Even Christ Jesus?

The fourth thing that happened last fall is that I agreed to assist with publicity and recruitment for a workshop at Ben Lomond Quaker Center in April. I am on the board of trustees of the Center. Each board member was asked to pick a workshop from the schedule for 2007 and help the leader with building attendance. I looked down the list and around the room and decided I’d like to work on the one that said it was for young adult Friends, something about a new sense of callings.

So then I started to ask who is this leader, Betsy Blake?

The first thing that I heard was that she was part of making the film “Can We ALL Be Friends?” and that she was from North Carolina, maybe the daughter of an FUM pastor. Hmmm. Interesting, I thought.

Then I sent her an email about a minor publicity idea and she wrote back that she would really like the workshop to be about how to hear even Christ Jesus today. I almost fell off my chair. I wrote back that that language spoke to me, sent her a couple of links to my blog, and said I was happy to help her in whatever way might be useful.

The next thing we did together was to work on the text for the flyer about her workshop. I told her to go ahead and say where she really felt God was leading her – it would just make a better workshop. She discussed it with her clearness committee from First Friends Meeting of Greensboro, NC; then emailed me the text. When we finally spoke on the phone, it was wonderful. I am so looking forward to meeting her in person in April.

Here’s the description:
Title: Even Christ Jesus?

Many mark the wet, slippery birth of Quakerism to the radical divine message spoken to a young George Fox in mid 17th century England: "...There is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition..."

It was a life-rattling realization then and now and is currently one of the most tender and controversial topics amongst the wider Religious Society of Friends.

What does it mean to be in relationship with Christ Jesus? What is our calling in Christ? Who is this character? And what message might we be hearing today, individually and corporately?? (And does that mean we should, like, do something?)

This workshop, designed for young adult Friends, seeks in accordance with the example of Christ, to meet people exactly where they are. We will listen, ask, read scripture and early Quaker accounts, sing, write, pray, play, and hang out with one another as we examine what invitation Jesus speaks to us now.

And here’s Betsy’s bio:

Betsy Blake, 29, is a Jesus-loving, lifelong Quaker. As a frizzy headed adolescent, Betsy became intrigued with different kinds of Quakers after attending a Youthquake in 1991.

As a surprise, even to herself, she later enrolled in the Quaker Leader Scholars Program at Guilford College where she spent four years dialoguing and worshipping with Friends from across the spectrum.

Betsy spent four years organizing the World Gathering of Young Friends, serving as the North American-Based Coordinator. During this time, she traveled widely amongst Friends, conducting interviews on the current state of Quakerism and prayerfully visioning the future. During this time she also co-produced the documentary "Can We ALL Be Friends?" available through FGC Books and Pendle Hill Books.

Betsy currently resides in Greensboro, NC, where she is a member of First Friends Meeting (FUM). She is passionate about environmental sustainability, good music, art and illustration, random adventures, and walking around admiring God's handiwork.

The hazards of the internet: I found her Friendster profile too.]

Do you want to come yet?

One of the most fun things I did was to solicit testimonials from various young adult Friends in Pacific Yearly Meeting who already know her to add to the flyer. How often do you hear someone say, “and man, can she get her prayer on” ?

Here’s another line that was too long for the flyer, but speaks to me anyway. “Having Betsy lead a workshop is not only a testimony of a strong spiritual leader coming into her own and bringing wisdom from distant places to California, it is an opportunity for us to gather and listen to where God leads us not simply as individuals but as our potential of becoming a beloved community.”

The next phase is actually to start distributing the flyer and inviting folks to register for the weekend. Which you will be able to do soon, via the Quaker Center website. If you’d like the actual flyer, you can contact QC or send me an email and I’ll get you one. The coordinator of the Western Region of the Christian Friends Conference has promised to send it to his mailing list. I’m also thinking sending it out to Friends all over the western United States – this will be a rare opportunity, and I think it would be worth coming down from Seattle or up from LA, or in from Denver – but we’ll see. If you know a young adult Friend who might be interested, or you are a young Friend who is interested – step right up!

