Students in Steve Angell's "Creation of Modern Quaker Diversity" class this fall were asked to imagine a scenario in which Joseph John Gurney and Elias Hicks met up in a present-day context with which the students are familiar. Below is one of the resulting essays, from MDiv student John Edminster:
In the fantasy-narrative here unfolding, Elias Hicks (1748-1830) was brought back to be keynote speaker at New York Yearly Meeting’s 2016 Summer Sessions. While the Sessions Committee was arranging this, the Worship-at-Sessions Subcommittee decided to call up Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847) to lead evening Bible Study during the week. Some expressed concern that Friend Elias and Friend Joseph John might not get along well, but the sense among the planners was, “we’re not a creedal religion, no one’s salvation depends on doctrinal correctness, and there’s that of God in every person, so there’s no good reason for them not to get along.” And that was that. At week’s end the Epistle Committee reported that Friends found their visits “stimulating.” But only those who attended knew how very stimulating they were.
Poor Joseph John: he’d no sooner gotten his name-tag on the Inn Porch than Friends started mobbing him about the FUM employment policy, LGBTQ concerns, and the environment. Eventually Ruth, a sensitive old-timer, took him off for a quiet cup of tea and brought him up to date on the issues that exercise Friends nowadays. Joseph John seemed dismayed that Biblical teachings weren’t among them. Ruth explained that though the yearly meeting has an advice about Scripture-reading, Friends here pretty much let other Friends make what they like of Scripture – if it’s read at all. Some do; many don’t.