Our Meeting is creating an outreach committee to improve our visibility.  We have a strong commitment to not proselytize, but are trying to remove the bushel basket now covering the light of our meeting. 

Anyway, we are looking for ideas for alternatives to the name "Outreach Committee" as that might not be the best fit for us. Anyone have experience with different names?

Thanks!

Rochelle in Ashland, OR

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Not being currently attached to a Quaker meeting I cannot answer your direct question. However the subtext of your question really aches for a response!

The traditional terms for what you're talking about in religious communities with Christian heritages (of which Quakers are one whether your individual members at your meeting still identify with that heritage were not) are words like evangelism (or in Catholic and/or ecumenical circles, evangelization) and outreach. If you wish to be plain speaking about this stuff, you are actually talking about marketing and advertising. Which puts you in the an unenviable position of feeling a closer attachment to Wall Street and Madison Avenue than you do your own religious heritage!

The tamer word is of course outreach. It means reaching out! It often implies more of a "soft-sell approach" than the "e-word". In the little mainstream Protestant church that I attend, Outreach Committee engages in this kind of activities that you might expect from a committee that in my Quaker days would've been called "Peace and Social Action". I suppose the whole notion is that if your reaching out is successful you will end up touching somebody in a way they want to be touched. Which means of course that for many of us the word "evangelism" connotes a sub species of "unsafe touch"!

For those people not comfortable/unaware of the biblical roots of the concept of evangelism I would direct you to such authors as John Dominic Crossan. He contends that the word evangelism as used in Scripture is actually intended to sarcastically belittle the practice of the Roman Empire. When Roman armies invaded new territory they would send messengers into the town's announcing the "good news" that they were now a part of the Roman Empire with all of the social benefits and excessive taxation that that entailed. So when the first Christian communities called their preaching activities declaring the "good news" they were being deeply ironic at the same time they were offering an alternative to the politically oppressive usual meaning of the term.

George Fox used the term "everlasting good news" a reference to the book of Revelation, a book that is not well liked in Quaker or for that matter many Christian circles these days. But in that book, the "everlasting good news" is the declaration that God is doing a new thing and that the appropriate response is for us to worship the one who created the trees and the mountains and the sky. It is a proclamation immediately followed by another proclamation: the fall of Babylon the Great. The end of the prototype of all political oppression.

Ours is Outreach & Fellowship.

I appreciate this response. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the e-word, but I have realized that, if we don't have good news to share, we should lay down our meetings immediately!

David McKay said:

Not being currently attached to a Quaker meeting I cannot answer your direct question. However the subtext of your question really aches for a response!

The traditional terms for what you're talking about in religious communities with Christian heritages (of which Quakers are one whether your individual members at your meeting still identify with that heritage were not) are words like evangelism (or in Catholic and/or ecumenical circles, evangelization) and outreach. If you wish to be plain speaking about this stuff, you are actually talking about marketing and advertising. Which puts you in the an unenviable position of feeling a closer attachment to Wall Street and Madison Avenue than you do your own religious heritage!

The tamer word is of course outreach. It means reaching out! It often implies more of a "soft-sell approach" than the "e-word". In the little mainstream Protestant church that I attend, Outreach Committee engages in this kind of activities that you might expect from a committee that in my Quaker days would've been called "Peace and Social Action". I suppose the whole notion is that if your reaching out is successful you will end up touching somebody in a way they want to be touched. Which means of course that for many of us the word "evangelism" connotes a sub species of "unsafe touch"!

For those people not comfortable/unaware of the biblical roots of the concept of evangelism I would direct you to such authors as John Dominic Crossan. He contends that the word evangelism as used in Scripture is actually intended to sarcastically belittle the practice of the Roman Empire. When Roman armies invaded new territory they would send messengers into the town's announcing the "good news" that they were now a part of the Roman Empire with all of the social benefits and excessive taxation that that entailed. So when the first Christian communities called their preaching activities declaring the "good news" they were being deeply ironic at the same time they were offering an alternative to the politically oppressive usual meaning of the term.