I think I should say right now that you don’t have to call yourself a Christian to come to this workshop, but maybe you should be prepared to hear more God-talk than you’re used to. Also, if you’ve grown up in a Christ-centered family or Friends Church, maybe you should be prepared to hear other people’s doubts and concerns about Christianity. But that will be part of the process – how do we listen tenderly and deeply to each other and to God? And how do we tenderly and deeply speak truth to others?

So the topic of this workshop is not convergence. But just getting the folks together who want to come to something like this will be convergent.

And that brings me great joy.

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Blogger quakerboy said...

Robin...Hurray! And by the way, Betsy Blake rocks!


1/29/2007 9:42 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks Craig!

1/30/2007 1:08 AM  
Blogger Johan Maurer said...

A delightful post. Say hi to Betsy for me!

1/30/2007 1:45 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Johan, I will do that. I would also like you to think seriously about any young adult Friends near you who might be interested in coming to a workshop like this.

1/30/2007 1:53 AM  
Blogger Laurie Chase Kruczek said...

She sounds really cool (I love her Friendster line about being the "aging Kim Gordon of the Greensboro music scene" because as we all know, Kim Gordon is ageless! :) You guys are pulling this all together so nicely. Converging onward....



1/30/2007 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent topic for a workshop. I hope one or more Friends will write up their experiences of it and post them somewhere on the Web.

1/30/2007 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I am going to get in "Can we all be Friends" for our Worship Group. It is also great to know how the wind blows with Friends in different parts of the country. This statement: "It was a life-rattling realization then and now and is currently one of the most tender and controversial topics amongst the wider Religious Society of Friends" went straight at me. For more than twenty years... me too.

1/30/2007 2:03 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks, Christine. I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record, but if there are young Friends in or near your worship group who would be interested or challenged by a workshop like this, well, Montana is not too far to come from for an unique opportunity like this. I'd like to point out that Quaker Center is closer than Pendle Hill.

1/30/2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Hey, Robin--

Three questions:

1. Can I share your blogpost with the monthly meeting(s) out here, with printed excerpts in the meeting's newsletter?

2. In terms of the Ben Lomond Center, how is "young adult Friend" defined? (Among FGC Friends, it's 18-35, I think.)

3. Can I receive a few flyers by mail before Feb. 9th, so I can bring them to a metro-wide event in my area?

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

1/31/2007 10:59 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Liz, yes you can excerpt my blog post for your newsletter. Thank you for doing it.

I think the actual flyer says YAF is loosely defined as 18-35. I fall out of that range by a couple of years, so I'm defining it very loosely.

I will have Quaker Center send you the flyers directly. Would you send me an email (there's a link in my profile) with your mailing address? I probably have it somewhere, but having you email me would facilitate promptness.

1/31/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you! No- you are not a broken record - it is important to keep these things at the front. I would like our son to attend something like this at some point but he is 15. Thanks again,

1/31/2007 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does it mean to be in relationship with Christ Jesus? What is our calling in Christ? Who is this character? And what message might we be hearing today, individually and corporately?? (And does that mean we should, like, do something?)

I'm not a Friend, but am interested in the Lord, the Light and Friendship. I'm past 35 by several years. And I'm nowhere near the location of this meeting. In other words, I'm jealous! :)

Is there anything in print or online with content remotely like this that you can recommend?

From a fellow seeker

1/31/2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Sullivan said...


i am so jealous that you get to attend. my dad was so unfair to me. as soon as we move away he sets up these wonderful workshops i would love to attend but are a few thousand miles to far. i would not be able to attend any way since my uncle is getting married that weekend but i will be thinking of everyone who is there and have a fun time.


1/31/2007 4:02 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Christine, it's not too early to start researching YouthQuake and the FWCC youth pilgrimages that will be coming up in the next few years for your son.

Anonymous, you might look up Barclay Press online - they have some good resources. I would also recommend Wrestling with Our Faith Tradition: Collected Public Witness, 1995-2004 by Lloyd Lee Wilson, (2005, Quaker Press of FGC) for more on these topics. I may dive into it again myself, now that I've pulled it off the shelf to make sure I got the title right.

Rebecca, I'm sure sorry you won't be able to come. You are among the few that I could not stretch the truth enough to say that Quaker Center is just as close as Pendle Hill to you. But maybe you could email some of your friends out West and tell them that they should come?

1/31/2007 5:37 PM  

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