Annual Report to Business Meeting
(For more background, I recommend a search of this blog under the tags convergent or myjourney, or simply through the archives - all available in the sidebar of the homepage of this blog.)
Each fall since then, I have submitted a written report on my work in the previous year, some reflections on that year and my plans for the coming year. This is my report from November 2009, slightly edited for internet publication. I hereby share it with you too.
First I would like to express my gratitude to San Francisco Monthly Meeting and especially to my Anchor Committee for their support and encouragement and patience.
In February, I co-led a weekend workshop for convergent Friends at BLQC with Martin Kelley of Philadelphia YM and Wess Daniels, a member of Evangelical Friends Church -Eastern Region, and now pastor of Camas Friends Church in Northwest YM. It was attended by almost 30 Friends, from six yearly meetings across the United States, including six members of SFMM. It sparked a series of blog posts, short videos and an article in Friends Journal by Angelina Conti. Much of the coverage can be found in the archives at www.quakerquaker.org
I also co-led a workshop on Quaker blogging at the FWCC Section of the Americas Annual Meeting in March with Gregg Koskela of Northwest YM. He and I spoke about how writing a blog has been a ministry to us and by us for others. We included a version of the exercise that Chris M. and I first led at SFMM, of a low-tech blog commenting exercise, where people could read posts on the wall and leave their own comments and then return to read what others had written. It was well attended, for a late night interest group, around 30 people from all over North America.
I wrote an article for Western Friend about Plainness, and a book review for Quaker Life about Lest We Forget: Self-Supporting Ministers from North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM).
I gave a short talk at College Park Quarterly Meeting last month about the essentials of Quaker practice, how to teach them better and how this meshes with convergent Friends.
I continue to maintain this blog as an outlet for my writing and a gathering place for cross-branch dialogue. Readership is down significantly since I am writing less often, but still averages about 50 visits per day. The most commented-on post in the last year was technically a book review of the semi-fictional trilogy by Brian McLaren called A New Kind of Christian. The comments, however, were mostly about various theories of the Atonement, from various perspectives across the Quaker spectrum. Three of my blogposts appeared in the new book, Writing Cheerfully on the Web: A Quaker Blog Reader, edited by Liz Opp that came out in July 2009.
In the coming year, I anticipate to travel less and write less because of my full-time employment outside the Religious Society of Friends. My anchor committee has agreed to continue meeting with me, although less frequently than in the first couple of years, given the decreased level of activity and discernment required.
I’m wrestling with the nagging feeling that God is calling me to this ministry of hospitality and encouragement: this work of bringing Friends together, convening learning communities, facilitating conversations and supporting Friends on their spiritual journeys, which brings me such joy and fulfillment and peace. Aren’t I really supposed to be doing this all the time? Am I disobeying God’s leading by spending so much of my time earning a secular living? Or is the desire to devote myself to a full-time, "hireling" ministry a distraction? A temptation?
Actually, I think I am given both pieces of work to do. God is showing me what the Quaker path of ministry looks like. I have a “competency” as Friends have traditionally called it, and I am figuring out how to balance my household chores/family responsibilities, my paid employment and my religious vocation.
This is part of the challenge of living as a Quaker in the 21st century.
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