Sunday, we celebrated the official launch of my first book – Approved! A Story About Quaker Meeting for Business. Anne Nydam, who illustrated and designed the book, joined me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with her – the illustrations are wonderful and really brought the book to life.
We were able to thank Wellesley Friends Meeting for their support during the development of the book and for a grant to help defray the cost of self-publishing. Our cake featured an illustration from the book – a drawing of our meeting house.
The children of our meeting had junior meeting for business before the party. I presented an inscribed copy to them. The idea for the book arose from being asked to mentor their meeting last year. I was looking for a simple way to help them understand good Quaker process.
Many members of Wellesley Meeting helped refine the text. I used an early iteration of the story in an all Ages Religious Education Class. The children and adults engaged with the story, and the discussion that followed was lively. From the beginning, Beth Collea, Religious Education Coordinator for New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM), was very enthusiastic and encouraging. Marty Grundy and Jeremiah Dickinson met with me to thresh through the wording of the glossary – what fun to spend an hour and a half trying to find simple but accurate words to define some pretty confusing Quaker terms.
Other early readers whose comments helped clarify and strengthen the text were David Haines, Gwyneth Swain, Gwen Loud, and Regina McCarthy from Wellesley Meeting, Annemiek Wilms-Floet from Stony Run, Baltimore, Meeting, and Liz Yeats from Austin, Texas, Meeting. My daughter, Melanie Harari, had served as the clerk of our meeting’s and then NEYM’s Young Friends, and her perspective added to the clarity.
I am especially grateful to Gretchen Baker-Smith, Retreats Coordinator for NEYM, and Dave Baxter, a long-time retreats staff member. Meeting for business has for many years been a central part of NEYM’s retreats and annual sessions – elementary school aged children learn to use Quaker process to set rules for using wheeled toys, sharing Legos, and caring for others in their community. Gretchen and Dave both freely shared their experiences and advice when my husband and I were first appointed as junior business meeting mentors, and they reviewed several drafts of the book. Their influence is reflected throughout the story. Here is a link to the NEYM Junior Yearly Meeting website.
This project has been a joy and a labor of love.