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Plummer Lectures

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2017: Alice Howenstine, Life is a Gift and a Responsibility
2016: Nancy Duncan, Journeys with Bodies and Souls
2015: Fernando Freire, My Family, My People, My Life
2014: Judy Jager, To Listen with My Whole Heart
2013: Sarah Pavlovic, With Open Eyes and Open Heart
2012: Mark Mattaini, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself …”

2011: Dick Ashdown, Quaker Roots in Nurturing Soil

2010: Tom Paxson, Opening Oneself to God

2009: Janice Domanik, Anatomy and Physiology of Spirit

2008: Elizabeth Mertic, Joy Like a Fountain

2007: Margaret Katranides, Knowing and Not Knowing

2006: David Rutschman, Honrar la Vida

2005: Clance Wilson, This is My Father's World

2004: Janet Means Underhill, The Mystery Of It All: I Give Thanks

2003: Chris Jocius, Friends and Strangers: A Time of Gifts

2002: Roxy Jacobs, And grace will lead me home

2001: Marlou Carlson, Seek Ye First The Kingdom

2000: Katherine Trezevant, Hearing and Giving Voice to the Spirit

1999: Paul Schobernd, When You Dance With God, Guess Who Leads?

1998: Maurine Pyle, Follow Me

1997: Marti Matthews, As If We Are Perfectly Safe: on Fear, Faith and Destiny

1996: Tom Stabnicki, I Saw It Shine Through All

1995: Judy Gottlieb, Flow Afresh In Me

1994: Pat Wixom, Awakening To The Life Within

1993: Blanche V. Frey, Ruminations On Faith

1992: Bill Howenstine, Loving the Universe

1991: Eldora Spiegelberg, Walk Cheerfully Over All The Earth

1990: Mary Fyfe, Creativity and Spirituality

1989: Carolyn Wilbur Treadway, Healing Our Inner Violence

1988: Richard Boyajian, Where Have I Come From? Where Am I Going?

1987: Franky Day, Leadings and Pushings

1986: David Hadley Finke, Angels Watching Over Me

1985: Agnita Wright Dupree, Widening The Circle

1984: James L. Garretson, First The Kingdom

1983: Robert L. Wixom, Seeing Together — The Seen And The Unseen

1982: Betty Clegg, The Eloquence Of Silence

1981: Flora McKinney, Lest Ye Become

1980: Richard B. Haworth, Together

1979: Rebecca Caudill, From Hardshell Baptist To Quaker

1978: William O. Brown, Transcendence In The Pursuit Of Wholeness

1977: Robert Clark, The Most Exciting Adventure

1976: Alice Walton, Quaker Saints And Other Ordinary People

1975: Kale Williams, Great Tides Of Human Yearning

1974: Royal Buscombe, A Little Lower Than the Angels

1973: Helen Jean Nelson, Let There Be Light

1972: Dorothy Nash (not published)

1971: Elizabeth Watson, You, Neighbor God PDF file

1970: Thomas Forsythe, Loving Reason

1969: Lucretia M. Franklin, Reflections

1968: Doris Peters, As the Way Opens: An Experience of Faith

1967: Orval Lucier, The Seed and Society

1966: Francis Hole, When God First Begins to Taste Sweet (not published)

1965: Rachel Fort Weller, Contemplation in a Twentieth Century World of Action

1964: Gilbert F. White, Sharing the Earth's Riches

1963: Sylvia Shaw Judson, Universal or Particular?

1962: Robert Oakes Byrd, A New Heaven and a New Earth

1961: Mulford Sibley, Conscience, Casuistry, and Quakerism


About the Plummer Lecture

Beginning with the 1961 sessions, Illinois Yearly Meeting of Friends proposed to annually honor its first Clerk by designating the principal or keynote address, the Jonathan W. Plummer Lecture.

Jonathan Wright Plummer, acknowledged by Quaker Torch Bearers as the father of Friends General Conference, was born in 1835 at Richmond, Indiana. He died in 1918 at 83 years of age and lies interred at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

When he was 39, he moved to Chicago, where he was first with E. R. Burnham & Son, wholesale druggists. Later, this was the Morrison-Plummer Company, wholesale druggists, and it is now known as McKesson & Robbins.

He introduced profit-sharing in his business and he practiced tithing, giving one-tenth of his private income and one-tenth of the income from his drug business. He also loaned money freely to people in need. He advocated prison reform.

"He did go to Meeting, headed committees of action, and notably in 1878 wrote letters which were albatrosses about the neck of pious epistolary correspondence. Illinois Yearly Meeting, which he helped to create in 1875, was housed in the country near McNabb, Illinois. Here he came once a year by train to meet with Friends from 10 neighborhoods of Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, as well as with spiritual leaders from other Yearly Meetings.

"In 1878 he came with a project as clear as a blueprint. Its framework was a conference and its aim to co-ordinate widely scattered activities .... Jonathan Plummer desired a conference that would consider all the social testimonies of Friends. As a result, minute 52 of Illinois Yearly Meeting's proceedings in 1878 set him at liberty to prepare an address of invitation to the several Yearly Meetings for holding a general conference once in five years or oftener."

He gave the opening address at the World's Parliament of Religions (held during the '93 Fair), expressing hope for greater helpfulness and for co-operation among all faiths.

"He was not a pronounced religious mystic, as were many earlier Quakers. He listened to the 'still, small voice,' and this prompted both charity and vocal ministry.

"He measured up to the test of greatness set by Goethe in that he expressed clearly what others felt but were unable to express. He lived in the midst of what shall not pass away. Whoever is the messenger of its truth brings surprises to mankind. Such was Jonathan W. Plummer."

(From Illinois Yearly Meeting Minutes, 1960, by Harold W. Flitcraft)


Who Was Jonathan Wright Plummer?

By Maurine Pyle

I have posed that question to many weighty Friends outside of Illinois Yearly Meeting and so far no one has been able to answer. We know about Jonathan Plummer because of the blurb (above) on the back of each Plummer Lecture, the spiritual journey story told by a selected ILYM Friend each year. Elizabeth Warren, a member of Lake Forest Meeting, has recently published his biography in her book titled Jonathan Wright Plummer: Quaker Philanthropy.

Jonathan Plummer was praised as one of the pioneers of the renaissance of the Society of Friends at the end of the 19th Century. He thought people should act on their faith, a venerated Quaker principle. He brought together seven yearly meetings from Illinois to Philadelphia and New York to devise ways to carry out Quaker testimonies, as they are called. These included urging peaceful relations among men, giving aid and comfort to the poor and those in prison, helping working women, children, and those needing education. The Quaker opposition to the death penalty for convicted criminals was also on the agenda of the organization he founded, the Friends' Union for Philanthropic Labor. The Union evolved into the Friends General Conference whose work continues today.

Who was Jonathan Plummer? He helped found Illinois Yearly Meeting, founded Friends General Conference and co-founded the World Parliament of Religions. He is someone you should know. To purchase a copy of Betsy's book, contact her at e.c.warren©



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