Conversation Circle Wooden Figures

Topic: Online Quaker Religious Education: What have we learned so far in our roles as pastors and educators?

Welcome and Introductions

Centering Silence

The COVI-19 pandemic has been a time of struggle and heartbreak, hitting some parts of the society and the world particularly hard.  But this crisis is also an opportunity to go outside our comfort zone into new ways of working and gathering, and of caring and teaching.

We are coming together this evening to take a breath, to reflect on what we have learned about RE during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please share your experience and insight, the challenges you have encountered, what you are led to explore further, and potential you see even in challenges.

As a religious education community of practice, we have at least 2 roles:

Quaker religious educators often serve as pastoral first responders for children and families in the meeting. However, connecting with the emotional and spiritual needs of children and parents may be challenging when we are limited to remote communication.

At the same time, as teachers, we might find ourselves riding a wave of creativity released by the need to switch to virtual gathering or struggling to find new ways of doing things.


  • What have we learned so far?
  • How do our meetings support the needs of children and families during a time when so many struggle with hardship, illness and grief?
  • How do we cope with differences in access to electronic devices and connectivity when we are doing outreach?
  • What learning strategies work in a virtual setting? What is less effective?
  • How have our financial resources shifted (i.e. postage for mailing packages)?
  • What can we share as we plan for the fall?

Conversation Summary

On one hand it’s a painful time, struggles locally, worldwide, with the limits of virtual gathering‚

On the other hand, it releases creativity and allowing us to go beyond geographical limitations.

Emily: Online Family Devotionals have been well received as daily touchpoint; 8AM 5 days per week for about 30 minutes. The pattern is to start with a song, ask a question, read a story, reflect on a query, close with a song.  Daytime devotionals were asked for but not enough people actually came, so they were laid aside.  Now feeling a shift. Began as “for now in this different time” and here we are now more ready to land with a new thing, to carry forward. Emily has an anchor committee and travel minute where she gets support.

Kaia: Pastoral care, more direct /accessible with teens and families. Younger children have more stress due to online school. Teens in OVYM find themselves navigating changed landscape with jobs. OVYM plans for virtual opportunities to gather.

Melinda: Pastoral care for kids for her begins with families and the adults:

  • Articles on PhYM website to meet needs
  • Current wondering: People who don’t show up online — how to support, encourage.
  • NEYM posts articles about pastoral care for those not seen.
  • Darkness to Light (See resource section) has excellent Child Safety and Abuse Prevention resources
  • High school and young adult Friends gather themselves. They seem content with the tech.  Middle school less so, different orientations, place in learnings, concerns.
  • For families with younger children:  Care packages from the Meeting to families;
  • Timing of Zoom children’s  worship in the hour before Meeting for Worship with thought to something to do for younger children. Mailing things to do in preparation for that time.
  • Online Child safety guidelines from PhYM and NYM are helpful.

Marian: The Gathering will transition to virtual format:

  • HS Friends are identity based, more confident; will have an evening social hour
  • Jr gathering, infant through MS will be focusing on families as whole;
    • Open family drop-in times: Story time, Faith and Play,
    • Kite making; open mike, art base are areas with others identifying

FGC will be using this Gathering to do some experimenting they’ve been envisioning:

  • Spanish translation,
  • Teaching about Quaker business process to HS and YFs.

Lynne:  Concord Quarterly at PhYM, replacing in-person with virtual,

  • It’s a struggle when it’s replacing the annual Brandywine River event. Ideas of scavenger hunt and others being considered.

From Emily Provance, A Friend on the family devotionals list said, “Please remove me from the family devotionals email list. I am really glad that you are providing this, but I have discovered that my family doesn’t need it. I was really worried about my ability to support my children spiritually in this time and thought that I would need a lot of help, but I have discovered that we are connecting better than ever before. It is wonderful” Not reflective of everyone’s experience, but surely some, and it was the most beautiful request to leave an email list that I have ever seen!

Sita: Description of virtual scavenger hunt and family cook-off with NYM high school group

Quaker Time Machine in which adults from the Meeting play historical Friends. They step through the time machine (large refrigerator box) to converse with the class about their lives and work. Transitioned well to Zoom. Simple costuming. Share screen PowerPoint slides with images of their life.

Sally: QM monthly talent shows very popular. Interest in Quaker time machine idea virtually

Melinda: What to do with families

  • SpatialChat: More flexible than Zoom.
  • Fire circle with a person playing a guitar, even singing raggedy can be okay
  • Others arranged around the center
  • READING about transition back, youngest may be latest — from new normal to sustainability

Ardythe: Religious Education in small meetings can be challenging online.

  • She is working on keeping in touch, thinking of fall, and planning
  • Continuing Quaker Parenting Group and Spiritual Nurture; timing can be challenging.

Sita: For elementary and preschool age; Read books with YouTube version on ‚ÄúShare Screen‚Äù with voice over by FDS teacher.  Allows for stopping the story periodically and engaging the children

  • Games (Melinda posts) to use;
  • Care packages to families;
  • Gong at end — follow the ring to the quiet for worship
  • Challenging to meet wide range of age/interest
  • Puzzle pieces — different for different people to put together when transition to together time
  • Liz: 2 new babies in Austin meeting; making quilts, mailing patches so each child can decorate a square.

Marianne: FGC is checking on SpatialChat which may be a good format for virtual gatherings, less rigid than Zoom. Good for singing. It may be a better tool for children: checking safety features

Tried to have a campfire with a visual in the middle of the screen and people around it. The fire didn’t end up being a big part of the gathering, but the sing-along part went well.

Kody: communication challenges: throughout lack of continuing relationship.  Assessing need is important.  It’s hard to make cold calls to check-in, but getting better.  Holding casual, chill, social opportunities

Melinda: One uplifting point is that the lockdown is healing the capacity of Earth

Grateful Worship


Pastoral Care of Children and Families:

Online Religious Education:

Tuesday 5/28/2020 1:00PM EST

Name Meeting-Organization
Melinda Wenner Bradley West Chester PA, PhYM Youth Religious Life Coordinator, Faith & Play Stories
Joan Broadfield West Chester PA, PhYM
Marian Dalke Central Philadelphia, PhYM, FGC Gathering Youth Coordinator
Sita Diehl Madison WI, NYM
Sally Farneth Middletown, PhYM & Portland ME
Kaia Jackson Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting
Lynne Piersol Swarthmore PA Concord QM coord
Emily Provance 15th Street, NYYM
Ardythe Williams Moorestown NJ, PhYM
Yani Zamora Cozumel, MEX


Thursday, 5/28/20 8:00 PM EST

Name Meeting-Organization
Joan Broadfield West Chester PA, PhYM
Beth Collea Dover NH, NEYM
Jennifer Delorge McKeown Annapolis MD, BYM
Sita Diehl Madison WI, NYM
Melanie Douty-Snipes Fallsington PA, PhYM
Gail Eastwood Humboldt CA, PacYM
Andy Grannell Portland ME, NEYM
Guinevere Janes Media Friends Meeting, PhYM
Christel Jorgenson Cambridge Friends Meeting, NEYM
Seres Kyrie Madison WI, NYM
Susan Snipes-Wells Fallsington PA, PhYM
Laura MacNorlin Atlanta GA, SAYMA
Lindsay Shore-Wright Centre meeting, ncym
Margaret Walton London Grove PA, PhYM
Andrew Wright Durham NC, NCYMC


Author: Quaker Religious Education Collaborative


Publisher: QREC

Age Group:

Preparation Time

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TopicsCOVID-19 Pandemic, Online Religious Education

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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