The program for this year’s FGC Gathering of Friends went online at midnight yesterday – I stayed up late to flip the switches to make it live right as Third Month started – right on schedule. By 12:10am EST four visitors had already come to the site! There’s a lot of interest in the Gathering, the first one on the West Coast.
Students of late-20th Century Quaker history can see the progression of Friends General Conference from a very Philadelphia-centric, provincial body that had its annual gathering at a South Jersey beach town to one that really does try to serve Friends across the country. There’s losses in the changes (alumni of the Cape May Gatherings all speak of them with misty eyes) but overall it’s been a needed shift in focus. In recent years, a disproportionate number of Gathering workshop leaders have come from the “independent” unaffiliated yearly meetings of the West. It’s nice.
Joe G has been sending me emails about his selection process (it’s almost real-time as he weighs each one!). It’s helpful as it saves me the trouble of sorting through them. It’s usually tough to find a workshop I want to take. A lot of Friends I really respect have told me they’ve stopped going to the Gathering after awhile because it just doesn’t feed them.
It’s a shame when these Friends stop coming. The Gathering is one of the most exciting annual coming-together of Quakers in North America. It’s very important for new and/or isolated Friends and it helps pull all its attenders into a wider Fellowship. Intervisitation has always been one of the most important tools for knitting together Friends and the Gathering has been filling much of that need for liberal Friends for the last hundred years.
I’ve been having this sense that Gathering needs something more. I don’t know what that something is, only that I long to connect more with other Friends. My best conversations have invariably taken place when I stopped to talk with someone while running across campus late to some event. These Opportunities have been precious but they’re always so frantic. The Traveling Ministries Program often has a wonderful evening interest group but by the time we’ve gone around sharing our names, stories and conditions, it’s time to break. I’m not looking for a new program (don’t worry Liz P!, wait it’s not you who has to worry!), just a way to have more conversations with the QuakerQuaker Convergent Friends – which in this context I think boils down to those with something of a call to ministry and an interest in Quaker vision & renewal. Let’s all find a way of connecting more this year, yes?
_For those interested I’ve signed up for these workshops: “Blessed Community in James’ Epistle”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work14.php (led by “Max Hansen”:http://alphamind.maxhansen.net/ of “Berkeley Friends Church”:http://www.berkeleyfriendschurch.org/), “Deepening the Silence, Inviting Vital Ministry”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work20.php (20), and “Finding Ourselves in the Bible”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work22.php (22)._
h4. Related Entries Elsewhere: