This fall Zachary Moon and I put together a workshop proposal for the 2005 Gathering, which has been approved: “Strangers to the Covenant” is the title and here’s the short description:
This is for young Friends who want to break into the power of Quakerism: it’s the stuff you didn’t get in First Day School. We’ll connect with historical Quakers whose powerful ministry came in their teens and twenties and we’ll look at how Friends wove God, covenants and gospel order together to build a movement that rocked the world. We’ll mine Quaker history to reclaim the power of our tradition, to explore the living power of the testimonies and our witness in the world.
This was very much an “as way opens” process. At the 2004 Gathering I felt sad that there weren’t more workshops that I’d like to attend. And obviously I have a long-standing concern to support younger Friends. But I wasn’t sure if I had the skills to handle this. One piece of discernment was leading the Quakerism 101 class at Medford Meeting: I knew I would have most of the sessions under my belt by the time the workshop submission deadline came around and I hoped I’d have a feel whether I actually like leading workshops!
The Medford experience was surprisingly good, even on weeks where I could have been better prepared. I learned a lot and gained confidence in “teaching” Quakerism to Medford’s class of very weighty, experienced Friends.
Still, the Gathering workshop submission deadline was looming and I had no specific topic in mind. Julie, my wife, was getting a little suspicious whether the workshop would happen or not. I knew that the most important thing was attracting the right mix of eager, curious participants and that for me the topic was almost secondary. Still: a focus and topic is important, yes.
The week before the deadline, I attended the FGC Central Committee meeting in New Windsor, Maryland, as a staffperson. In a lunchtime discussion I learned that my friend Zachary Moon was also considering leading his first workshop. As soon as we sat down and started talking it seemed like the obvious thing to do. The discernment to co-lead this took two a half seconds or so, but of course this quick process was built on the thought, prayer and discernment both of us had already been giving the matter. I’ve found that when I’ve laid the groundwork for a decision, things can often move suprisingly quickly.
The workshop has developed differently than I suspected. The most signicant piece is its age limitation: it’s for high school and adult young Friends only, meaning it’s participation is limited to 15 to 35 years olds. I’ve always been a little worried about constructing youth ghettos but I think it will work in this case. I apologize in advance to those Quaker Ranter readers who might like to take it but can’t because of age (I’m too old myself, after all!). There will be many other chances to spend time at Gathering and Zachary and I are only a part of a shift that’s been happening at the FGC Gathering over the last few years.