A few weeks ago, my seminary classmate Kenya asked if I would lead a workshop on prayer practices for the Episcopal Road Fellows, a group of young adults working for social justice in Atlanta. Kenya and I are excited about the workshop, which will involve prayers using the body and creativity, such as doodle prayer, coloring mandalas, walking a labyrinth, and a breathing prayer. I will also introduce the Quaker practice of holding people in the Light. My hope is that they will try out new practices they can incorporate into their daily life. Continue reading
by Lon Fendall
A major part of my ministry is to support the Friends theological colleges in Kenya and Rwanda. I just returned from another visit to Friends Theological College (FTC) in Kaimosi, Kenya where I have been an academic consultant for them in their accreditation process. The process is not fun’ it is a lot of work, especially when it is the first time around. My work is to clarify what needs to be done and when those tasks need to be completed. Then I will help with the final editing.
During this last stay, I began thinking about the parallels between accreditation in colleges and universities and the accountability each of us needs to take seriously in our personal spiritual development. Although there are 30 standards established by the Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA), I was drawn to the five under “administration.”
Imagine that we were being evaluated by a group of visiting angels and their only question was, “Are you meeting each of these five standards?” Continue reading
by Christine Betz Hall and Becky Wood
W hat Else is God Doing Among Us? —Chris
Not the people whose words flow easily and often in worship. Not the teachers who open hearts to new ideas and ways of living faithfully. Not the prophets who beckon us forward into scary places, and offer hopeful promise of God’s inbreaking newness. There are invisible ministers among us.
Nurturing Spirit-led service over months and years in the Way of the Spirit program, I’ve noticed that folks with quieter and more hidden leadings in ministry are at a disadvantage. The wider Western culture values the folks up front, the bold leaders and cutting edge social critics. Our communities of faith could miss the chance to celebrate what else God is doing among us. And faithful people moved toward secret prayer for others or spontaneous spiritual accompaniment may discount or dismiss how the Life and Power of the Holy is working through them.
Doing Something — Becky
This kind of ministry is like the body’s capillaries. Nobody talks about capillaries. But as a RN, I’m pretty aware of them. No one talks about capillaries succeeding or failing. They are the generally unspoken, invisible place of exchange in the body. It is a permeable place, small enough for tiny cooperations and transfers to take place. This is my image for the everyday goodnesses–the hidden ministries– the decisions that create space for the Holy to maneuver. Continue reading
A year ago I had the opportunity to see for myself the difference a Quaker witness can make in the West Bank of Palestine. My going itself was a surprise. Over the years as Di and I had opportunities to visit the “Holy Land,” I had been reluctant. Most official tours even when led by qualified guides did not seem designed to address the pain in the region. I feared being frustrated more than being inspired by visiting historical Biblical sites without serious reference to their contemporary relevance. I was, however, very interested in the Middle East and soon after we came to Newberg became a member of our Quaker Middle East Committee. Still I had little interest in visiting our ministry there. Besides I had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer with surgery scheduled in a few weeks. Continue reading
A year ago, it never occurred to me to go back to work—in the sense of being employed. I was happily retired after more than forty working years. I was free to set my own hours, to follow leadings, and to volunteer. I always felt free to stop doing those things at any time, because I was, well—free. But then I got The Call. Oh, my.
I had heard that, in seminary, you should never say” I’ll never be a pastor.” Because that is when God smiles, and before you know it… Well, I had said it, but that was more than 20 years ago, as I watched classmates prepare for Sunday Morning. But I ‘knew’ that whatever my religious service was going to be, pastoral ministry was not it.
And here I am, six months into my service as an interim pastor. I started off thinking that, with God’s help, I could do it. But now, when people ask me how it’s going, I say “I love it!” Continue reading
by Jan Wood
In the community of faith of my childhood, it was very clear that once a person committed his/her life to Christ she needed to be about the business of ministry. And since I made the decision to follow Jesus at the age of four, I’ve had a lot of time to observe stages of ministry in my own life.
Journey from fear to anticipation
The first model I saw and tried to imitate was the necessity of winning everyone for Christ. It necessitated that I tell folks about Jesus and encourage them to make a decision–right there and then. So by junior high school I was living a daily life of fear of what inappropriate conversation I would have to create that day to fulfill this great commandment. In my earnest youthful spirit, the ideas of what God was calling me to do got increasingly bizarre. While the church praised my zealousness, I am deeply grateful for God’s good sense that showed me this was not the way to be God’s person in the world. Continue reading
I was raised in a devout but non-Quaker Christian home and served for 33 years in Reformed Christian colleges and churches before retiring in Newberg, Oregon. What initially drew my wife and me to Newberg was the peace testimony of Quakers, having become a conscientious objector while serving as an Intelligence Officer in Viet Nam. I soon learned there was much more to the Quaker tradition, including a distinctive discernment process.
