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2015 Epistle

Epistle, June 18-21, 2015

Epistle Committee: Trish Eckert (New Association of Friends), Mike Moyer (Iowa YM/FUM), and Walter Hjelt Sullivan (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting)

To Friends Everywhere.

The Friends Association for Higher Education gathered for its annual conference from June 18-21, 2015, on the campus of George Fox University, in Newburg, OR, neatly snuggled amongst the vineyards and fields of the Willamette Valley. The planning committee, led by Paul Anderson, arranged a variety of stimulating field trips to local sites and points of historical interest for those who arrived Thursday afternoon.

We were grateful to greet the 62 Friends who attended the conference from across the United States, Canada, and England.  We were overjoyed to welcome and re-welcome Friends working at Quaker K-12 institutions who had encountered our joint gathering with Friends Council on Education at Haverford College last year.

We felt particularly blessed by our gathering in light of concerns by some of our membership over recent controversial issues regarding gender diversity on the campus of George Fox University.  FAHE Executive Committee clerk Jeff Dudiak played an important role in encouraging us to stay in loving relationship and open and loving dialogue.

The conference theme “Truth and Transformation” spoke to our condition repeatedly throughout the conference.

The first evening Quaker author Haven Kimmel reminded us of the transformative power of our particular lived experience and the lure of God.  George Fox Professor, Bill Jolliff spoke to us about practicing our craft with rigor.  Like the poet, we may only reach a small audience, but none the less, they are worth the very best that we have to give.

The second night we met Lou Hoover, America’s first modern First Lady, through the theatrical talents of local actor, Jane Fellows and her one woman show First Lady Lou. Wife of Newburg’s own Quaker President of the United States Herbert Hoover, Lou told us stories from her life and encouraged us again and again to have the courage to do the right thing despite public sanction and popular criticism.

During the days we gathered in small workshops.  We shared our experiences of nurturing young people into adulthood in Quaker settings. We explored the words of early Quakers, learning from past tradition, adding the truth of our present understanding, and living into a faithful future. Friends shared their current scholarship, advances in pedagogy, and new practices for meaningful evaluations. We discussed the relevance and importance of figs and pigs, breathing in mindfulness, and tasting truth.

One workshop in particular addressed strategies so that each of our institutions could better understand the needs and provide support for transgender students.  It was a tender, listening, and learning session, opening up new and unfamiliar issues for many from across the diverse theological spectrum represented at the conference.

On the second morning, Jon Kershner spoke intimately of the life and thought of his friend John Woolman, the reluctant 18th century Quaker prophet who showed a singular willingness to return faithfully again and again to the motion of love in his work for the abolition of enslavement and his prophetic witness against the British imperial economy in the American colonies.

We proudly announced the publication of the second volume of our book series Quakers and the Disciplines: Befriending Truth.  We look forward to the third volume next year which will focus on Quakers and literature.

During the Saturday afternoon President’s Panel Discussion we heard from Robin Baker, President of George Fox University/host, Jane Fernandes President of Guilford College, Royce Frazier, President of Barclay College, and Donald Tucker, Provost of Malone University. They spoke to the challenges facing our Quaker institutions of Higher Education, including: finances, enrollment, innovation, and renewal.

Saturday evening, the plenary session opened with worship in song, led by Bill Jolliff and his banjo:

But we make God’s love too narrow
By false limits of our own:
And we magnify God’s strictness
With a zeal God will not own.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
Which is more than liberty.

Released Friend Margery Post Abbott spoke to the question “How do Quakers today articulate foundations of Quaker ministry and develop communities that nurture prophetic ministry among Friends?”

As we leave the conference we ask ourselves, How do we seek a way to be in relationship when our understandings of Truth seem at times to be in contradiction with each other?  We know that our shared commitment to teaching is a touchstone for all of us. We are grateful for the work of FAHE and the bridge it provides in stimulating open dialogue, connecting Friends across the spectrum of Quakerism, and supporting our endeavor to educate and nurture our students.

We are challenged to bring our prophetic truths home to our institutions and into our everyday lives and look forward to gathering together again in June 2016 at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham England.  Join us.

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2015 Conference Registration: deadline for housing is soon

We’re looking forward to gathering for the 2015 FAHE conference June 18-21 at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Registration is open now, and the deadline for housing is Tuesday, June 2nd.  Don’t miss out!

View the conference agenda and registration information.

