Photo: Marge Abbott sailing in Puget SoundSometimes Friends (also known as Quakers) think of ourselves as political activists with a strong penchant for peace and justice issues and other times our emphasis seems to be on the spiritual life. The other day this came up when I was talking with a group of young adult Friends when someone wanted to know where I fall on the faith vs. works debate (which he phrased as Paul v. James). My response is to see this as one of those paradoxes central to being a Friend. The answer is both/and not either/or.

I also love sailing, but have never owned a boat. Fortunately I’ve been able to serve as crew on others’ sailboats mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the US and the waters of western Canada.

I have been heavily engaged directly in local politics over the years and even served as a legislative aide for a woman I helped elect to the Virginia House of Delegates. In more recent years, I spent a decade on the Oregon Governor’s Ocean Policy Advisory Committee and have served in several volunteer positions with Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Quaker lobby on Capitol Hill, including serving as presiding clerk for both the General Committee and the Executive Committee.

At the same time, I write and lead workshops on Quaker spirituality. My most recent book To Be Broken and Tender: A Quaker Theology for Today is a statement of how I explain my faith to others and the ways in which my spiritual experience resonates with that of Friends over the centuries. I name six dimensions of being a Friend: Waiting and Attending; Encountering the Seed; Taking up the Cross; Living in the New Creation; Retirement (times of spiritual retreat); and Being Broken and Tender.

I am a ‘released Friend’ currently writing and traveling in the ministry among Friends, with the support of Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon. My past travel includes such varied experiences as being Brinton Visitor to Intermountain Yearly Meeting, Willson Lecturer at Earlham School of Religion, Friend-in-Residence at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in England and leading retreats. I have served as clerk of North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and was co-clerk of the first Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference which brought together evangelical and liberal Friends in 1995.  I served as the initial clerk for the worldwide consultation on global climate change for Friends World Committee for Consultation that led to the adoption of Kabarak Call for Peace and Eco-Justice (which Jon Watts has set to music on UTube) at the 2012 World Conference of Friends in Kabarak, Kenya.

You may contact me at: marge_abbott@earthlink.net.

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