What is Quaker Spring?

For the last 13 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 will be held at Olney Friends Scool and Stillwater Friends Meetinghouse in Barnesville, Ohio, from Tuesday, June 16 to Sunday, June 21, 2020. For more information about Quaker Spring, follow the links on this page.

Children’s Program: Childcare and/or programming is available during the morning and evening sessions.

Friends of various ages and background have come together & spent time listening to ways the winds of the Spirit are blowing through their 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:

Friends from many different yearly meetings have attended Quaker Spring gatherings over the years including Friends from overseas. All are welcome regardless of age,  background, or faith orientation.

Gathering costs are deliberately kept very low (around $35–70 per day per adult, including meals). Fees are on a “freewill offering, pay-what-you-feel-led” basis, so no one need stay away for reasons of limited funds.

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 several different paths have enjoyed this opportunity to seek, share, and worship with others in this open, relaxed retreat-like time.

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.

The 2020 planning/discerning group includes: Deborah Haines (Baltimore YM); Randy Oftedahl of Canadian YM; Bre-anne Brown, Peter Blood-Patterson, and Jonathan Vogel-Borne (New England YM), Angela Hopkins (New York YM); and David Male, Earl Smith, and Sylvia Thomas (Ohio YM – Conservative) 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 write Deborah Haines, 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.