February 28, 2007

Guest Piece:
Early buzz about FGC Gathering

What follows below is printed with permission from Friends General Conference (FGC). I'm excited to know that FGC has thought to generate some buzz about its upcoming Gathering by sending emails like this one to Friends who no doubt will be viewing the Advance Program by the end of March, either online or by hard copy!

For the record, many of this Gathering's activities will occur in a new student center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The student center is intentionally constructed with the incorporation of a number of elements for environmental sustainability. —Liz
Dear Friends,

What a gift it is for us to serve Friends by preparing for the 2007 FGC Gathering of Friends. We invite you to come and share the fruits of our labor this summer, June 30 to July 7, in River Falls, WI near Minneapolis/St. Paul.

This story from a recent Gathering Committee meeting illustrates how the Committee is being well led in our work together:
I walked into the middle of the worship subcommittee to find everyone in the room in tears. For me, tears are a sign that Spirit is at work, and I soon confirmed that this was true. These Friends had arrived at the meeting feeling stuck, and with prayerful discernment had just reached unity about an important decision. Soon, they were speaking about the tenderness and power of the last hour they had spent together. “This is why I am a Quaker,’ said one Friend. Listening to them, I teared up, too.
When the Gathering Committee is grounded and Spirit-led in its work, then surely that radiates into everyone’s experience at the Gathering. The theme “…but who is my neighbor?” has been powerfully working on the Gathering already. Jesus Scholar Marcus Borg will be speaking on “What It’s All About: The Great Commandment and our Deepest Yearnings” and the other plenary speakers will also be speaking to the question “…but who is my neighbor?” The theme provides rich opportunities for Junior Gathering programs which this year will be focused around diversity, community and justice.

And this summer, as always, we are offering a wonderful variety of workshops for adults and high schoolers: some highly experiential, others more intellectual, many looking at areas of conflict and forgiveness, others exploring spiritual power and strength, and all offering opportunities to strengthen our faith.

In March, Friends and Meetings will receive print versions of the Advance Program. And beginning March 15, advance materials about the Gathering will be available online at www.fgcquaker.org/gathering.

Both mail-in and online registration begins March 26 -- we hope that you will register online, if you are able. Meanwhile, information about fees and financial aid is already available. Now is a good time to ask your Meeting [and your yearly meeting] about scholarships they might provide.

Who do you know that would thrive at the Gathering? Please drop them a note or email today, encouraging them to attend. If they enter their name and email address at the bottom of the Gathering website, we [FGC] will notify them when registration begins.

In anticipation,

Cynthia Bartoo and Rich & Marian Van Dellen
Clerks, 2007 Gathering Committee


Robin M. said...

Great! Any advance suggestions as to the best workshops we should be looking for? Any hints?

Here's my hint: working with the children's program can be a powerful spiritual experience.

I'm looking forward to hearing Marcus Borg as well.

Liz Opp said...

Hello, Robin.

I've gone back and forth about dropping hints in terms of what workshops to be looking for. (I have been serving as the clerk of the Workshops Committee.) My conscience has got the better of me, though, and so my lips are sealed and my fingers are sewn.

My only comments are these:

1. If we are to see a selection of workshops at future FGC Gatherings that reflect the Quaker renewal that has been written about on the blogosphere, we need to encourage the Friends we know who have such enthusiasm and ministry to submit workshop proposals for consideration. And proposals are due earrrrly, usually in October.


2. Interest groups are also a part of the Gathering, and proposals for interest groups will be accepted beginning sometime this spring. Details will be in the Advance Program. So if you are planning to attend the Gathering and feel as though you are "sitting on something" that might be of interest to Friends or otherwise impact our Religious Society, offering an interest group might be the way to go. ...It sure was the way to go for Robin, Martin, and me at the 2006 Gathering in Tacoma, Washington!


Robin M. said...

Yeah, I knew you were going to be principled about this. Oh well. Another Friend told me the paper programs are in the mail and should be available online soon. So I'll wait not-so-patiently and hope for the best.

Liz Opp said...

Here's a tip to Robin and others:

It may be that your meeting will receive copies of the Advance Program before you: meetings and worship groups seem to receive an envelope with several copies in it, and I think that alters how they are sent--that is, NOT by bulk mail.

Plus, the Advance Program is scheduled to go online on March 15... just a few days away! Registration will open--electronically and with hard copies--on March 26.