Young Adult Friends are often transitory and sometimes don’t return to Quakerism. So how can they stay engaged?
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- What was your spiritual life like in your twenties? What are some of the religious opportunities that most spoke to you in that period of your life?
- Anthony Smith describes living in a lot of different places and holding a lot of different jobs in his twenties but always coming back to FCNL Meetings as a constant. What was a spiritual constant that you’ve had in more transitory periods of your life?
Annie Boggess: When I came to Quakerism, as someone who was already kind of a young adult in college, it felt like this beautiful coming home to a family that I didn’t even realize that I had. There was no pressure. There was no, “Where have you been? You’re a little late.” It was just: “We’ve been waiting for you and we’re so happy that you found your way to us.”
Staying Engaged as a Young Adult Quaker
Anthony Smith: Some of my twenties… it was an interesting time because I’m traveling and living in different places. I think I lived a month or more in probably a half dozen states in the course of my twenties and then I have a different job every couple of years, and one thing I found was that—you know, I think this is a time, twenties and thirties, where people started to maybe fall off from religion—for me, it got deeper. Because one constant I had was that I was a Friend.
Something To Be Hopeful For
If I lived somewhere I was looking for a meeting. I was I was trying to attend, I was trying to participate. Particularly on things relating to their social concerns, their witness. Instead of my religion just being a part of my life, that my life was framed by my religion, and my spiritual sense was important to me and I felt it important to nurture that.
Emily Temple: What has kept me engaged as a Young Adult Friend and in Quaker institutions and Quaker life is the values that I have learned from those communities: despite how jaded you could feel by the work that still needs to be done in the world, there is something to be hopeful for. There’s a lot that is worth working that hard for and quite simply there is no one else to do this work if we’re not going to do it.
Young adults can find community
in Quaker organizations like FCNL.
Annie Boggess: I think when people are looking for other Quakers who are roughly young adult age, it can be a little difficult because we are spread out and many of us might be focusing on things that are not Quakerism at this particular moment in our lives. Having the opportunity to work at FCNL right after college was a really awesome way to transition out of this great Quaker community that I had at Haverford College into another great Quaker community.
Anthony Smith: And FCNL (the Friends Committee on National Legislation) was a constant for me. I knew that wherever I was, I intended to go to its annual meeting. They were just a part of that sense of permanency that I didn’t often have a lot of. I knew that no matter what I was doing, I would have that and I would be involved in that.
Emily Temple: These Quaker communities have given me so much in my life that it’s nothing for me to become more involved. That’s what I have to give at this point because I don’t have financial contributions to give yet, or much else, and so what I have is my time and energy to give towards things. I’m very happy to give it at this point because I’m ready to see it carried forward and to honor the work that everybody’s done that’s come before.
Anthony Smith: And in a sense, it’s kind of comforting. You’ll go to D.C. every year, maybe in a different location or something, but I’ll see many of the same people. I’ll be engaged in some of the same work. And it’s very intense. Especially being on policy committee, which I got onto the year after I joined the general committee. It does get very intense in some years, especially in the last 3 or 4, but I always feel nurtured at the end of it. The work we do: it is well with my soul.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.