October 22, 2007

Three trips in three weeks

This week I head to the eastern U.S. to visit my folks in their new digs, have lunch with my 102-year-old grandmother, and attend the Central Committee meetings of Friends General Conference.

What's particularly interesting to me is that this year, I am attending Central Committee as a visitor, in part to see if there is still Life for me among these Friends and if I am called to reengage with this committee somehow.

Two days after I return, our small worship group gathers for our first-ever retreat, during which we plan to discover God's call for how to expand our relationships and our outward witness corporately, and how to live into God's plan for us as a worship group.

We've been using Tenth Month to offer activities and to lift up queries to children and adults to prepare ourselves:

  • What is our existing network of relationships? In our current network of relationships, what diversity exists? What cross-cultural relationships exist, across lines of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities? Are we called into relationships that we aren’t currently in, either with particular individuals or groups, or to build cross-cultural relationships in a particular direction?

  • What are the gifts and ministries that we each carry? Are there gifts and ministries has the worship group not yet seen? As a worship group, what are our collective gifts and ministries?

  • How do we name and bring life to the divine order that God calls us to bring forth? What life do the following phrases have for us: Beloved community... City of God... Kingdom of God... Gospel Order? Beyond the names, how does this vision become specific, motivating, and vivid for us and others?

  • What are the needs in the communities that we are connected with? What unmet needs weigh most heavily on our hearts? Is there a concrete need or task to be completed in the local community and/or neighborhood that can help us begin the work? In the communities we are connected with, who is most marginalized?
It's unclear just exactly how to structure the retreat itself, what activities to provide because the planning committee itself isn't clear. So we will wait until God gives us a clear instruction... In the meantime, the planning committee is filling up its "toolbox" with a number of ideas of discussion topics, worship opportunities, and more. As I have heard elsewhere among Quakers, "The Spirit favors the well-prepared."

Then, a few days after the retreat, I hit the road again and have plans to participate in FGC's consultation on gospel ministry. In FGC lingo, consultations are smallish to medium-in-size weekend gatherings of Friends around a particular topic, and the Friends who participate are there primarily by invitation by the sponsoring committee(s) or by FGC affiliated meetings at the committee's prompting (as best as I can understand, at least).

This particular consultation is being co-coordinated by the FGC Youth Ministries Program and by the FGC Traveling Ministries Program. I suspect there'll be a wonderful variety of Friends from the U.S. and Canada, as well as a mix of age-ranges, from pre-college teenage Friends to Friends in their 70s... or possibly beyond.

My personal, self-designated task is to let go of expectations and let these events unfold. But it's so easy for me to get superexcited about what might happen, who I might see, etc etc, so I hope to have the discipline to wait on the Lord, to breathe, to stay centered.

I hope to keep The Good Raised Up updated as I'm able.



Mark Wutka said...

Hi Liz,
I have mostly been lurking lately in the blogging world, still keeping up, but not commenting much. I'm looking forward to seeing you in 2 weeks. I know a few people now who are going to that FGC consultation on gospel ministry, and there is a pretty good age range amongst them. Also, our YM clerk told me about The Way of Ministry, which is a School of the Spirit program for ministry. It sounds very interesting.

I like the way your worship group is going about preparing for the retreat. I think of preparation as being something like preparing the soil for the divine seed to grow within us. You also need the faith to not worry about "what if the Holy Spirit doesn't give us anything to say or do?" I have read of several gospel ministers saying that you have to be willing to just sit there and wait even when people are there expecting you to speak, even if it means that you never say anything. Really, everyone should be prepared for that.

Also, although I have been lurking, there have been several things you have touched on lately that have also been on my mind - being loving & speaking the truth, considering how I can serve God (and the meeting) more than considering how I am being served. I apologize for not at least letting you know that your posts have been important to me.

With love,

Anna said...

Hey Liz,
is the consilation you're going to the one near Pittsburge on Nov. 9? Because i will be attending that one and I would love to meet you in person:~)

Peace and Joy,

Liz Opp said...

Hey, Mark and Anna--

Sorry for the late reply, but as you know: I've been traveling!

It sounds like I'll see both of you in Pittsburgh very soon. Anna, please do look for me and introduce yourself to me if I don't get around to bumping into you first.

Well, I'm keeping this short so I can unpack one suitcase and pack the next.


gen1pic said...

Hi Liz,

Thank you for tending to this topic.

Can you tell me about gender balance in Friends' ministry?

Has anyone done a study of the male/female ratio among traveling ministers?



Liz Opp said...

Mitch -

Thanks for your question... I don't know of any research about gender balance among ministers. But I can tell you that I've often looked around the room at a number of Quaker events and have taken note of a nice male-female balance in the room... and also a fair number of GLBTQ Friends.

There have been both women and men sitting at the clerks' table; women and men among the leaders of retreats; women and men on Ministry & Counsel Committees.

What have you noticed, I wonder?


gen1pic said...
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