Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FGC Consultation on Gospel Ministry

You may have seen Liz Opp's reflections on the FGC Consultation on Gospel Ministry. I was there as well, and have been trying to get my thoughts to crystallize. It has been difficult for me in that not long after I returned, we were rushing to get Ceal ready for her next School of the Spirit retreat, and then I had a SAYF (Southern Appalachian Young Friends) retreat in Chapel Hill over the weekend.

As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend. Proverbs 27:17 (NET)

The idea of the consultation was to put those with emerging gifts of gospel ministry together with seasoned ministers like Lloyd Lee Wilson, Brian Drayton, Jan Hoffman, Deborah Shaw, and so forth. In the past, there had been more opportunity for interaction between those young in the ministry and those more grown, and I think FGC is looking for ways to recapture that opportunity. I can say that I definitely felt the sharpening that Proverbs speaks of, and from just about everyone there.

Faith and faithfulness kept coming back to me at this consultation. Faith was something I struggled with, really starting in my late teens. My understanding of "faith" was that I had to believe certain facts like "Jesus died for my sins", and it didn't seem to make much sense. Faith for me is much more of a trust issue now - that I trust God to guide me, and help me. It is living my life under the assumption that "that of God" within me is something I can sense, and listen to, and that if I do so, I will be doing the right thing. And that is where faithfulness comes in - that I do try to sense, and listen, and do. There was much faith and faithfulness at the consultation, some of which was shown in words, but much more in actions.

I also found in the consultation a great feeling of hope for the Religious Society of Friends. I heard one seasoned minister speak of his hopefulness for the next generation of ministers within his yearly meeting. Liz spoke of turning the soil versus planting the seed, and for me, the hope in this is that there will be others to come along and plant the seed, or water the soil, or tend to the branches. To be among so many Friends with a concern for tending to the spiritual health of the Religious Society of Friends helped me feel less alone in those times where I am among Friends who consider us to be more like an "Ethical Society of Friends".

Underlying everything was a deep love and a reminder that whatever we do, however we serve, we must do it out of love. This was on my mind since before the consultation, since I have seen the hurt that comes from acting out of something other than love for others. My traveling minute to the consultation quoted John Woolman with love was the first motion, and then a concern arose. I need that reminder constantly to let love be the first motion, then as concerns do arise, I can have faith that God will show me what to do (if I am to do anything) and the hope that one day love will be the first motion for everyone.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)


  1. Hello Mark, Thanks for your report. I also feel hope for the RSofF. It is good to hear about this gathering. I was with you all in the Holy Spirit. Take care. Your friend, Andrew

  2. Andrew,
    I was hoping I'd see you there, sorry you weren't able to make it.
    With love,