The Quaker Theological Discussion Group (QTDG) met as an auxiliary meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) on Friday, November 22, 2019, in San Diego, CA. We held two panels on Friday afternoon and evening. On Saturday, a closely related organization, the Quaker Studies Program Unit, held one session at AAR, jointly sponsored with the Pentecostal–Charismatic Movements Unit. A number of these papers will appear in 2020 editions of Quaker Religious Thought, so subscribe to QRT today if you haven’t already!
The Friday panels began with a group from George Fox University and Portland Seminary sharing on the topic: “Quaker Youth Ministry and Theopraxis in a Multicultural Context.” Presenters included Roger Nam, Trisha Welstad, Steve Sherwood, Leah Payne, Joel Mayward, and Hannah Souter. Nim Njunga joined us via video chat from London, England as an excellent respondent to the panel (you can see him pictured on the wall behind the panelists in the above photos). The panelists shared about a theology conference for high school youth they have been holding at George Fox University for the last several summers called Theologia, funded by the Lily Endowment. They shared about the facets of Quakerism that help shape the way they run the week-long institute, including seeing the high school-aged participants as scholars through whom God can and will speak, and who can and do have important theological insights.
The second Friday panel was entitled: “Quakers Reading Scripture,” and included the following papers:
- Michael Birkel of Earlham School of Religion, “‘Read Within’: Margaret Fell and Scripture”
- Carole Dale Spencer of Portland Seminary, “The ‘Mystic Sense’ of Scripture as taught by Hannah Whitall Smith: Nineteenth Century Quaker Bible Teacher”
- Paul Anderson of George Fox University, “Inspiring Readings of the Inspired Text—Taking the Bible Personally, After the Manner of Friends”
- David Hahn of Luther Seminary, “‘Hearing to Speech’: A Participatory Theology of Word-Dwelling as Congregational Formation in God’s Mission”
Each paper offered an entry point into the hermeneutical style preferred by Friends, in which the Spirit inspires each encounter with the holy writ. We appreciate each paper, and are particularly grateful to David Hahn for offering a Quakerly perspective on reading scripture in groups, from outside the Quaker community.
Saturday’s panel of the Quaker Studies Program Unit of the American Academy of Religion centered on the topic “Quakers and Pentecostals in a Colonized World,” and in addition to two papers relating more closely to Pentecostal topics, Cherice Bock, a Quaker who teaches at Portland Seminary of George Fox University, presented a paper entitled: “Friends and Watershed Discipleship: reconciling with people and the land in light of the Doctrine of Discovery.” She offered a re-reading of Quaker history with attention to the benefits many European and European American or Canadian Friends have received due to colonialism, offering an alternative interpretation of Christianity in light of climate change and current awareness of the intersecting justice issues of racism, classism, sexism, and the wedding of Western Christianity and empire. Ekaputra Tupamahu, also of Portland Seminary, offered an insightful response to the panel.
At the close of the QTDG panels on Friday night, a business meeting was held, and we discussed upcoming topics and locations for QTDG gatherings. More information will be released shortly.
We also approved new members for the QRT advisory panel and editorial team. New and existing members include:
- Cherice Bock is QRT’s new social media manager, joining C. Wess Daniels, the QTDG and QRT website manager.
- Carole Dale Spencer and Jeffrey Dudiak joined the group of associate editors. Both previously served on the advisory panel, and Spencer is co-chair of the QTDG. They join existing associate editors, Paul Anderson and Gayle Beebe.
- Christy Randazzo (co-chair of the QTDG), Howard Macy, David Johns, and Madeleine Ward join the advisory panel, alongside existing members Ben Pink Dandelion, Ruth Pitman, Max Carter, Stephen Angell, Corwynn Beals, and Susan Jeffers.
- Jon Kershner continues as the QRT editor, and Phil Smith continues as the business manager.
Photos of the QRT editorial team and advisory panel can be viewed in the following slideshow. (Not pictured: Ruth Pitman.)