Returning to Woodbrooke

It’s been really nice to return to Woodbrooke Quaker Study Center this past week. I’ve been here now for about a week and a half and have just about that much time left in the UK before I make a return trip to Ohio for a little vacation with the family. The familiarity of returning here, having friends I looked forward to seeing, and having actual conferences, as well as studying to do has made it even more fun to be in Birmingham than last year, albeit also very busy. I’ve been spending my mornings getting up around 8am, eating breakfast, going to morning worship and then studying until about 4 or 5pm, doing dinner and then meeting up with friends.

The FAHE conference was loads of fun and I met all kinds of really great Quaker professors and ministers (who work at the colleges). The whole thing started last Thursday afternoon, and went up until lunch on Sunday, so it was a fairly good amount of time to hang out and get to know people. There were all kinds of sessions, ranging from talks on sustainability, to ideas about what makes up a Quaker and Mennonite university, Quaker epistemology, to historian and philosopher round tables. I was really pleased to see Jacci Welling and Malcolm Gold from my Alma Mater Malone College there too, giving Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region at least three representatives! Some of the highlights from the weekend were John Punshon’s plenary address on Friday evening, Deborah Shaw’s session on silent listening, and meeting so many great people. My workshop also went well, I had a lot of fun doing it. There was a nice turn out, and seemingly a lot of interest in the topic. I ran over a bit (hard to imagine), and people were even willing to stay longer for questions which was really great. I hope to take a chance to write more about what we actually talked about at some point, but needless to say I am glad I had the opportunity to do something like this.

This week, in between FAHE and next weekend’s Quaker historian conference, I am working on reading about Quaker missions work. I am preparing for a class I’m taking with, Mennonite mission historian, Wilbert Shenk who will be teaching at Fuller on “Anabaptist Perspectives on Missiology.” The second part of the directed reading for me will be the Quaker component to this, and I’m happy to be finding enough reading material to keep me busy. My goal at this point is to get a good bibliography of things that I can get ahold of later on, or if I need to skim things now. One thing I’ve learned already is that Pasadena actually has a pretty rich history of Quaker groups in it. One of the first Japanese Quaker missionaries, who came to California in the early 20th century to spread the Gospel, first ended up at Pasadena Friends Church preaching an inspired message that brought a number of people into the church. This may be something I’ll check out more when I get back into town, I’m sure the Orange Grove meetinghouse has some kind of written history in their library of all this stuff.

It’s been a fun trip, and I’ve had a great chance to see some of my friends as well but I look forward to getting back to being with Emily and L.

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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.