What Is Quaker Spring?

If you yearn for a more vibrant spiritual community,
If you hunger for more time for worship, reflection,
and deepening the connections among Friends,
come to Quaker Spring!

This song was written by Deborah Haines around 1969. She was active at the time in Young Friends of North America and New Swarthmoor Community. Deborah and three other friends involved in YFNA and New Swarthmoor launched a new kind of Quaker gathering called “Quaker Camp” and later “Quaker Spring” which has been held each June since 2007. The photographs in this video were taken by Ann Armstrong in 2007 and 2008 at Quaker Spring gatherings held in Barnesville, Ohio. Annie Patterson made this recording of the song for a set of recordings designed to accompany the songbook Rise Up Singing. She is accompanied by Wendi Bourne on guitar.

For the last 14 years in June, Friends from over 20 yearly meetings drawing on all branches of Friends have gathered together in Barnesville, Ohio or in New England to explore what Spirit-led Quakerism is about at its core—and to experience it together. These were truly “gatherings with a difference”—with most of the week left unplanned and open to the leading of the Spirit.

The 2020 Quaker Spring gathering was held in June 2020 via Zoom from Wednesday, June 17 to Saturday, June 20. Over one hundred Friends took part from 17 yearly meetings from California to Ecuador, Slovenia and Kenya.

We held two short (3 hour) gatherings via zoom during in September 2020 and March 2021.

We are held our annual 2021 gathering from Monday, June 21 through Thursday, June 24, 2021. (We experimented with a “hybrid” gathering format with a small group of fully vaccinated Friends gathering in this virtual person at the Friends Center of Ohio Yearly Meeting in Barnesville, Ohio, and most Friends taking part via Zoom. This was to help us explore ways of holding fully hybrid gatherings in the future. We are holding another interim online retreat on Saturday, October 30, 2021.

Our 2022 gathering will be held from Friday, June 24 through Wednesday, June 29. This will be a hybrid gathering so Friends can either take part via Zoom or in person at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Friends of various ages and background come together to spend time listening to how the winds of the Spirit are blowing through our lives. We’ve found it a little hard to explain concretely what a gathering such as this one is actually like. Deborah Haines wrote a piece attempting to describe this called, Jesus in the Midst.

You can also get a feel for these gatherings by reading:

All are welcome regardless of age, background, or faith orientation. We welcome Friends of all branches and expressions of faith to join with us.

Although Bible study happens each morning and many Friends who attend Quaker Spring have been drawn to the faith of earlier Quaker generations, Friends with many different spiritual paths have enjoyed this opportunity to seek, share, and worship with others in this open, relaxed retreat-like time. Friends from many different yearly meetings have attended Quaker Spring gatherings over the years including Friends from overseas.

We especially welcome Young Adult Friends. One of the most exciting things about these gatherings has been the powerful sharing across generational lines between Young Adult and older Friends. Many in both groups have spoken of how powerful and unusual this experience has been.

Our virtual gathering are free to all. Our in-person gathering costs are always kept very low (around $40-50 per day per adult, including meals) to make it easier for younger Friends, families, and others with limited means to take part. All our fees are on a “freewill offering, pay-what-you-feel-led” basis, so no one need stay away for financial reasons.


Our 2021 planning/discerning group includes: Deborah Haines & Stuart Greene of Baltimore YM • Marian Baker, Bre-anne Brown, Peter Blood-Patterson, David Colletta, and Jonathan Vogel-Borne of New England YM • Judith Nandiklove of Nairobi YM • Angela Hopkins of New York YM • David Male, Earl Smith, and Sylvia Thomas of Ohio YM • and Melanie Monk of Philadelphia YM – in cooperation with the Friends Center of Ohio YM.

Please email the Quaker Spring planning group if you have questions or ideas about this summer’s gathering or to be added to our mailing list. If you prefer, you may also contact Deborah Haines at 2794 Fort Scott Drive, Arlington VA 22202 • (703) 706-8176.

We welcome contributions to support these gatherings. If you can help out, please go to the Contributions to Quaker Spring page.

We hope you will join us this June at Barnesville!

An Introduction by Susan Smith. . .

A Member of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative)

The tone and purpose of Quaker Spring is to set aside our own thoughts and habits, and listen to God. The words of Isaac Penington, written in the 17th Century, open up that idea:

“Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything, and sink down to the seed, which God sows in thy heart, and let that be in thee and grow in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is God’s portion.”

Deborah Haines’ present-day explanation of Quaker Spring adds:

“So, what is Quaker Spring? It’s an opportunity for Friends to come together in the presence of God, to sit at the feet of the Inward Teacher, to explore the inward landscape, to listen to the winds of the Spirit….It’s a time to rejoice in God’s goodness and to ‘know each other in that which is eternal.’…We Quakers tend to be very busy people. We read a lot, and talk a lot, and fall into the habit of looking for inspiration in other people’s words. We [offer here at Quaker Spring a framework to] gently remind us to look deeper, and to experience the spaciousness of God’s time….”

Another way of thinking about our time together here is to try to put away the “programmed” aspects of our life. Some of us may be used to considering ourselves “unprogrammed” Friends, in contrast to Friends from meetings with pastors and worship with a pre-defined rhythm. However, much of FGC and OYM religious life is programmed. Consider the schedules at yearly meeting time, or the FGC Gathering.

At Quaker Spring we expect to slip out of those bonds. It is hard, not only to put aside our expectations of outward schedule, but also to put aside our well-trained inclination to reason and our well-honed desire for control, and to move into trust—trusting God and therefore even truly trusting each other. For if I am resting in God’s care of me and this gathering, I do not need to defend myself, my ideas, or my desires. God will open up our path as we go along, with refreshing rest stops and interesting places to explore.

Our experience with Friends’ worship, whether “open” or “unprogrammed,” has taught us how to put aside our own planning for a little while. We invite you to extend this openness, to let God direct all your thoughts and activities while you are here at Quaker Spring, to be open to Christ’s inward guidance in your choices of what you do, even in your conversations. Let yourself get into the rhythm of checking with and listening to Christ within you, and you will find “by sweet experience” that the Lord supports your trust and fills your heart with love.