QREC Conversation Circle Summary. November 2019
Spirit of the Season: Wonder and Light in Advent, Christmas and the holidays
Topic: How can Quaker religious educators help children, families and Friends of all ages celebrate the birth of Jesus in a spirit of joy and simplicity? How can the sacred holidays be a time of wonder, inspiration and connection with those we love? Learn about Friendly Holiday Gift Fairs, a collaboration between QREC and Friends Peace Teams (see below). Join the conversation to explore approaches to the holidays and to share questions, ideas and experience.
Melinda Wenner Bradley, (West Chester MM, PhYM) After becoming a Godly Play¬Æ storyteller in 2005, Melinda co-authored Faith & Play:‚Ñ¢ Quaker Stories for Friends Trained in the Godly Play¬Æ Method. An accredited US Godly Play¬Æ Trainer since 2010, Melinda works with Quaker meetings and Friends schools to use these resources. A co-founder of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, she currently serves Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as the Youth Engagement Coordinator.
Local touch of spring weather reminds us that Friends live in varying climates around the world, and during the Christmas season we can be mindful of a northern hemisphere mindset predominating visuals
Experimenting with community worship (all ages together) and inviting locals from Friends retirement community and local Friends school (more below)
Centering wonder, inspiration, multigenerational for gatherings; and alternative gift giving
Friendly Gift Fair
Nadine Hoover (Friends Peace Teams, Buffalo NY, NYYM) Nadine has been a peace activist all her life. She brought her peace ministry in Asia under the care of Friends Peace Teams Peace in 2007, and currently clerks the FPT Peace Ministries Committee that gives attention to Friends called to peace ministries.
Beth Collea (QREC Steering Circle, Dover NH, NEYM) Beth recently moved to Dover, NH where she attends Dover Friends Meeting. She served NEYM as Religious Education & Outreach Coordinator for 14 years. Beth and her husband, Jeremiah Dickinson, have four young adult children who were raised in a blended family.Friendly Gift Fair
Alternative Gift Fair: Give the gift of peace through support for Quaker work
Message: This is what real peacemaking looks like in the world. Peace isn‚Äôt something on a Christmas card surrounded by angels
Grew out of focus to link U.S. (NE) Quaker children with Quaker activists
Spirit-centered peace work, Friends Peace Team programs worldwide
One description supports FPT young peacemaker training Aug 1 ‚Äì 9 in Buffalo for teens and their allies.
Instructions and written templates are all prepared:
QREC website: http://quakers4re.org/giftfairs2019
‚ÄúWork bench,‚Äù Googledrive page: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1jv_sETwc1wBUMi538uXtVYNYHq7uDsOe
Friends Peace Teams website: https://friendspeaceteams.org/
Advice: Keep it simple. Start with a table with the ‚ÄúShopping List‚Äù and gift card inserts
Honor friends with gift of support for peace making
Support for ministries folks connect with: ‚Äòspirit of giving‚Äô ‚Äì relationship
Blank description forms are available for local projects. Criteria: Are Friends in the local meeting directly involved?
Successive years: RE programs may want to study the projects and create displays
Post FWCC map and mark where projects are located: http://fwcc.world/fwccworldmap2017
Friends Peace Team is sharing 8 projects: 2 in US & territories; 2 in Latin America; 2 Asia; 2 Africa
Petrus Diem Sehining, Friends Peace Teams partner, joining from Indonesia
Grateful to Quakers for helping us go beneath the surface of conflict to see the truth of peace
Quakers have a special ability to bring peace through deep listening within ourselves and others
This listening brings people together, even enemies, into the same room to reduce violence.
We have looked to many faiths, but Quakers have been the ones to bring people with extreme views together to listen and make peace.
We are teaching Quaker peace making skills learned in FPT workshops to local children from many faiths: Buddhists, Moslems and Christians.
