Letting the Light In

We did it.

Nearly sixty writers from across the country gathered outside of Newberg for the first of a series of annual writing retreats – Letting the Light In: Writing for the Growth of the Soul. The retreat, hosted by Tilikum and jointly sponsored by Barclay Press and Renovaré, was for Christian writers who “need the vision to wrestle honestly with the complexities of the human condition and the skills to articulate those realities in ways that are crisp and imaginative.”

We explored writing as a spiritual practice, prayed together, made music together, ate together, shared readings from our work. We explored the spiritual disciplines that inform good writing. We talked about the rhythms of the creative process. We considered what it means both to tend the light we’ve been given and to shine light into the lives of those who read our stories. On Saturday afternoon, we celebrated the life and work of Richard Foster with the groundbreaking for a Writers Cabin that will sit next to Tilikum Lake, just a few hundred yards from the spot where – nearly 40 years ago – Richard worked on Celebration of Discipline.

We agreed to write light into the world.

And we were reminded what this work of writing light requires: we dare not avert our eyes from the darkness. Where the heartbreak, the injustice, and the hatred is – that is where we must do our work.

During the weekend, I met personally with a handful of writers. People pregnant with stories. On tenderness. On trauma. On life. Some of these stories will be books for Barclay Press to help birth.

I could use your help.

I shared last week that our goal this year is to raise $25,000. That amount will allow us to continue cutting into our long-term debt while increasing the number and diversity of titles we publish. This is not an exciting fund-raising project. But after my experience this weekend, I know it’s important. Please consider one of the following:

  • Click on Share Stories Change Lives in the right margin of this letter to donate through Paypal. Any amount helps, and if you click the “Make this a monthly donation” box, you can spread out the effect of your gift and increase our financial stability.
  • Mail a check to Barclay Press, 211 N. Meridian St. #101, Newberg, OR 97132; or call us at (800) 962-4014 to make a donation by phone.

In her presentation on Saturday night, Gina Ochsner reminded us that “we are light keepers.... We send the light because we know that if we didn’t, lives would be lost.” 

The world needs more light.

Eric Muhr

A jar of meal, a jug of oil

In 1 Kings 17, a widow’s jar of meal and jug of oil are enough to save the lives of the widow, her son, and the prophet Elijah. Little things can make a big difference.

Here at Barclay Press, I’ve been reflecting on some of the little things that got us to where we are today. Back in 1943, Adelaide Barker had a concern for “publishing sound, spiritual and evangelistic Friends Bible School literature.” That concern led to the cooperation of three yearly meetings in producing a Christian education manual and the adoption of the Aldersgate lesson. Barclay Press continues that work in the production of Illuminate Friends Bible study series and in the distribution of WordAction’s Wesleyan-Holiness curriculum (formerly Aldersgate).

In 1948, Ray Carter and Ralph Fletcher each put up an investment of $3,000 for offset printing equipment that they used to print Northwest Friends magazine (later replaced by Evangelical Friend). When Carter died in 1959, Oregon Yearly Meeting (now Northwest Yearly Meeting) purchased the equipment and renamed the operation Barclay Press, committing to the work that Ray and Ralph had started. Barclay Press published A Garden of the Lord in 1968 and nearly one hundred titles since then, including our next book, set for release in December, A Long Road: How Quakers Made Sense of God and the Bible by T. Vail Palmer, Jr.

Fruit of the Vine, a daily devotional in continuous production since 1961, is the only daily devotional by Friends for Friends. We’ve been gathering and sharing these personal reflections on Scripture for nearly six decades. Personal stories from real people, every single day. I’m convinced that this little quarterly is the best way to welcome folks into the larger family of Friends.  This year for Advent, we’ve prepared Do Not Be Afraid: An Advent Reader. Each of the readings comes from past editions of Fruit of the Vine.

Barclay Press’s proud past doesn’t guarantee a bright future. We’re still in the middle of a massive shift in the publishing industry – the result of Information Age changes to the ways in which people access and consume information. This is an exciting time in Christian publishing. Financial pressures are forcing us to think more creatively, to act more strategically, and to live more faithfully.

Since January 2016, for instance, Barclay Press has slowly but steadily chipped away at its long-term debt, cleaned out excess inventory, cut production costs, and increased cash reserves. Two years ago, Barclay Press had enough resources to survive for roughly two weeks in a worst-case scenario. Today Barclay Press has the resources to make it for almost five weeks in a similar worst-case scenario.

This year, our goal is to raise $25,000. That amount will allow us to continue cutting into our long-term debt and build out another four weeks of cash reserves while increasing the number and diversity of titles we publish. Here are two of the ways you can help:

  • Click on Share Stories Change Lives in the right margin of this letter to donate through Paypal. Any amount helps, and if you click the “Make this a monthly donation” box, you can spread out the effect of your gift and increase our financial stability.
  • Mail a check to Barclay Press, 211 N. Meridian St. #101, Newberg, OR 97132; or call us at (800) 962-4014 to make a donation by phone.

Barclay Press is in a better position than it was two years ago, and we’re going to keep on working to share Friends resources, Friends theology, Friends polity, and Friends experience with the larger world. But we can’t do it alone. In 1 Kings 17, “the jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord.” I have faith that God can and will do the same for us.

Eric Muhr

Do not be afraid

George Fox recorded in his Journal this phrase that had come to him as a revelation: “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.” It marked a turning point for Fox, and his response was to proclaim to everyone he met that “Christ has come to teach his people Himself.”

Five Sundays from now, we enter the season of Advent. It is a season of expectant waiting for the coming of Jesus, and it’s my hope that this coming Advent season – and every season – we might remember that Jesus is here, among us. In fact, our identity as Friends is based on the particular experience of the continuing presence of Christ. Jesus has come, is come, and is yet to come. Jesus can speak to my condition, and Jesus has come to teach us.

This year for Advent, we’ve prepared Do Not Be Afraid: An Advent Reader. Each of the readings comes from past editions of Fruit of the Vine, a quarterly devotional reader published continuously by Barclay Press since 1961. The introduction to that first edition – written by T. Eugene Coffin and Arthur O. Roberts – offered meditations “in the hope that they may strengthen the spiritual life.” The spiritual life of the individual is nurtured best when we remember that because the coming of Christ brought about a new relationship between God and the individual, there is also a new relationship between God and his people.

This is what Advent is. We are gathered by God. We are guided by God. And God joins us in our waiting for God. Or as George Fox puts it, “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” Or as the angel of the Lord puts it, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10 NIV).

Eric Muhr