Let’s Discover the Gospel Together

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This is my gospel-preaching face

Dear Friends,

My journey into the wacky world of Quakerism began in Barnesville, Ohio. At that point in my life, the writings of George Fox, Margaret Fell, and Isaac Penington often played a role in my morning devotions, but my interaction with Quakers was, to say the least, limited. I came to the Friends of Jesus Fellowship (FoJ) gathering in Barnesville having little idea on what to expect and never having met the other participants, but I believed that there was something special about this group’s vision. I read their Advices and Queries a year or so prior to this gathering, and I remember being pleasantly surprised by how their words describing life in the Church and the gospel of Christ deeply resonated with me.

This FoJ gathering played a major role in my own participation in the Religious Society of Friends. I found something in the silent worship that I barely encountered before: a space to wrestle God and a way to dive into and draw from the wells of Christ’s Spirit within me. I realized I was hungry for that silence. Starving, even.

It was also the first time in a long while where I felt at ease in a spiritual community. My then-boyfriend came along, and I remember not being used to having my gay relationship so naturally affirmed and blessed by a Christian community. It was a bit disorienting, but so healing for my soul. Also, most of the participants had not been involved in the Charismatic Church or no experience with charismatic phenomena, yet I found my perspective as a tongue-talking, miracle-believing charismatic was affirmed and honored. I had never met these people before, yet my gifts were so welcomed. I was welcomed.

Since getting involved with the FoJ, I have gotten more and more involved in the wider Society of Friends. I’ve found myself caring for our very diverse and very fragmented communion. I have been a regular attender at both Liberal and Evangelical Friends meetings, served a year with the Quaker Voluntary Service, worked (and still work) at the Friends World Committee for Consultation – Section of the Americas, and have had several opportunities to meet and worship with Friends from all over the world and from every branch. I’ve experienced the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in diverse ways among the different flavors of Friends, but still, I find something very uniquely rich and nurturing at the FoJ gatherings.

Now, I do not mean to sell another brand of Quakerism, nor am I claiming that the Friends of Jesus Fellowship is superior to other Quaker fellowships. What I am saying is that where I personally gain the most vision, experience Quakerism most fully, and feel the most spiritually at-home, has been at the FoJ gatherings… and well, I believe our gatherings have something to offer every disciple of Christ, and even every seeker. At the FoJ gatherings, I’ve found a space to communally reflect on the radical implications of the gospel, I’ve found a community offering mutual support in one-another’s ministries and sojourning, and I have seen what leaning on the Holy Spirit looks like, in the testimonies of Friends and in the Spirit-orchestrated worship. More than anything, I’ve been thankful to be so welcomed to dream and discover the gospel alongside some very honest, beautiful, and real people. From my experience, I’ve experienced a genuineness and authenticity at these gatherings that is rare in the world.

I do not see FoJ enaging in sheep-stealing anytime soon, as we do not aspire to grow into another denomination or even strictly a church-planting network, but I do see the gifts that FoJ has to offer the Society of Friends and the wider Church. For those who hunger for a contemplative yet embodied worship, who need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit, and need to hear the gospel again, especially in a time where good news is hard to find, I encourage you to consider coming to our fall gathering in Silver Spring, Maryland, this upcoming October 7th-10th.

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For more information on this upcoming gathering, check out this post by Micah Bales. You can buy a ticket for the gathering here.

I hope and pray you’ll consider worshiping with us as we learn what it means to confess Jesus in a chaotic world.

In friendship,

Hye Sung

 

White “Appropriateness” Is Anti-Gospel

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A man getting tackled by the Holy Ghost, cause… why not?

I say all of this is as one who most often participates in Liberal Quaker circles and one who is technically still a member of a wealthier Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) congregation: There is something deeply wrong about the way the white mainline churches function.

I have struggled to put my finger on why exactly I feel so uncomfortable in the liberal mainline world. Of course, this is a complicated, multi-faceted issue and like the rest of the Christian traditions, this part of the Church is not immune to missing out some element of Christ’s Gospel. But I’ve come to realize that my main thing with bigger mainline churches, especially wealthier ones, is the white appropriateness that is so vital to its culture.

I understand the need for boundaries and having order, and the needs for administration and elders in the community to keep the community living out the good news. This need to be “appropriate” and “proper” or even “professional”, though, can be one of the most anti-gospel notions and I think is a huge reason why such churches are bound to die. People’s sloppiness and ultimately, their humanity, their holy foolishness, is rejected. And in that, the gospel of Jesus Christ is rejected.

