Editor's desk 

Friends Journal’s QuakerSpeak video series began five years ago. In that time, over two million people have tuned in to watch our short videos about Quaker practice, theology, activism, history, and ministry. How has QuakerSpeak changed how the world sees us and how we see ourselves? How do Friends use it in meetings and First-day schools? 

It’s been five years since Friends Publishing Corporation launched a companion project to Friends Journal: the QuakerSpeak video series. In that time, over two million people have tuned in to watch its short videos about Quaker practice, theology, activism, history, and ministry. It has given an online face to modern‐day Friends.

There were Quaker videos on YouTube before this of course. Some vloggers had lined up webcams to give their personal ten‐minute takes on Quaker faith or practice. A few short‐lived projects put out a half dozen videos filmed at Quaker events. Various Quaker organizations had put cameras on tripods and recorded speeches from the middle row 30 feet back. Kudos to everyone who has done this—so many people don’t know about Quakers or think we died out in 1750, so online Quaker content of any type is awesome.

The reason for much of QuakerSpeak’s success is that it was YouTube‐native in a way that previous projects weren’t. Videographer and project director Jon Watts comes from a music background and studied successful YouTube video channels before launching. The format, the length, and the weekly schedule of QuakerSpeak were all designed to appeal to YouTube subscribers from the start. With institutional backing from Friends Publishing and support from foundations and sponsoring partners, QuakerSpeak could get the equipment, contacts, and time to make this the first professional Quaker YouTube channel.

To be honest, we here on the magazine side of the Friends Publishing family sometimes get a little jealous of the direct connections that can be made in a short 5–10 minute video. Viewers don’t just get the words and ideas but also a look into the presence and personality of the interviewee. I love to watch the ways eyes dance between mischief, awe, sadness, and mirth as a story unfolds. The way these Friends sit and the different movements (or non‐movements) of their arms and hands give an added dimension you don’t get from type alone.

In August Friends Journal will look back at five years of QuakerSpeak. As proper Quakers we’re a bit wary of numbered anniversaries, so we’re not fishing for platitudes or glowing testimonials. We want to know how the series has inspired or challenged you and how it’s fed into the spiritual life and outreach efforts at your Friends meeting. Here are some ideas we’re looking for:

  • How have you been changed by QuakerSpeak? Are you someone who has been introduced to modern‐day Quakers through its videos?
  • How have you shared QuakerSpeak? Many meetings have embedded the introductory videos on their webpages; many routinely share newly published videos on Facebook.
  • Some meetings use QuakerSpeak as part of their First‐day school programs, and Quaker schools have used it to teach Quaker fundamentals to students. How has that worked?
  • Are you one of the 300‐some people (!) who have appeared in a QuakerSpeak video? Did the preparation or the interview process itself challenge or delight you? What reactions have you gotten from Friends afterward?
  • Has it changed your perception of Quaker faith or practice? Have you become more active sharing Friends’ values on YouTube or been inspired to engage in any forms of video outreach yourself?

We will stop collecting new submissions for the September 2019 issue on 6/10/2019.

Since 2012, most of the monthly issues of Friends Journal have been set aside for specific themes. Every eighteen months or so we poll readers and dream up ideas for future issues. Sometimes we’ll be inspired by a particular article that struck a chord with readers; other times we’ll look at a topic that Friends aren’t talking about enough. There are some relatively perennial themes (race, art, finance, social witness, outreach), but even with these, we try to find hooks that might bring fresh voices to the conversation.

We also keep two issues a year open: no theme and no expectations. Most of our unsolicited articles go into a “General Submissions” list that we hold for these issues. Sometimes a choice is easy: we’ll get a blockbuster article that we know we just have to print. But just as often we’ll run some quiet piece of Quaker life that is offered us without regard to our schedules. 

Please be aware that since we only run two un-themed issues a year, response times can be longer on these, from 3-9 months.

Learn more: Tips for Writing for Friends Journal Open Issues

Also, please note: All poetry should be submitted separately here.

Half of the world’s Friends live in Africa; Kenya alone has almost twice as many Friends as the United States. But the African yearly meetings’ beginnings as missions from evangelical Friends created theological and cultural gaps with American unprogrammed Friends from the start. How do we begin to bridge differences and learn from one another? Due July 8, 2019.

Ends on August 12, 2019

One of the most important historic Quaker testimonies stood against gambling, yet it’s a topic we rarely seem to talk about anymore. Do we participate in raffles or games of chance? Does it matter? How about investments in the stock market? Does gambling foster materialism? Is it an addiction we need to work against? Due August 12, 2019.

Ends on September 9, 2019

What makes a Quaker kid Quaker? Let’s try having a Friends Journal issue by and for younger Friends! Due September 9, 2019.

Ends on October 14, 2019

The opioid crisis in America is killing friends and family members across the country, but it’s something Quakers don’t talk about much. How do we help members in their addictions and how do we stand as a society against those who profit against addictions? Many Friends were active in the temperance movement against alcohol. Where do and should we stand today on this and issues like legalized marijuana? What about the growing legal trade in pharmaceuticals, which have helped extend lives while also contributing to addictions in some cases? Due October 14, 2019.

One of the things that define many of us as Friends is our reliance on Quaker process for decision making. What is it? How does it different from consensus? How do we respectfully adapt it for non-spiritual uses? Where did it come from and is it really still the best way of making every kind of decision? Due July 13, 2020.

Friends Journal