For years “discernment”—knowing what is the true or the right thing to do or believe —deeply frustrated George Fox. When the resurrected Jesus spoke to him, guidance came, followed by confidence and courage. From these 17th century roots has come an approach to decision-making both simple and profound, as well as controversial. And most importantly, it was never meant to be kept as an exclusive Quaker practice.
During our first years in Newberg I was able to attend two Quaker Discernment institutes. In each one week session there were folks from a variety of denominations and parts of the country. Somehow word had spread that there was something uniquely effective about how Quakers decide things. I came with some uncertainty. I had heard Quakers often held “clearness committees” to decide whether a particular couple should get married or make some other major decision. As a chronically analytical person sometimes paralyzed by decision making, I was intrigued. Continue reading
by Lorraine Watson
Pastor, North Seattle Friends Church
Iam drawn to group discernment as the Quaker way of finding way forward as a congregation. I firmly believe that we can discern the mind of God as we are gathered in community. I wrote a SEEDS article in April 2010 about discernment. (See https://www.goodnewsassoc.org/seeds-pdf/seeds10-04.pdf.) But doing group discernment is a learning process and through personal experience I’ve learned several lessons about discernment since then.
First, the gathered community is key to discerning God’s Leading. As a child I remember learning that Quakers don’t vote because the majority might be wrong. God can speak through even one dissenting voice so it behooves us to listen to everyone that is part of the community. Individually we hear imperfectly, but as we come together in community with a commitment to hear God’s Leading, we put our pieces together and continue to listen. What is God doing with this? How can these seemingly disconnected pieces fit together? Continue reading
THE GOOD NEWS ASSOCIATES’ COMMUNITY CELEBRATES NANCY McCORMICK, one of our former Associates, being inducted to the Outstanding Women of Clinton County, Ohio. During her time with Good News she was liberated to have a Ministry of Presence in the normal affairs of her community. She is a great example that ministry doesn’t have to “go somewhere else” to make transformational changes of the Kingdom. It is visible and powerful exactly where we are—and it is joy that the Clinton County community recognizes the gift God has given them. Her book, God Is All Around, is a funny, inspiring reflection of God’s love and presence permeating all of regular life. Copies of the book and CD are still available by contacting email@example.com.
Nancy McCormick, a Minister of Peace
Courtesy of the Wilmington, Ohio News Journal
Throughout Clinton County residents of all ages and from all walks of life have benefited from the selfless outreach of this gentle, soft-spoken woman, her influence extends far beyond this county — to many parts of the United States, to Cuba, to Belize, and to Africa.
Nancy Dunaway McCormick, an inductee of the Outstanding Women of Clinton County, Ohio, Class of 2016, is a talented musician, artist, teacher, and minister who continues to use her special gifts of listening and involvement to help others discover their own gifts, and to offer the encouragement that helps them be the best they can be.
Most of all, she embodies the best of the Quaker spirit — a friend to all and a minister of peace. Continue reading
Margaret Fraser is serving as Interim Pastoral Minister of West Richmond Friends Meeting, in Indiana. She reports on the first couple of weeks:
I t has been intense. On my first Sunday I gave the message on John 1: 1-19 and was welcomed with a pitch-in / potluck meal and cake. I have visited people, have attended several committee meetings, been to worship at Richmond Friends School and have made contact with the local ministerial association. I also want to participate in events at Bethany Seminary and Earlham School of Religion, so that people there get to know me, and to be able to invite them to meeting. Yesterday I was up at 5:00 a.m. to go to the hospital to sit with someone who had emergency surgery. In the evening I worked on my second message, based on John 2: 1-11. This sounds pretty typical for a pastoral minister – though not many are welcomed with two cakes, one decorated with the meeting’s mission statement.
So what is she doing up a ladder? There is nothing in the job description of an intentional interim minister that says she should be up a stepladder ripping wallpaper off the office walls, but the thing about having an interim pastor is that there is always the unexpected. I didn’t plan to do this; it was almost as if the wallpaper, up for at least 23 years and peeling at the edges, was asking to be removed. And as if the walls were asking to breathe and be beautiful. They will be, once they are painted Lemon Grass and Eider White. Some people who have come to the office have looked a little shocked to see black bags of stripped-off paper and bare plaster. Others, some of whom have stopped by to help, can see beyond that, to the beautiful space and comfortable chairs that will materialize, and the place of hospitality that will emerge. Continue reading