Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The Mission of a New Publication, The First Day
by Jana Llewellyn
My husband and I, the publishers of First Day Press, are so excited about the Pickett grant to help with our new online and print publication, The First Day. (www.firstdaypress.org)
The First Day has a mission that I think is especially beneficial and unique to Quakers, in that our focus is not only on what it means to be Quaker, or how to operate in coordination with other Quakers, but that Quakers can and should be at the forefront of sharing and dialoguing about spiritual journeys with people of all faith traditions.
As a relatively new Quaker (five years a member, two years an attender), I found firsthand that one of the challenges in many Quaker communities is too much insularity and not enough outreach. Many Quakers spend a lot of time talking about what it means to be Quaker, or highlighting the words of 17th century Friends, but not enough time focusing on how we can be living examples of the Light through the act of creation, inspiration, and beauty. In my experience, a challenge among some Quakers is defining ourselves by what we're opposed to or disagree with, but not enough on sharing the spirit, vitality, and energy of a life devoted to an intimate relationship with God.
As a mother with a growing family invested in keeping my faith tradition alive, I want to be an active part of a contemporary vision for Quakerism. I hope to do this by harnessing the fire and energy of early Quakers while adapting to the present-day needs and desires of religious seekers. My firm belief in the Friends testimony of Equality, that there is a spark of the divine in every person, is why I feel it is imperative not to elevate Quaker experiences above those from people of different practices and backgrounds. The writing in The First Day emphasizes personal, intimate stories of yearning, confusion, epiphany, struggle, as well as clarity and joy. By not emphasizing one particular set of beliefs above any other, we can build bridges and foster dialogue with people of all faith traditions. Our essays explore questions such as, "What led me to my faith community?" "How has my past impacted my beliefs today?" "How do I deal with challenges as they arise?" "How does God, or my experience of the Divine, manifest in my life?" "What inspires me, or leads me to become a better person?"
The print issue of The First Day, in contrast to the mostly nonfiction pieces that appear on our website, includes poetry, fiction, discussions about art and culture, reviews, and visual arts. It is beautifully designed and bound so that each issue looks like a small book. Most of the Pickett Endowment money we received will go to help with the cost of producing the print edition as we near our second year.
The First Day Online currently has eight regular bloggers (three of them Quaker, including myself), ranging from Christian to Jewish to Secular Humanist to Hindu. One of our goals going forward is to find strong writers from a wider variety of faith traditions, backgrounds, and ethnicities. If you know anyone who might be interested in sharing his or her journey and connecting with a wider audience, we welcome your help!
Starting this fall, we will begin to apply for nonprofit status so we can work on getting more funding, fostering more involvement from those enlivened by our mission, and expanding our reach to a larger audience.
If you're interested to learn more, subscribe, and read some of the very compelling essays we publish, visit our site: www.firstdaypress.org, "like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or watch the video we used to raise money at the outset of our publication: http://vimeo.com/74287028
In the Light,