1. Update

Finding Love with FCNL

By Christine Ashley, April 30, 2020


There have been a lot of things that have given me joy working as your Quaker Field Secretary over the past four, nearly five years now. The work has been inextricably woven with my deepening faith practice, and I have fallen in awe and in love with so many Friends.

Christine Ashley with Friends holding Love They Neighbor banner

When I came to FCNL in September of 2015, I knew that there were many things to be absolutely furious about: economic and racial disparities, our unjust system of mass incarceration, and a grossly overfunded military industrial system.

There was so much I wanted to change, but I knew that I could not begin that work from a place of anger. My heart would not allow it. Previously, I had worked with young people and their families in international schools, Quaker schools, and a Montessori school for more than 20 years. I already knew that I needed to work from a place of Love.

''Stepping forward is often an individual act. But the presence of a community that recognizes this calling and is willing to test it and support it when it is time to act is invaluable.'' - Marge Abbott, ''Walk Humbly, Serve Boldly''

In 2014 and 2015, I opened my heart during many a meeting at the old Hickory Grove Friends Meeting House at Scattergood Friends School and pleaded, “May I be well used.” I wept. I strived to become aware of my ignorance, blind spots, and privilege. I organized a climate conference on campus with FCNL’s climate lobbyist José Aguto, local Quaker activists and Rep. Rob Hogg. Students and I took direct action on the Iowa City pedestrian mall, and we also repurposed Scattergood’s peace walks in the 70s as 12 mile climate walks with state climate actors and students.

It was during this time of prayer that I found FCNL. I was introduced to a Young Fellow named Hannah Graf Evans, the eloquent and dynamic Jim Cason, and the powerful Diane Randall. These folks helped me find a space where I could keep good company and work for a world we seek. I found Way forward to support my faith and practice in and of the world.

As I heard Bayard Rustin’s call for “angelic troublemakers” resound in my heart, I accepted that I could act and grow and engage, even as a flawed Friend who wanted to be of use. I was welcomed into this 77-year-old Quaker organization. I am so grateful to have become part of the vision and evolving story, allowing F(f)riends and Congress to connect and make spaces for change in beautiful and powerful ways. Today’s world needs all of us to show up.

Christine Ashley with Friends making silly faces

Isaac Penington writes, “In that which is begotten of God, there is not a hastiness or suddenness to determine; but a silent waiting on the Lord in subjection, till the life speak, and make things manifest.”

This quote really helped me back in January and February when I was in the hospital experiencing pneumonia, renal failure, and a resultant lung surgery. I was often alone and quiet, and I could observe my body and mind’s ability to shift from illness to recovery.

I received the loving support of family, Friends, and FCNL during these months. And it was these Friends and family who helped me discern my May 15 departure from FCNL as your Quaker Field Secretary. I am so grateful to have spiritually grown and to have been enlivened by working with Friends. I have a few special markers of grace to share:

  • I leave FCNL with a growing vision of the power of the Quaker community, and how Friends can manifest real change through their faithful practices.
  • The list of FCNL Meeting Contacts has grown from 700 Friends to more than 1,300. What a joy it is to see how Friends and meetings have become increasingly engaged in supporting FCNL’s foundation and governance.
  • Over the last six years, our database manager says FCNL added 47,955 new mailing addresses and 16,592 new records. We are reaching more Friends than ever!
  • My work has given me the opportunity to grow as a Quaker. Working with Friends who are taking spirit-led action has changed me forever.

I am grateful for the many ways that we are living through this moment with one another. Walking the path of the Quaker Advocate with you gives me hope each day.

Christine Ashley

  • Quaker Field Secretary

Christine Ashley has the honor of nurturing and deepening FCNL’s relationships with Friends across the United States. In this role, Christine develops and sustains FCNL's engagement with individuals both within the Religious Society of Friends and with seekers for the Quaker way of living Faith in to action.