Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quaker Alphabet Blog Week 34 - Q for QUIP

In any Quaker Alphabet blog for Q there is a plethora of choice when it comes to acronyms, of which Friends are perhaps too fond. When it came down to it, however, there was really only one I could choose. QUIP - Quakers Uniting in Publications - is a group that I am proud and happy to belong to and work with. Both the principles behind it and the people I have got to know through it have influenced and helped my personal spiritual development in a major way and I would like to make it better known among Friends.

QUIP is an organisation set up in 1983 to allow publishers and booksellers to meet, talk and exchange ideas and expertise. When I first encountered it in the 1990s Chris Skidmore and I had just set up a small desk-top publishing business, the Sowle Press, to publish books about Quaker history, spiritual autobiography and editions of neglected Quaker works from the past. We started going to QUIP's annual conferences and this took me to the USA for the first time.

A 'Quaker Tapestry' panel for QUIP
QUIP is an international body with members in the Americas, the UK and Europe. It also covers all the varied approaches to Quakerism, both evangelical and liberal. This might have led to awkwardness between people from different religious backgrounds, but given a common purpose - as Quakers put it, publishing the truth - in my experience that has never been the case. In fact QUIP meetings were where I learned in more depth about the range of Quakers in the world family of Friends and got to know some of them as individuals. I hope that QUIP has made me less insular in my attitudes and I do try to communicate that as much as I can.

As well as being an organisation for publishers QUIP, in partnership with Friends General Conference, has also produced some books itself. Perhaps the most influential of these have been the two 'youth' books, Whispers of Faith in 2005 and Spirit Rising in 2010. These anthologies allow all Friends and others (not just the young) to hear the voices of a wide range of young people from many countries and a great diversity of traditions expressing their spiritual experience in their own words.

The process of producing these two books has helped QUIP to embrace a new direction, including writers as well as publishers and investigating how best to use new ways of publishing and communicating. Several of the recent conferences have been following aspects of this new way of doing things.

Whenever I talk about QUIP I usually find that very few Quakers in the UK have heard of them, but if you want to know more I recommend  you to visit their website or read the inspiring report of the last conference written by Sarah Katreen Hoggatt, one of the editorial board for Spirit Rising, and find out!

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