Friends,

 

As clerk of our meeting's Adult Religious Education community, I help to design curriculum for the Adult First Day School program.  We hold one-hour sessions every First Day just before regular Meeting for Worship.  In recent months we have been experimenting with a regular monthly activity, currently called "Quaker Writers."

 

The idea is to feature a significant writer every month, from the first generation of Friends to the present day, and from a wide variety of theological perspectives.  Given the format, each session can only provide a brief introduction to an author, with some worship sharing on selected passages.  Our hope is that, over time, the Meeting will develop a deeper sense of engagement with the rich legacy of our Quaker ancestors, and those who write now in the spirit of that tradition.  Some of our writers were (or are!) very public figures, while others wrote for friends and family-- but all have much to teach us.

 

So far we've touched on the work of 18th century American Friend Ann Moore, John Woolman, Caroline Stephen, Pink Dandelion, Elias Hicks, and Lucretia Mott.  I'm wondering whether Friends in this community may have some suggestions for our future sessions.  We want to spotlight major figures like Fox, Barclay, Fell, Gurney, or Rufus Jones-- but also more contemporary writers, or interesting and less well-known Friends from all eras and branches of Quakerism.  Thanks in advance!

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In addition to the writers you've already mentioned -

Modern writers - Douglas Gwyn, Margery Post Abbott, John Punshon, J Brent Bill, Howard Macy, Michael Birkel, Patricia Loring, Bill Tabor, Brian Drayton, Lloyd Lee Wilson, Sandra Cronk

18oos - Samuel Bownas.

1600's - anthology - Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women's Writings 1650 - 1700. James Naylor, Isaac Penington, Mary Penington, William Penn.

Among the early Friends, don't forget James Nayler.  There is a Pendle Hill pamphlet by Brian Drayton that explores Nayler's writings.

And it then occurs to me, among modern Friends, Brian Drayton is someone to read.

Good luck!

I recommend *A Journal of the Life and Religious Labours of Richard
Jordan, a Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends*.  It is available from Amazon in reprint form for $8.12 FREE Super Saver Shipping available.  Richard Jordan's journal expresses his deep, classical Quaker spirituality, and is moving to read.

Amazon's description: "... renewedly to bring him under a deep sense of judgment and condemnation for sin; and as he patiently and humbly abode under this refining baptism,
though at times tempted to give up all hope of ever attaining to a state of
acceptance and peace, he was, through great mercy, enabled to surrender himself
into the hands of his all-sufficient Redeemer, and brought into a living and
heartfelt experience of reconciliation to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Being married and settled in North Carolina, and having passed through many deep
and various baptisms, with an awful impression that he was called to the
ministry, and at times a sensible feeling of the divine hand putting him forth
therein, which he strove to avoid ;he was, in the twenty-fifth year of his age,
enabled to resign himself to the disposal of the blessed Head of the church, and
strengthened to express a few words in a small meeting of Friends, which yielded
indescribable peace to his hitherto oppressed and afflicted soul. His
appearances in the ministry were for a long time small, and not frequent, his
mind being covered with a fear and dread lest he should shoot out into branches,
and not truly know an establishment in the root of immortal life. He kept much
at home, except attending his own yearly meeting, and some neighbouring meetings
in Virginia, and also travelling on foot in religious visits to some places in
North Carolina. Being faithful in the little, his qualification for further
services became enlarged, and feeling a religious concern to visit the meetings
of friends in the northern and eastern states, he opened the same to his
friends, and in the third month, 1797, obtained certificates of their unity,
from the monthly and quarterly meetings of which he was a member." 

Another journal I would recommend is the *Life of Samuel J Levick, Late of the City of Philadelphia*.  Reprints are apparently available on Amazon for $20.90 plus shipping.  Samuel Levick was a very earnest 19th Century Friend, a Hicksite in affiliation but orthodox in faith.  He was recognized as a minister at an early age, and labored faithfully for the Lord.  As I recall, he and another young Hicksite minister were physically attacked by white antagonists when they held street meetings for Blacks, in Philadelphia I guess.

Samuel Levick was well regarded by many orthodox Friends, as well as Hicksites.

I also recommend *Rhoda M. Coffin, Her Reminiscences, Addresses, Papers and
Ancestry*. Available in reprint form on Amazon for $9.60 plus shipping. Free Super Saver Shipping available.  Rhoda Coffin's writing style is so lucid and contemporary, one almost feels that she is reporting face-to-face on events in her life.  She was a renewal-minded 19th Century minister from the Gurneyite Indiana Yearly Meeting.

 

Friends,

 

Thanks so much for your wonderful suggestions-- I have already learned plenty, and will investigate these works over the next few weeks.  Please feel free to share more writers whose work has been important to you!

Stephen Grellet (1773-1855) was the son of aristocratic French parents, who were porcelain manufacturers.  He and his family were on the losing side during the French Revolution, and Grellet was sentenced to die.  He and his brother escaped, eventually making their way to Long Island.  Grellet discovered some early Quaker writings, and studied them in an effort to learn English.

