Stored on our server to give private access to study group members,
but not accessible through the public website.
In 2017, several newcomers to Jacksonville Friends Meeting requested a study group to introduce them to Quaker faith and practice.
Our new series uses Rex Ambler’s The Quaker Way: a rediscovery (2013) as a primary source, along with excerpts from the older series. However, the series is a meant to be a collaborative group learning experience rather than a course or book study. We use readings, discussion, queries, worship sharing, and silent (waiting) worship to discover the Quaker way.
Group Agreement — Modeled on the Alternatives to Violence Project group agreement
empathy & patience
the right to pass
active listening to understand
safe to share when uncomfortable with something
Session 1: Introduction (4/15/2018)
- Session 1 facilitators’ outline
- Reading in advance: Ambler’s Introduction (excerpts)
- Session 1 Review
- Homework before Session 2:
- Reading – Ambler’s Introduction and Chapter 1: Finding the Truth (excerpts)
- Practice – Pay attention to times when insights or ideas come to you, and see if you can become more aware of how they come to you.
- Query – If you could describe your life and your work in terms of “faith” and “practice,” how might you do that?
Session 2: Finding the Truth (5/6/2018)
- Session 2 facilitators’ outline
- Session 2 Review
- Homework before Session 3:
- Chapter 2 of The Quaker Way.
- Handout 3.1 on The Light Within
- Practice – Try 5-10 minutes of silent waiting practice each day.
Session 3: The Light Within (6/24/2018)
- Session 3 facilitators’ outline — Group makeup for Session 3 was so different from 1 and 2 that the we set aside the planned outline. Instead we started with a period of sharing reactions and insights to readings and to any previous sessions we had attended.
- 3.1 The Light Within — from Quakerism 101 (19-21)
- Session 3 Review
- Homework before Session 4:
Session 4: Looking for God(7/15/2018)
- Session 4 facilitator’s outline — Again we set aside the planned outline. Welcoming newcomers led in turn to an extended group discussion (see Session 4 review).
- 4.1 The “God-shaped Hole” — What “God” means today; So what might this reality be?; Advice from Samuel Fisher (1660); Not tying the experience of “God” down to words
- 4.2 What Now? — Letting go of beliefs; Reality is finally a mystery; The significance of everyday life; Trusting reality; Experiencing God in an existential way
- Session 4 review — We sometimes stumble over a conceptual boundary, one that distinguishes between what can be known empirically through science, and what may be known intuitively yet evades empirical observation or description.
- Optional Reading
- Thoughts on reframing & reclaiming the term “religion” — Some history
- Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept;
- James P. Carse, The Religious Argument Against Belief
- Optional Reading
- Homework before Session 5:
- Practice – Continue the experiment of brief daily sitting in silence
- Observe your experience between now and next session in terms of this query: What do we gain when we are able to share our inward sense of reality with other?
Session 5: Meeting others (8/19/2018)
- Session 5 facilitator’s outline
- 5.1 Benefits of sharing with one another – Amber, Chapter 3, pp. 50-55
- Session 5 review – As has happened in the previous two sessions, the group became deeply engaged in sharing and discussion that only loosely followed the planned outline. The review gives a taste of that mutual exploration.
- Homework before Session 6:
- Reading – Ambler’s Chapter 3: Worshiping together (58-63)
Session 6: Worshiping together (9/16/2018)
- Session 6 facilitator’s outline
- Session 6 review
- Homework before Session 7:
- Review the “Worshiping together” section of Chapter 3 (58-63). In particular, look at how Ambler contrasts what is the same for both early Quaker and present-day worship, on the one hand, and what is very different about worship for modern Friends.
The first thing is that we come to feel part of the group, not isolated or alone. This is a good experience in itself, but it can lead to something even better, a sense of being united in the spirit, held together by something larger than ourselves, which can nourish us and enlighten us as a group…. But to get to this experience we have to become aware of the people we are with, and maybe to get a sense of how they are….”
In a letter, Fox advised Friends “to deal with their own personal stuff first of all, so that they can then be free to open themselves to the others, to ‘see where others stand’. But it also suggests a down-to-earth approach to the meeting as a whole: just become aware of who is there and how they arc. When we have done that we can consider what might concern us as a group. (61)
Session 7: Making decisions – Part 1 (10/21/2018)
- Session 7 facilitator’s outline
- Session 7 review
- Homework before Session 8:
- Reading – From Chapter 4 of The Quaker Way, “Making Decisions”
- Practice – During this month, pay added attention to how groups you belong to make decisions? What hints of Quaker decision-making arise naturally? How can you to introduce this approach? If you can, how do others react, participate, resist, etc.
Session 8: Making decisions – Part 2 (11/25/2018)
- Session 8 facilitator’s outline
- 8.1 What makes all this possible? — from Quakerism 101 (78-80)
- Session 8 review
December 16, 2018
Due to low attendance, we visited with each other but did not continue our study of Ambler’s The Quaker Way on this day.
January 27, 2019
In place of the usual study group, four Friends held worship sharing over the Spiritual State of the Meeting Queries for 2018.
Session 9: Living Faithfully, Part I (not held)
- Reading – From Chapter 5 of The Quaker Way, “Living faithfully”