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What Does It Mean to Fast?

By Lon Fendal
Breaking Chains of Injustice, Isaiah 58:6
IT WAS ONE OF THOSE “by the way” expressions. It was only a few days before a group of college students would be departing for a ministry and learning trip to Kenya. The orientation and training meetings had covered the basics of preparing for the time in a culture much different from our own. The “by the way” preceded the student’s comment to me that he was well along toward completing a 40-day fast but had decided that he should probably end the fast before our departure. I thanked him for telling me about this and assured him he was making the right decision. Truthfully, I had no idea what a major period of fasting would do to a person’s body, especially while adjust to the many differences between life in Africa and the U.S. This experience had a reasonably happy outcome, if you don’t count that the student and I almost missed our outbound flight while his body staged a major revolt for his over-indulgence at an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Nairobi. Continue reading

Emily Provance Joins Good News Associates

Eden Grace, Emily Provance, Dorcas Otieno Nick, and John Grace Losike (left to right). Friends United Meeting delegates to the World Council of Churches’ 2018 Conference on World Mission, Arusha, Tanzania.

IT IS A JOY TO ANNOUNCE that Emily Provance has joined Good News Associates! As one of the Associates, she joins a team of collaborative ministry entrepreneurs. Each of us is following our call and leadings that have taken us out of institutional and financial security. Together we are a container for ministry support, necessary resources and creative synergy.

Emily joins us as a well-known Friend from 15th Street Meeting in New York City. She has many gifts and interests, but they coalesce around her passion to create the conditions among Friends that makes it possible for Quakers to be a to be a joyful and empowered people who are faithfully ministering to the world.

Here is one glimpse into the texture of her call. . . .

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Political Dealing: The Crisis of Evangelism

Mark LabbetonWhile it is not our usual SEEDS practice to reprint speeches or articles, we in the Good News Associates community have been in deep pain as we have watched many in the evangelical branch of our Christian family move away from the teachings and heart of Jesus. In a recent gathering at Wheaton College, Dr. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Seminary, delivered a powerful speech that is both thoughtful and encouraging for both those who would consider themselves Evangelical—and those who do not. It seems useful to share it with our SEEDS family.


This speech was given by Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton at a private meeting of evangelical leaders held at Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois, on April 16, 2018. The following has been edited from his notes for clarity and to give context to excerpts that have been disseminated elsewhere.


What draws us together here—and in hope—is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s great love and mercy poured out for the sake of the world is deeper, wider, stronger, and wiser than any possible threat or danger, competition or distraction. Our common confession that “Jesus is Lord” names the central testimony of our faith, even as it also names that to which no one and nothing else compares: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. Continue reading

Discipline

By Julie Peyton

Julie PeytonIN THE SPRING OF 1989 I JOINED A TEAM to run the Hood-to-Coast Relay Race. I was looking for some inspiration and motivation to get into shape and maybe lose some weight. Running wasn’t fun, I was always among the slowest of the slow in school, but it was aerobic and “good for you.” Continue reading

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