The Earth Quaker Action Team is a group of activists that incorporate silent Quaker worship into their protests. As a college student, Lina Blount was captivated by this style of direct action, and it started her on a Quaker journey.
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Photos by Kaytee Ray-Riek
I like to believe that Quakers in their core hearts are really rebellious. What I’ve learned about early Friends is that is a part of the origin story, of this rebellious spirit saying, “No, we won’t accept the systems of power and hierarchy that are laid out here. In fact, everyone has access to God and we’re going to really tell everyone very firmly that that is what we believe.”
How Activism Led Me to Quakerism
My name is Lina Blount. I live in Germantown, Philadelphia and the Earth Quaker Action Team is my primary spiritual community and connection to Quakerism. The Earth Quaker Action Team, or EQAT, is a group of Quakers and non-Quakers who are using spiritually-grounded, nonviolent direct action to fight for economic and environmental justice.
How I Was Introduced to Quakerism
I was introduced to Quakerism through EQAT. I didn’t have a major spiritual community before I came to this organization, and I remember one of my very first actions with EQAT, we went to the Philadelphia Flower Show and we were setting up a “flower crime scene” because the flowers in Appalachia were being destroyed through mountaintop removal coal mining and I was a student and I kind of showed up and did what I was told to do without really knowing the whole action plan, but I remember at some point, someone called for worship and it got really quiet in that group. There was noise and movement all around us, people going to and from in the Flower Show, but in that quiet, there was something really compelling to me.
Worship in Action
There’s something about holding worship while we’re in action that I think makes EQAT more powerful than if it was just us showing up and going through the motions. Now that I’ve been involved for a couple of years, I can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve been in an action and someone has called for silence or someone has spoken out of silence, and a whole shift in energy and possibility in the moment was made possible because of the work in those spaces. Spirit is always invited in to what we’re up to—in our actions, in our meetings. As someone who didn’t have vocabulary for that experience of Quaker meeting outside of action, it was a very very powerful introduction.
Being Clear to Take Action
I think one of the most important things that I’ve seen in EQAT and that I’ve seen replicated in EQAT is that being clear enough to act isn’t the same as being clear on all the details. There are things that you can do as an organization and as a group of people to build trust and to build skills in being flexible in learning and supporting each other through uncertainty, but if you’re clear enough to act, it’s so much more important to act than to really get bogged down in finding certainty. Because we can learn through our actions, and holding yourself accountable to learning and acting and reflecting and learning is so important and the injustices of our system are too urgent for us to wait all the time for every single detail. For me, it’s a deeply spiritual thing to navigate faithfully your clearness-in-action.
I think that’s something that EQAT’s taught me in a really profound way, is that if we embrace our learning together, our action can be powerful and can get more powerful as we gain knowledge in the campaign, but starting the action is critically important.
- Lina’s main experience of Quaker worship is during protests—in public, with members of her group getting arrested, etc. Have you ever experienced Quaker worship in an unconventional setting? What was it like for you?
- “Being clear enough to act isn’t the same as being clear of all the details.” Have you ever acted on a leading without fully knowing where the path would take you? What skills did you learn along the way? How did you grow and adapt along the way?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.