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. . . .
MY OWN STORY STARTS IN A FAITH TRADITION that I knew, as a child, was not my own. So I went looking for my people. I knew I would find them when I heard them say, “God talks to everybody,” and in my second worship with Friends, I heard a quote from George Fox—“there is that of God in everyone.” That’s how I knew I was home.
In the book of Acts, there’s a story about Paul preaching for so long that this kid Eutychus fell asleep and tumbled out the window. He died. Lucky for him, there was an apostle around to bring him back to life—but that doesn’t always happen today.
I try really hard not to let Friends fall out of windows. There’s a difference between falling out the window and walking out the front door. When somebody walks out, that’s sad, but it’s also a conscious choice, and it might be right for them. When they fall out, it’s a sign that the rest of us aren’t paying attention.
Sometimes, I notice a group of people wavering on the windowsill, so I point to them and say, “Look, look, we’re losing somebody!” This is where my work on multiage inclusion comes in, for example—helping Friends study the patterns of behavior that often make it harder for young people to feel fully included in our communities.
Other times, I see people tumbling out before they’ve made it in. That work has lent itself to speaking on outreach in various ways—outreach as mission, digital outreach, and outreach from the seeker’s perspective.
Sometimes, Friends come to me and say, “People are plummeting out the windows, and we don’t know what to do!” And because my work is so transient—because I work with Friends World Committee for Consultation and Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting and the World Council of Churches and multiple yearly meetings and other non-institutional ministries—I can often say, “You know, I know a group of Quakers in Virginia (or the Netherlands, or Belize) who’ve had a problem just like the one you’re describing. Let me tell you a story about what they’ve done. And let me tell you what God is now doing among them!”
Mostly, though, I search for Life, for adventures just beginning, for that irrepressible Spirit-led energy that makes us want to burst out of our chairs, and then I hold it up and support it however I can—whether by speaking or writing or storytelling or facilitating workshops or Facebooking or Instagraming or breaking it down into a spreadsheet so that we can clearly see what’s happening and figure out what’s next.
“What’s next.” For me—right now—that’s Good News Associates. In some ways, finding GNA was a lot like finding the Religious Society of Friends. I knew Quakers were my home when they said “that of God in everyone,” and I knew GNA was for me when I discovered fellow travelers in “non-institutional ministries.” I recognized myself in that—and finding my people is such a relief!
I cannot wait to meet you all.
I have stories to share.