On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry

This is the name of a great book by Brian Drayton of New England Yearly Meeting. Basically, it is about vocal ministry in unprogrammed meetings. But Drayton defines it like this "Gospel ministry is service whose goal is to encourage, support, push, or invite people to seek and respond to the guidance, teaching, and activity of that Light and Life at work in all, right now. It is not merely speaking words in meetings for worship, but, under a sense of obedience to the motions of the Spirit, using words, deeds, or silent striving to help others (and ourselves) forward to the more abundant life that Jesus sought for his disciples, his friends."

Here are two ways to engage with this concern:

The Thursday Night Study Group at San Francisco Monthly Meeting will begin reading the book this week, on November 2, 2006. You don't have to read in advance - just show up. You can borrow a copy of the book for the evening, buy it there to take home with you, or bring your own, it's available through Quakerbooks.org. The Group starts with an informal potluck supper at 7:00 p.m. followed by discussion at around 8:00, and it's usually over by 9:00. We take turns reading out loud and stopping wherever it's convenient to ask a question or share a comment on the text.

I say "we" even though I stopped attending the Group regularly when my now eight-year-old son was about eight months old. But I think the format is still basically the same. I am so excited that they will be reading this book that I am making the time [and money for babysitters] available to attend again.

The Thursday Night Group is also a regular, communal meal that is open to all visitors. It serves as an entry point for many Friends, both those who are mostly looking for some friendly companionship and those who want to know more about our Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends. The attendance has rotated some over the years, but the core of the Group has continued to grow in depth and faithfulness that is an inspiration to me.

Twelve years ago, this Group offered me some of my earliest insight into living a more intentional Quakerism. This is the first place I heard people discussing the writings of early Friends and their own experiments with plain dress and Christian language. It has been a rich resource for our Meeting over the last fifteen years or so of its existence.

I hope that reading this book will be an opportunity for Friends in our Meeting who are called to vocal ministry to talk about what it's like, what does it mean for us as individuals, what does it mean for the Meeting, how do we prepare, how does it change our lives, and more, with others who share that calling.

The second opportunity will be Quaker Heritage Day 2007 - March 3, 2007 to be exact. Brian Drayton will be the featured speaker at Berkeley Friends Church's annual event. I just got the save the date card. It says that "As a recorded minister in New England Yearly Meeting, Brian has for many years carried a concern for nurturing and encouraging emerging ministries. ... Brian primarily works within his own Yearly Meeting and has never traveled in ministry in California before now. This is a rare opportunity to meet Brian on the west coast."

Last year, Quaker Heritage Day was a rare opportunity to meet Peggy Senger Parsons and Margery Post Abbott in California. If you'd like to read more about that, click on the March 2006 archives in the sidebar of my blog. One of the best parts was that I was able to host them and a few other Friends/bloggers for dinner that evening. I hope to provide hospitality again this year. I don't know if Brian Drayton will come - but I can hope! Let me know if you'd like to come for another convergent Friends event in the Bay Area.


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Blogger Liz Opp said...

Wow, Robin -

I'm just taking a super-quick look at your post and I am super-excited (and jealous!) that the meeting is taking this book up. How cool is that?!?

I'll have to return and read the rest of your post when I'm less distracted (and after I've eaten breakfast!).

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

10/30/2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger Martin Kelley said...

I'd love to come to the Berkeley event (of course) but almost surely won't be able to. The book group and Heritage Day events sound so important, I'm glad to know they're happening.

I probably shouldn't be linking there but Charles Martin had an interesting article a few years ago about the SF Meeting's book group.

10/30/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

THANK YOU, Martin! I looked for that link last night, and couldn't find it. Your knowledge of the online Quaker resources is still very useful.

Hey Liz, come back anytime!

10/30/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've marked QHD on my calendar Robin and will plan to be there!

10/31/2006 10:24 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

That's terrific Wess! One of the joys of the last QHD was meeting Wess and Emily in person for the first time.

10/31/2006 2:55 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

I posted about the first reading in the Thursday night group here.

Wess Daniels is organizing a road trip from southern California to QHD - so if you're interested, you can contact him directly.

11/03/2006 3:07 PM  

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