A nonprofit Christian ministry organization

Carried by a Concern

By Margaret Fraser

Columbus Foundation Replica of Nina and Pinta

On the left are the Columbus Foundation’s replicas of Niña and Pinta. Center right, in front of the artist, is the top of the tent where volunteers welcomed visitors to the ships. On the far right is the tent that was provided for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to educate visitors about the impact of Columbus’s voyages on the indigenous people.

 

You never know when you are going to be called to take a stand. Well, of course, if you have a longstanding concern, you can be pretty sure that sooner or later you are going to have to stand up and speak up. But in this case, I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even know how strongly I felt about the issue until it arrived – not exactly on my doorstep, but in a marina just a few blocks from my house. Continue reading

Standing Alongside Those Who Serve in Public Office

By Lon Fendall

United States Capitol BuildingAbout ten years ago I completed a book about the spiritual and political values of the public official on whose staff I had served for a number of years, Senator Mark Hatfield. The title of the book is, Stand Alone or Come Home. That unusual title came from the stern advice the Senator had received from his father when their family lived in Dallas, Oregon. The context of this advice was a discussion the two of them had when Hatfield was young and his father realized that some of his friends might try to get him to participate in inappropriate “fun” when they were bored. This probably referred to such things as throwing rocks at the windows of abandoned buildings. Just because it sounded cool. With the sternness of a railroad blacksmith, which was his father’s career, the elder Hatfield made it clear to his son that he only had two appropriate choices when his friends were urging him to take part in something that was clearly wrong and inappropriate: stand alone against what they were setting about to do in the hope that they wouldn’t go ahead, and if that failed to turn them away from their plans, he was to walk away and come home. Continue reading

Forms with Power: The Church Has Left the Building

By Jonathan Vogel-Borne

AVP Transforming Power Wheel

AVP Transforming Power Wheel

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”? I have often wondered what that means? Is it just more evidence of American society’s drift towards secularism? Or, is it an indicator of a common spiritual condition? Is there a ministry opportunity here?

This past November I attended the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) International Gathering in Kathmandu, Nepal. AVP was founded in 1975 by Quakers and inmates in Greenhaven prison, New York. The Quakers were attenders at Greenhaven’s prison-based Quaker meeting for worship. Looking for ways to mitigate the daily violence among the prison population, the inmates asked the Quakers to help them develop a training program to address conflict situations without resort to violence. Continue reading

On Bended Knee

By Jan Wood

Nativity SceneI love the depictions of the nativity scene throughout the centuries. I can sit with a painting and be drawn into the emotions of that first revelation that God was doing something special. I feel my body bending near and am aware that the posture of Christmas is to be on bended knee.

We Americans have cultivated and admire the postures of standing tall and erect, of striding through life humbled by nothing, stiff-necked and proud. Our broken human nature always tempts us to think we are our own god. That we are the masters of our fate. That we can be anything we want if we try hard enough. Americans have cultivated the myth of being #1 like a religious conviction. We can do no wrong. We have nothing to learn from other nations or peoples. What we do and think is automatically right and the best. We have honed our narcissistic arrogance like a finely tuned instrument. We bow to no one. We even expect God to bless our greatness. Continue reading

Way of the Spirit: Fuel for Faith in Action

By Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit

Feet on RockSpiritual retreats are powerful opportunities to cultivate our best intentions for a life of faith, and help to grow the kind of courage needed to act as led by the Spirit.

Strengthen our best intentions
Retreats are all about intention—where you are aiming, or your sense of purpose. To be clear, intentions are not the same as New Years resolutions. Most of those well-meant goals fade after six weeks or so of challenges and weakening willpower. Intentions do something different inside us. They orient us through trial and error, both success and failure. They help convert an inner sense of Divine guidance into determined action. Continue reading

Dreams and the Prophetic Life

Jacob Wrestling with an AngelDreams have often been important to my spiritual life, giving me strong images that allow me to speak of the work of God in my life. I was glad to learn that there are many reports of dreams or visions in the journals of Friends who traveled in the ministry. Such prominent friends as Mary Penington and John Woolman reported on dreams/visions in their memoirs, rarely distinguishing between the two and not always commenting on the meanings they see. In the earliest years, visions and dreams were seen as prophetic, carrying weight similar to the biblical prophets. That understanding faded as the century progressed, but was never totally lost at least into the 19th century. Continue reading

Rhythms of Silence in Group Discernment

One of the gifts of Quakers to the wider Christian community is the understanding that God is present and active in the midst of human affairs. In simple terms God, who loves us, delights to partner with each of us in all facets of our lives.

This is not a static relationship with God being in control and our job being to find the right path so everything works out all right. Rather it is an amazing dynamic relationship with God who journeys with us while honoring our free will and unique individuality. This is God who is fully aware of our glory and our brokenness; who is not flummoxed when we blow it; who is honored by our courageous trust to be fully human. Continue reading

Musing on Music

Hymn BooksWhen I lived near Media, Pennsylvania, I joined a Gospel choir. We practiced for several weeks, did a concert in a local church, and then dissolved until the next year. It was joyful and packed full of praise. Gospel is a distinctive genre of music — sung unaccompanied, with a call and response style, and hand clapping the rhythm.

I was energized by the experience of getting to know people from other faith communities, and by learning a new way to make music. But I was also stressed. I had to unlearn so much that my body knew: a different rhythm and downbeat, and different harmonies. Continue reading

Knowing Our Own Demons

by Marge Abbott

Dark side of the moon“Friends, whatever you are addicted to, the Tempter will come in that thing. When he can trouble you, then he gets advantage over you, and then you are gone. Stand still in that which is pure, after you see yourselves; and then mercy comes in. After you see your thoughts, and the temptations, do not think, but submit. Then the Power comes. Stand still in that which shows and discovers; and there does strength immediately come. Stand still in the light, and submit to it, and the other will be hushed and gone. Then contentment comes. When temptations and troubles appear, sink down in that which is pure, and all will be hushed and will fly away. Your strength is to stand still, after you see yourselves. Continue reading

To Travel in Ministry

Our First Experience in Traveling in Ministry

Al and Sheri Hendrix

Some time ago my wife and I were led to begin traveling among other congregations (Quakers use the term Meeting rather than congregation) within our denomination. This is certainly not a new idea among Quakers. Visiting ministers with a variety of messages have been traveling from Meeting to Meeting since the very beginning, delivering their intended messages, sharing news, doing church business, hosting training opportunities, and in general carrying on the business necessary to grow and maintain the health and connections that sustain the various parts of our faith.

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