Quakers have a rich, fascinating and prophetic past – but on the whole we are not very actively involved with our future. We are the heirs and custodians of an enormous heritage of Quaker literature, buildings, spiritual struggle and historic witness, but we are investing less and less in the needs and interests of the next generation or even in the generation around us.
If left unaddressed, our youth are left ill-prepared and vulnerable to a system where war is left out of the public view, and Selective Service sweeps them up unaware. Our meetings have a responsibility to bear witness to conscientious objection and nurture the conscience that lies deep within our young people.
Social media represents an unprecedented platform for witness and ministry. Many people under the age of forty use social media as their exclusive source of information and communications. Six monthly meetings in New York Yearly Meeting participated in an 50-day experiment using social media ads as Quaker outreach.
While Quakers around the country will find ways of protesting, on Saturday, 6 May 2017, many will climb Pendle Hill in Lancashire to protest against the effects of fracking, both locally and around the world. Quakers are known for worshipping in stillness and they will gather in a meeting for worship for witness. Pendle Hill is at the centre of an area licensed for fracking. This is also a significant place for Quakers. In 1652, George Fox climbed the hill and had a vision of creating a great movement of people.
Over and over again, I have seen Quaker meetings approve witness testimonies and minutes of conscience that just barely represent our faith, or do not do so at all. All too often, they are mostly—or thoroughly—secular in nature and language. One often could read them and never know that a religious organization wrote them, let alone a Quaker one.