When early Friends did away with the clergy they did away with hierarchy: or did they? Every generation of Friends have had debates over authority and leadership (sometimes fierce enough to lead to schisms) and the Friends Journal news column continues to publish modern-day stories which hinge on questions of power. With the rise of Quaker bureaucracies in the mid-twentieth-century, a new kind of professional leadership has taken hold without always examining the pluses and minuses of these new roles. Quakers also have always benefited from a kind of renegade authority from below–think of a figure like Benjamin Lay, speaking a truth to the power of the slave-owning Quaker leadership of the time, expelled from membership. How do we encourage this kind of leadership—and how might we be discouraging it today?

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