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Discussion on Religious Education

Santa Fe Monthly Meeting

Discussion on Religious Education

Eighth Day Ninth Month 2013


Listed below are comments offered by Friends under several different topics relating to religious education.


The discussion session did not result in a detailed proposal for a religious education program. The sense of the gathering was that some of our current activities already constitute foundations and opportunities to pursue that (2nd First Day worship-sharing about articles from Friends Journal; Marty Carroll’s First Day School program.)


There is room for us to sponsor activities as we are led to do, allowing Friends to come forward with suggestions and requests. Several Friends indicated their willingness to engage in such activities, including organizing interfaith potlucks, presentations on special topics such as economic morality, and organizing the sharing of individual stories of spiritual journeys of those among us.


There was no sense that someone would emerge to coordinate all of these activities, although some might be called to coordinate a cluster of them.


It was recognized that younger people have different ways of participating in dialogue about these matters than do older people, and that opportunities should be made for a broader range of participative opportunities. One thought was that energetic activities might be more appealing to young people than sedentary ones, and that contemplative practices may be more accessible to those of longer age.


Friends are invited to share with all of us (via email, postings on the kiosk, or spoken messages in the context of meeting) those things that we are led to organize as well as those things that we seek to be organized by others. However, if we are shy in doing so, we are not likely to advance the purposes of religious education for the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting of Friends.


1. Why do we want to have religious education?

  • Deepen our faith

  • Keep us together

  • Learn to know each other

  • Enhance our knowledge of Quaker faith

  • Oral history of the Meeting

  • Build connections to other religious practices and faith traditions

  • It reinforces peaceful action

  • To provide religious education infrastructure at home and within our meeting

  • Christian Quaker as well as Universalist Quaker

  • Become informed about Quaker history

  • Do we ask new members with they have read about Quaker history?

  • It may be that other experiences are more important in determining membership than learning about Quaker history.

  • Where does Quaker practice fit in the "Christian" arena?


  1. For whom do we intend to provide religious education?

  • For new Quakers -- plain living discussion was important in my coming to this Meeting.

  • Old Quaker; provide ways to bring the generations.

  • Deepen the experience of old-timers.

  • Learning as a group and what it is for us.

  • Inter-generational opportunities--"youth quake"

  • Corporate spiritual practices with an opportunity to influence

  • Inter-spiritual; other religious groups.

  • Sharing with ourselves and with others.

  • Infirm Friends, outlying worship groups, and Friends at a distance


  1. What elements do we wish to include in our religious education?

  • Remember to include connecting the "what" with the "how"

  • A flexible curriculum to present Quaker history, i.e. Quaker 101

  • Quaker 101 has a high dropout rate--though it depends upon what the constituent elements are

  • Recognizing who Quakers are

  • The Bible can be valuable as well as a reference to other Quaker writings.

  • Rudy Marcus has a series of off-the-shelf seminars suitable for group or self-study making use of mythological stories as devices for introspection and engagement.

  • Steve Chase’s "Letters to a Fellow Seeker" engages the reader in Quaker exploration as a Christian faith.

  • One can explore and discuss a book; key questions can focus on Quaker belief.

  • Quaker culture; traditions versus transmissions.

  • Thomas Kelly's "testimony of devotion"

  • It may be useful to define our beliefs and develop a sense of detail; how to center and know "the truth"

  • We should focus less on results and more on quicker process.

  • Quaker practice may constitute a category of important religious education.

  • A workshop on economic morality

  • We know our faith and experimentally; business meeting is a laboratory in how we learn to live with one another.

  • George Fox is quoted as saying ‘The professors say that the prophets say this. Others say that Jesus says that. But I want to know ‘What canst thou say?’” (Our own lives must speak.)

  • There is a is a Zen proverb that says when you are walking through a mist you don't realize you're getting wet until the end when you realize you are soaked.

  • Unity to know each other more deeply

  • Each of us must be a beloved member to know the beloved community.

  • Group seeking

  • "To see what love can do"

  • Are there needs we must respond to?

  • Are our decisions rational or from the motivational spirit?

  • How to test our leanings?

  • Individual stories are powerful.

  • Disagreements provide an opportunity for listening.

  • There is a logical progression when the inner connection and action are engaged.

  • Approaches to the Divine

  • How one grows with inner conviction and power; leading!

  • Inner ‘movement’ as Quaking with an increase in energy.

  • Recognizing being moved by the Spirit

  • Our own Meeting has sufficient resources; we may not need to borrow them from other places.

  • Spiritual development that facilitates communication

  • Deepening

  • Combination of individual sharing at history


  1. When should religious education be scheduled?

  • A single day? A single hour? Less?

  • It's important that we make topics and activities accessible broadly, and not confine them to rigid time frames.

  • We should be open to this all days of the week; we should consider spontaneous occurrences as well as planned times.

  • Passion and creative thinking

  • Not restricting the time to Sunday

  • What are ways to involve others more than only the select few?

  • What are the challenges offered by imposing the Meeting’s values on the next generation?

  • How to use we learned in our lives?

  • How to apply and share those applications?

  • We should not focus on one time, but expand it to our calling.

  • A flexible schedule with fluid agenda

  • How can we involve inter-generational participants?

  • How to follow our leadings?

  • We can seek opportunities for volunteers to organize and participate in events.

  • Who will coordinate this work?

  • We need leaders to organize and leaders to participate.

  • How can we ask others about this religious education movement?

  • Counter the connection between second Sunday Friends Journal worship-sharing and other religious educational activities?

  • There need not be just one program.

  • There are many sources to draw upon.

  • We need deeper spirit practice.

  • We can ask Friends to respond about what they'd like to do.

  • We should probably increase awareness of what others among us are doing.

  • What is the sum of our actions as individuals?

  • We can help to recognize each other's gifts.

  • Another role is to identify individual needs, to which religious education can respond.

  • Marty Carroll is already a resource and model for us; we can continue a format that's already in place.

  • There are outreach opportunities present here for us.



Faithfully submitted, David Henkel (convener)

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