George Fox used the term "everlasting good news" a reference to the book of Revelation, a book that is not well liked in Quaker or for that matter many Christian circles these days. But in that book, the "everlasting good news" is the declaration that God is doing a new thing and that the appropriate response is for us to worship the one who created the trees and the mountains and the sky. It is a proclamation immediately followed by another proclamation: the fall of Babylon the Great. The end of the prototype of all political oppression.

My current meeting doesn't have such a committee, but in a meeting that I used to be a member of, it was called the Advancement Committee, which I believe referred to "advancing the Kingdom."

Improving visibility in the sense of keeping the web site up to date? 

The most important function of a Meeting vis-a-vis the general public, short of hosting the Meetings themseles, is to be clear on who is doing what per Nominating and Business Meeting approval i.e. who are the committee clerks etc.. 

Absent that, a Meeting is operating "invisibly" in my book, as in "under the radar".  Second to sharing a "masthead" of responsible Friends (the slate), a Faith and Practice (aka "operating manual") needs to be accessible (otherwise how do newbies find their way?).

Just having an address and location published, nothing more, is antithetical to Quakerism, which favors transparency in business affairs -- but then I'm coming from a Liberal background.  On a church style Quaker website, I suppose its sufficient to name the pastor.

The best form of outreach in my view is advertising how this is a DIY (do it yourself) religion and we have all these active people actually engaged on our committees, quite unlike the pastor-led model, which is characteristic of so many sects.  Again, this may not apply to all Quakers or former Quakers.

Hmm this makes me think that annual group photos of each committee would be nice.

Kirby Urner said:

The best form of outreach in my view is advertising how this is a DIY (do it yourself) religion and we have all these active people actually engaged on our committees, quite unlike the pastor-led model, which is characteristic of so many sects.  Again, this may not apply to all Quakers or former Quakers.

In a comment to another blog on this topic, I suggested Advertising Committee in place of Evangelizing Committee or something like that (I'd have to go dig to find the URL, I know there is one).

The blogger in that case thought "Outreach" sounded wimpy-bureaucratic and wanted a word with more punch to it, more verve. 

However as a liberal Friend growing up in Rome, Italy, I was more impressed by Madison Avenue types than any preacher or pastor, when it came to PR powers.  The "mad men" of all genders were the ones that wowed me, in terms of their powers to push a product. 

I grew up in an advertising capital, studying TV and magazines (e.g. MAD), and not so much the Bible (also popular in Rome, no question, but not with me so much -- too violent).  I'm still a Friend though, and there's some book about the Bible according to MAD that people read, so I'm not too worried about it. :-D

Anyway, what I've come to lately is: "evangelizing" and "advertising" amount to the same thing. 

In the geek-tech world I frequent, it's already standard to call oneself "an evangelist for" so-and-so (e.g. a certain technology or technique) as a synonym for "avid proponent of".  You hear someone say "I'm an evangelist for Apple" or "I'm an evangelist for Python".  It means they're sincerely convinced of something's value and are willing to stick their necks out as its advocates.

So whereas NPYM.org might "advertise" about the coming Annual Session (which I hope to make at least one day of), a Quaker network of churches in a sister Yearly might find "evangelize" their verb of choice, for their parallel occasion. 

I find it inwardly "no problemo" to translate back and forth, from one to the other.  Two ways of saying essentially the same thing.  Both involve "applying spin", though again I think the commercial sector has maybe been more effective than the religious sector, in applying it.  God doesn't mind appearing in TV commercials I guess.

Quakers are determined to die.  If you write the yearly meetings they either don't respond or offer little help.  Unprogrammed meetings serve only their members and rarely do anything in the community that specifically identifies themselves as Quaker.  Most people think Quakers are the Amish, make oats or oil, or have died out like the Shakers.  We are more concerned about societal and the environment issues than explaining and promoting being a Quaker and our unique form of worship.

