“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” Luke 10:1-2.When I decided to write about the spiritual nurture of young Friends traveling in the ministry, my motivation was personal. As a young person who travels in the ministry, I found it was easy for me to get traveling minutes, and not very difficult to get money (not a lot of money, but grants to pay for travel), but it was harder to find spiritual nurture. I wasn’t even sure what I meant by spiritual nurture. I was also aware that some of the issues I was facing arose specifically because I am a young Friend. So I decided to interview other young Friends who travel in the ministry to find out what kinds of spiritual nurture are most helpful to them.
The response was incredible. Friends from all over the United States and Canada responded to my questions in person, over the phone, and by email. Each one was so supportive of my project and urged me to contact other Friends to hear their stories. And as I talked to these traveling ministers and elders, it felt like looking into a mirror. Over and over, I heard my own experiences reflected back to me. In each conversation, I felt my heart expand in love and appreciation for the work that these Friends are doing.
As my research for this project, I interviewed 16 Friends (including myself), age 24-34, who have traveled (and in many cases, continue to travel) in the ministry. At least twice as many names were suggested to me. These Friends represent the various branches of Quakerism. About two-thirds grew up as Friends. I interviewed Friends who identify as liberal, evangelical, conservative, convergent, and who feel called to Quakerism as a whole. Some identify as Christian, others do not. They are responding to calls to pastoral care, hospitality, music, eldering, telling stories, education, gospel ministry, bridge building, and reconciliation. They have traveled to Haiti, Mexico, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Jordan, England, Kenya, Iraq, and meetings and churches across the United States and Canada in response to the leadings of the Spirit. I am grateful to all of them for their stories.
It would take a book for me to relate all of the experiences that these Friends shared with me. Instead of trying to include everything, I am going to focus on the places of connection, the times when others’ experiences resonated with my own. In our conversations, I was amazed by the similarities between these Friends’ stories, and it was easy to see themes. My hope is that this paper is useful for meetings and churches that want to support young Friends who feel called to ministry, and it will encourage young Friends who may be experiencing that call.
[From the research paper I wrote for the School of the Spirit on the spiritual nurture of young Friends traveling in the ministry.]