Welcome and Introductions

Centering Silence

Topic: The FGC Spiritual Deepening program offers resources and tools to help Quaker meetings and individuals grow and deepen. Each section of the online Spiritual Deepening Library includes resources for working with children including books, exercises and multigenerational activities. Join this conversation to learn what the program offers to nurture children in the Spirit and to share insights about the spiritual nurture of children and youth.

Conversation Starter Rachel Ernst Stahlhut manages FGC’s Spiritual Deepening Program, including the online library of resources and activities for meetings and the online learning eRetreats.  Rachel carries a ministry for outreach, welcoming, and revitalizing our Quaker meetings and individual spiritual practices.  She is a member of Community Friends Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she worships with a squirmy 4.5-year-old on her lap most Sundays.

The seed for the Spiritual Deepening program arose in 2013 from hunger expressed by Friends across the US and Canada for FGC to offer opportunities and resources for spiritual growth among Friends.

The Spiritual Deepening Library (www.fgcquaker.org/SDlibrary) is organized by topics important to Friends:

  • Silence and Expectant Waiting: Exploring Quaker worship
  • The Light, Seed, Christ Working in Us: Being led by the inner guide
  • Friendly Practices: discernment, Meeting for Worship with attention to business, worship sharing, and other Quaker practices
  • Becoming Patterns and Examples: How Quakers put faith into practice
  • Living into Wholeness: The ‚ÄòBeloved Community‚Äô is not yet, but as a community, how can we co-create wholeness and racial justice?
  • Aging, Death, and Dying: Growing old, even when that means facing physical or other changes, can help us focus on what is essential.
  • Coming in 2020: Weaving a Wider Welcome

Each section has three categories:

  • Grounding ‚Äì Scripture, other writings, books, videos, quotes about Quaker history
  • Practicing ‚Äì Group and individual exercises that encourage deep listening, reflection and encountering the Divine in our lives and in the world.
  • Sharing ‚Äì Opportunities for deep listening and sharing to perceive truth in others

Search feature allows search by estimated time, age range and whether newcomer friendly.

Pages include links to children’s books with videos of the book being read aloud for those Meetings not able to obtain hard copy.

The Facilitators Guide, linked in multiples places on the website, includes working with children

Working with Children has lesson plans and activities to use with kids.

Gratitude to Lori Sinitski, Friends School teacher, who worked over the past year as an FGC fellow.  She drew in expertise from the Sparklers Working Group, Faith & Play Working Group and others.

Queries:

What does the FGC Spiritual Deepening program offer Friends, to nurture children’s spirituality in meetings/churches and the home? 

How can we respond to that of God in a child and nurture their awareness and expression of their spirituality? 

What can religious education programs offer to support parents to nurture their children’s spirituality and in the family as a whole? 

What practices in Quaker RE might get in the way of children expressing their spirituality? 

Conversation Summary:

  • BYM is developing resource kits for small meetings. Can a whole Yearly Meeting use these resources?  Rachel: Yes! They are meant to be shared widely. There are printable instructions to make it easy for Meetings to use the resources and exercises.
  • Helpful piece by Gail Thomas, ‚ÄúConsiderations When Choosing and Using Books in First Day School‚Äù https://www.fgcquaker.org/resources/considerations-when-choosing-and-using-books-first-day-school  about making sure the books we use in First Day School are inclusive and unbiased.
  • Wondering questions: Working with Children has a piece from Sparkling Still on wondering questions, a method of reflection with children that comes from Godly Play.  The Sparklers working group all trained in Godly Play and adapted the ‚Äòwondering‚Äô process to reflection on children‚Äôs books.  Wondering questions should be used as a spiritual practice. The Quaker Parenting Initiative helps parents use wondering questions with their children.

How can we respond to that of God in a child and nurture their awareness and expression of their spirituality?

Stories of children in the Bible; children were very respected and played key roles. 

As Quakers we wait, which is hard for children. Tell the story of Elizabeth and Mary who waited for their babies, and Simeon waited. Story about wondering: Mary listened and held all of these things in her heart.

Giving time is the key.  As religious educators we have so many ideas of what to do in 40 minutes, but it is far more important to give the children time to respond. Simple lessons are most effective.

Poem, Fire (by Judy Brown) https://wordsfortheyear.com/2018/06/02/fire-by-judy-brown/. For a fire to burn it takes space between the logs. As religious educators we often try to entertain, which is not what their spiritual lives require.  Leave space for their questions, exploration, silence.  As Friends, listening is our liturgy. 