The Charismatic World has a ton of their own issues, especially in its American form. I do have to commend this part of the Church, though, for approaching relationships, fellowship, worship, and ministry with such a incarnational lens. In these spaces, you will see people rolling on the floor, crying out to God, laughing in the Spirit, and being so… human. I remember one of the first times I entered a charismatic meeting, I was put off by this man with pink-paper dangling off his head, hopping and giggling in the front of the sanctuary, and now I realize I was being… an asshole. This was a child of God, reflecting their Creator’s image in a way that came off as foolish, and in that were being so true to their God-molded nature. Charismaticism, in my experience, is more likely to embrace the eccentric, the broken, and encourage one to experience God as truly as they can.

Meanwhile, so much of the mainline world is so often skeptical of the emotional, of the sentimental, and of anything considered strange or inappropriate. The mainline world tends to quietly disapprove and judge all that they do not understand and lacks… whiteness. We may call it professionalism, or appropriateness, but so often we’re saying “you do not fit the standards of my class and race” when we hold too tightly to such principles.

So much of the Liberal Church in America is fundamentally classist and racist. We desperately need to rebuke the broken ways of the Church, for their sake and the sake of those who are never given the chance to enter the life of the Church because they knew they were not fully embraced as they were. And why were they unable to experience the Church’s embrace? For they did not know the unspoken rules of the wealthy white folks.

It is hard to talk about all of this without diving into how disgusting the corporate structure is in American churches (mainline, Evangelical, and charismatic), and how so much of our church culture reeks of capitalism and the ways of the world. In my opinion, these things are intimately tied together. But what bothers me most deeply is how so many try to reconcile the way of Christ with the Way of white upper-middle class Americans. Simply put, it is impossible. These things do not work together. The attempt itself is White Supremacy.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe.”

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15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
Mark 15:15-20

As a charismatic believer, I have often seen these verses used to defend the belief that tongues is for all believers and that healing is the desire of God. These verses, though, are not in the earliest of manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) and most bibles make note this fact. For a long time, I did not believe these verses could be used at all to defend this view and even railed against those who used in this in their own apologetics on the charismatic gifts. Though I still agree (admittedly, with some hesitance) with most scholars that these verses were not likely penned by Mark, I still value these verses and recognize that they could hold some significance for Christians today. There is the possibility that they may have ended up in the manuscripts because of either oral tradition or the notes of a scribe. Nevertheless, the fact that they exist means something. I think the Church needs to open to the possibility that their existence indicates that a supernatural culture, one full of the miraculous and providential work of the Spirit, was the norm of the early church.

Post-Constantine Christianity (note: perhaps a problematic term, but a historical shift is undeniable, and Constantine was definitely helpful in that) may have ushered in a spiritual drought as Christianity lost its counter-cultural, subversive nature. The Church became a pillar of the Empire, and though the good news of Jesus continued to nurture and instruct thousands of souls in the ways of righteousness, the political implications of this good news was much-rejected, and the spiritual power of the Church seemed to have been drained as a result. It did not help that the Galatian heresy of mixing Christ’s grace with the Law seemed to also consume the formal doctrine of the Church, and that the role of prophets and prophecy (which continued into the early church, as evidenced by the Didache) vanished as Ignatius instructed the Church to “do nothing without the bishops,” pushing the gift of prophecy to lose its egalitarian nature as it became a gift for bishops alone. (Read “The Decline of Ecstatic Prophecy in the Early Church” by James L. Ash, Jr. for more on this.)

Augustine developed a form of cessationism during this time, arguably because of the lack of charismatic activity in the Church. This experience was quite common throughout the Church of the time. Before this period, the approach to the miraculous was much more earnest and frequent among Christians. In the second century, both Justin Martyr and Irenaeus of Lyon spoke of the charismatic gifts, discussing prophetic ministry, exorcisms, and even the raising of the dead. The practice of jubilation, which seems to be practice of singing in tongues, was even a part of the liturgy, and continued even into the ninth century. By the end of Augustine’s life, he had changed his view as he witnessed a revival of healing, but his cessationism continues to influence many Christians.

All this to say that these extra verses in Mark seem to reflect the early church’s practice of the miraculous.