Multi-Cultural Celebration of Christmas and the Winter Holidays
Sally Farneth (Sparklers Working Group, Portland ME, NEYM) Sally is a retired public school teacher and also a First Day School teacher off and on for 35 years. She co-authored the first Sparklers with Nancy Pickering 38 years ago. She was a frequent participant in curriculum writing, mostly with Quaker FDS groups at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and FGC. She is one of 5 co-authors of Sparkling Still. She and her husband Alan moved from PA to Falmouth ME in August. They have one daughter and family in ME, another daughter and family in Madison WI, and a son in Tucson.
Lover of children‚Äôs books. A good picture book can communicate deep, lasting lessons
Taught about the holidays in public school in Arizona and in Langhorne, PA FDS
Theme locally, based on kids there; what traditions, holidays, stories
Started with a map: ‚Äòhow the holidays of this season are celebrated where their ancestors come from‚Äô
Using ‚ÄòLight‚Äô pulled in various diverse ideas; and food is a nice addition
Finding unique in families, yet in common
Mixture of books in basket covering holidays, backgrounds – familiar stories told in new ways
Sally‚Äôs favorite picture books for the holidays:
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten (2006)
Edge of the Night Sky by Teri Probasco (FGC publication, 1995) more about God‚Äôs presence
A Dozen Silk Diapers by Melissa Kajpust (1995)
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie De Paola (2001) ****
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski (1995) read to older children.
Night Tree by Eve Bunting(1991) young children/animals
Uncle Vova‚Äôs Tree by Patricia Polacco, (1989
The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco (1997) Jewish family provides Christmas for their sick Christian neighbors.
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, (1993)
Celebrate Hanukkah with Me by Shari Faden Donahue (1998)****
Lights For Gita by Rachna Gilmore (1994) A Story about Divali.****
Ramadan by Suhaib Hamid Gmazi (1996) factual story for older children. There may be newer books that would be better
The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson (1994) factual book about traditions for older children****
Lucia, Child of Light by Florence Ekstrand (1989), about Saint Lucia‚Äôs Day is Dec 13th. For older children
Melinda‚Äôs favorite books for the holidays:
All Creation Waits, by Gail Ross
The Light of the World, by Katherine Paterson. Simple telling of the life of Jesus. Read the first part at Christmas, then the rest in the Spring.
Refuge, by Sara Usher. UN book that may be hard to find.
That Baby in the Manger, by Ann E Neuberger
The Nativity, by Julie Vivas
Good website: We Need Diverse Books: https://diversebooks.org/
How do we approach these celebrations as Friends?
What can we share with RE colleagues from our experiences?
What can we share with families in our communities?
There is an adaptation of the Godly Play Advent story with less liturgical imagery (contact Melinda)
‚ÄúReverse Advent‚Äù idea: each week a different focus of giving (not just waiting until 25th)
Children a major part, with them presenting, building confidence, giving opportunity to lead
resources to remind early Friends eschewing celebrating Christmas
carols, gathering = party — all with focus of God present with us
3rd Sunday ‚Äòwatching and waiting‚Äô: expectation, light
Play Script to bring the story of nativity to the present: http://www.quakers4re.org/sites/default/files/Kennett%20Meeting%20PhYM%20Christmas%202016.pdf
remembering stories we know and connecting them to today
Dorothy: gathering Friends together from various places with music, food, poetry, showing talents of children
Melinda: Chuck Fager has a story, ‚ÄúA Quaker Christmas Story: Candles in the Window,‚Äù set in 1812. About a Quaker family that does not celebrate Christmas because ‚Äòevery day is holy‚Äô.
