Margery Post Abbott will give the 2016 Backhouse Lecture, entitled Everyday Prophets, on the evening of Monday, July 4. This lecture is open to the public. The following is an extract from her writings for this lecture.
“Faithfulness to the Inward Guide lifts us free of the desire for personal success, or for revenge, or for control over the world around us. Such faithfulness opens the possibility that we might become, as our spiritual ancestors were, a band of what I have come to call everyday prophets. Everyday prophets are a people who listen for the Voice of the Light, who might walk humbly even as they come to speak boldly, following the path of compassion and justice.
“One of our great gifts is the potential for each of us to act with divine grace, that we might each be an everyday prophet. As such, we seek to listen on a daily basis for God’s guidance. Doing this, we can be faithful prophetic voices in very ordinary ways — be it through prayer, caring for our neighbours, small acts of kindness – even as some of us are called to a larger, radical prophetic vision and voice. We do this best as part of a community that is able to carry a vision of the New Creation, the Kingdom of God, being formed on earth as we remind each other to listen for the movement of the Spirit and be open to a fresh way of being.”
And a little later in her lecture, Margery expands on this:
“I tend to see prophets as radicals who very publicly proclaim wrong-doing and predict harsh consequences. Certainly we have had many such prophets in our midst as a Religious Society of Friends, starting with George Fox, and carried on with folks such as the abolitionists Isaac Hopper and Lucretia Mott. More recently … Jo Vallentine has been a prophetic voice in parliament on nuclear disarmament as well as the environment and relations with Aborigines, and Susannah Kay Brindle has been among those who have called for those of Anglo heritage to “pay the rent” to Aboriginal people for the use of the land under Aboriginal spiritual custodianship as well as other work that helps shift the whole way we view our place on this earth. But there is another kind of action, a way of life really, that is part of our heritage of believing that each person might directly experience the living Christ and follow that guidance, whether it be by speaking in worship or in their day-to-day actions.”
Margery Post Abbott is a released Friend currently writing and traveling in the ministry, with the support of Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon. She has published widely, including her 2010 book, To Be Broken and Tender and co-editing the Historical Dictionary of the Friends (2012). Her writings carry a concern for the whole of the Religious Society of Friends, and she works to engage Friends of all traditions. Her concern for making Friends’ voice heard more widely in the world takes her regularly to Washington, DC, where she has served as presiding clerk of Friends Committee on National Legislation. FCNL published her pamphlet A Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying in 2012. She regularly offers workshops on discernment, support and clearness committees, and prophetic ministry among Friends.