  1. In my name they will drive out demons (a practice described by Ireneaus of Lyon, Origen of Alexandria, Lactantius, Tertullian, among church fathers and early Christians)
  2. …they will speak in new tongues (note: not other tongues but new tongues, which could likely include the practice of “jubilation” as described by Augustine and the mystics)
  3.  …they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all  (not a practice to reproduce, as some fundamentalists do, but a promise of protection; Paul experiences this in Acts 28:3 when bit by a snake)
  4. …they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well (reveals the authority to heal among believers and is talked about by a number of early Christians, including by Augustine in the City of God)

If this Spirit-driven culture of the Church was the norm for early Christians, and they regularly exercised the charismatic gifts and miracles, then I cannot see why it shouldn’t be the norm for the believer and Church today. Throughout Church history, we have seen this apostolic and prophetic power restored and tapped into time after time, among several Anabaptist and Huguenot groups, throughout Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement, as well as the Quakers, especially the first generation of Friends, who regularly saw such manifestations occur.

As Christendom as we know it crumbles before our eyes, the heresies of legalism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, leader-centered/hierarchical models of worship, violence, imperalism, and all our limiting theologies on the work of Christ and the Spirit, are losing their hold on God’s people. I pray that as we move forward in the revelation of Christ, in the pursuit of God’s Kingdom, we would seek the Spirit’s anointing and grow in an imaginative, dynamic faith that welcomes the impossible.

Speaking to my Quaker sisters and brothers, we must not forget that the first generation of Friends were yielded disciples of Jesus Christ. They were truly Pentecostal; united in the experience and life found in the Spirit of Christ. Their actions were often subversive to both the Church and State, and their ministries and fellowship were marked by the life-changing power of the Spirit. They saw miracles daily, just like the Church after Pentecost, and they boldly lived out the political implications of the gospel. All of this was the result of following and submitting to the lead of the Holy Spirit. We have a glorious inheritance in our spiritual lineage, and I am confident that as we discover and yield to the Spirit that sparked our movement, we can walk in the power of early Friends and the apostles, and see the greater things that Christ promised to us (John 14:12).

 

Paul’s Encouragement to Heretical Nymphomaniacs

On my post “What to do with Tradition?”, I briefly mentioned the Church in Corinth and how kindly Paul treated them, in comparison to the Church of Galatia, who he rebuked and called “fools”. I proposed that this was because the mixing of grace with the law that he noticed among Galatian Christians was deeply offensive to him and was completely contrary to the message of the Cross he preached.

I have been thinking about the grace and love he showed the Corinthians a lot recently and what that means for leaders of Christian communities.

Corinth was pretty excessive when it came to sinning, and they were a diverse bunch with their sins of choice. Paul makes it clear that the Church in Corinth was:

  • sectarian, divided, and sporting early ‘denominationalism’ (1 Cor. 1:10-17, 3:1-23, 6:1-11),
  • prone to heresy and may have flirted with some form of gnosticism or at least was mildly syncretistic (13:1, 15:29),
  • packed with sin, most infamously sexual sin (5:1-13, 7:1-2, 10:14, 20),
  • and lacked much spiritual discernment and misused the gifts of the Spirit (14:20-32, 40),

Yet Paul was somehow incredibly graceful, loving, and was still confident that these misguided Corinthians were children of God.

Alessandro Turchi (L'Orbetto) - "Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery"

Alessandro Turchi (L’Orbetto) – “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery”

He was still willing to recognize how God was moving among the Corinthians and grateful for the gifts of the Spirit that were manifesting in their meetings (1:4-9).
He was still willing to call them his brothers and sisters and even friends, despite their obvious sins and errors (1:10, 10:14).
He was still willing to bless them with ‘grace and peace’ (1:3).
He was still willing to encourage them, even admitting that they lacked no spiritual gifts and going as far as pushing them to continue to pursue these gifts, despite their obvious mishandling of them (1:7, 13:31, 14:1).
He was still willing to exercise his apostleship over them and thoroughly teach and correct them, even if much of the Church would have seen them as a hopeless case of nymphomaniacal heretics.

Paul’s approach to rebuking the sins of the Corinthians was not simply pointing out their wrongs. His correction was rooted in and led by love, and his words were not used to condemn the Corinthians, but to encourage them to move forward. I wonder how often Paul’s methods that reflect the restorative nature of the gospel are implemented in today’s churches and faith communities?

