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Pendle Hill at 90: Looking Forward

Fran Brokaw, Incoming Clerk of the Pendle Hill Board

Fran Brokaw, Incoming Clerk of the Pendle Hill Board

September 14, 2020

Ninety years of existence! The history of the founding and growth of Pendle Hill since 1930 are well documented by teachers and scholars more knowledgeable than I. We all know how crazy 2020 has been, and it’s not over yet. Pandemic forced the campus to close in March. The entire country is embroiled in pain and protests as systemic racism is laid bare. The west coast is on fire, with air quality that is considered extremely dangerous for everyone, not just those labeled “high risk.” Grounded in the deep faith and Quaker traditions of its founders, Pendle Hill is still here! Interim Executive Director Traci Hjelt Sullivan worked closely with staff and the board to stabilize finances and shift Pendle Hill programs online. Now, with new Executive Director Francisco Burgos, Pendle Hill has opportunities to move forward with creativity and energy, while maintaining and nurturing the roots and fruit of present ministry.

To create peace with justice in the world by transforming lives.” This vision statement, adopted by the Pendle Hill board in 2012, resonates today more than ever. Over the years of its existence, Pendle Hill has transformed the lives of thousands, who have spread that energy of transformation far and wide. I firmly believe that we can never know the full impact of our actions – that every small act performed with love in service to God may have ripple effects beyond anything imaginable. This helps me keep going in difficult times. And so it is with Pendle Hill: online meeting for worship has led to unexpected community and connection among Friends across the globe, and brought new seekers to Quakerism, in a time of grief, isolation, and loss. Online lectures, webinars, and workshops are now accessible to many more people than ever before. I hope that measures to mitigate the pandemic will be effective soon, yet in the meantime, Pendle Hill still fulfills its mission.

Pendle Hill brings together contemplatives, prophets, scholars, and activists from all branches of Quakerism and many other spiritual paths, to learn from each other and imagine new ways forward. Pendle Hill is a place where the Spirit is palpably present, and the alchemical reaction that begins as a spark at Pendle Hill may bring forth results weeks, months, or even years later. It is my hope that the broad community of Pendle Hill will live into becoming an antiracist faith community. That we will provide respite and renewal for theologians, visionaries, and activists, acting as a container for “translational research” ** in the Holy Spirit and daily life, where the sacredness of the ordinary shines brightly. That we will proclaim a prophetic vision for healing the earth and building right relationships among all who live here.

I believe that the future for Pendle Hill, and for the Religious Society of Friends, looks bright. May we give and receive radical hospitality, share our burdens and treasures, and live into the Beloved Community together. —Fran Brokaw, Incoming Clerk of the Board

**Translational research is a term from medical science that refers to applying basic research results to clinical situations and needs, through collaboration of scientists involved in different phases of research and clinical care.