It’s been a little more than three months on the job, and I can confidently say that the Spirit is alive and well within the FCNL community.
So often, the weight of the world feels heavy. One thing that grounds and sustains me in this work is all of you. It has been a great honor and joy to visit several Quaker Meetings in my first several months on the job as FCNL’s General Secretary.
Here’s a look at what I am seeing and hearing as I travel among Friends.
Reaching Across Spaces and Technologies
Worshiping with Friends in three spaces simultaneously—in a redwood grove, in the meetinghouse, and online through Zoom—is an experience I had never imagined. The power of community bringing these spaces together on a recent visit to Palo Alto Friends Meeting, along with the active discussion about FCNL’s work at rise of meeting, continues to inspire me.
Both meetings had recently participated in FCNL’s process for setting our legislative priorities, so the most important part of my time with them was listening to the concerns that are alive for them. As I have traveled, I have heard many Friends share concerns around voting rights, climate change, wars in Ukraine and Yemen, racial justice, the deep division in our politics, and more.
Connecting with FCNL Supporters and Visionary Leaders
In addition to visiting Quaker meetings, I had the opportunity to talk with some of our most loyal supporters and advocates who have committed their lives to this work. At Friends House Retirement Community in Santa Rosa, California, I spoke with a group who inspired me with their depth and longevity of commitment to FCNL and to living out Quaker testimonies in every part of their lives.
One of the best parts of travel has been visiting with some of my mentors in Quaker leadership, including Hal Weaver, founder of The Black Quaker Project, and his wife, Anne Nash. Their leadership in making Quakerism an antiracist community gives me hope that we are on the path to becoming the beloved community we seek.
David and Jan Hartsough are Quaker mentors of mine who have made incredible impacts on peacebuilding, leading citizen engagement trips to countries that have been labeled “enemies,” including Russia throughout the Cold War. Visiting David always reminds me that we can make the impossible possible.
When I was first an intern with Joe Volk in the 1990s, Joe first introduced me to David during a visit to Washington. I listened over lunch to David talking with Joe about his vision for a “peace army”—a nonviolent peaceforce to intervene in conflicts to prevent and stop violence. I thought it was impossible. Now, this is a thriving global movement. And Jan’s steady service in support of a more just and peaceful world, from her own local community to countries around the world, is an inspiration.
Time with Young Adult Alumni
One of my favorite moments on the road was meeting with some of FCNL’s recent staff and young adult program alumni, who are leading justice, peace, and climate work in other organizations, including Madeline Rose.
As a fellow FCNL young adult program alumna, I know directly how much of an impact FCNL has had on my personal, professional, and spiritual formation. It is wonderfully encouraging to see this reflected in so many other people across the country too.
It is humbling to step into this work as a public Friend and to be welcomed with such warmth and support at each step. Thank you for your resilience and determination. You are FCNL, and I am grateful.