Melinda: What Color Was Baby Jesus‚Äô Hair: Representing Christ Multiculturally through famous works of art. Lesson plan on QREC website: http://quakers4re.org/find-resources/what-color-was-baby-jesus-hair-representing-christ-multiculturally?return_path=/find-resources%3Fkeys%3DJesus%2BArt
Melinda: Community worship for Christmas (all ages):
A couple of songs, sharing the Godly Play Advent Story (revised for Friends ‚Äî less litugical imagery), then settle into waiting worship
Quiet things to support children in the waiting worship: pipe cleaners, coloring mandalas, crayons, basket of books
- Sound rises, falls, as wiggle worship progresses – each time kids settle into deepening worship
Alison: Small Meeting, First Day School once a month, huge age spread. Singing once a month. For Christmas, combine the two. Children and youth today may not know Christmas carols.
Cameron: Potluck the Sunday before Christmas. Very popular! They use sign-up sheets. Gift exchange of handmade gifts. Sing carols after dinner. 12 Days of Christmas in which people stand up for the number of their birth month. Conclude with Silent Night by candlelight followed by silence.
Andrew: Durham meeting hosts monthly Soup, Spirit and Song. In December sing carols.
Christmas trivia with the middle and high schoolers. The teens brought trivia questions to the adults during the forum.
Christmas eve: 3 services,
3:30 PM, half hour, for young children & families. Tell Godly Play Christmas story.
5:00 PM main service with candles and singing
7:00 PM quiet, contemplative meeting
Experimented with having 5 children each tell one of the five parts of the story. Children can bring parts of a nativity set to the story
Melinda recommends having an unbreakable Nativity set in the RE classroom for children to work with
Javaughn Fernandez likes celebrating Winter; more inclusive and more time. Family makes ‚ÄòWaldorfy‚Äô crafts. Oregon West Hills Friends Meeting decorates the Meeting House on a particular date, serves cider, hot chocolate and it is intergenerational. They have a LOW KEY PAGEANT: kids just show up on the pageant day, put on a set of wings, the youngest child is usually Baby Jesus. On New Years Day they have a meal with African American dishes symbolizing prosperity.
Gail Koehler: Families in her meeting are uncomfortable with overtly Christian content. They have a holiday party, gift exchange and carol singing
Melinda introduced Faith & Play style story, The Light: A Story for December, about how light is a theme across cultures and religions.
Nan Tilton: Small meeting 6 -7 children. Very active Peace & Social Concerns committee led by the children. Compiling 30 boxes of food for Thanksgiving. So, Christmas play will be simple. On QREC website there is a script for a Simple Christmas Play by Nancy Pickering adapted from This Is the Stable, by Cynthia Cotton http://www.quakers4re.org/find-resources/plays-christmas-holidays
Nadine: Remember how valuable really simple things can be.
Sita: for Thanksgiving: while gratitude important, remembering the reality of the first people who were here, to learn more and deal with authentic stories.
Resources to observe Native American Heritage Month on QREC website: http://quakers4re.org/news/thanksgiving-and-native-american-heritage-month
Melinda lifted up two books for children about Indian boarding schools in Canada by Nicola Campbell: ‚ÄúShin-chi’s Canoe‚Äù and ‚ÄúShi-shi-etko‚Äù
Beth suggested the script for ‚ÄúThe Christmas Truce‚Äù in WWI. https://www.dramasource.com/scriptfiles/CT.pdfy
Nadine: Lack of materials about why Quakers don‚Äôt celebrate Christmas. When she was clerk of SEYM, she wrote a letter about how Friends consider all acts in our day to be sacraments. We don‚Äôt hold one day above another, but we do hold community sacred. She wrote letters for children to take the Yearly Meeting time off from school as a religious holiday. It was at a different time of year. She does not recommend trying to make this point during Christmas.
Abby: Her meeting has been developing an ongoing story for five years. It explains who Jesus is and refers to the Torah, the message of peace Jesus is bringing. The story is told in brief readings with songs as interludes. Friends of all ages participate in the performance. This year they are starting the conversation early about WHY they are hosting this pagent.
Abby: Goosecreek Friends Meeting posts all lesson plans on the Meeting website.
