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A Note on Renewal: Our Quaker Theme of the Year

November 18, 2022

Dear AFS Families,

I believe that the deepest strengths of Abington Friends School are found in our Quaker roots, our deep identification with Quaker ideas about who we are as human beings and our potential as both individuals and as a community. We are encouraged to see each other wholly and with profound respect for the promise each person holds. We are encouraged to seek truth and to act on that truth even when it challenges our accepted assumptions and beliefs. And we are inspired by the idea that goodness abounds in our world, always there when sought in earnest, always ready to renew us, refresh us and direct us toward what is possible. This is a goodness from which we can never be separated and which can see us through the most challenging trials, individual and collective, that we will face in a lifetime.

Each year at AFS, our Quaker Action Committee (QuAC) names a Quaker theme to provide focus and a common touchstone for inspiration and exploration throughout the year and throughout our community. This year, we lift up the theme of Renewal, particularly resonant as we continue to grow into life after the deepest stages of pandemic isolation and limitations.

The theme was introduced to our faculty and staff at last week’s inservice day and the following queries were presented for reflection and small group discussion:

  • Where have I seen or felt renewal in my own life recently?
  • Where have I seen or felt renewal at AFS?
  • How does renewal connect to our Quaker core?
  • How can I intentionally bring this to my own work at AFS?

The reflection and discussions bridged the personal and the professional, inviting connection between the two. Here are reflections on my mind as I consider this open-ended theme for us.

For me, renewal is most vivid in images of the resurgence of life all around us in the spring, following the hibernation and fallow fields of late autumn and winter. Life reasserts itself, irrepressible, surging from a life force that is larger than us all, brilliant in bright sunshine and longer days, refreshed in the abundance of spring showers, awe-inspiring in the beauty of sudden, new life everywhere. Nature reveals the spirit so vividly and encourages us to consider the resilience of our own spirits as its mirror.

I think too about the word renew itself, literally meaning to make new again. Out of the deprivations of the pandemic period, how are we making new again the joys of community in person, honoring the privilege of learning together in this rich environment, seeing with fresh eyes the potential we have to create the best possible conditions for the growth of students and each other? How does seeing the world around us, and each other, with fresh eyes inspire new thinking, new hope and aspirations? How does the promise of renewal invite us to grow beyond what was before, to grow from our challenges, to be ambitious for the good that can be done in this imperfect and challenged world?

Renewal is a birthright of all human beings, in all circumstances, a capacity of the Light within, that of God in each person. May day to day life and routine never dull our ability to see the world and each other with new eyes and new hope. I look forward to seeing how the theme of Renewal finds its way into our classrooms, professional discussions and the life of your family as we reflect on it for the 2022-2023 school year. I see the blessing of renewal each day in the vibrance of our children learning, playing, exploring and creating on this campus together, a joy that inspires us all.


Rich Nourie
  • Rich Nourie
  • Head of School
  • Abington Friends School
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