1.22.2007

Is Convergence Contagious?

The second thing that happened while I was meeting with my clearness committee is that I was invited to participate in leading a workshop on convergent Friends at the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, March 15-18, 2007.

It was kind of roundabout, but it had the unmistakable stamp of God’s workings on it. Two Friends from Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) read Wess and my articles. They got to talking about the plans for the upcoming FWCC meeting and how FWCC is so convergent and yet not quite and how there ought to be a discussion about convergence at the conference. After looking us up on the internet, one of them sent an email to a listserve that Wess had set up. My husband wrote back to her, and she wrote back and asked if we had any suggestions for a workshop at the FWCC conference. I wrote back and said I’d be happy to discuss my experience so far, in fact I had been thinking about trying to go to the annual meeting, but not sure at all that it would be possible. Fortunately, my clearness committee was meeting that week, and I had a chance to consider with them whether I was called to go to Rhode Island in March. Several further back and forths by email with FWCC folks and Wess and my new Sister-in-Christ. There was some kerfuffle over whether this was really happening or not, and I’m still not sure quite how this is going to work out. But the current workshop title (I didn’t make this up, but I love it) is “Am I a convergent Friend? And is it contagious?”

I feel clear now that I need to go, and I’m clear that Wess needs to go, and I am making arrangements. I have asked for support from my meeting and my yearly meeting and we’re doing a little fundraising among Friends for the rest of the money for the two of us. Convergence requires us to work together. I still think that the interest group I led at PYM last summer fell flat because I tried to do it by myself. And some of us, because we work in this in-between space, will fall in the cracks between Quaker institutions, and need more help than others.

Newsflash: Convergence is not about me. The winds of the Holy Spirit blow where they will. This is an important reminder. I did not invent the various phenomena it describes and I do not own the word. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this. I have to accept that somewhere, sometime, there will be a discussion or gathering or workshop about convergent Friends and I will not be there. And that’s good: I hope the renewal of classic Quakerism will be much bigger than I am.

At the same time, I want to be free to go where God leads me. This is part of my reason for asking for clearness and support from my meeting so that my Friends in real life can help me hear what God is asking me to do and figure out how to do it. I already have little nudges in my heart and some written invitations to go to Greensboro, North Carolina one day, but not right now. I’m feeling pretty full up for this spring. There may be more destinations on my spiritual itinerary. I don’t know yet; that’s okay. And if I am faithful in this work, I expect that the next steps will be shown to me.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Liz Opp said...

The joy you are feeling from being faithful just ooooozes throughout this post, Robin. I also appreciate the desire to "keep low" and let the Spirit do its work through you, through Wess, through FWCC, through all of us.

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

1/22/2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

Hello Robin,

It seems God is leading you (and has been!) for some time on the issue of convergence, and it's great you have the chance to open this up for more discussion.

My heart is with you. Good luck :)

Laurie

1/23/2007 3:19 AM  
Blogger RichardM said...

In my opinion we shouldn't be pinning too much hope on single-shot big meetings. They do serve to get the idea of a new, vibrant center for Quakerism out there for people to consider. But if the vision really has legs it will grow due to a lot of individual contacts. If there were a dozen Friends willing to spend one Sunday per month driving to a Quaker meeting within 100 miles to worship with them and faithfully and patiently just be the message, then it will grow.

1/23/2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger quakerboy said...

I see quite a few similarities between this convergent Friends "movement" and the emerging church movement. The Wind seems to be blowing where It will. Amazing stuff this God of ours is doing..."and in the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh..."

Love and Peace,
Craig

1/23/2007 2:00 PM  
Blogger quakerboy said...

Richard,

I think it takes both "single-shot big meetings" and individual contacts. Both must be done by the promptings of the Spirit.

As for me, I have visited quite a few Meetings the past year including a couple of FUM Meetings, an FGC Meeting and another Conservative Friends Meeting (West Grove). I've not had a leading to even mention convergent Friends nor have I been led to give vocal ministry. Basically, it's a ministry of presence.

I'm finding that the "convergence" is not necessarily happening within the groups I visit, but the convergence is happening in me. While I am very much of the Conservative Friends ilk, I am beginning to really appreciate the gifts other groups of Friends have been given.

God's peace,
Craig

1/23/2007 2:07 PM  
Blogger RichardM said...

Craig,

I'm glad to hear you are travelling. For the past 18 months I've traveled once a month to visit the worship group down in Beaufort along the NC coast to support them. I don't talk about convergent Quakerism, just whatever seems to come up at the time. I took up the practice because after talking to Friends about their experiences and seeing the value of visitors to our meeting the leading gradually took shape in me. As I have been doing it I see the slow, unspectacular but very real value in these visits. I don't mention convergence in these visits because, to my undoubtedly prejudiced mind, the movement is converging on the true Center which is pretty much where conservative Friends like us have remained.

