This weekend I have a great opportunity to spend some time with a group of ecumenical Quakers. I am flying to Providence Rhode Island to participate in the Friends World Committee for Consultation, an ecumenical group of Friends who have been trying to help bridge the gap between the various subgroups of Friends.
The purpose of the Friends World Committee for Consultation is to encourage fellowship among all the branches of the Religious Society of Friends.
To facilitate loving understanding of diversities among Friends while we discover together, with God’s help, our common spiritual ground; and to facilitate full expression of our Friends’ testimonies in the world.
The mission of FWCC’s Section of the Americas:
In bringing Friends together face to face and heart-to-heart across traditions and national borders, FWCC Section of the Americas seeks to promote exchanges that advance spiritual renewal and vitality within the Religious Society of Friends.
Late last year I was invited, along with one of my friends Robin Mohr, to help lead a workshop on convergent Friends. This happened because of the articles both her and I wrote in 2006. As many of you know both Robin and I (along with many others), have been a part of this ‘convergent Friends’ conversation that is looking at the state and future of the Friends church in our contemporary culture.
In many ways I see the mission of both convergent Friends and FWCC as working well together and so it makes sense to encourage this kind of conversation there.
FWCC and Some of my ‘Firsts’
This opportunity marks a first for me in a few ways.
First, this is the first time I’ve been invited somewhere to help lead something closely related to the research I am doing in school. To be sure, the format of Friday’s workshop at FWCC is setup to be dialogical, but there will be four of us facilitating, and even though we’re not presenting papers or lecturing I anticipate many stimulating ideas to flow from this gathering.
Second, this has been a great opportunity to learn how to work together with a number of people from various backgrounds using the web as our primary means of conversation. Along with Robin and I, there will be two more people, both Quakers from Ohio Yearly Meeting. It has been great to work with Robin, Shawna and David over google docs, and brainstorming via email. Through this I have learned a lot about fleshing out ideas over long distance and have seen how some of the ways of relating that I spoke of the other day work themselves out in real-life. (You can download the handout we’ve created below).
Third, I am traveling to Rhode Island with my first ever traveling minute. A traveling minute is like a letter of introduction that one church or yearly meeting writes to another about the person they are sending to minister to them. This letter acts as a recommendation for me to those at FWCC, it’s a way to put me in their care, offer credibility and also send grace and peace.
The Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region, of which Emily and I are both members are the ones sending me with this letter of introduction. I hope in some way my going acts as a bridge between these two groups as well. I am pleased to be able to participate in an old Quaker practice in this way as it has been a great means of letting my yearly meeting know what I’ve been up too.
I land on Thursday evening, our workshop runs on Friday and I fly out Saturday evening and even though it’s just a quick stay it’s already had a profound affect upon my experience as a young friend and look forward to writing more about it later.
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