Queries:
  • Do we truly strive to value that of God in everyone, even those whose beliefs are unorthodox or whose actions are unhealthy and sinful?
  • Do we as Christians invest into others because they’re doing a “good job” or because we see God in and among them?
  • Are we able to see what God is doing in our lives despite and even through our own messes?

What is my Quakerism?

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On the campus of Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio

As I have found myself drawn to Quakerism, it does not feel like I am discovering something new. In fact, I feel like I am rediscovering the impulses I had as a new believer in Christ, as well as seeing those subtle, quiet revelations I have gained over the years come together. I have often said that my charismatic convictions have led me to Quakerism, and I mean it when I say that. The implications of the Pentecost, in how it revealed the egalitarian nature of the Church and the accessibility of God’s power and presence, are radical and I find that Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Quakerism have understood this to various degrees. The past few years, as I have been confronted by the revelation that Jesus defines God, and have had my views on both the Scriptures and sacraments change a bit, I have discovered that these sorts of things have been addressed and realized in Quakerism for quite some time.

I do not feel that the Quaker Way is the ultimate way, especially since that includes such a broad world of individual spiritualities and philosophies, but I have grown a lot in discovering Quakerism throughout its branches. Coming to know Quaker history and theology has in many ways transformed how I think, pray, and love God and man. I’ve come to see both Christ and his reign of peace more clearly, and come to value the diverse ways we can experience God, especially in waiting and in silence. My approach to revelations and the prophetic ministry have surely been refined and has even changed a bit, but honestly, I feel like the charismatic spirituality I fell in love with is coming to life in deeper and more profound ways. The past year, as I have been exploring Quakerism, and as I have become a part of the Quaker Voluntary Service, I have come to see myself come into my own as a Quaker. I am nowhere near having all the answers, but I have some ideas so far.

So what is my Quakerism?

  • First of all, my Quakerism is Christian. It is rooted and led by my faith in Jesus Christ. It is marked by a commitment to both Christ and his Church. Jesus is the core of my religion, and I echo Robert Barclay’s words in that I, “believe that everything which is recorded in the holy scriptures concerning the birth, life, miracles, suffering, resurrection, and ascension of Christ actually happened.”

Some of the core aspects of my Quakerism, or the Quakerism that I have been led to, are:

  • I believe that the Bible is inspired “and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), but am wary of biblicism, which sociologist Christian Smith describes as a “theory about the Bible that emphasizes together its exclusive authority, infallibility, perspicuity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability.” I am also wary of bibliolatry, where the Bible is elevated to a divine status and seems to replace the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Bibilicism is most often a core stance taken by Evangelicals, and very often biblicism slips into bibliolatry. Like George Fox, I feel uncomfortable with equating “the Word of God” with the Bible for Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1-14).  This discomfort has influenced Quakers’ approach to the Bible and led Barclay to create a helpful distinction between the “declaration of the fountain” (the Bible) and “the fountain itself”(Jesus). The Bible is a gift to the modern follower of Christ and should nurture one’s relationship with God instead of replacing that relationship, which happens too often in personal devotions, discernment processes, and Bible studies. Handling the Bible without Christ being the hermeneutic and the Spirit of God being intimately involved is dangerous, and I would even add that the deep study of the Bible ought to include one’s community’s discernment and guidance.
  • As mentioned before, Jesus Christ is our hermeneutic for the Bible. In A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren quotes Quaker theologian and author D. Elton Trueblood as saying, “The historic Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ does not simply mean that Jesus is like God. It is far more radical than that. It means that God is like Jesus.” Evangelical Pastor Brian Zahnd often says something similar in his sermons and writings that expounds on this concept even more: “God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We have not always known what God is like— But now we do.” Understanding that “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3) and that he perfectly reveals the Father (John 10:30, John 14:9) radically changes how we read the Bible and view God.  Jesus gives us a new picture of God, and that is that of a Lamb willing to be sacrificed for the sake of creation’s complete restoration and salvation.
  • As Christ as our hermeneutic, it is clear that the Way of Christ is the way of peace. The gospel of Jesus Christ calls for ambassadors to live out his ministry of reconciliation and be peacemakers (2 Cor. 5:8, Matt. 5:9). The cycle of violence is not to be blessed or fueled by those following Christ. Instead, Christians are called as peacemakers to confront the cycle of violence as they lay down their lives, bless their enemies, and forgive those who betray them (Matt. 5:39, 44, John 15:13, Luke 23:34). This way of peace has a cost, which may even include lives, but such a cost is considered gain as it confronts the brokenness of the world and its systems. Any act of violence, including waging war, is not what Christ had in mind for his people. George Fox said, “The occasion of war, and war itself… ariseth from lust All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly- deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with – outward weapons, for any end, or under an pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.” Isaiah 2:4 gives a picture of the Kingdom of God, where swords will be “beat into plowshares” as well as “spears into pruning hooks.” Isaiah goes on to give a picture of the all-consuming peace the Kingdom shall have when fully realized as “nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Violence will not persist in the Kingdom of God, and those who pledge allegiance to Christ and his Kingdom are called to forsake the world’s way of violence and take up Christ’s way of peace.
  • Meetings for worship are marked by the presence of the Spirit and the direction and leading of the High Priest, Jesus Christ, and not man’s vain leadership. In this sense, meeting is charismatic, relying on the graces and gifts of the Spirit to be distributed by Christ and manifest for the meeting’s sake. All are called to be expectant that God will speak and move within them, and be ready and willing for God to use them to minister. As Barclay wrote, “we ought not to do it in our own will, where and when we will; but where and when we are moved thereunto by the stirring and secret inspiration of the Spirit of God in our hearts.” The apostle Paul speaks of the meeting of Christians as a space where the body of Christ, with individuals’ gifts, are able to contribute their gifts for the edification of the whole as God so leads (1 Cor. 12:1-31). The gifts of the Spirit which are covered in 1 Corinthians, such as healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, etc., are encouraged by Paul to be earnestly desired (1 Cor. 14:1), especially prophecy. Revelation and prophecy is what most often guides meetings, as the Spirit inspires his people and speaks to their hearts, at times leading them to speak forth these revelations for the sake of the building up of the meeting. As somebody who was spiritually formed in the Charismatic Movement, I was attracted to the testimonies of early Quakerism’s charismatic tendencies, with the miracles in George Fox’s ministry (as well as other early ministers) and the powerful, and even at times ecstatic, experiences corporately shared in Quaker meetings.