His journal reports that he was struck down while walking one day, and experienced a visitation from the Lord.  Grellet began attending meeting, and met two English Friends' ministers at a home where all three had been invited for dinner.  They fell into silence, and Deborah Darby read Grellet's spiritual condition "as the pages of a book".  He was convinced.

Grellet was perhaps the most effective  evangelist the Society of Friends ever had.  In his hands, the "religious visit" reached what may have been its fullest expression!

When I was in my 20s, I read the *Memoir of the Life and Gospel Labours of  Stephen Grellet* so much that the 900+ page book fell apart!!  My parents-in-law, oldtime Conservative Friends, frequently read Grellet's journal aloud to the family on Sunday afternoons!

Grellet's *Memoir of the Life and Gospel Labours of Stephen Grellet* is available as an unabridged two volume reprint for $33.84.

Richard H. Thomas MD (1854-1904) was a minister of Baltimore Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite).  His wife, Anna Braithwaite Thomas (daughter of J. Bevan Braithwaite and sister of W.C. Braithwaite) edited his memoirs, *Richard H. Thomas, M.D.: Life and Letters*.  Richard Thomas belonged to a prominent Orthodox Quaker family in Baltimore, and he married into a prominent British Quaker family.  He lived a short life of 50 years.

One might expect that Richard Thomas's Quaker Christian faith would be something he would take for granted, and not get very serious about.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He was an ardent Friend (in the best sense of the word), and spent much of his time, energy and personal resources in the service of Christ.  When he had time off from his medical work, he didn't play golf or pursue the conventional leisure activities of the well-to-do.  Richard Thomas spent his time doing the work of a dedicated Friends' minister.

His memoir recounts vacations spent working to revive the little Orthodox meeting at Bellefonte PA.  One day he attempted to return to the home where he was staying, but mistakenly knocked on the neighbor's door instead.  It turned out that the neighbor was a "lapsed member" of the meeting.  She invited him in, and their discussion of spiritual matters reawakened her religious life and she was restored to active participation in the meeting!

Richard Thomas and his sister started a little paper for their yearly meeting, called (I believe) *The Interchange*.  It is still being published over 100 years later!!!  He was so effective in working to revive his yearly meeting that members of the Hicksite yearly meeting (which was woefully short on ministry) were switching their affiliation to the Orthodox!  This prompted John J. Cornell, a Hicksite minister from New York(?), to rush to the area, in an attempt to halt the exodus!

Richard Thomas's memoir depicts committed Quaker ministry in a relatively contemporary context.  It has been reprinted, and may be had for just under $26.00.  I recommend it. 

 

Most older Friends' journals and memoirs recounted the lives and ministry of ministers. However,  I am aware of a few volumes documenting the lives of elders.  One of these is John Rutty MD, *A Spiritual Diary and Soliloquies*.  Rutty  (1697–1775) was an Irish physician, and apparently kept a detailed spiritual diary.  I do not have a copy, but plan to order one.

I do have H.J. Bailey, *Reminiscences of a Christian Life*, a biography of Moses Bailey (1817-1882).  He was an elder among Friends in Maine,and his diary makes me wish our family too could have summered in Parsonsfield ME, and sat under the ministry of an unnamed Quaker doctor from Indiana(?) whose preaching was very edifying.  The diary's time frame is well over a century ago; I don't think Parsonsfield Meeting even exists now.  Fortunately, we may still read about it in this volume written by one of Moses' relatives.

The Rutty volume is available in reprint for $27.-$30. dollars.  The Bailey volume is also available in its original form for under $32.00, and in reprint form for $24.  Shipping would be extra.

 

A-Spiritual-Diary-and-Soliloquies-by-John-Rutty-M-D

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A Spiritual Diary and Soliloquies

Thank you so much for this wonderful and moving review! I will be adding this to my wishlist on Amazon, and will be asking for it for my birthday.

I love the image of your in-laws reading this book out loud on many a Sunday...and you, reading a 900+ page book so much that it fell apart! So wonderful! I look forward to reading it!

Blessings, Tina


William F Rushby said:

Stephen Grellet (1773-1855) was the son of aristocratic French parents, who were porcelain manufacturers.  He and his family were on the losing side during the French Revolution, and Grellet was sentenced to die.  He and his brother escaped, eventually making their way to Long Island.  Grellet discovered some early Quaker writings, and studied them in an effort to learn English.

His journal reports that he was struck down while walking one day, and experienced a visitation from the Lord.  Grellet began attending meeting, and met two English Friends' ministers at a home where all three had been invited for dinner.  They fell into silence, and Deborah Darby read Grellet's spiritual condition "as the pages of a book".  He was convinced.

Grellet was perhaps the most effective  evangelist the Society of Friends ever had.  In his hands, the "religious visit" reached what may have been its fullest expression!

When I was in my 20s, I read the *Memoir of the Life and Gospel Labours of  Stephen Grellet* so much that the 900+ page book fell apart!!  My parents-in-law, oldtime Conservative Friends, frequently read Grellet's journal aloud to the family on Sunday afternoons!

Grellet's *Memoir of the Life and Gospel Labours of Stephen Grellet* is available as an unabridged two volume reprint for $33.84.

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