belief is the Quaker Peace Testimony. The short version States: “utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons.” The peace testimony has always been more than that. It is an active expression of our understanding of the nature of how we should live in this world: and I would dare say, how to reconnect with the wild world. This is lived out by:

  1. an understanding that comes from our experiences of meeting together in worship:– periods of collective quiet prayer and reflection.
  2. It is an evolving expression of an insight at the heart of our approach to faith, challenging us in every generation.

We call it a “testimony” because it is how we witness to the world about our beliefs. Our experience is that everyone can respond to and express the living spirit of God within us.

We try to live out our commitment to peace in our daily lives and in our work, individually and together. Sometimes, we set up and support long- term individual and collective Quaker action as an expression of our peace testimony. At other times, simply “bearing witness” to a different way, a way that affirms the value of all life rather than denies it through warfare, is all we can do as individuals. But this too is an important part of our testimony. Herein lies my query.

And therefore, today in Chautauqua, in the Year 2022, I probe myself as a Quaker, with a view to affirm the value of life with the query, How do I witness my life to this wild Natural world?

The call to action is more important now than ever before in this hurting world. As we clamor to be heard and be visible in this wild world, I am reminded of the words of a poem “Desiderata” written in the early 1920’s by the American Writer Max Ehrmann that call us to be calm and gentle. In part it says,

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence…. speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit

May the reality of the gospel of accommodating (the other), the practice of meeting together in worship, the gospel of peace come alive in our spirits. Amen.