Many Quakers feel called to action, but are unable to bring their ideas to fruition. Learn how five young adult Friends were able to make their leadings a reality.
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Jade Souza: We all know that there’s, like, forces in the world that are out to get us, or at least I know that. That are not for you; that are against you; and that, you know, there’s gonna be trials and difficulties that you didn’t anticipate. But there’s also the other; there’s also friends that you don’t know you have, and allies that you don’t know you have, and people who are for you even if they’ve never actually met you, and the more that we can be aware of that—those places where we touch that are so important for us to be resilient enough to try doing things like this in this world.
Supporting Young Adult Quakers in Their Leadings
Ashley Wilcox: I know that Friends look around and they want to see young people in their
meetings. They want to see young people in their events, and one of the ways to do that is to get to know the young people, support them, and support them financially. I’ve been to a lot of Quaker gatherings where older people are like, “Where are the young people?” and I usually tell them, “They’re at work.” Young people are often in transition, they often have to work a lot, they don’t have a lot of money, or they’re raising children—they have families, and so they need some incentive and some encouragement.
The Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment was established in 1992 to support young Quakers in following their leadings. Between 1994 and 2019, the Endowment supported over 150 young adults.
Liz Nicholson: I’m Liz Nicholson. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I received a Pickett grant in 2014 to do a service learning trip to Israel-Palestine.
Drew Elizalde-Miller: My name is Drew Elizalde-Miller, and I am a member of Reedwood Friends Church, and I received a Pickett grant in summer 2016 to conduct a solidarity visit to the Philippines.
Laura MacNorlin: My name is Laura MacNorlin. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m a member of the Friends Meeting of Atlanta. I got a Pickett grant in 2014, and it was a grant to do a Quaker visitor project between the Friends Meeting and the Friends School.
Anna Fritz: I’m Anna Fritz. I’m a member at Multnomah Monthly Meeting, and in 2015 I received a Pickett grant to bring a music ministry to eight monthly meetings in the West and Midwest.
Ashley Wilcox: My name is Ashley Wilcox. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I got a Pickett grant in 2013 to lead a workshop at the FGC Gathering called, “Convergent Friends: Worship and Conversation.”
Jade Souza: My name is Jade Souza. I live in Portland, Oregon, and I got a Pickett grant in 2016. The grant that I got from the Pickett Endowment was to visit Quakers in Cuba.
Receiving the Grant
Liz Nicholson: At this point in my life I had recently graduated from college, had just finished a service year program, had just started a new job, and was not in a place to financially support this leading that I’ve had for many years. And so when I heard about this opportunity it felt like such an answer to this question of how this would be financially possible. And yeah, I think I felt very much like a right time, right place moment. and I found myself to be incredibly grateful for the strangers who read my information and saw my name on a page and connected with the idea that I wanted to carry forward and had enough faith or trust in me to do that thing with their resources.
Jade Souza: When I received the news that I’d gotten the Pickett funding, it was a huge relief, because I had to go out on a limb to do something that I didn’t really know would I be able to do it or not. I had to just sort of treat it like, “Yes, I’m going to do this.”
Drew Elizalde-Miller: To me, it helped clearly identify that my call and leading was not just as an individual, but really also the will of a community that was behind me and supporting me.
Anna Fritz: Getting the Pickett grant was really validating for me. I had—When I toured my second album, I contacted a couple of Quaker meetings asking if I could have a show there and bring my music, and there was kind of a, “Well, who are you and how is this relevant?” and… So it was very validating to be seen as a Quaker with something useful to contribute to the Religious Society of Friends.
Laura MacNorlin: As I got the grant, the Pickett grant was a chance for me to say, “I have something to offer, I am being held up by others, and I can invite other people into that work that I’m being called to do.”
Jade Souza: When I was younger I wouldn’t have ever seen myself as a person who did things like this. I don’t want to give the idea that like, oh I’m just that kind of person and, you know, that that just happened. It didn’t just happen. It’s… you know, especially with having the
courage to follow leadings. That courage for many people is not just a, like, natural personality trait. It’s something that we get through our community and through our processes and our disciplines.
Drew Elizalde-Miller: The leading to do the work of peace and justice in the United
States in the year 2016 or 2019 is not an easy call. It’s not easy to maintain economic stability, let alone to maintain economic stability trying to do peace and justice work. Not even economic stability, but even to have clothes and food.
Building Leadership in Young Adult Quakers
Anna Fritz: I think that Quaker meetings are really hungry for young people to be involved and often what they’re offered is, “Oh, well you should serve on a committee!” And I don’t know that they’re often asked, “What is it that you are here to do, and how can we support that?”
Liz Nicholson: I’ve been thinking a lot about early Quakers and how historically the Religious Society of Friends and this movement was led by young adults, and how radical it was. And I think a lot about the uniqueness of this time period and folks lives—of being in so much transition and coming into a sense of identity and call and purpose after formal education or stepping into deeper levels of commitments and communities. So, the early twenties is such a radically transformative time and to bear witness to people asking questions during that time, and to support that questioning and to support those leadings I think is an incredibly important thing for our Quaker communities to support.
In 2019, the Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment transitioned to providing financial support for other organizations that uplift young Quaker leaders. How are you supporting the leadings of Friends around you?
- Have you ever had a leading that would have benefited from social, physical, emotional, or financial support outside of your community? If you had had the support, what would you have done?
- How are you supporting the leadings of Friends around you?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.