What can religious education programs offer to support parents to nurture their children’s spirituality and in the family as a whole? 

Prayer is a practice that can be taught at home. Good website for teaching prayer: Building Faith https://buildfaith.org/, Virginia Theological Seminary. Good picture books to teach prayer such as the one with the Lord‚Äôs prayer. 

Faithful Families by Traci Smith: https://www.chalicepress.com/FaithfulFamilies

Poster on the door, child posts a sticker every night that says, “Thank you for this day.”

Praying in color: Doodle with intention, “This is for my sister, holding her in the Light.”

Recommendation: How Like an Angel Came I Down: Conversations With Children on the Gospels, by Amos Bronson Alcott https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/17046/how-like-an-angel-came-i-down. Alcott, the father of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women series), was an educational reformer and a predecessor of Montessori. He was a Transcendentalist who pioneered a method of dialog with children about their spirituality.

Young son came home with a beautiful collage of natural objects entitled, God Is in All Things, his mother felt grateful for the woman who led the lesson and authentically showed her spirituality. Her gifts, different than hers, broaden the child’s understanding of spirituality.

One of the gifts of a meeting is to give children an opportunity to know adults other than their parents.  Pastoring children begins with pastoring parents.  Hold Meeting for Business at a time parents can participate and provide childcare. 

One meeting has an early and late meeting. Meeting for Business is held between the two meetings and childcare is provided. 

Another meeting has a large collection of children’s books to allow families to continue reading at home.

One Friend‚Äôs father used to have three crayons in his pocket.  When children came to him in worship, he would hand them a crayon and they could draw on their bulletin. 

Another Meeting has a busy basket with quiet activities like sand-filled squeezy balloons, and little sewing kits.  Children pick an item from the basket as they enter meeting.  There is also a bookshelf of children‚Äôs books in the Meeting room from which children can choose. 

NEYM has soft little dolls, 4 ‚Äì 5‚Äù high, that could be taken into worship. Sitting quietly beside them, the dolls can inspire children. 

Weaving children into the Meeting community is essential.  Diana Butler Base says we need to belong in order to know how to behave, and then to believe.  We need to include them at the table. It makes a difference if the physical environment is friendly to children.

Another meeting gets the children to develop queries.  When opening class, they have the child whose birthday is nearest choose one out of the box.  The child reads it, followed by round robin, each child answering the query.  Queries are posted on backs of pews for adults.

What practices in Quaker RE might get in the way of children expressing their spirituality? 

Challenge to involve teens in Meeting life. They are so busy that Sunday morning seems like a good time to sleep in.

  • Monthly evening gathering
  • Train and pay teens as childcare workers during Meeting for Business and other functions. They like being useful and like earning money.  It also gives the older and younger children a chance to develop relationships.
  • Teens like service projects
  • Teens in one meeting put on a fundraising craft fair and bake sale.  Various Friends (young and older) contributed crafts.  Teens baked the day before the sale.  Raised a lot of money which they decided to allocate to Meeting House upkeep.

Recent experience: Went to meeting with son (4.5 yrs old). He had a tote bag with a snack and quiet activities.  A refugee family from the Congo was at meeting.  Son whispered that he wanted to give food to the girl (close to his age) but mother prevented him. Regrets not nurturing son‚Äôs generous impulse. 

When we are wrong in spiritual nurture, that‚Äôs where growth appears. Make space to make mistakes and learn. It is important to demonstrate that it is okay not to have all of the answers. 

Gratitude

Closing Worship

Resources:

Spiritual Deepening Library: www.fgcquaker.org/SDlibrary  

In For Facilitators click tab, Working with Children: https://www.fgcquaker.org/spiritual-deepening/library/facilitators

  • Using picture books
  • Using wondering questions
  • Planning intergenerational activities
  • Other resources for children‚Äôs spiritual deepening

FGC Spiritual Deepening eRetreats: www.fgcquaker.org/eretreats

Faith & PlayTM Stories, by the Faith & Play Working Group: https://www.fgcquaker.org/faith-and-play

Finding the Light In You: Bright Silent Worship with Young Friends, by Marjorie Isaacs https://quakerbooks.org/products/finding-the-light-in-you

Friends Journal, I Am a Quaker: Young Friends and Religious Identity, by Melinda Wenner Bradley: https://www.friendsjournal.org/i-am-a-quaker/

Lighting Candles in the Dark, Marnie Clark, Elinor Briggs, Carol Passmore, editors. FGC, (2001) https://quakerbooks.org/products/lighting-candles-in-the-dark-2254

