& Media Ministry
by Pamela Calvert
"Let all nations hear the word by sound or writing, spare not tongue nor pen..."
-George Fox, 1656 
Where are the Quaker voices in media? Three centuries ago, the Publishers of Truth took to the public squares and couldn't be silenced. Jail windows had to be boarded up to deter imprisoned Friends from their insistent proclamation. Exasperated opponents compared them to "mushrooms and toadstools springing up in a night ... they put themselves to work as soon as they are whelped." Now, far from "sparing not the tongue nor pen" of our times, a Friend is mildly embarrassed to admit even the ownership of a television (tuned exclusively to PBS, to be sure).
In choosing to stay behind our hedges, protecting ourselves from
the influences of popular culture, we inevitably abdicate any sense
of responsibility for, far less transformation of, that culture.
This was by no means the intent of the Society's founders; here
is William Penn, who was certainly in a position to know something
of the world's snares:
As a Quaker, I believe that we are called to bring our good news into the "conversation of the world" so as to build the Peaceable Kingdom here and now. I believe that we are called to preach, in public, by any means necessary. The gospels were not written in Hebrew or in Aramaic, but in Greek so that they could be read by the widest possible audience. By contrast, we have allowed ourselves to become illiterate and invisible in the means of communications used by the vast majority of the world's people. We are called to "walk faithfully in our own time and place," and it is long past time for us to examine our peculiar pride about disengagement with mass culture, whether it is an "empty form" and "silly poor gospel" at that. Lloyd Lee Wilson writes, "If we are to be the Lord's hands and feet in bringing about the Kingdom of God, we have to leave the spot we are now and do new things in strange places."
Friends educators must take on the charge of training ministers in the theology, craft and analysis of media that leads to epiphany and social transformation, a Quaker televangelism as it were. Malone College leads the way in articulating our mandate: "We commit to develop communicators rooted in communities, acting as agents of truth, reflection, transformation and reconciliation in a way that celebrates God's grace and faithfulness."
What might the fruits of a media ministry look like? There are indeed distinctive practices in production, distribution and use that arise naturally from Friends' beliefs. After outlining this implicit "media testimony" at this summer's FAHE conference at Wilmington College, I was asked to lift up some films that have been made with the core of integrity and accountability that might show us a way forward in our own ministry. A brief list follows, with pointers to further resources.
Calvert is an itinerant televangelist currently studying media and
 Journal, cited in Britain YM F&P 19.32
 No Cross, No Crown (1897 ed.), p. 60
 Jim Corbett, Leadings (SEYM 1994), p. 12
 Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order, p. 74
Copyright 2002 - Pamela Calvert - All rights reserved.
Published with the author's permission by
Faithful Witness - Journal of the Friends Media Project