By Lon Fendal
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.
By Lon Fendal
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. . . .
While 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.Read More
By Julie Peyton
IN 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.”Read More
By Margaret Fraser
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.Read More
By Lon Fendall
About 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.Read More
By Jonathan Vogel-Borne
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.Read More
By Jan Wood
I 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.Read More
By Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit
Spiritual 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.
Dreams 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.Read More
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.Read More
When 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.Read More
by Marge Abbott
"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.Read More
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.Read More
God loves--and yearns for restoration--for our broken world. But God is a realist. God is not caught by surprise when people, relationships, cultures and nations turn their backs on their Divine Purpose and become misshapen. They become a sad shadow of what they could be. At best this estrangement from one's purpose is a painful loss; at worst it becomes diabolically destructive.
Many of us are finding ourselves bewildered and disoriented in these present times. Things are becoming grotesquely misarranged. Basic building blocks of commonality are being destroyed with intentionality. Logic and facts are no longer the common currency of our working together. Compassion and goodness are considered weak and unnecessary. Truth is totally irrelevant. Might makes right. Creating fear is both a method and a joy. Wealth is the new form of godliness.Read More
As I've been working on my latest book which considers the ways in which Friends experience and talk about prophetic ministry today, numerous Friends have shared their perspectives. Esther Mombo of Kenya and the late Moses Bigirimana of Burundi both attended the 2012 World Conference of Friends in Kenya where I had the opportunity to speak at length about the nature of prophetic ministry. Moses, unfortunately, died in a motorcycle crash a few months later. What follows is a taste of these two extended conversations.
To Be Humble Enough to Step Down
Esther Mombo, of Highlands Yearly Meeting, has spoken often with a strong clear prophetic voice and was the main plenary speaker at the World Conference representing African Friends. When asked about the nature of prophetic ministry, she emphasized the importance of being willing to test a call to ministry or leadership on an ongoing basis. We each must be aware of when it is appropriate say, “no, it is not from God for me to do this.” She went on to expand on this:Read More
by Lon Fendall
The first time I heard this phrase was in a Good News Associates meeting recently. The GNA director, Jan Wood, used the phrase in response to my report about being involved with some projects in rural Haiti. Jan said something to the effect of, “Whatever you help with in Haiti, make sure it results in “assertive and visible goodness.” I said I agreed with that goal, but then later wondered if I even understood what the phrase meant in that context.
The next day while the GNA Associates were talking about something entirely different, Jan said we needed to be sure we as followers of Christ set our eyes on assertive and visible goodness. Again, that seemed like a good outcome, but I still wondered what Jan might have meant by it. So I asked her later if she had gotten the phrase from someone else or if she coined it herself. It was the latter, she said. She is a person who prays a lot and in the process hears a lot back from God, so I set about to think about the phrase as an important outcome of a proposed project in Southern Haiti.Read More
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.Read More