Cape Region Quaker community small but ferventSharon Hoover explains the religious philosophy
Special to the Cape Gazette — A small listing on the Cape Gazette's Houses of Worship page lists a Quaker meeting held each Sunday at Cadbury at Lewes. Unless you are browsing, looking for a new church experience, you might miss it. The local Friends or Quakers service is a quiet, low-key experience worth looking into.
Here’s how the item reads: “Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Under the care of Camden monthly meeting. 10 a.m. Sunday, quiet room at Cadbury at Lewes. (302-296-6018).
When you call that number, you may get, on occasion, volunteer Sharon Hoover, who lives at the development, Cadbury at Lewes, and, at 76, when many people are slowing down, she’s an active Friends member or Quaker, currently traveling to places such as Indonesia, Ireland or Washington, D.C.
Hoover was born in Evansville, Ind., into the Presbyterian faith and grew up in the Methodist church. Later on, at the age of 20, she married Dean Hoover, who grew up in a Mennonite home. As an adult, he served as a Methodist minister. He was a pacifist against war, who believed in gentleness and patience. “We made the switch to be Quakers in the late 1960s, 10 years after we married,” Sharon said.
A former teacher at the elementary, junior and senior levels, Hoover started out with a bachelor of science degree in education and English, and later received a doctorate in American literature. She taught English at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y., for almost 20 years.
Hoover has three children, all Quakers. One of them, Nadine, is a volunteer with a Friends peace team, traveling to places such as Indonesia and Australia. In the United States, to earn money for her Friends work, she has become a massage therapist dealing with traumatic injuries. In the Asia-West Pacific area, she is now a coordinator for traumatic recovery.
Sharon Hoover is an accomplished writer and editor, but not often paid. “Very few Quakers are paid for what they do,” she said with a smile. Currently, she is editor of a book on Quakers and peace making. “I’ve written since high school,” she said. She is a professional writer, doing articles for English and American literary journals. Novelist Willa Cather is a special interest.
Here, at the beach, she provides media with local Quaker news.
The quiet room at Cadbury where Quakers meet Sunday mornings is off the center lobby. The 45-minute services with members seated in a circle are silent, according to Quaker tradition. “The exception to that is if someone has a short, appropriate message for the group. We don’t dialogue or respond,” said Hoover. “If people want to discuss something, we do it after the service.”
She added, “In Camden there is a larger, full meeting that we keep in touch with. We only have 20 or so people at our services. We operate on what’s called the SPICE method. S is for simplicity, P is for peace, I is for integrity, C is for community and E is for equality.
“Quakers believe in everyone in a meeting group coming to agreement before they make a decision,” said Sharon. “If there is no agreement on a matter, we postpone decisions until our next meeting. Our goal is for everyone to be on onboard.” There is no leader in the Sunday meeting group.
The Bible represents a difficult issue for Quakers. “Some rely on it more than others,” said Hoover. “We don’t put our hand on the Bible to be sworn in for legal matters. Our theory is that Quakers always tell the truth and don’t need to swear on the Bible.”
After a severe stroke in 2001, Hoover had a long recovery, but she persevered and is now back to being active as a Quaker.
She uses her computer for much of her work. She’s even participated in a Skype video teleconference for an Asia-West Pacific meeting where she could stay at home and participate by video and audio hookups.
For more information on the Quaker way of life, google American Friends, go to www.friendsjournal.org or call 302-296-6018.