December Conversation Circle: Spiritual Deepening with Children (FGC)
Facilitator: Rachel Ernst Stahlhut
Tuesday, 12/10 1:00 PM US Eastern time
Thursday, 12/12 8:00 PM US Eastern time
QREC Annual Conference: Mark your calendar!
August 14 ‚Äì 16, 2020
Catholic Conference Center
Hickory, North Carolina
We are seeking Friends to serve on the Planning Circle, especially from North Carolina and around the Southeastern US. Contact Beth Collea: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advent, Christmas and Winter Holidays
Presence in the Midst: Preparing for Christmas – from Wichita Friends School
Heartland Friends Meeting Christmas Story (an interactive version of the Nativity, based on the Godly Play stories for Advent)
12 Multicultural Books about the Nativity, from The Color of Us
A Multicultural Representation of the Baby Jesus — lesson and children’s book resources‚Äã
Also shared in GoogleDocs by Kennett Meeting (PhYM): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yNkMzmbHspAuiqQKz3KTVB9i0h8M164YS6WCeMr7su8/edit
Christmas Programs with a Twist — a collection of plays by Elinor Briggs (PhYM)
Unplug the Christmas Machine — book by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli with tips to simplify and deepen Christmas
A Quaker Christmas Story: Candles in the Window, by Chuck Fager: https://afriendlyletter.com/a-quaker-christmas-story/
Large coloring pages, Illustrated Ministry: https://store.illustratedministry.com/collections/advent
Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month:
In the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated in November and so is Native American Heritage Month. Share these resources to acknowledging Native culture and give thanks in accordance with Friends’ testimonies of peace, integrity, equality and stewardship. See the QREC website for more: http://quakers4re.org/news/thanksgiving-and-native-american-heritage-month
Traditional Native American Folk Tales retold by Native authors: https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/native-american-folktales-for-kids/?fbclid=IwAR3gc39qaZz1hHe4w-XqIPa32h8srvxIT_L794aI87iRZBymS96PI86gHcc
Two books about Native American children by Nicola I. Campbell, Kim LaFave (Illustrator)
Decolonizing Thanksgiving. (Joan Broadfield) When celebrating Thanksgiving, it is important to acknowledge the culture of first peoples and avoid the whitewashed ‚ÄòPilgrims and Indians‚Äô story. This Books for Littles blog contains a brief list of children‚Äôs books countering the myth of the ‚ÄòFirst Thanksgiving.‚Äô
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, by Jake Swamp, is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada, still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations.
‚ÄãThanksgiving: A Native Perspective, Ed: Doris Seale (Santee/Cree), Beverly Slapin, and Carolyn Silverman (Cherokee/Blackfeet). This sourcebook of essays, speeches, stories and activities will help teachers and students think critically about what has been, and continues to be, taught as the ‚Äúfirst Thanksgiving.” http://oyate.org/index.php/component/hikashop/product/372-thanksgiving-a-native-perspective?Itemid=11
The Thanksgiving Tale We Tell Is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I‚Äôve Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday, By Sean Sherman, author of:
The Souix Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen: https://sioux-chef.com/
Date: November 19,2019 – 1-2:15
Melinda Wenner Bradley
West Chester PA, PhYM
Madison WI, NYM
Buffalo NY, NYYM
Portland ME, NEYM
Dover NH, NEYM
Nairobi, Kenya YM
Grass Valley CA, PacYM
Atlanta GA, SAYMA
Norman OK, SCYM
Santa Monica CA, PacYM
Berkeley Friends Church, WARSF
Grass Valley CA, PacYM
Date: November 21,2019 ‚Äì 8:00 PM
Melinda Wenner Bradley
West Chester PA, PhYM
Madison WI, NYM
Buffalo NY, NYYM
Dover NH, NEYM
Lincoln VA, BYM
Durham NC, NCYMC
Lexington KY, OVYM
Burlington VT, NEYM
Bennington VT, NEYM
Kerry Lynn Resnik
Oyster Bay, NYYM
Petrus Diam Sehining