I am not going to claim that I am anywhere near being an expert on Quaker history or theology. I also will not claim that this is a comprehensive list of distinct Quaker teachings, evidenced by the fact that I put no effort into explaining Quaker sacramentology (which I do subscribe to). But this is what I find most speaks to my condition, and this is where I am at with Quakerism. At the end of the day, and in the end of the days, all of these approaches and labels will likely be proven to have been helpful but not everything, and I am thankful that being a Quaker was not the end-all. I am thankful that it has all driven me to Christ, and it was all driven by Christ. I am also incredibly thankful that he speaks to and touches us in such diverse ways, and interacts with us all uniquely. My major reservation with all Traditions is that they often seem to ignore that reality and diagnose and assign everybody with the same disciplines, practices, and remedies, completely blind to the personality and nature of every individual. I am thankful that the space I have been given this year, among all sorts of Friends, has helped me understand how I relate and worship God most naturally and most powerfully.

A Weekend with Some Friends of Jesus

Last weekend I was able to make my way to Barnesville, Ohio, and attend the Friends of Jesus Fellowship‘s Fall Gathering. Friends of Jesus (FOJ) is a network of Quaker ministries and communities, and they are my spiritual family. I spent this summer interning with FOJ: six weeks in Detroit, Michigan, serving the meeting there as well as volunteering at the Drop-In Center of the Ruth Ellis Center, and two weeks visiting the other FOJ communities in both Philadelphia and D.C. Though I had attended a retreat with FOJ prior to this summer, this summer immersed me into this community, and I discovered how much vision I shared with these Friends. When I found out that this gathering was on the list of QVS-sanctioned Quakerly activities, I was surprised, since we are a small bunch, but ecstatic that I would have such a reunion.

Tyler, Lissa, and I at the Fall Gathering

Tyler, Lissa, and I at the Fall Gathering

When thinking of last weekend, the word ‘reorienting’ keeps coming to mind. Between the Spirit-led messages and conversations, the worship and prayer, and reading “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr, I felt my mind being renewed and I felt something in me shifting. One thing I was able to sense was the Spirit convicting me of certain sins and leading me into repentance that was more than an “I’m sorry” to Jesus. It seemed to be a change of heart and mind, and a change I am seeing manifest more fully in my life. Overall, I felt redirected, refocused, and refreshed from my time at the fall gathering.