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2015 Conference: Request for Proposals

The Friends Association for Higher Education is accepting proposals for presentations for its 2015 conference, at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, June 18-21. Our theme for 2015 is “Truth and Transformation.”  We invite you to join with other Friends educators from colleges, universities and study centers globally for an invigorating time together in the Pacific Northwest.

The conference seeks to deepen our practice and sharpen our skills as we seek to pursue, discern, and honor the truth with our Quaker legacy, with ourselves and each other, with our gifts and vocations, with the latest advances in technology, with the larger cultures around us, with the world’s resources, and with that of God in each of us.

We invite proposals for presentations, workshops, and panel discussions that address any concern related to Friends and higher education, but proposals speaking to the theme Truth and Transformation will especially be welcome. We also will be inviting a disciplinary focus this year on Quakers and Literature, so proposals on that subject will also be welcome.

Queries for Consideration:

  • As seekers of truth, are we open to the manifold ways it may be expressed, including surprising and unsuspected venues?
  • As discerners of truth, are we able to weigh its manifestations prayerfully and reflectively, willing to celebrate its discovery with joy?
  • As responders to truth, are we receptive to its transforming and convicting power in our lives, embracing its implications?
  • As servants of truth, are we willing to go on its errands, cheerfully obedient to its claims upon our lives?
  • As teachers of truth, are we diligent in imparting to others a portion of that liberating measure which we ourselves have received by grace?
  • As publishers of truth, are we faithful in sharing our witness in the world, connecting the liberating power of truth with the pressing needs of the world?

Visit the request for proposals webpages.

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Guilford College seeks Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies

Guilford College has an opening for the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies. The position is responsible for directing Friends Center, including maintaining the mission and vision of Friends Center, cultivating a Quaker ethos on campus and helping nurture it in the wider community, working with and supervising staff in their work leading the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, the Quaker Renewal Program, and the Campus Ministry Office, and maintaining the strength of Friends Center through effective communication and fund-raising.  Responsibilities also include instructional work in the Religious Studies Department in areas of Quaker history, theology, spirituality, social testimonies, faith & practice, QLSP seminars, and special topics; strategic planning for the minor; and offering off-campus programs in Quakerism.

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The Friends Association for Higher Education is pleased to welcome Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya as a new institutional member.

Founded in 1942, and located in the highlands of Western Province in Kenya, Friends Theological College offers certificates, diplomas and bachelors degrees in theology and pastoral ministry.  FTC is a ministry of Friends United Meeting.  Dr. Robert Wafula is the Principal of Friends Theological College.

We welcome Dr. Wafula and his FTC colleagues to FAHE!

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Quaker Higher Education, Autumn 2014

FAHE is pleased to announce the publication of the Autumn 2014 edition of Quaker Higher Education. In it, educators  consider how to establish and nurture right relationships, with most of the pieces coming from the June 2014 conference of the Friends Association for Higher Education at Haverford College. This year’s conference included many passionate and careful explorations of how we can support each other, our students, and our society.

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Kindle edition of Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education

FAHE is pleased to announce that our new book, Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education is now available in a Kindle edition.

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Epistle, Friends Association for Higher Education and Friends Council on Education Joint Conference, June 12-15, 2014

Epistle Committee: Rebecca Mays (Philadelphia YM), Barbara Heather (Canadian YM), Jim Hood (North Carolina YM Conservative)

Greetings to all!

The Friends Association for Higher Education gathered for its annual conference in joint sessions with the Friends Council on Education on the extraordinarily beautiful campus of Haverford College from June 12 to June 15, 2014.  Walking the lawns of Haverford with the sounds of catbirds and sparrows ringing in our ears, we were startled by the lush green of late spring and blessed by the warmth of being in this special place of learning.  FAHE minutes its appreciation to Dan Weiss and Haverford College for hosting us with such love and tender attention to our needs; to Walter Sullivan and Kaye Edwards for their leadership in organizing our program; and to Geoff Labe, Director of Summer Programs, and his team of easily identified Haverford-tee-shirted students who unobtrusively and effectively met our every need.

Welcomed by Haverford’s president, Daniel Weiss, Thursday evening we were nurtured during our first plenary session by the music and deeply spiritual message of Tribe 1, a diverse group of performers whose songs give us hope and the inspiration to “see through illusion”towards the truth that guides us into right relationship.  The following morning, Sarah Willie-LeBreton challenged us to embrace the contradictions of working toward justice, reminding us through personal story interwoven with social theory to engage our skills and knowledge of collective practice and decision-making in order to “nurture a radical patience,”“continue to upend what puts people down,”and “open the circle [and] clarify the conversation”as we endeavor to “jar oppression from its structural scaffolding.”

