Dear Friends of Truth,
I've been on the move a lot this last month. After a time of relative settledness and rest on Capitol Hill, I emerged again this April as I began the final push in the planning of and outreach work for the Young Adult Friends Gathering 2010, to occur this Memorial Day weekend in Wichita. I am currently on the road, visiting Friends in Wichita, having first spent a week in Chicago.
This month's letter was to have begun with a report on the gathering of New York Yearly Meeting's Young Adult Friends. Faith and I had intended to attend their event near Ithaca, New York, in late March. Unfortunately, both Faith and I were struck by sudden illness just before we were to depart. Though we were very sad to miss the gathering, we trust that God has a plan in everything and that the Spirit was present with our beloved brothers and sisters in New York Yearly Meeting during their time together.
The gathering in New York was only one of several regional Young Adult Friends gatherings that have taken place this spring. There were also gatherings held in Philadelphia, DC, and Wichita. At these events, Friends had the opportunity to engage with the advance materials for the May gathering, prepare themselves for the event over Memorial Day weekend, and to get to know better other Friends from their area. Turnout for these gatherings was generally small, but we know that many who were not able to attend will be able to engage with the conference materials individually.
Shortly following the DC regional YAF gathering, I boarded a train to attend the Religion Communication Congress (RCC), held in downtown Chicago, April 7-10. It was a really eye-opening experience to gather with hundreds of other religious communicators, learn about the state of communications among religious organizations across the country, and dig deeper into the emerging technologies and communications strategies that are shaping our intellectual and social landscape. Particularly important for me was learning more about the importance of video as an outreach tool. (To see some fruits of my exploration thus far, click here.)
Following the RCC, I spent several days with Garnet and Eileen Fay. I was very grateful for the warm hospitality they showed me. It was a blessing to accompany Garnet to worship at Chicago Friends Meeting. My parents were co-pastors at this Meeting back in the late 1970s, and it was good to see the meeting house where they served together just after getting married. It is a very different Meeting now, having become non-pastoral in the mid-1990s. I was glad to get to know these Friends and to share worship with them.
Faith met up with me in Chicago and we took the train together to Wichita, where we spent a weekend with the planning committee for the YAF Gathering 2010. There were seven of us, from across the United States, who met together to conduct the last major items of business that we had before us as we geared up for the final weeks of conference registration. During the weekend, I spent a lot of my time shooting and editing videos to share our meetings with everyone who couldn't be there in person. You can see the videos on YouTube by searching with the keyword "YAF2010" - or, just click here.
Faith headed home following the committee meetings, but I am staying on in Wichita for another week, specifically in order to be present this weekend at Earlham School of Religion's 50th anniversary celebration at Heartland Meeting House. Yesterday,Barclay College. We spoke with the students there about the upcoming YAF gathering, and invited them to participate. The Friends at Barclay were very welcoming and sweet. I felt honored to be among them. Our main speaker for the gathering, Dave Williams, is professor of pastoral ministries and chaplain at Barclay; so we hope to get a good turnout from Friends there.
In the midst of my travels, I managed to launch QuakerMaps.com, a joint project with Jon Watts. QuakerMaps is a site where Friends and seekers from around the world can discover Quakerism and explore the location of local Meetings and Yearly Meetings through embedded Google maps. We still have a lot of work left to do, but it is coming along nicely. I would encourage Friends Meetings to check out our Active Outreach Program, which we hope will serve local Quaker Meetings in their internet outreach efforts. Also, if you or your Meeting have a website, please consider linking to QuakerMaps.com.
In the month ahead, I will be engaged in the final preparations for the 2010 YAF Gathering. Please pray for me, and for the planning committee, as we seek to be faithful to God's guidance. We believe that God wants to open a welcoming space for Friends from across North America - and across the branches of Quakerism - to come together and know one another in the Spirit of Christ. I am convinced that God is active in guiding and preparing this conference. God is in control, in a very real sense, and I can only look on in awe as the Holy Spirit prepares us for what we are to see, experience and learn this Memorial Day weekend.
Your friend in Love,