I am Heading (Providence) Rhode Island: FWCC Convergent Friends Conference

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.

Their Purpose:

The purpose of the Friends World Committee for Consultation is to encourage fellowship among all the branches of the Religious Society of Friends.

Their Mission:

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.

Resources:

Download the FWCC Convergent Friends Handout

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

7 thoughts on “I am Heading (Providence) Rhode Island: FWCC Convergent Friends Conference”

  1. Looks like you have you have the makings of a nice conference. “Convergent Friends***reclaiming the power of primitive Quakerism in a postmodren world”

    I have been listening to the conversations of Convergent Friends from a distance, for some time. Everytime I think I have an idea where the movement is going, it shoots out the other direction. I guess that is the way it is with a new idea forming roots, so please bare with my ignorance as I bumble along.

    Is the fire out of Quakerism, or dose it just need your blowing on the embers to bring it back to life?

    Did we kill Quakerism by negative definition (we don’t have a creed…we don’t practice communion..) instead to telling the wonderful side of continuing
    revalations, of daily communion with G-d.

    I first thought that Covergent Friends was just to find understanding among Quakers. I see from your handout that it has been expanded to the Emergent Church and limited to the Christian end of the unprogramed branch, as a Christian from that end I am not limited from your group, but the line is getting uncomfortably close.

    I just re-read the intro paragragh and think that maybe I got started off in the wrong direction. The “comming together of the many strands of Quakers…..the Christian end of unprogram branch…was not a statement of mission, but as statement of fact. I guess I must be sensitive.

    Have a great meeting. I wish you the best.

    GMC

  2. hey wess, providence is my old stomping ground. Zion where i did my undergrad is just around the corner. enjoy the cold. by the way I need your email for the paper on Friday. I had it but of course i lost it. thanks

    Luke

  3. Thanks for putting this opportunity for ministry and conversation ahead of your own ease, comfort and convenience. I pray your trip home went well.

    Your reminder of our responsibility to care for others was one of the things I most appreciated at the FWCC Convergent Friends program.

    The following may give some insight into how vital your ministry is to me.

    I’m teaching in an inner city high school, and some of the concerns of my home meeting are so far removed from the culture and daily experience of my students. Happily, my meeting is supportive, interested and prayerfully upholding this adventure. They see the Lord in it, appreciate the energy it takes, and are allowing my experience to broaden their own horizons.

    Fortunately, the Lord guides me, and has led me through my culture shock (coming most recently from rural Ohio), so that I feel better able to manage this opportunity.

    I am grateful to have been in the group conversing about Convergent Friends, and pray for (y)our continued blessing.

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