Friends World Committee for Consultation Receives $1.125 Million Grant for Quaker Connect

Jade Rockwell hired as program director

The Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas—the global fellowship association for the Religious Society of Friends—has received a $1.125 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Thriving Congregations Initiative to help establish Quaker Connect, a program designed to reinvigorate the Quaker movement. 

FWCC Americas recently hired Jade Rockwell as the program director. Jade joins FWCC Americas from West Elkton (OH) Friends Meeting, where she serves as Co-Pastor. She is pursuing a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis on Pastoral Ministry from Earlham School of Religion. 

“I’m pleased to join FWCC Americas as the program director for Quaker Connect,” Jade said. “In this role I’m thrilled to dedicate my life work toward revitalizing Quakerism to reflect its beautiful diversity.”

“Quaker Connect is responding to the need of local Friends to develop a spirit of experimentation in partnership with God to support the members of their meetings and engage in issues important to their communities,” said Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary for FWCC Americas. “Quaker Connect will equip Quaker churches to be more clearly who they are meant to be: profoundly Quaker, deeply rooted, and highly visible in their local community. We are very pleased that Jade Rockwell has joined us at this pivotal point.”

Friends meetings and churches who wish to be considered for the first cohort of the Quaker Connect program should check the FWCC Americas website,, for updates. The application period is planned to open in September 2024. 

In the United States, the project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. An additional $200,000 grant from the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund will extend the program to Friends outside of the United States—from Canada to Bolivia—and enhance collaboration among Quaker organizations to support the growth and vitality of the Society of Friends.

Quaker Connect will be a structured network of Quaker meetings across the branches of Friends in the Americas. Each participating local meeting will nominate one to three Friends to join a cohort of other energized Friends in virtual workshops over a two year period. At the heart of the program, each meeting will choose one signpost of renewal that is lacking in their meeting, one Quaker, Christian, or FWCC practice to address the need, and take three months to try the experiment, and then initiate further experiments. Robust evaluation and communication processes are essential parts of the program. Quaker Connect is designed to adapt and seed the continuing revitalization of the Religious Society of Friends. 

FWCC Americas is one of 104 organizations that has received grants through a competitive round of Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. Reflecting a wide variety of Christian traditions, the organizations represent mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, peace church and Pentecostal faith communities.

“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

About Shoemaker

The Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund, established by the 1936 and 1953 wills of Thomas Howard Shoemaker and Mary Williams Shoemaker, is a private, trustee-managed foundation with five volunteer, self-perpetuating distributing trustees. Since the death of Mary Shoemaker, approximately $9 million has been distributed to selected charities, including Friends meetings and Quaker-related organizations primarily in the Philadelphia area.

In recent years, the Shoemaker Trustees have become increasingly concerned about the future vitality and membership of the Religious Society of Friends. As a result, the  Fund has shifted its focus to organizations that are investing specifically in the growth and development of the Society of Friends. In this spirit, the Fund is providing major support for new and collaborative initiatives developed by organizations that provide leadership, innovation and resources which address this strategic goal.

About FWCC Americas

The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) is the global fellowship association for the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, also known as the Friends Church. In the Americas, the Quaker community extends from the Arctic to the Andes, spanning a rich diversity of regional cultures, beliefs and styles of worship.