February 19, 2019

Welcome and Introductions

Centering Silence

Topic: Drawing on the ancient themes of death, rebirth and resurrection, how can we, as religious educators lift up a Quaker understanding of Lent, Easter and Passover?  The mystery of this season, while not easy to enter, can lead to personal and social transformation if the way is prepared. Discuss the challenges posed by the sacred stories of this season, learn from others and share successes and promising practices in your meeting. 

Beth C: Modern Quakers may experience barriers to the Easter story with its emphasis on the miraculous, but science also holds deep mystery. For instance, astronomists tell us that the universe was formed in an instant from something the size of a walnut. The Easter mystery can have its own place in our world.  As Quakers we can help our Meetings breathe in the power and mystery of these stories.  We can sit with the sense of loss of control that can come with accepting a gift of such magnitude, the death of Jesus.  We can help children and adults in our Meetings breathe in the transformative power of sacrificial love. 

Melinda WB: We welcome three Kenyan Friends to the call. In January, Beth and I attended a conference at Friends Theological Seminary in Kaimosi, Kenya.  24 Kenyan Friends participated in a workshop from which came a leading to form QREC East Africa. 

As a Godly Play practitioner, I‚Äôm accustomed to a hands-on method of exploring the Bible with children, but the Godly Play stories go quickly through Jesus‚Äôs story: He‚Äôs born, tells a few parables and then we‚Äôre at Easter. As Friends, the Faith & Play working group sensed the need for a story that would help Quaker children come close to the mystery of Easter.  We created a story using the images of winter and spring (which works in the northern hemisphere) transformed into symbols of Easter.  The message is that with the resurrection we can know Jesus in a new way; his teaching is with us always. 

For liberal Friends there can be tension around the symbols of Easter such as resistance to the cross. But I feel that our children will encounter the cross in the course of their lives and they need to be able to process the symbol.  Marsha Holliday pointed out that there is no more Quakerly Bible story than Pentecost, the coming of fire and light.  See Resources at the end of these notes.

Conversation:

  • How do we come as contemporary Friends to the ancient themes of death, rebirth and resurrection?
  • How can we, as religious educators open the way to a Quaker understanding of Lent, Easter and Passover?
  • How do we prepare ourselves to enter the mystery and carry something of Easter beyond the holiday in a way that feels authentic and faithful?
  • How can we care for families holding multiple faith traditions only one of which is Quaker?

Katie G expressed appreciation for the Easter Story for Friends. Her experience in New England was that youth don’t understand the resurrection.

Beth C recommended The Light of the World, by Katherine Paterson, which tells the story of Jesus‚Äô ministry in a Quaker-friendly way.  We need a Quaker parent resource about how to talk with children about Easter.

Judith N described teaching about Easter in Kenya. ‚ÄúWe teach the Holy Week story about the crucifixion, death and resurrection.  We teach that Jesus died for our sins, that we are all resurrected and given a new life.  We can overcome challenges with help from the Holy Spirit. We teach that God gave us the Light.‚Äù

Beth C: The central theme of the experience of Easter is that we are profoundly changed by the new life through Jesus’ life, ministry and death. We can help Easter come alive for the children, youth and families we work with.

Cassandra F is from a liberal Friends Meeting and grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition and is familiar with literal interpretation of scripture.  She is planning work on the life of Jesus.  She has a personal interpretation of the questions, ‚ÄúWhat does it mean to say, ‚ÄòI believe in Jesus?‚Äô‚Äù or ‚ÄúWhat is the resurrection?‚Äù  We need to tell young Friends that they are God‚Äôs Spirit in the world; the Spirit will work through them.  That‚Äôs distinct from the Baptist emphasis on sin, which they hear as, ‚ÄúI am bad if I don‚Äôt do what I‚Äôm told to do.‚Äù The world needs constant reference to meaningful experience of the Divine. We have let science and worldliness take over from the spiritual.  We need to teach children to encounter the Divine. 

Andrew W: There are different ways to teach the story, one for younger children and another for youth. He favors the Holy Week Story as told in the gospel of Mark. In his Meeting, 4th and 5th graders know the gospel. He helps bring to life what happened at Easter, rather than keeping it at too much of an abstract level of mystery. 

  • Jesus is confronting authority in the temple. He takes courageous action.
  • A big column of smoke rises from the temple, the sacrifice of animals,
  • The city of Jerusalem is jammed with crowds because of the Passover,
  • Hundreds of people are crucified at Passover, not just Jesus. 

Resource for adults: The Last Week, by John Crosson and Marcus Borg, about the Holy Week Story as unfolded in the gospel of Mark. 

Katie G: Recommends, Abraham’s Bind: & Other Bible Tales of Trickery, Folly, Mercy and Love.

 by Michael Caduto, Bible stories in a Native American style.

