Wess with Ryan Bolger and Wilbert Shenk

Year in Review – 2014

It’s the end of the year and whether you’ve been reading Gathering In Light for the 10 years it has been around or you are a new reader, this has been quite a year for all kinds of reasons.

In comparison to past years, I have been pretty quiet here. I’m at 1,435 posts and shared 41 posts through the year. The drop in posting was a combination of not having a lot of time or energy for blogging and not knowing exactly what was “safe” to share given a lot of the challenges I’ve been involved with this past year.

Here are some of the big events from the past year:

Graduated from Fuller Seminary with PhD

I14442942651_6287b45fb8_z started my doctoral program at in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in the fall of 2006. Ryan Bolger and Wilbert Shenk were my mentors (pictured above in a “selfie” with me). In 2009, we moved to Camas, WA where I began working as a pastor full-time which surely slowed my progress down in many ways, but also really added to the depth of praxis that contained within my dissertation.

It was with great joy that I completed that process this year. So we packed up our van and drove to Southern California after being gone for 5 years so I could participate in graduation and see some friends. The road trip was a lot of fun and it was great to have Emily’s parents and my mom come out for graduation as well.

And then this arrived. Later this year my book will be published subscribe to this blog or track this page here if you want future updates on that!

Teaching and Then Losing My Job At George Fox Seminary

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For the past three years I have taught a class called “Culture and Systems Change” at George Fox Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I have loved teaching the class and really enjoyed the students there and was slatted to teach the class again in the Winter of 2015. But then I was let go from the assignment at the school after I spoke up publicly in support of a transgender student attending George Fox University. No doubt, my interview with the local NPR station, OPB, stoked the fire further. I didn’t write about all of that here at the time – though looking back I wish I had. I guess one of the challenges this year has been learning where being a local minister and a public minister overlap and where they with one another. My blog seems to lie right at the intersection of both of these.

You can read more about the situation on the OneGeorgeFox Facebook page where my story was posted in October.

This event has incredibly impacted my in many ways I couldn’t have foreseen. From bringing me into closer contact with a number of folks in the LGBTQ community, to impacting a number of my personal relationships in both positive and negative ways. I am glad that I spoke up and will continue to work in whatever ways I can to help support those working for more equity within our faith communities.

I Visited to Philadelphia To Speak at Haverford and AFSC

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In late winter I had the opportunity to travel to Philly and preach at the American Friends Service Committee’s corporate gathering in this place. Here is the message I gave there: Zacchaeus, angelic troublemakers and hearts broken open.

I also got the chance to speak at Haverford College, teaching a class and offering a public lecture on “Remixing Quakerism,” while standing under a photo of the late Quaker philosopher Rufus Jones (above).

Stan’s Death

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My dear friend and mentor, Stan Thornburg passed away in the spring. It was (and still is) a heart-wrenching loss. We feel the weight of this loss and the impact still today. Stan was a great friend and leader for Quakers who were trying to bring about change within our tradition. Here is an article I wrote in tribute to him, “Losing an Angelic Troublemaker.”

If you’re interested, you can listen to three of his sermons that he preached at our meeting.

Teaching at ESR

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I also taught at the Quaker seminary, Earlham School of Religion. This gave me the opportunity to develop a second course which I am still very excited about, “Poverty, Empire and the Bible.” This August I stayed in Richmond, IN for two weeks and taught the class to 10 grad students and loved every minute of it.

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Malone Magazine

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Finally, I was honored to be on the cover “The Malone Magazine.” My friend, Joel Bock shot some really great photos for the issue. The interview is about the work we’ve been doing at Camas Friends to address poverty in our community.

So, I’d say all in all, I’m grateful for the year and the many challenges, surprises and opportunities that took place. There are plenty of things I haven’t mentioned here and still need to be written about. But I do know that I learned way more this year than I could ever begin to summarize.


Edited January 6, 6:56am

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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.

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