Sylvia Graves Beane, Sue Whitesel, Andy Stanton-Henry
By Della Stanley-Green
Over the past four years, I have had the amazing opportunity to job share in two different positions with three Friends. In August 2019, Sylvia Graves Beane, Sue Whitesel and I began our shared work as the Co-Superintendents of Western Yearly Meeting (western Indiana and eastern Illinois). With amazement and wonder about how all the pieces came together, we embarked on an interim assignment to prepare the yearly meeting for its next chapter. Never could we have imagined a pandemic that turned plans upside-down, wrong side-out, and backwards. What a blessing that we had already worked together as volunteers on projects within the yearly meeting. We knew each other’s gifts and strengths as well as how we could mesh these together to serve effectively and well. Our identify was always grounded in our relationship as sisters-in-Christ, so we called ourselves the Superintendent Sisters (or Supt. Sisters). People asked if we would survive the job-share (I think they were thinking of other infamous trios of leaders who went down in flames) and still be friends. We assured all those who worried that we would still be friends, and we still are.
Then in the summer of 2022 a brand-new opportunity emerged for me to job share with Andy Stanton-Henry. Through another series of amazing and wonderful turns of events, we agreed to serve in a shared position, even though we had never met one another. Before long, we discovered that we had shared mentors and f/Friends, despite being two different generations and having our initial roots in two different branches of Friends. God had brought us together to mesh our gifts, talents, skills, and experiences into starting the brand-new Quaker Leadership Center at Earlham School of Religion.
Sue Whitesel: Doer of the Word
When Friends might still be talking and being wishy-washy about something, Sue says, “What’s the next step?” One of her strengths is to keep us from endlessly spinning in the verbiage and put our words (and the Word) into action. She gathers people and sees what is possible. She loves to be in the midst of a whole group of people leading the next encouraging piece of ministry that builds up the Meeting/Church, Yearly Meeting, group of Young Friends, or whomever. She embodies a “let’s do it” attitude that often proves to be an anti-dote to all kinds of Quakerish-lethargy to which we can be prone. Sue also makes sure that we celebrate together what God is doing with us, between us, and among us.
Sylvia Graves Beane: Peace Builder
Sylvia’s orientation to life and faith is to build peace. I’ve seen her do that for over three decades now. As a music teacher, school principal, camp director, recorded Friends minister, and YM volunteer, she always made space for everyone there. She sowed the seeds of peace through how she taught, how she dealt with difficult people, how she constructed lessons and times of worship. For six years as General Secretary of Friends United Meeting, she built peace within the General Board and among Friends in East Africa, North America and beyond. She shared stories and examples over and over that reminded us that the way of peace is the way of Jesus and vice versa. With her care for Friends near and far, whether she is in Iowa, Indiana, Kenya, or Belize, she carries the hope and possibility of peace with her.
Andy Stanton-Henry: Abundance Proclaimer
Whether it is in his writing, in his reflective listening, or his careful speaking, Andy proclaims the ever-present faithfulness and abundance of God.* He’s written more than 40 – probably closer to 50 –Friendly Reminder blog posts for the Quaker Leadership Center. Every time I see him exercising his gifts by writing or speaking his carefully-chosen words after his reflective listening, I am grateful. When I am anxious about one thing or another (which I can be at times) I find myself relaxing as he invites an awareness of God’s abundance in the words of his prayer at the beginning of our weekly Zoom meeting. As we have worked together for the last 15 months, I find myself giving thanks every day for the working partnership that God has given to us. It is a manifestation of the abundance which Andy proclaims and lives.
In this month of thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for Sylvia Graves Beane, Sue Whitesel, and Andy Stanton-Henry, three living lessons in Quaker leadership. I am thankful for the opportunity of shared ministry with each one of them. I give thanks to God for allowing me to work with them in ways that have allowed each of us to work in our areas of giftedness and strength as well as to share the burdens and joys of leadership.
*To learn more about the abundant life that Andy proclaims, be sure check out his website:
https://recoveringabundance.wordpress.com/ and read his book Recovering Abundance: Twelve Practices for Small-Town Leaders.