QREC Conversation Circle Summary

Friendly Christmas:

QUAKER Religious Education Resources for the holiday season

November 13 and 15, 2018

Facilitator: Sita Diehl


Present 11.13.18



Connie Adams

Heartland MM, KS, Wichita Friends School

Melinda Wenner Bradley

West Chester PA MM, PYM

Joan Broadfield

Chester PA MM, PYM

Windy Cooler

Sandy Spring MD MM, BYM

Sita Diehl

Madison WI MM, NYM

Katie Green

Clearwater FL MM, SEYM

Harriet Heath

Schoodic ME MM, NEYM

Sallie Jones

Birmingham MM, PYM

Gwynne Ormsby

Birmingham MM, PYM

Randy Korda

Madison MM, NYM

Judith Nandikove

Donholm MM, Nairobi YM, Kenya

Rebecca Leuchak

Providence MM, NEYM

Anne Nunes

Wilton MM, NYYM


Present 11.15.18



Sita Diehl

Madison MM, NYM

Sally Farneth

Middletown MM, PYM

Nikki Holland

Mexico, Released Friend

Anne Hutchinson

Oxford MM, Ohio Valley YM

Harriet Heath

Schoodic ME MM, NEYM

Gail Koehler

Lexington MM, Ohio Valley YM

Kim Millirones

Roanoke MM, BYM


  • 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?

Reverse Advent (Melinda Wenner Bradley)  Adapted for Friends from an article by Krista Lovell, Virginia Theological Seminary, http://quakers4re.org/find-resources/reverse-advent-friends, this family activity uses the nativity story to help children focus on giving (vs. getting) through the Advent and Christmas season. Food and supplies are gathered in paper bags and given to those in need.  The Meeting can sponsor the activity by collecting donations each week and giving to identified organizations or individuals or families may give as they are led.

A note on respectful giving: (Joan Broadfield, Windy Cooler) When giving to individuals, discretely ask them whether they want to talk about the experience of poverty. Enter with curiosity and respect. What would be helpful? The person may have a specific list of foods or items.  They may choose to ‚Äògive back‚Äô to the Meeting or family in some way. Refrain from public displays of charity which may be awkward for the recipient. 

Presence in the Midst, Preparing for Christmas (Connie Adams) This lesson, http://www.quakers4re.org/presence-midst-preparing-christmas, begins with wondering about the Doyle Penrose painting, The Presence in the Midst, https://www.flickr.com/photos/qmh/3965607508.  Then a small round table cloth is laid. Figures representing winter celebrations are placed around the edge. The class wonders about these symbols. Then a figure of the baby Jesus is placed in the middle. Young Friends are invited to wonder about the presence of the baby Jesus in our midst. 

Singing the Christmas Story (Harriet Heath) Long-standing tradition at Radnor Monthly Meeting, PYM. Carols are arranged to tell the Christmas story, www.quakers4re.org/node/55. The meeting room is lit with candles and enough electric lights to see the lyrics. Instrumentation (piano, guitar, strings) is optional, but helpful to lead from one carol to the next. The arrangement of carols can be adapted.

Note: The Quaker hymnal has an extensive Christmas carol section. 

Christmas Plays (Sally Farneth, Rebecca Leuchak). Three plays by Nancy Pickering (Middletown MM) are posted on the QREC website, http://quakers4re.org/find-resources/plays-christmas-holidays.  At Providence Meeting, adults work with young Friends to write and perform an original play. 

Every Day is Holy: A Quaker perspective on Christmas (Kim Millirones) Help children honor the Quaker practice of not elevating any day above another but living one’s faith each day. When children live in a culturally diverse environment it is easier to say, “In my tradition we don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Christmas at Nairobi Friends Meeting (Judith Nandikove) Carol singing the week before Christmas. The Sunday school performs a Nativity play. The children read the Nativity story in Bible verses, with a pause for silent worship between each verse.  There is a feast with enough food for everyone to take some home.  For people who do not have enough food, this is a blessing. During the holiday season, youth visit a home for people with spinal cord injuries and give presents to safe homes. 

Family Christmas in Mexico (Nikki Holland). The big celebration is on Christmas eve with a feast.  Leading up to Christmas, the family reads verses from the Bible and sings carols.

26 Days of Kindness (Ann Nunes) In tribute to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, people in Connecticut (and elsewhere) do an act of kindness each day from November 19 ‚Äì December 14, the anniversary of the tragedy. 

Thanksgiving resources from the QREC Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Quakers4RE

Decolonizing Thanksgiving. (Joan Broadfield) When celebrating Thanksgiving, it is important to acknowledge the culture of first peoples and to stay away from the whitewashed ‚ÄòPilgrims and Indians‚Äô story.  From Books for Littles, this blog post contains a brief list of children‚Äôs books countering the myth of the ‚ÄòFirst Thanksgiving.‚Äô http://www.booksforlittles.com/thanksgiving/?fbclid=IwAR35go8OkJuxTJO440UQpZDfk6lV4YBzvpsxtuDt4xJXglQBsmp-Mg1PWx0

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.

Decolonizing Thanksgiving. From Books for Littles, this blog post contains a brief list of children’s books countering the myth of the ‘First Thanksgiving.’ http://www.booksforlittles.com/thanksgiving/?fbclid=IwAR35go8OkJuxTJO440UQpZDfk6lV4YBzvpsxtuDt4xJXglQBsmp-Mg1PWx0

Thanksgiving: 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=114


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. 

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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.

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