Beth: These stories are sensitive enough that it is best to prepare parents and the Meeting beforehand.  It‚Äôs wise to host a coffee hour to explain what you are doing and why.  Beth suggested that she, Katie and Harriet facilitate a workshop on ‚ÄúGospel Stories for Parents,‚Äù for the NEYM Session. 

Katie G: It’s important that children not lose track of the roots of Quakerism, the Bible stories.

Melinda WB: Yes, one case for approaches to Bible stories in Quaker RE is that they are a point of intersection for Friends cross-branch and worldwide.  However, parents and other adults in Meetings who have had negative experiences with the Bible as children may be wary.  It‚Äôs important to help them understand that we use an experiential, non-doctrinaire approach and why. 

Dancan S: Neither children nor adults take time to read the Bible. They have limited knowledge.  It is important to help parents and kids read the stories together, to give them simple resources to share the Bible stories.  Parents are often willing, but they may not know how. 

Melinda WB: The Godly Play Foundation has published a new book, Stories of God at Home with simple materials. The book acknowledges the primacy of parents as teachers and pastors for their children.  Parents may not feel they have the skills to teach RE, and this helps them.  It‚Äôs not necessary to do the Godly Play approach, but that‚Äôs just one suggestion. As a parent, I told pieces of the advent story every Sunday evening.  We would sit on the floor and there was a spirit of shared search. 

Sita D: Something similar could take place during Lent, Holy Week and Easter.  The story has so many parts that it is important to break it up in order to absorb it. 

Melinda WB: In our resources section, see Holy Week in a Box, which we as Quakers adapted from the Episcopalians.  The box could be in a prominent place and taken out in the evenings for shared exploration of the story. 

Judith N: Godly Play can be used to empower parents at home.  Can we have seminars to teach parents the importance of knowing the stories to share and teach their children?

Melinda: Whether or not you use Godly Play, you can invite parents to story telling sessions. Tell the story, then ‚ÄúGo up on the balcony‚Äù to explain how to tell the story and help them practice. 

Sarah WK: I need that whole book.  We lost a child to death. Vincent was an orphan; he lived in an orphanage. The children in my class had many hard questions like, ‚ÄúIf Jesus died for sinners, why did Vincent die so young? He was good and kind.‚Äù I worry about telling the Easter story because when we tell stories of death, questions like this come up.  I don‚Äôt know how to respond. Vincent died in November. I‚Äôm afraid we will push the children back into mourning.

Beth C: Any death reminds us of other deaths in our life. We can say, “There are many things that seem unfair; many things none of us understand.”

Dancan S: Kids get stuff from the Internet and from their friends that is beyond their capacity to understand, and is likely to cause confusion.  Bring in something on the subject of death that is appropriate for their age. 

Yani Z: It is good to say, “I don’t know either. Let’s pray.”

Judith: Death does not come because we are sinners.  Children should know that the child has gone to be with God.  God can come for you at any time and we should be ready. Sunday school teachers should be empowered to deal with hard questions. If you leave them hanging, they won‚Äôt be able to trust you as much.

Sita D: The Sparkling Still section of the Friends General Conference website (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U667oFSoNC0) has a searchable online library of children‚Äôs books: https://www.fgcquaker.org/deepen/religious-education/sparkling-still/sparkling-still-librarything-collection .  There are also sample lesson plans to deal with hard questions such as death. 

Sally F: A good book about death is Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs, by Tomie de Paola.  It‚Äôs about a great grandmother and a grandmother who die of old age, but the message can help with younger deaths.  YouTube: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att&p=nana+upstairs+nana+downstairs+YouTube#id=3&vid=ec7fc9b0010d0898cf61110c6b28d8f0&action=view

Friends were asked to email suggestions for newly published books to quakercollaborative4RE@gmail.com.

After the call, Katie sent the following poem from Kathleen O’Rourke’s book, What I’ve Seen: Animal, Nature, and Ranger Tales:

Death

The old Hopi Indian said, ‚Äúlife is a circle

and when we die, the circle is completed.”

Navaho friends also told of this circle of life

ending in death: ‚ÄúWe are all born with our own circle,

some very big, some very small.

It is different for each person,

only The Great Mystery knows our circle.”

That winter, on the reservation:

A baby nine days old stopped breathing at night.

A drunken young Navaho drove off the road into a rock wall.

The old man who ran the trading post was shot in a robbery.

The Indians grieved quietly, spoke in low voices,

and nodded to one another without using words.

Woven within this was always the gentle humor

that accompanies all of life.

There was no speaking of:

  – Not fair

  – Too soon

  – Such a shame

Or, Why, Why, Why?

No need for questions when the circle has been completed

At nine days, at 17 years old, at 65.