Lives That SpeakStories of Twentieth-Century Quakers, edited by Marnie Clark, FGC (2004), Stories appropriate for Middle, High School, and Adults. https://quakerbooks.org/collections/ebook-1/products/lives-that-speak-ebook

Opening Doors to Quaker Religious Education, Mary Snyder.  https://quakerbooks.org/products/opening-doors-to-quaker-religious-education-3980

Quaker Meeting & Me, by Rebecca Price http://quakers4re.org/find-resources/quaker-meeting-and-me?return_path=/find-resources%3Fkeys%3DQuaker%2BMeeting%2B%26%2BMe

Sparkling Still, by the Sparklers Working Group https://www.fgcquaker.org/deepen/religious-education/sparkling-still/sparkling-still

The Quiet Book, by Deborah Underwood http://www.deborahunderwoodbooks.com/Deborah-Underwood-The-Quiet-Book.html

We’re Going to Meeting for Worship, by Stacey Currie https://quakerbooks.org/products/were-going-to-meeting-for-worship-3976

Worship in Song: The Friends Hymnal https://quakerbooks.org/products/worship-in-song-2675

  12/12/2019   

Name

Meeting-Organization

Sita Diehl

Madison WI, NYM

Rachel Stahlhut

FGC, Community FM, Cincinnati, OH

Pamela Cole

NEYM

Harriet Heath

Schoodish WG, NEYM

Angela Hopkins

Ithaca MM, NYYM

Cameron Hughes

Lincoln VA, BYM

Nancy Moore

Stony Run MD, BYM

Ellie Rosenberg

Clearwater FL, SEYM

Lindsay Shore-Wright

Center MM, Franklinville NC

Nia Thomas

Beacon Hill MM, Boston, NEYM

Melinda Wenner Bradley

West Chester FM, PhYM

Name

Meeting-Organization

Sita Diehl

Madison WI, NYM

Rachel Stahlhut

FGC, Community FM, Cincinnati, OH

Pamela Cole

NEYM

Harriet Heath

Schoodish WG, NEYM

Angela Hopkins

Ithaca MM, NYYM

Cameron Hughes

Lincoln VA, BYM

Nancy Moore

Stony Run MD, BYM

Ellie Rosenberg

Clearwater FL, SEYM

Lindsay Shore-Wright

Center MM, Franklinville NC

Nia Thomas

Beacon Hill MM, Boston, NEYM

Melinda Wenner Bradley

West Chester FM, PhYM

 

 

 

 

An Introduction

The Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) is an international, cross-branch, grassroots network of Friends sharing a stewardship for lifelong Quaker faith formation through religious education. We formed in April 2014 and now serve more than 300 Friends in our network. We actively engage and support each other across languages and continents. We gather for regional and annual conferences and offer monthly Conversation Circles via an online conferencing platform. 

Steering Circle

We share leadership as part of our collaborative mission, making decisions using the Quaker ‘sense of the meeting’ process, sitting in expectant, worshipful waiting for the emergence of shared truth. Read more…

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Our work  takes place in ‘circles’ or small groups of Friends who labor on a common task, usually meeting by video conference due to the geographic diversity of the membership. Read more…

The Resource Library

Finders Guide, a sampling of the collection

The QREC Resource Library is a place to share lessons and other educational information in support of our work as Quaker religious educators. This library is a forum for curricula, articles, videos and other educational materials on Quaker themes. You will also find principles, policies and procedures to strengthen operation of your child, youth and adult religious education programs.

Children’s Education

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Find renewal, companionship, and help for nitty gritty issues in Quaker religious education, all the while opening spaces for Spirit to work and listening together for God’s way forward.

QREC holds an annual conference and retreat. In addition we hold online Conversation Circles and post other religious education events as we learn about them.

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Online conferences for Quaker religious educators to share about their work. Conversations are scheduled for two sessions per topic to encourage international participation.  Join the conversation…

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Religious education events of interest to Quakers from all parts of the world. Please let us know about upcoming online or in-person events happening in your area. See the list of upcoming events…

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Quaker Family Culture

Finding the Light

Faith at Home

Home is the heart of faith formation for all families. This is especially true for Friends. As an experiential religion, Quakerism is best learned through living in loving community. Indeed, the vast majority of faith formation for our young Friends happens at home in the busy swirl of daily life.

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QREC depends on all of us sharing our gifts and skills as religious educators. Here are some of the ways you can get involved…