In smaller, joint sessions, the topics of which ranged from honors programs to study abroad opportunities to economics to communal discernment, presenters blessed those gathered with a plenitude of questions and insights into how we might reorder attitudes and actions to embody spiritually-grounded, justice-oriented relationships.  We probed the work of 17th-century Quaker Elizabeth Bathurst, whose “bold and courageous”theology, written only in her third decade of life, continues to provide much to challenge and inspire Friends.  We engaged in a rich discussion about the problems that attend to our culture’s obsession with economic concerns, focussing on how our idolatry of money consistently diverts our decision-making attention from ethical consideration.

During the Friday evening plenary session, Kimberly Wright Cassidy, president of Bryn Mawr College; Robin Baker, president of George Fox University; Darryl J. Ford, head of school at William Penn Charter; Nancy O. Starmer, head of school at George School; and Irene McHenry, executive director of Friends Council on Education, discussed the multiple ways in which the Quaker history of Friends’institutions continues to inform their educational practices, and they considered mechanisms by which Quaker schools and colleges might further the educational vision of their founders. We were called to continue to question the use of form for form’s sake and to see excellent education for all as today’s most pressing civil rights issue.

Additional presentations explored the vitality of recovering a sense of place, the shifting meanings of “plain”and “simple,”the dangers of committing violence through the “scholarship of personal attack,”the problems that ensue when Quakers have not been able to live up to the full measure of our principles, and the possibilities of a Christ-centered truth-seeking, which, conversely, is a being sought.

In the final plenary, Micheal Birkel, Shan Cretin, and Diane Randall “consider[ed] the connections of things,”most particularly an imagined response by John Woolman to the working paper recently produced by the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Committee on National Legislation entitled “Shared Security,”a bold vision of a fifty-year plan for more effective and longer-lasting international security.  Woolman’s mystic and activist spirit pervaded their reflections on how to move beyond the concept of the nation state and international engagement through the production of war.

The sunlight over Sharpless Hall before our Saturday evening plenary, backlighting the trees and buildings with a sharp clarity, spoke for the clarifying intellectual and spiritual inquiries of this year’s FAHE sessions.  We explored right relationships in many arenas.  Several sessions named the tensions of individual rights and corporate authority in our Quaker efforts to create communities of justice.  We named avenues of justice that create agency and restore right relationships where broken.  Sessions on interfaith relations identified components of the Quaker foundational ethic for how to treat those who do not practice our testimonies or espouse our tenets of faith.  We challenged economic systems that support the elite on the backs of the poor; we faced our technological advances with gratitude for the doors that are opening for connection and with healthy skepticism for the threat to wholeness as a human community.  We identified the drivers of conflict to find how to use that energy instead for transformation.  In our meetings for worship, gentle biblical vision and deep quiet inspired us for the long road still to travel.  Saturday evening’s “Epilogue”included ministry that commemorated and celebrated—with affection and humor—the life of T. Canby Jones, one of the principal founders of FAHE.

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New FAHE book: Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education

FAHE is pleased to announce the publication of its first book. Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education is composed of articles drawn from the first fourteen issues of Quaker Higher Education (QHE), FAHE’s biannual scholarly journal, which the association launched in 2007. Initiated as a vehicle for promoting communication among Quaker scholars, QHE has become a popular venue for sharing many of the finest papers and write-ups of presentations from the annual FAHE conference, products that previously too often disappeared following each conference’s conclusion. It also solicits articles addressing a wide variety of topics and issues of interest to Friends.  QHE is published in April and November of each year.

Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education is available through Barnes and Noble’s website. Proceeds will accrue to FAHE to support the association’s future publishing efforts.

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It’s almost here! 2014 Joint Conference with Friends Council on Education

Summer is upon us, and that means the FAHE conference is fast approaching.

We still have a few spots open for housing as we look forward to gathering on June 12-15th, on the beautiful campus of FAHE member institution Haverford College.

This year we convene with the Friends Council on Education, the organization of preK-12 Friends schools worldwide. Our theme is “Exploring Right Relationships,” and our plenary speakers and presenters have prepared an invigorating, thought-provoking menu of sessions.

Of special note, we begin on Thursday evening, June 12th, with a concert by Tribe 1. In the summer 2014 edition of AFSC’s Quaker Action, you can read Lucy Duncan’s interview with Tribe 1 founder and director Niyonu Spann.

We invite you to join us!  More information here.

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