Sunday, December 12, 2010

Minute of Service Report

To Freedom Friends Church

Since receiving my minute of service from Freedom Friends Church in August 2008, I have traveled to many meetings and churches in the Pacific Northwest to share about the Eighth Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  The meetings and churches I visited included: Camas Friends Church, Multnomah Monthly Meeting, Anchorage Friends Meeting, Spokane Friends Church, Eugene Friends Church, Eugene Friends Meeting, Bellingham Friends Meeting, Sandpoint Friends Meeting, and North Seattle Friends Church.  I also attended North Pacific Yearly Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting annual sessions in 2009 and received a traveling minute from North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  I traveled to most of these meetings and churches with my co-clerk, Sarah P.  On three of the visits, I had other traveling companions: Inger H accompanied me to Anchorage Friends Meeting, Sarah H accompanied me to North Seattle Friends Church, and Leann W served as elder for me and Sarah when we visited Sandpoint Friends Meeting.

All of the churches and meetings I visited were extremely hospitable.  Although the women’s conference was the official reason for these visits, it often did not feel like the reason I was there.  Sometimes something else seemed important, and sometimes I felt like I did not really know why I was there (though I trust there was a reason).  Sarah and I felt like we were planting seeds for Friends to come to future conferences, consider traveling in the ministry, or interact with different kinds of Friends in other ways.  Many of the clerks of the meetings and churches had never had never seen a traveling minute before our visit, so this provided an opportunity for us to educate Friends about the practice of traveling with minutes and having meetings endorse them.

Something that surprised me about these visits is that I did not feel led to speak in worship in many of the meetings I visited.  This felt like a learning experience for me about when not to speak.  I did speak in each meeting and church outside of meeting for worship, either by giving an announcement or leading a presentation.  Public speaking does not come easily for me and this gave me an opportunity to practice.  I also found that it became easier to talk about the women’s conference the more I did it.

Over the two years the planning committee spent working on the conference, we had six meetings in person and six conference call meetings.  This was a challenging committee to clerk, but I learned a lot about clerking and working with other people.  As I was working on the planning committee, I talked to many women who had done this work in the past.  They all agreed that one of the most difficult things in planning the conference was keeping everyone motivated and on track in the long time between the conferences.  I was especially grateful to have Sarah as a co-clerk of the planning committee.  She and I traded off clerking and recording the meetings and we worked well together in those roles.

On June 16-20, 2010, sixty women gathered in Seabeck, Washington for the Eighth Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  The theme was Walk with Me: Mentors, Elders, and Friends.  About a quarter of the women there were attending for the first time.  I think this was directly related to the travel that Sarah and I did to share about the women’s conference.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed facilitating the conference; it felt like good and important work.  It was incredible for me to hear how everyone’s language changed during the conference.  Immediately after the plenary on elders, I heard many women using that term.  It was gratifying because the topic of elders has been very important for me over the past few years and I felt like the women who attended the conference had a better shared understanding of what the role of elder is.  I was grateful to Ann S and Alivia B, who served as my elders during the conference, and to all of the women who volunteered their time, talents, and energy for the conference.

It has been a hard transition for me to go from having the minute of service to not having it.  As I have continued to travel in the ministry since my service for the women’s conference ended, I have been surprised by how much I have missed having the tangible support the minute of service represented.  Carrying the minute made me feel connected to and supported by the meeting, and traveling without it, I sometimes feel vulnerable and out of order.  I did not realize how much the minute meant to me until the service was completed and I could no longer carry it.

Overall, planning the women’s conference was challenging and it made me grow.  Traveling among Friends in the Northwest helped me to recognize that I am a minister and that I feel called to public ministry among Friends.  I felt honored to represent Freedom Friends Church in doing this work, and I am grateful for your love and support while I traveled and worked on the Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I commented to a friend the other day that I think my blog is in hibernation.  This is definitely the first time I have gone for an entire month without posting since I started writing here two and a half years ago.  But at the same time, I don't feel any need to officially lay it down.  I love this blog, how it has provided a way for me to express myself to the wider world, and a place for me to go back and remember how I felt at certain times.

But I don't feel compelled to write as much right now, for several reasons.  One is that my full-time job involves a lot of writing, and I don't have much interest in writing when I get home at night.  Also, I am still catching up on reports from my travels last summer (only one to go!), so I feel like any extra writing time should go into that.  Mostly, I am still in a huge time of transition in my life.  I feel like I am settling into my new home and new job, but there are still a lot of other things changing, and that amount of change takes a lot of energy.

I have been reading a lot lately, and so I have some book recommendations to share with those who are looking for a good read.

The first is Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor.  In this lovely memoir, Taylor describes her call to become an Episcopal priest, and how she eventually had to leave the church that she loved, though not her faith in God.  She speaks honestly about her faith journey and the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated profession.  I especially appreciated this quote: "A priest is a priest, no matter where she happens to be.  Her job is to recognize the holiness in things and hold them up to God.  her job is to speak in ways that help other people to recognize the holiness in things too."  She also leaves her readers with a query: What is saving your life now?

Another book that I have been enjoying is Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, by Gregg Levoy.  This one was recommended to me by Sarah P.  I am about halfway through it; there is so much in this book that I have to take it at a slower pace to absorb it all.  The chapters I have read so far have a lot to say about paying attention to the things in your life, both internal and external.  Levoy urges those who are discerning their calls to be aware of their dreams, hopes, and desires, as well as the things in life that are encouraging or seem like blocks, and he includes many good stories.

And now for something completely different: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  This one was recommended by my mom.  In this young adult dystopian novel, the U.S. has fallen and Panem is in its place.  The Capitol of Panem keeps 12 districts in line by forcing them to send two teenagers as tributes each year to fight each other to the death on live television.  Although this book is much more violent than I would usually read, once I started, I couldn't put it down.  Collins has created an amazing world in this trilogy, and like all good fiction, it acts as a mirror to our culture.

I have also enjoyed all of the new Hanukkah videos I have seen recently.  Thanks to Waylon W for posting this one:

And to Mark W for sharing this one:

Blessings on everyone who is lighting candles and adding some Light during this dark time of year!