Becoming Visible: Quaker Outreach at Colleges

Last week I traveled up to Boone, North Carolina to assist the SPICE (Acronym for core Quaker testimonies: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, & Equality) Quaker student group at Appalachian State University with their table at the Student Involvement Fair. These fairs are quite common at college campuses at the beginning of the school year and each club and/or student group can have a table to introduce fellow students to who they are.

IMG_20160815_145740677As a religious club, the SPICE club was in the same room with all the other religious clubs
on campuses. We were next to the Presbyterian/Episcopal club, and near other denominational campus ministries, like the United Methodist Wesley Foundation and Catholic Campus Ministry They were also at least half a dozen parachurch groups, like Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. There were a lot of variety for students to choose from. I am glad Quakers appear as one of the options.

During the fair the SPICE group had a cardboard display about their group and they had printed stickers with their name on it and wrote on the back their meeting time for the semester. (Their meeting time changes each semester dependinIMG_20160815_150928812 (1)g on the class schedules of the members.) I brought with me a life-size Quaker Man from my meeting, First Friends Meeting of Greensboro, and some chocolates to give out.

Throughout the event, we gave out chocolates and stickers to App students. We asked people if they had heard of Quakers or if they were interested in being involved with a faith community based on simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. By the end of the event, we had a list of 12 student names and contact information and had given out all of the SPICE stickers.

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Joe & Harriet wtih Quaker Man

Now, the SPICE group leadership, made up of Ellen, Harriet, and Joe, are reaching out to these students and planning some great events for this upcoming semester. I am working with them this year to help their efforts to reach out to the larger campus community at Appalachian State and to help plan events

Just imagine if Quakers were on more college campuses, what if we were able to reach a dozen students each year on, say, 25 campuses. What impact would that cause on students’ lives? What impact would that have on the future of the Religious Society of Friends? We have a powerful message to share about a faith centered on peace and community. This message to share that needs to be shared alongside other ministry groups on college campuses. Students are indeed eager to hear it! We need to become visible on these campuses!

As I wrote earlier in the summer, I am currently working on setting up a network of Quaker campus ministries at non-Quaker higher education institutions to support students like Ellen, Harriet, and Joe, in developing Quaker groups on their campuses. These groups help to sustain Quaker students in their faith journey during college. I welcome any support in helping to identify:

  • Quaker students you know at non Quaker institutions
  • Quaker student group at non Quaker institutions
  • Quakers who have a leading to work with college students

If you can help or want to get involved in any way, please fill out this form or contact me at gregwoodsquaker@gmail.com

 

What Am I Doing Next? AKA Announcing a New Ministry

By Greg

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My clean former office after I de-cluttered it!

Tuesday was my last day of working for Friends Center at Guilford College. A lot of people are asking what I will do next.

Here is my answer: I am taking a leap of faith and embarking on creating a new Quaker ministry! I am working to start a network of Quaker campus ministries on non-Quaker campuses in the United States.

This idea has been floating around in my mind since I interned with Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life during the last year of seminary three years ago. During my internship, I started a Quaker student group to worship with weekly.

I was surprised at who came to the group. There were several students who grew up identifying as Quakers, while others came who did not identify as Quakers, but they went to Quaker schools growing up and they cherished and missed the weekly meetings for worship. Then there were occasional visitors who were intrigued about Quakers.

Over the years, I have been involved in a lot of conversations about Quaker renewal and how to grow the Religious Society of Friends. None of these conversations have involved

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Talking about this idea at Emerging Practices in Quaker Outreach in late April (Photo by Chris Mohr)

talking about working with college students on college campuses. While I was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, many of my classmates talked fondly of their denominational campus ministry and that helped them to discern their call to ministry. At the same time, I know of several Quaker leaders who came to Quakerism during college at non-Quaker institutions, but we do not have any network or coordinated effort to assist Quaker students or students who may be interested in Quakerism at these institutions.

I envision creating a network of campus ministries to help reach young adults at non Quaker higher education institutions as well as creating resources to help Quaker students and Quakers in general support campus ministries in their area. My hope with creating this network is to support Quaker students at non-Quaker institutions, develop future Quaker leaders, and to reach college students who would be interested in Quakerism if they have the chance to hear our messages.

For the next year, with the help of my family, I have been released from full-time work to pursue setting up this network. Also I have a support committee from my meeting, First Friends Meeting of Greensboro, to support me in this work.

You can help me with this effort by helping to identify:

  • Quaker students you know at non Quaker institutions
  • Quaker student group at non Quaker institutions
  • Quakers who have a leading to work with college students

Here is a Google Form you can fill out or you can email me.

I welcome any help, input, and prayers as I take this next step! I am scared and excited at the same time!