Announcement: March Conversation Circle: Supporting children with learning differences and autism

Facilitator: Beth Collea, Wellesley Monthly Meeting, NEYM

  • Tuesday, 3/19, 1:00 PM US Eastern time
  • Thursday, 3/21, 8:00 PM US Eastern time

Thanks, request to send resources and review notes prior to posting in the QREC website

Closing Worship

Name

Meeting-Organization

Beth Collea

Wellesley MA, NEYM

Sita Diehl

Madison WI, NYM

Sallie Farneth

Middletown, Langhorne PA, PhYM

Cassandra Fralix

Columbia SC, SEYM

Katie Green

Clearwater FL, SEYM

Harriet Heath

Schoodic FM, NEYM

Sallie Jones

Birmingham PA, PhYM

Sarah Wanjiri Kamau

Kenya YM

Faith Kelley

Berkeley CA, PacYM

Judith Nandikove

Nairobi, Kenya YM

Gwynne Ormsby

Birmingham, PA, PhYM

Dancan Sabwa

Kitale MM, North Kenya YM

Serita Spadoni

Birmingham, PA, PhYM

Melinda Wenner Bradley

West Chester PA, PhYM

Andrew Wright

Durham NC Conservative

Greg Woods

Cambridge FM, NEYM

Yani Zamora

Cambridge FM, NEYM

 

February 21, 2019

Welcome and Introductions

Centering Silence

Topic: Drawing on the ancient themes of death, rebirth and resurrection, how can we, as religious educators lift up a Quaker understanding of Lent, Easter and Passover?  The mystery of this season, while not easy to enter, can lead to personal and social transformation if the way is prepared. Discuss the challenges posed by the sacred stories of this season, learn from others and share successes and promising practices in your meeting. 

Beth C: Modern Quakers may experience barriers to the Easter story with its emphasis on the miraculous, but science also holds deep mystery. For instance, astronomists tell us that the universe was formed in an instant from something the size of a walnut. The Easter mystery can have its own place in our world.  As Quakers we can help our Meetings breathe in the power and mystery of these stories.  We can sit with the sense of loss of control that can come with accepting a gift of such magnitude, the death of Jesus.  We can help children and adults in our Meetings breathe in the transformative power of sacrificial love. 

Melinda WB: As a Godly Play practitioner, I‚Äôm accustomed to a hands-on method of exploring the Bible with children, but the Godly Play stories go quickly through Jesus‚Äô story: He‚Äôs born, tells parables and then we‚Äôre at Easter. As Friends, the Faith & Play working group sensed the need for a story that would help Quaker children come close to the mystery of Easter.  We created a story using the images of winter and spring (which works in the northern hemisphere) transformed into symbols of Easter.  The message is that with the resurrection we can know Jesus in a new way; his teaching is with us always. 

For liberal Friends there can be tension around the symbols of Easter such as resistance to the cross. But I feel that our children will encounter the cross in the course of their lives and they need to be able to process the symbol.  Marsha Holliday pointed out that there is no more Quakerly Bible story than Pentecost, the coming of fire and light.  See Resources at the end of these notes.

Conversation:

  • How do we come as contemporary Friends to the ancient themes of death, rebirth and resurrection?
  • How can we, as religious educators open the way to a Quaker understanding of Lent, Easter and Passover?
  • How do we prepare ourselves to enter the mystery and carry something of Easter beyond the holiday in a way that feels authentic and faithful?
  • How can we care for families holding multiple faith traditions only one of which is Quaker?

Points:

  • Lent, Easter, and Passover are challenging. These celebrations can no long be at odds with science and psychology; yet, they are a mystery.
  • The symbol and reality of the Cross are ‚Äúhard things‚Äù to deal with.
  • Where does one find oneself in the death and resurrection story‚Ķon the Road to Emmaus, sensing the Presence walking with us in daily life?
  • This season is a celebration of the life and testimony of Jesus.
  • Combine with Earth Day Celebrations
  • Teens are questioning and have dissenting voices. Karen Greenler paired the Creation story in Genesis with the Big Bang theory to show how similar truths can be conveyed in very different ways.
  • Fasting during Lent is contrary to Jesus‚Äô message and ministry of enough food for everyone.
  • The sacred is everywhere.
  • Pentecost is the Quaker holiday. One Friend uses red hot candies to dramatize fire on our tongues.
  • ‚ÄúI know that my redeemer liveth.‚Äù
  • ‚ÄúLet your heart guide you through this time.‚Äù
  • Like Jesus Christ, many of us suffer. Suffering and sacrifice can be a time of deepening awareness and spiritual growth for the individual and others around them.

Friends were asked to email resource suggestions to quakercollaborative4RE@gmail.com .

Announcement: March Conversation Circle: Supporting children with learning differences and autism

Facilitator: Beth Collea, Wellesley Monthly Meeting, NEYM

  • Tuesday, 3/19, 1:00 PM US Eastern time
  • Thursday, 3/21, 8:00 PM US Eastern time

Thanks, request to send resources and review notes prior to posting in the QREC website

Closing Worship

Recommended Resources:

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…

Working Circles

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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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African Quaker Library

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Biblioteca QREC

Events

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.

Conversation Circles

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…

Other Events

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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…

Love at the Heart

Spiritual Practices

Discernment

Active Caring

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…