For Little Rock Friends, January was a month in which we shared with each other our aspirations for the coming year. It was also when we learned of the death of our dear Arkansas-Oklahoma Quarterly Meeting clerk, Rex Friend.
Local members and attenders were pleasantly surprised when F/friends from Caddo Area Friends Meeting, a preparatory meeting under the care of LRFM, were in town and able to stop by to worship with us on the first day of the new year. We shared with one another our aspirations for ourselves and for the world in the coming year. Some chose to put those thoughts in writing for this blog.
A deep flash freeze left many homes with burst pipes, our meetinghouse included. At times such as these, we are grateful for the technology that allows us still to conduct business, hold discussions, and worship together, as we did on the eighth of January.
In the days following, just as we were preparing to welcome him as our guest speaker on the 15th, we received news of the death of Rex Friend. Within days there was an outpouring of love and expression of deep grief on the celebration of life Facebook page set up by Laura, Rex's daughter. Little Rock Friends spent the first hour on the 15th sharing memories of Rex as well as moving forward with the work he had planned to guide us through on that day: writing letters in support of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip's clemency bid, which comes at the end of a years-long campaign to save this man's life--a task with which Rex had been deeply involved. After watching this short video about Mr. Glossip's situation, we decided as a Meeting to compose a letter to the Oklahoma pardons and parole board in memory of Rex D. Friend. Liz Lesher, who lives in Edmond, agreed to deliver our letter by hand by the deadline--at least two weeks before the clemency board would convene in February. With David and Amanda having volunteered with editing and legal support, Liz later said that Spirit guided her in writing the following on behalf of the meeting:
Rex's memorial service was held on Friday, January 20th, at Edmond United Methodist Church. A live stream allowed us all to be present for the moving and very honest tribute.
Sponsored by Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement, a Just Communities of Arkansas Initiative, Arkansas Day of Racial Healing provided a rich slate of events and many opportunities for us to come together for racial healing all week long beginning on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. John and Kelly were two who reported back to the wider meeting after participating in some of the week's activities.
On the 22nd, we used our first hour to continue reading Jim Pym's book Listening to the Light: How to Bring Quaker Simplicity and Integrity into Your Life. For those who were present and participated, much of the focus was on the holiness of the everyday.
The end of the month found us continuing our journey of learning compassionate communication. Working from the book The Spirituality of Nonviolent Communication by Robert Gonzales, David led us through an exploration of honest expression.
With our AR-OK winter quarterly meeting now one month away, the planning is well under way. All are welcome to join us at Lake Wister Group Camp for one or both nights and any or all of the four community meals. Cost is $30 per adult, kids eat and sleep free. Register HERE, pay on site.