There is a yearning and a need among Friends for a book about the Quaker spiritual practice, ministry, and discipline of eldering. A new emergence of eldering, part of a continuum beginning with early Quakers, has been bubbling up to meet the needs of our times. While there is no going back to the Quakerism of yore, we do have within us the same Spirit that has always brought forth the gifts of eldering among Friends. This book will help guide, enrich, and nourish elders both seasoned in the gift and new to it. It may also open new understandings for meetings who want to encourage and support the elders among them, whether these elders are formally named or not. Each chapter ends with queries for reflection and discussion to help readers connect with their own experience and understanding. Additionally, varied stories from elders and others are included to illustrate the breadth and the depth of the experience of eldering. It is hoped that these queries and stories will lead to openings in this vital ministry for individuals and meetings.
This book has its origins in a simple yes-in fact, in many yeses over many years. It also has its roots in questions and curiosity about the Quaker history and ministry of eldering. May you say yes to developing your knowledge, skills, and experience in the Quaker spiritual practice and discipline of eldering.
Elaine Emily's understanding of eldering began in her earliest days of spiritual awakening and grew through her work in a variety of Christian churches with Ched Myers, an activist theologian with whom she co-founded Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. Mary Kay Glazer began learning about Quaker eldering as a ministry at a workshop in the mid-2000s, after which Elaine Emily invited her to a small gathering of elders to tell their eldering stories. Bruce Neumann, Janet Gibian Hough, and Mary Kay have all participated in School of the Spirit programs. Elaine, Mary Kay, Janet, and Bruce have all had experiences, deep learnings, and God moments throughout their lives that have brought them to this moment and these words. All are members of the Religious Society of Friends.