Did you ever open a door a crack, and the wind pushed it wide open? And then maybe your favorite food blew in and landed on your plate?
That is a suggestion of how I feel right now.
Over the last couple of years, I had an awakening. I should say that more directly. Almost two years ago, I woke up to the reality that there were more Conservative-leaning liberal Friends than I had suspected. I started hearing about this “emergent church” concept. Then I found that there were Friends in those other branches that I had only vaguely heard about who were also kind of emergent and Conservative-leaning, in the Quaker sense. Once I was awake, I got (plainly) dressed and went out to meet some of them. There were some of my favorite kind of parties, where folks just hang out and eat a little and talk for a long time. There wasn’t usually a lot of planning involved, things just happened. And I came up with a word to describe these folks more efficiently: convergent Friends.
At the end of last summer, I accepted that this was a leading from God, not just an enthusiasm. At that point I didn’t know what I was going to do next, just that I needed to check in with my monthly meeting. So a clearness committee was appointed for me, and began meeting in October.
By now, I can clearly say that I have found Friends in different places, generations and branches of Friends who share a similar sensibility: who are seeking a deeper understanding of our Quaker heritage and a more authentic life in the kingdom of God on Earth, radically inclusive of all who seek to live this life. It includes, among others, Friends from the politically liberal end of the evangelical branch, the Christian end of the unprogrammed branch, and the more outgoing end of the conservative branch.
I have a leading to travel and gather Friends from different parts of Quakerism for communal meals, conversation and worship. I will continue to write about these experiences for publication in various Friendly media. [Including this blog.] I will continue a program of reading about Quaker history and practice, to understand how this leading of mine fits into the wider arc of the Religious Society of Friends. I will continue to report back to my monthly meeting and seek discernment, support and guidance for this work.
On Sunday, my clearness committee reported to the meeting for business of San Francisco Monthly Meeting. They reported that they were in unity to affirm and encourage me in pursuing this leading and that they found my leading to be powerfully Spirit-led. The ministry and oversight committee will appoint an anchor committee to work with me to consider specific opportunities and request any support I may need to follow this leading.
In the meantime, a few other things happened. An article got published, an invitation to speak at a conference came in, and a previous obligation turned out to be more interesting than I expected. My Friend Liz Opp reminded me last week that when we are faithful a little bit, we are often given opportunities to be more faithful. Caroline Fox once heard in meeting for worship, “Live up to the Light thou hast, and more will be granted thee.” My own heart says that yes, there will be trials and tribulations, but this joy I feel now is consolation to my soul.
More on all this very soon. Click here for the next post, Writing about Convergent Friends
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