Programmed meetings are all about the preacher and NOT the Spirit.  The preachers are wrecking the North Carolina Yearly meeting.  Most preachers promote themselves, 3 songs and a sermon, and the desires to return to religious rituals rather than direct experience of the Spirit.

Quakers are dying as a distinct religion.  Sad that most don't care.

So then, Friend Quaker Monk, what is the Spirit of Truth calling you to do about it?

(my past experience is that people who complain in meeting have a funny way of getting put on committees)

I do think it'd be refreshing to have a religion come on the scene with a built-in pull date.  "After such and such a date, this religion will be null and void" -- interesting experiment.  Internet transfer packets, how the stuff gets around, have a TTL (time to live) meaning after a certain set number of hops between routers, they self destruct.  Otherwise the Internet would "clog with a billion Dorys" (packets unable to find home).

Forewarned is forearmed:  don't be too surprised (i.e. don't suffer heart problems) if you see a TV and/or Youtube commercial for some "Quaker bank" down the road (just like the good old days).  We know from the Quaker Oats case that Friends won't sue and besides that, we'll have some weighty Friends on the board.  True, said bank might only operate in Turkey and practice Sharia banking (and trade in bitcoin) but that's too long a story for QuakerQuaker #Q2.

Quaker Monk said:

Quakers are determined to die.



David McKay said:

So then, Friend Quaker Monk, what is the Spirit of Truth calling you to do about it?

(my past experience is that people who complain in meeting have a funny way of getting put on committees)

Interesting.  I am only wanting Quakers to be Quakers.  You imply that is a complaint.  If I wanted to go to a church with three songs and a sermon there are plenty.  Your experience seems to be a way of silencing people rather than really listening to them or the Spirit which may be behind their concerns.

The Spirit leads me to write here which is obvious. To call Quakers to get back to the basics and promote silent worship instead of traditional Protestant religious rituals controlled by preachers.

I spoke out in the business meeting when a committee tried to railroad through at the very last part of the meeting the experimental singing in an unprogrammed meeting.  This is not an experiment.  The three songs and a sermon format is the traditional protestant worship format.  Programmed meetings are just traditional protestant worship.  The clerk in the meeting is defrocked Methodist minister and a trained lawyer.  The sense of the meeting is his will not the Spirit.  He is a trained lawyer and very good at ingratiating himself with others to his own will.  There is no peace in arguments with a trained lawyer bent on getting his way.

The Spirit directly called me not to leave out the Spirit, that's all.   That is the most important calling  of all.  The Spirit didn't tell me to be a preacher.  The Spirit didn't tell me to strive for social work causes or the environment.   The Spirit didn't tell me to unite with LGBT or racial issues., these groups are doing MUCH better than Quakers in promoting themselves.  Nope the Spirit just called me to the Light.  Unfortunately, Quakers are not interested in the meeting I attend nor are they interested nationally. 

On further reflection, I will admit this experiment has already been performed numerous times, often by End Timer branches of this or that which peg X (usually doomsday, could be rapturous for some select frequent flyers) to a specific calendar date, which sets a clock (a doomsday clock) ticking (you might find it on their web site). 

That date comes and goes, X doesn't happen (or maybe it does: flowchart), and the TTL is reached for that particular branch of some religion (or maybe it wasn't a branch, more free standing). Remember that Applewhite religion where they drank the kool-aid? (ironically I was talking to a different Applewhite on the phone around the time that happened, also a tad cultish ("they got the wrong Applewhite" he joked, darkly, somewhat gothic sense of humor [1])).

The Subgenius Church, still of indeterminant half-life, calls such a pegged X-day an "X-Day" and stages annual celebrations in upstate New York and other places.  There's always an explanation for "why the aliens didn't come" as that sect puts it.

[1] E.J. Applewhite, E for Edgar, also known as EJA in some circles, more in my journals.


Kirby Urner said:

I do think it'd be refreshing to have a religion come on the scene with a built-in pull date.  "After such and such a date, this religion will be null and void" -- interesting experiment.

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