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Guilford Board of Trustees

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Presentation for The Guilford Board of Trustees

Quaker Tradition as Source of Wisdom and Renewal
"Our heritage is our responsibility and our opportunity." -Judith Weller Harvey ("Friends Center Position Paper" May 12, 1982.)
Thesis: The Quaker tradition is a source of wisdom and renewal. It can be a source of inspiration and guidance, especially in difficult times because it is old and highly adaptive and innovative. However, to see the Quaker tradition in this way requires a different frame of mind and perspective to find its hidden potential.
Quote from the book Managing Transitions. More info:
Personal Reflection in Preparation
Write down responses on your own.
What are your questions?
What would you hope to get out of this session?
What are you willing to do next to go deeper?
Opening Queries
What is core of the Quaker tradition as it relates to Guilford?
What wishes do you have when it comes to the Quaker tradition in relationship to the college?

What word or phrases stand out to you?

Main Discussion Points:

🚼 Shifting from to

The way we relate to the Quaker tradition in organizations could be described by talking about the difference between birthright and convincement culture.
Birthright culture is a phenomenon within religious communities that are old enough to have generations of families/members a part of that tradition. Many traditions have different ways of talking about how new people enter their communities, “birthright and convincement” is how Quakers talk about this.
Can you identify places where we are making assumptions about who is or isn’t here and what people do or don’t know about the values, practices, and commitments of the college?
Can you identify places where we need to “show our work,” make things explicit in order to bring people further into the tradition?
Are we more focused on protecting and preserving legacy and power rather than bringing in and sharing what we have with the “convinced?”

🌱 Quakerism is a wisdom tradition

A ” is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings.' Broader definitions include providing shade or support to other plants.
> …tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name. - Jaroslav Pelikan
What are some of the sources of Wisdom you see to be drawn on?
Importance of Communal Discernment: There is truth and wisdom in the community. We have all that we need to do what this community was created for.
Everyone can receive and be conduits of truth.
A participatory community is one that shares responsibility, learning, acting together.
The dignity all people and importance of nonviolence as a way of life
Tradition is a whole (eco)system. You don’t have a tradition without all the pieces working together.
We are to come to every situation as a “Opportunity” with open expectancy
Willingness to hear and respond to the “small truth” or quiet whispers among us. What is the furtherest voice that needs to be paid attention to
Deep and active listening as a primary posture in life.
Living into Questions - allowing for questions to guide exploration.
Our understanding of truth and practice evolves over time.

The Quaker Tradition as a Source of Wisdom
Wisdom is clearly more than mere intelligence, knowledge of facts, or information. Wisdom is more synthesis than analysis, more paradoxical than linear, more a dance than a march.
In order to grow in wisdom, we need to move beyond cerebral, rational knowing. As wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault puts it: “Wisdom is not knowing more, but knowing with more of you, knowing deeper.” from

⏩ A Way Forward: Apprentices and

Convergent Friends - Are friends who seek to conserve the living tradition by allowing for a dynamic relatioship within emerging contexts. These Friends build on dialogue within the community around strengths of the tradition. For a deeper look into convergent Friends see this page:
Apprentices are an important part of the renewal process:
Apprentices are brought into the tradition through teaching practices, stories, and experiencing the “socially embodied community of the tradition” from the inside.
Apprentices are not limited by age or time in the community but by ability to "include and transcend.”
Apprentices are self-aware of their tradition

Discussion: What could be next steps to embracing the hidden potential of the college?
to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Some Ideas:
Onboarding -- create a culture we want to see
Build the tradition into events, practices, gatherings at every level of the college
Drawing on Communal Wisdom and Truth
Using Queries to Guide Our Work
Be Brave, pave the road we want to walk as a Quaker Project
Invite More Apprentices
Go deeper into Shared Governance before casting it aside
Think in terms of systems and creating the right “circumstance”
Allow it to push us out into the world, draw on other Quaker resources
Embrace the ecosystem Practices

Other Pages:
Some Questions Underlying this Work
How do you have a community evolve over time while being faithful to its tradition and dynamic within its current context?
Why would Guilford College continue to be connected to the Quaker tradition? And how would it go about doing so?
How should we think about tradition?
What are the things that make it difficult to evolve and shift?
What do we need for the board (and the rest of the college) to live into the Quaker tradition?
How do we nurture those in this tradition?
How will we know if we have a successful “remix”
Some Underlying Challenges
1. What is the character and identity of the college (history and culture)?
2. Thinking in terms of process: how does Guilford engage with big issues and use Quaker decision-making institutionally?
3. How we deal with each other - Can the Quaker tradition speak into the ethos and culture of the community that makes up the college?
4. The future - what will it mean to be a Quaker identified institution in the future?

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