Nursery of Truth: A New Convergent Friends Project

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For almost a year now Quakers from 8-10 different meetings in the Northwest have been getting together once a month for a “convergent worship gathering.” We move around to different meetinghouses and enjoy a time of bible reading, silence and worship sharing. Programmed and unprogrammed Friends alike enjoy the space as an opportunity to build friendships, experiment in form and worship together.

Out of this grew the leading to build on the momentum from this group and other convergent Friends work and so Peggy Parsons (Freedom Friends Church), Kathy Hyzy (Multnomah Monthly Meeing), and myself are organizing a convergent Friends weekend gathering this coming January 18-20, 2013 called the Nursery of Truth.

The idea for the “Nursery of Truth” comes from early Quaker history. Friends traveling from Britain to the colonies often stopped off in Barbadoes to prepare themselves before heading into America. It was a training ground, a distributing point. Here is a brief mention of it by Quaker historian Elbert Russell wrote about it:

“Barbados Island was the distributing point for most Friends coming to America. A considerable Quaker community grew up there soon after 1656. In 1661 George Rofe calls it “the nursery of Truth.” Besse gives the names of 260 Barbados Friends who suffered persecution. As early as 1657 George Fox wrote a letter to them in which he expressed the first Quaker concern about Negro Slaves…” (Russell 1979: 39).

Peggy, Kathy and I wanted to create a mini-Nursery of Truth for Friends in these parts. A place where we can gather to learn some nuts and bolts of what it means to be Quakers in our context today. A place where we can share stories, dialogue and learn from one another, and work on having difficult conversations.

But this is not a gathering like other Quaker gatherings.

It’s not for the professional Quakers.
You don’t have to know anything about being a Quaker to come, but you should come hungry to learn and discuss.
The event is free.
There will be childcare so families can come and participate.
It’s on a long weekend so working people can have the time to join in without having to take vacation.
The PC police will not be there.
We are inviting people you don’t typically see at these events.
Our main speaker is a Quaker military chaplain.
We are going to have a local rock band.
We are hoping to take the convergent Friends conversation to the next level by bringing it to people who can take it back to their meetings.
Motorcycles are welcome.
Children are welcome.
So is everyone else.
We are going to learn how to read the bible as Friends.
We are going to work on learning how to tell our stories of faith with courage and friendliness.
We are going to work on having difficult conversations with people who believe differently than us.
It’s open-source, which means if you like what we’re doing you’re welcome to take it and replicated it, remix it, or do whatever you’d like in your own area.

If this interests you, check out Nursery of Truth.

Published by

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.

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