Much of the gathering’s messages were centered on ‘discipleship’, a topic I have felt wary of since culturally detaching from Evangelicalism. It was an intimidating topic, but one I know I needed to hear and think about. We even talked a bit about evangelism as a group, which is even more daunting than discipleship, in my opinion. It was refreshing to talk about sharing the gospel beyond scare tactics, especially since this is ‘good news’. Our conversations were both challenging and inspiring.

The last night of the gathering was incredibly powerful, for myself and for the gathered body there. The worship and prayer felt birthed and carried by the Holy Spirit. Micah Bales, eloquently wrote on his blog:

The only way I knew how to describe it afterwards was to say, It felt like the lid was about to come off. The room was literally shaking with the prayers of those present, our bodies and voices trembling under the power of the Spirit.

The room felt thick with the presence of God. It was evident that the Spirit of Christ was ministering to individuals, as the inspiration and power of the Spirit led people to speak and pray in a manner that I had not seen before among Quakers, including FOJ. As somebody who has been in hundreds of charismatic/Pentecostal meetings, services, and conferences, I have many times heard people claim that the Spirit was uniquely and especially present in such places, but too often these claims were backed by hype and emotionalism. This night was unique; it was anointed and without precedent. It was raw and sincere. And as Micah pointed out, it bore the marks of the Holy Spirit.

Though this night was quite emotional, I cannot say that I walked away from that experience with an intense high (or an intense low, as I returned to everyday life). I didn’t get filled with a frantic zeal nor did I feel like I had somehow become a little more spiritually elevated. I came out of that experience with some more peace, hope, and vision. I felt comforted, assured, and reminded of God’s sweet presence in every moment. I am sure much happened that night that I will not understand for quite some time, if ever, but I am confident that whatever was happening, it was good, it was God, and it was needed.

An October Update

Since this blog is not only a place for me to rant about Quakerism and Jesus, but also an invitation into my QVS journey, I thought I would give you an update on my time so far as a volunteer with the Quaker Voluntary Service.

The past five weeks have been incredible, and I really mean it when I say that. I feel like I have been given the perfect space to digest and sort through some major life-things, discover Quakerism, deepen my faith, and prepare for my next step and life beyond QVS. I cannot help but sense the preciousness of this time and carry an immense amount of gratitude for the gift that QVS is.

Portland Orientation with Wes Daniels

Portland Orientation with Wes Daniels

One major thing I have to express thanks for are the Friends in Portland who have been extravagantly kind and generous. The churches and meetings have been supportive in every way possible, providing us with hikes, trips to the beach, homemade jam, pizza, hugs, and a whole lot of everything.

I saw this love and support most come alive right after the Portland QVS house was broken into in the middle of the night and a few of us had personal belongings stolen. Friends immediately came together to make sure we were secure and feeling safe, with food, new locks and doors, an alarm system, cards and letters, emails, etc. I am confident that these things played a large part in how quickly our house emotionally recovered from this traumatic experience. And thanks to QVS, my laptop and my housemates’ stolen belongings are being replaced (which you can help with by donating to QVS).

I came to my internship with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) during a major transition of theirs, as the Peace Program was (and is) being reformatted and the office was moving. I have been as much of a help as I can be in the moving process, which has been lengthier than all of us expected, and I have been helping with the research needed for the new program. The AFSC Portland staff has been incredibly welcoming, and I could tell from the beginning that the work they had for me this year would be rewarding. This week I am attending a retreat in Northern California for regional AFSC offices. I look forward to connecting to other AFSC staff and receiving more vision for my work this year.

Wandering around Barnesville, Ohio during the FoJF Fall Gathering.

Wandering around Barnesville, Ohio during the FoJF Fall Gathering.

This past weekend I attended the Friends of Jesus Fellowship‘s (FoJF) Fall Gathering. FoJF is a network of Quaker churches and ministries that I have had the privilege of developing a friendship with the past year. I had the opportunity to intern with them in Detroit, volunteering 4 days a week at the Ruth Ellis Center, “a youth social services agency that serves the needs of runaway, homeless and at-risk youth,” in addition to serving the Friends meeting. Being able to attend this retreat meant a sweet reunion with so many friends I love and powerful worship and fellowship that was packed with the Spirit’s presence.

This eleven-month experience has had a wonderful start, and I know this time will fly by. I am grateful for everyone who has supported me in prayer, in financial support, and in all other ways. Consider donating, if you would; more importantly, hold me in the light as I continue on this adventure in both service to God and to others and in personal growth.