And yes the emerging church movement seems to me to be moving towards where we already are.

1/23/2007 4:56 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Oooh, some of these comments are very yummy!

Craig's: I'm finding that the "convergence" is not necessarily happening within the groups I visit, but the convergence is happening in me.... I am beginning to really appreciate the gifts other groups of Friends have been given.

And Richard M's: ...to my undoubtedly prejudiced mind, the movement is converging on the true Center...

So glad to be part of this conversation--the conversation I'm having inwardly as well as the conversation I'm having outwardly!

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

1/23/2007 11:14 PM  
Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

I seem to be having that same inward and outward conversation, as well. Interesting.

Richard said, "If there were a dozen Friends willing to spend one Sunday per month driving to a Quaker meeting within 100 miles to worship with them and faithfully and patiently just be the message, then it will grow."

It is possible that when my family finally buys a real piece of land, where the Convergent Quakers seem to be will be a big part of the decision. With 2 (soon to be 3!) young children, traveling 100 miles, even once a month, is just too much. BUT I do see our family moving away from the FGC meeting we attend now, to a more Christ-centered (albeit liberal) one. If only Oregon had some Conservative Friends meetings nearby us now....

1/24/2007 3:06 AM  
Blogger RichardM said...

Laurie,

For everthing there is a season. When I had a housefull of kids at home and had to publish regularly to get tenure travelling was out of the question. Now, comfortably tenured with only one child still at home I can manage the nearly two hour drive to the coast once a month. What I'm called to do isn't what you are called to do but I'm sure that there are others out there who are being called to travel in the Truth.

1/24/2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger Paul L said...

I'm happy that FWCC is now becoming part of the convergence conversation since it is the most visible Friends organization that has convergence and unity among Friends as its explicit mission.

I've been wondering for a long time why it hasn't shown more interest, or why convergent Friends haven't seen FWCC as a vehicle or forum for wider discussion. I still wonder, but I think it's a very positive sign that FWCC is interested and has invited you to speak, Robin. And I'm glad you're accepting the call.

1/24/2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger Gregg Koskela said...

I just want to say you are so right to follow this leading, and will pray for your preparation and your journey. I also feel led to support it in a financially meager way; could you set up a mechanism for that, or e-mail me an address?

1/25/2007 12:09 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Oh my. Thank you everyone.

Liz - thank you for everything. I have this growing sense of our spiritual intimacy that flourishes online and off.

Laurie, hi! I'd like to introduce you to Gregg, further down in the comments. You'll find his blog in my sidebar. There are several good Quaker bloggers in Newberg, Oregon. And Peggy Senger Parsons of A Silly Poor Gospel and Freedom Friends Church is in Salem. Except that she's in Burundi right now, but she'll be back.

Richard M., I agree that part of the difficulty with FWCC for me has been that it seems to happen in these large, formal, institutional settings. But as Paul L. points out, it's the closest institution we have to work with, and FWCC's annual meeting is an amazing opportunity to meet Friends who already have some awareness of and interest in the breadth of Quakerism. Paul, at least I have been attending the informational sessions about FWCC at my yearly meeting for a while, and I think there are many others who wouldn't think to call themselves convergent, but I would, who are involved.

Craig's point is crucial for me: convergence happens in an individual soul, it's already happening, it's been happening for several years now.

I see that the ground for this has been tilled and fertilized and seeds have been sown for ten years or so now. I am also grateful to the Friends who held onto those heritage seeds and cared for them over the last 350 years, not letting the rootstock die out. I think that the buds are beginning to open; it remains to be seen if there will be a frost or a hard wind, and if the flowers will be pollinated. Like you perhaps, I see myself sometimes as a bee in the orchard.

Gregg, I appreciate your prayers and support. I wasn't expecting to ask Friends for money online. Anyone who would like to express more personal support is welcome to send me an email. There's a link in my profile now.

1/25/2007 12:48 AM  
Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

Hello back to Robin :) We are living about 3 hours from Newberg, so not making it to meeting there too soon, but am keeping up with those very blogs when I can. We have been attending a very small unprogramed meeting out here, the people are very nice. I should state that. In rereading my previous post, it sounded like I was letting loose a dissastisfied snarl. I guess it is just my desire to know God more.....

Nice to meet all of you. You are all quite inspiring to me & my family.

1/26/2007 3:24 AM  

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