Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Meeting Blog

One of the conclusions from our last Outreach Committee meeting is that we need an online version of our meeting as well as a "live" version on firstdays. I suggested a team blog, with some of the members/attenders registered as team members (as many as would want to), and others merely readers and commenters. The online version would offer these advantages:
  • It would allow us to keep in spiritual touch with members who can't make it to meeting. They can come to the online meeting whenever they have time and simply read, reflect, and comment instead of sitting with us.
  • It would allow us to make spiritual contact with visitors to our website (assuming they follow the link to our blog). This is a form of outreach, even if those people never come out to our meeting.
  • It would foster spiritual growth and learning, something that is sadly lacking in many liberal Friends meetings. It would allow us to get to know each other in that which is eternal.
  • It would keep our batteries charged during the week so that we don't come to meeting on firstday completely drained and hoping for a jumpstart. If we learn, reflect, read, explore and question at least once during the week, we'll have something inside to bring to meeting.
  • It would avoid the confrontational nature of listservs and forums and be more conducive to reflection, prayer, poetry, stories, queries, etc.
At least, that's the theory.

The reality is -- oh, dear God, getting Quakers to do anything online!

A couple of very plucky older-folks have made some efforts, but they're still not sure what a blog is, and I haven't succeeded in getting them registered. They haven't successfully made a comment anywhere yet either. (If you get an incoherent anonymous comment sometime over the next couple of weeks, suspect it's coming from one of my flock!)

So far, the "younger" set say they are currently "too busy" to get online, just as they are often "too busy" to come to meeting. I want to say "all the more reason to do it, because this way you'll have a place of spiritual rest and rejuvenation when you can't get to meeting" and "all the more reason to do it, because you can't keep going at this frenetic pace."

One person told me she doesn't have anything to blog about -- and I want to say "all the more reason to do it so that you live up to the Light you have and get more granted to thee." Have nothing to blog about! I mean, jeesh -- What canst thou say?

Anyway, some day, maybe weeks from now, when I have a good half-dozen of them registered and something is actually happening on that blogsite, I'll post a link to it from here. Then maybe some of you can give a comment or two, just to encourage them?

They're gonna need it.


At 1:54 PM, Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Hi Nancy,
An outreach blog is a great idea! I suspect its greatest value might be the human voice it gives to the meeting community.

I was recently surfing around the websites of a couple of religious orders. Some were pretty enough but they were safe: there wasn't much there and nothing had been updated in a couple of years. You couldn't really get a sense of how its members lived their lives. The coolest order had a Myspace site that had horrible colors and cacaphonous design but it was being updated constantly. They had links to newspaper articles, all sorts of non-staged amateur photos, quirky stories, etc. I spent five times as long on that website than I did any of the others. There are seekers looking for us online, trying to figure out why they should visit Friends and not any of our "competitors." The more open and real we are online, the more people will stay and (I think) the more likely they'll come for a visit and stay.

All that said, I've found it's almost impossible to tell someone they should blog. I was in a corporate setting recently trying to explain to someone why they should blog regularly to attract customers and all I could get was a half-hearted agreement to post once a month. This was a situation of economic self-interest and I couldn't get a serious commitment!

People think blogging is a lot of work but it really shouldn't be. Most of my posts are things I think about as I'm walking to the train station, or taking a shower. Sometimes some news event will bring people together in an office to talk it over for twenty minutes; after a few momements I slip out to put my comments up on the blog. It's no more time to post than it is to stand around the proverbial water cooler. But it allows a perspective that would normally stay insider to be shared widely (afterall, all work or social groupings are insider in one way or another).

Good luck on the blog and do let us know when it goes up!
Your Friend, Martin

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Carol Holmes said...

Nancy, Martin, et al.,
I love the idea of an outreach blog as you describe it (and I'm collecting Social Security). Of course, I don't even have my own blog nor am I a very constant presence in the Quaker blogging community, but I skulk around a bit--and at least I know you're out here.

So, how do I convince people that pamphlet racks are over and what we need are handouts with URLs on them?

What I'm trying to remember to do myself, of late, when I meet a newcomer is to offer my e-mail and ask them if they'd like me to send them some links. I almost always get a yes.

And one of these days I will get my own blog up. One of these days I will.

At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with carol on this. I lurk around Quaker blogs a bit because I live a two hour drive from nearest meeting. Prayers for your project now coming your way Nancy


At 5:45 PM, Blogger Susie Day said...

Greetings Friend,

I have selected your Quaker blog for inclusion in the "Blogging for Worship" listings at I hope this will help bring more visitors to your blog. If you would like to return the favor and help the other quaker bloggers as well, please consider using one of the stickers available on my page.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Liz Opp said...


I'm glad I randomly selected your blog to read tonight before I head off to bed!

There is a yearly meeting that has what they call an "Exercise Committee"--a committee that records vocal ministry that is offered during MfW and MfW with attention to Business. Their report at the end of annual sessions consists of only the messages that were lifted up out of worship, as an indication of how the yearly meeting might be "exercised" by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps this is one way that an "outreach" blog might help connect distant Friends with the threads that are knit together from First Day to First Day, if Friends were alert enough to record vocal ministry and pass it along to be posted online.

I wonder about an "Exercise Blog" in which contributors might share vocal ministry that has arisen from their own meetings for worship...

(Of course, reading words on a computer screen is not the same as hearing them and feeling the Presence in the same instant among a community of those gathered.)

Let's see, Nancy, if the concept of an online outreach blog bears fruit.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Chris M. said...

Hey, nice idea! In San Francisco, our meeting website coordinator put up a slew of blogs (5 or 6), which then were sorely underused, in part because they were not really marketed within the community. So, good idea to start small with several people and ramp it up if the experiment goes well.

(Nice to hear from Carol Holmes! Are you still at 15th Street Monthly Meeting? You may remember Robin M. and me when we used to attend in the early 90's.)

-- Chris M.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Chris M. said...

Oh, and I loved Carol's story of asking newcomers if they'd like her email so she can send them some links. That's a great idea!

-- Chris M.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Alivia said...

I am hoping your effort bears fruit. Like all things in life, our forum is active at times and quiet at times. In general it does help us keep in touch with the community, and offers us the opportunity to interface/interact with outside community at the same time. We thought this was a deep need of ours when we first started Freedom Friends. we are unaffiliated, and really wanted and needed outside community and the wider Q community to help us maintain balance and perspective. It has proved quite useful and a blessing to us.
Alivia Biko (try the forum link)


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