Quaker Religious Thought


"I am convinced by my own life and by wide observation of children that mystical experience is much more common than is usually supposed. Children are not so absorbed as we are with things and with problems. They are not so completely organized for dealing with the outside world as we older persons are. They do not live by cut-and-dried theories. They have more room for surprise and wonder. They are more sensitive to intimations, flashes, openings. The invisible impinges on their souls and they feel its reality as something quite natural.” —Rufus M. Jones,

“Finding the Trail of Life”1 In 2015, faculty of George Fox University applied for the Lilly Endowment Youth Theology Initiative. The goal of this grant initiative was to deepen the level of theological engagement among young people in ways beyond standard evangelical church youth groups. During that year, a group of faculty and ministry leaders gathered to plan and submit a proposal to build a high school theology camp, hosted by George Fox University, in alignment with our historical heritage as a Quaker institution. We developed the idea of a week-long camp, a summer institute held on campus where a small group of 25 high school students would engage in theology not only in the classroom, but primarily through experiential learning. In accordance with the grant, we were committed to running our camp with the values of our university’s Quaker heritage in two specific ways: an egalitarian structure and the acknowledgement of the “Inner Light” of Christ in everyone. Now having completed three years of the theology camp, “Theologia,” from 2017–2019, this article offers a reflection on these values and experiences as a report of our findings on doing youth ministry in a multicultural context as informed by Quaker values. Each author of this article carried a major role in the design and execution of the camp; though our own theological and ecclesial backgrounds cover a wide range of traditions, we have endeavored to remain committed to distinctive Quaker values. Following an overview of a typical day in the camp and our reflection on the two specific values, we address the impact of the camp, both for the students and for our vision of how this camp impacts our Christian Ministries department at George Fox University. It is our aim that this paper will catalyze a greater dialogue on Quaker values and the praxis of youth ministry.



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