I think there is a growing movement within the Religious Society of Friends towards a greater unity. I think the renewal of classic Quakerism, with a deeper engagement of our traditions including our commitment to peace and social justice and our roots in the Christian stream, is breaking forth in many ways and in many places. I call this movement a convergence of Friends.
In March, I hosted an informal dinner for convergent Quaker bloggers after Quaker Heritage Day. In May, Chris M. and I led a discussion at San Francisco Monthly Meeting about blogging and the growing communication between Friends of different stripes.
In July, my family and I will be going to the Friends General Conference Summer Gathering for the first time. I'm looking forward to my workshop with Max Hansen. I've heard that the afternoon worship sponsored by Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns is rich and powerful. And Liz Opp, Martin Kelley and I will be leading a Monday night interest group. Here's the description:
On Fire! Renewing Quakerism through a Convergence of Friends
Excited by the renewal of classic Quakerism? Want to reclaim traditional disciplines and language that seem on the brink of being lost? Interested in new forms for a living faith? We'll share how we are communicating across Quaker schisms and addressing our spiritual hunger as Friends. Hosted by Friends from QuakerQuaker.org.
I'm hoping that this will be a chance for Friends to talk face to face about how we are finding strength and joy in being Quakers. There will also be afternoon discussions that are open to all Friends in the area sponsored by the Advancement and Outreach Committee of FGC. More details will be forthcoming soon, I hope.
After the Gathering, my family and I are going to Newberg, Oregon for the weekend. On Sunday, we will be worshipping at Newberg Friends Church. I look forward to meeting Gregg Koskela, Aj Schwanz, Cherice, Marta and Kathy in person. If we're lucky, we'll meet up with Peggy Senger Parsons and Johan Maurer sometime during the weekend as well. If you're reading this, and you'd like to join my proposed playdate/picnic in a Newberg park on Saturday, July 8, leave me a comment and your email or phone number and I'll send you more details when I have them. If you've never been to an evangelical Friends church before, well, me neither. Come on down. I think that one of the keys to convergence is being willing to travel outside our comfort zones - to just pick up and go to meeting for worship with a church from another branch of Friends. Remember we're all Quakers: you don't have to sign a theological statement of agreement before you come in to worship. In San Francisco or in Newberg.
And that's not all.
The first week of August is Pacific Yearly Meeting's annual sessions at the University of Redlands, in California. I'm still not sure if there will be a scheduled discussion group about Convergent Friends during the session or not. But on Saturday August 5, the evening of the last day of PYM, there will be an informal dinner in Los Angeles for Friends who are interested in cross branch communication at the home of Wess and Emily Daniels, similar to our dinner after Quaker Heritage Day. Again, if you'd like to come to that, leave me a comment and I will send you more details.
Each of these is a new experiment for me. It's more complicated with kids, and it's a little daunting for our whole family. But I feel so strongly that this is what God is calling me to do this summer. I ask that even if you do not feel called to these conversations or if the distance is too great for you to come, please hold each of us involved in the Light. Pray that we may recognize the work of God among us and see the next step before us.
Dear God, help me to walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in each person I meet. Help me to know when I have had enough. Help me to know when my children and my husband have had enough. Help me to keep low and close to the Truth. Help me to know that thou art with me. Forever and ever, amen.
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