"Writing and Publishing as Ministry"
April 26-29, 2007 – QUIP, Grasmere, England
I traveled to Britain because Quakers United in Publications (QUIP) invited me to be one of the plenary speakers for their Annual Meeting. This year’s theme was, Writing and Publishing as Ministry, which is at the heart of the organizations work. I was invited to give a presentation on Friday night, April 27th on the topic of Writing in the Furtherance of Ministry. At the beginning of March I received an email from the registrar telling me that the meeting was full. Wow, that was great news.
We arrived at Glenthorne, a beautiful Quaker Country House & Conference Centre. The first F(f)riends I saw were Liz Yeats and Warren Wilson Reiner sitting outside on a bench enjoying the unseasonably warm and dry Lake District weather.
Half of the people who attended were from Britain in addition to one person from Wales and one from France. It was so enriching to be at the conference. Thursday evening we began the conference with a panel of editors sharing their ministry of assisting authors in their work. Many of the participants were Quaker authors. The time I spent with them was invaluable. Alex Wildwood gave a presentation titled, “Authentic leadings: the making of a Quaker author” I agreed with so much of what he said. It was wonderful to know that I am not the only one who has the experiences he described. We displayed our publications around the meeting room. Talked about projects that we were actively working on. I bonded with these Friends in the three days we had together. It was here that I owned the title of being a writer. How could I deny it when I was surrounded by so many authors who shared many of the experiences of writing as ministry I have whether it is for a journal, presentation, pamphlet or book. I am sorry that my co-author, Donna McDaniel was not able to be with us. I think this meeting would have been a very enriching experience for her too.
I was one of two presenters addressing the theme, Writing in the Furtherance of Ministry on Friday evening. I shared the evening session with David Blamires, a retired lecturer and professor of German at Manchester University in the UK who has special interests in medieval and 16th-century German literature, fairytales and children's literature. The Social Responsibility Council of London YM (now Britain YM) in 1973 published his book Homosexualtiy from the Inside. He recently contributed an article on 'Quaker Tradition' for Homosexuality and Religion: an Encyclopedia, edited by Jeffrey S. Siker (Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 2007.) Since 1987 David has edited the Friends Quarterly.
My presentation was well received. Several Friends told me how hopeful it was for them to hear, especially my minute. My new travel minute from Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting was very powerful for many.
Tea Time and Lunch
We were treated extremely well at Glenthorne. We had tea everyday along with hot and/or cold breakfasts and three course dinners. We picked up a brown bag lunch each morning as we left breakfast. Many of us drank our tea and ate our tea cakes and biscuits (one of the gluten free items I purchased for myself in London) outside at the picnic table or on the benches along the sides of the buildings. The practice of eating outside was repeated at lunch time.
The weather cooperated the entire time we were at the conference by giving us bright, warm weather allowing us to eat outside everyday. Each day after lunch we had a break to take a short nap or walk into town. Friday afternoon I walked into town with another attender who was representing the Tract Association. We explored Grasmere. I purchased some traditional Grasmere ginger bread to take back to the FGC office and give to my colleagues.
Saturday afternoon a small group of us walked past the center of town to visit Dove Cottage, the home that William Wordsworth lived in while he was in Grasmere. One of the authors at the conference, Gerard Benson led our tour. He spent a year at Dove Cottage doing research and writing.
On Saturday evening, Harvey Gillman gace a delightful presentation on his recently published book, "Consider the Blackbird." We were joined both Friday and Saturday nights by a couple who were not a part of our meeting, but were guests at Glenthorne and interested in Quakerism.
Sunday morning we expressed concern about the status of bookstores and publishing among Friends. Several bookstores have closed in the past year and Britain Yearly Meeting is in the process of evaluating their publications program. This was an important issue for all of us present (authors and publishers.) The group wrote a minute expressing our concern. The meeting ended on Sunday with worship. I was encouraged to return next year when QUIP is meeting in North Carolina. I am thinking of returning because the theme next year is “Publishing with Immediacy.” They will examine using the internet in publishing books, blogs and other communication mechanisms.