Back 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.
That equipment is long gone now, but Barclay Press continues to publish a daily devotional, a quarterly Bible study curriculum, and a handful of new books every year. Just six weeks ago, I started work as its newest publisher – a part-time role that also allows me to continue working with youth at Newberg Friends. It makes for a full schedule, and the learning curve has been steep. At Barclay Press, I’m following in the footsteps of Dan McCracken. Dan worked at Barclay Press in a variety of roles for more than 40 years. As far as I can tell, nobody knows what Dan knows.
But I’m learning. Here are some of my notes:
Fruit of the Vine, a daily devotional we produce, is the only daily devotional by Friends for Friends. We’ve been gathering and sharing these personal reflections on scripture for more than six decades. Personal stories, from real people, every single day. I’m more and more convinced that this little quarterly is the best way to welcome folks into the larger family of Friends. A young pastor from Kansas recently asked me to send his church five copies: “That will allow several of our families to try it out, many of us (including me) for the first time ever.”
Over the last six years, our Illuminate study series has guided hundreds of small groups through the entire Bible, a process that will come to an end in summer 2017. We think the Bible’s important enough to travel through a second time (or more), so we’ll be revisiting that series and bringing out a second, six-year installment in fall 2018. But in the interim year, we’ll be trying something a little different with Illuminate, introducing a different teaching or saying of Jesus each week, paired with an Old Testament text that Jesus is referencing or building upon, as well as a New Testament text that hints at how early believers understood and tried to live out Jesus’ commands.
As for books, we have a handful of ongoing projects that give me hope. One in particular, a look at how Friends’ understanding of God affects the way we approach scripture, could go to print in time for Yearly Meeting sessions this summer.
In the meantime, I’ll keep learning. Dan and I met for coffee yesterday. I brought a list of questions, and Dan, once again, brought words of encouragement, a handful of creative insights, and his continuing confidence that things are going exactly as they should.