Children and Youth Field Secretary
Melinda Wenner Bradley
Ministry—What Melinda Can Do for You
The Children and Youth Field Secretary's major responsibilities are to work with families with children (ages 0-18), their meetings, and their meetings' Religious Education Committees. Melinda will serve as a locus and a catalyst for networking and community building, doing mentoring, coordinating, outreach, and helping meetings to develop and sustain First Day School programs or other programs that nurture the spiritual life of children.
Download the full job description for the Children and Youth Field Secretary.
Monthly Meeting Partners Project—Special attention to focus meetings
As part of the grant from the Shoemaker Fund, and in collaboration with New England Yearly Meeting, Melinda also works intensively with six program partner meetings, working with them to see how we can effectively help our children and young families establish strong roots in our monthly meetings. The Project focuses on outreach, learning how to be more welcoming of young families, developing programming that meets the specific needs of their children and youth, and helping them to become more vital, multi-generational communities.
Our goal is not only to help individual meetings to become multigenerational communities more fully, but also to learn what efforts lead to better participation, more of a sense of belonging, deeper spiritual engagement, and greater numbers—and also to learn what efforts do not help.
Videos by the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative
These links take you to Vimeo for viewing:
- QREC Videos page
- Making Space: Stories in Religious Education
- When Families Come to Meeting
- Preparing a Space at the Table for Children
- Hopes for a Family Coming to Worship
- Supporting the Ministry of Children's Religious Edcuation
Melinda's focus—Young Friends and their Meetings
Melinda's main focus as Children and Youth Field Secretary is helping children, youth, and young families to be fully integrated into the life of their meetings. She will support and collaborate with meetings, providing programming and curricula designed to foster the spiritual lives of children, helping to create a welcoming environment for younger Friends, and with outreach to local communities.
Like Gabi Savory Bailey, her counterpart serving young adult Friends, Melinda will make herself available to all meetings in the yearly meeting to offer support in our efforts to better nurture our youngest members.
If you would like Melinda to visit your meeting, provide support or counsel to your First Day School or Religious Education Committee, or otherwise support children, youth, or young families in your meeting, you can contact her at childrenyouthfs[at]nyym.org, 484-678-6508.
The Tote Bag
NYYM's quarterly religious education and family resources newsletter. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter, please contact the Children and Youth Field Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For most of her adult life Melinda has been an educator of Quaker children, and has spent much of the last decade exploring with other adults how to bring meaningful spiritual engagement to our youngest Friends. Her work is informed by a quote by Maria Montessori:
Education is not so much teaching with love but participating, as one teaches,
in the energy of God, who is love.
In her career as an educator and in service to religious education programs, she has worked with children and youth of all ages. Her work has been shaped by listening to children and by collaborating with both her teaching colleagues and the families of her students. For her, teaching and working in service to Quaker religious education programs has always felt like a leading and a place where she is called to grow.
Godly Play / Faith & Play. Her work has included growing sustainable models for children and youth programs, developing, identifying and sharing resources, and building networks to lift up the many gifts among Friends. She views spiritual formation of all ages as a ministry that our Religious Society can be more intentional in supporting. A co-author of the Faith & Play stories, she has introduced and taught Friends to use the Godly Play / Faith & Play method and stories at Powell House, Woolman Hill, Pendle Hill, dozens of monthly meetings in twelve yearly meetings around the country, and at the FWCC World Gathering in Pisac, Peru.
Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC). Melinda is the co-founder of QREC, the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, which has grown to involve more than 200 Friends from 19 yearly meetings passionately living out the question of how to better nurture the spiritual lives of our youngest Friends. She is a Quaker teacher of all ages, a collaborator, author, speaker, mentor, presenter, and leader. One Friend who knows her work well has described her as “a Force.” And she is.
Melinda's work is supported through a generous grant from the Shoemaker Fund, as well as through support from New York Yearly Meeting's operating budget.