Edited by Margery Post Abbott and Peggy Senger Parsons. Finally finished reading the whole thing. I like how Jan and my chapter fits in. Here are selections I read at a booksigning at the Friends General Conference Gathering last week.
Kenneth Sutton, USA: I experience my public ministry largely as an elder. As such, it is often response rather than original. It is relational and contextual. It is more concerned with uncovering what is already there than with sharing a prophetic message. It operates from a foundational faith that God is already present, at work. In fact, operating out of that faith is one indicator that I am living out of my gifts, since I am often impatient and judgmental when in my own abilities. My public and private ministry tends to be concerned with nurturing and drawing out the ministry of others. (p. 156)
Marge Abbott and Peggy Parsons, USA: We, the editors, find ourselves as part of a larger group of individuals who travel in the ministry today, sometimes under individual leading, more often in response to invitations. Whether blessed with a clear sense of the ministry from childhood, or having fought against what seemed like a highly improbable turn in life, Public Friends are a mixed set of numerous ordinary people who have felt this call to go into new places and speak. We may feel excited by the task laid before us or inadequate to fill it. We pray words will be given us and seek patience when our mouths are closed. Our responses are as different as our personalities and the cultures that we call home. (p. 271)
Marge Abbott and Peggy Parsons, USA: A few years ago we were invited to Victoria, British Columbia, to speak at the Vancouver Island Gathering of Friends. They had asked to hear side by side the evangelical and the liberal perspectives on faith. Marge spoke of the role of fear in her life, and times of knowing and responding to that perfect love which casts out all fear. Peggy spoke of the delights of risk-taking and the temptations to recklessness. Our experiences of life, as well as of being Public Friends, sometimes seem of wildly different flavors. We embody between us, however, many of the dimensions of Quaker spirituality and the distinctive ways that Friends know God–and are unified in our desire to be faithful to the one, true Guide. (p. 268)
Gladys Kang’ahi, Kenya: I have come this far on a long journey. It is a journey of faith that connects me to everyone else and affirms my need to hear other people’s stories. All of us are members of a global community, which is the community of Christ. We need each other’s support. We need sisters to listen to our pain, to share our hopes, to tell us that there are dreams to be dreamed and realities to be changed, and that we can do it. We need to look, we need to listen, we need to speak, and we need to touch. We encounter each other as a people of faith with faith in ourselves and faith in each other.
Each one of us has a wealth of experiences to share. We need therefore to affirm each other’s gifts, to affirm each other as full human beings created in the image of God. We need to listen to other people’s struggles. We have been growing and we need to look forward to growing further in our understanding of ourselves as a people who have a task, to make this a better world as we continue to minister. (pp. 3–4)
Priscilla Makhino, Kenya: God’s love sent His son into the world to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to open the prisons to them that are bound. Jesus the Son of God commissioned His believers to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature just before he ascended to heaven. Since then the protocol has never changed for the living. Jesus Christ through the years has chosen, prepared, and sent men and women, with willing, obedient hearts and humble minds, to different parts of the world with the same word. (p. 21)
Ute Caspers (Germany): Did I, now, travel in the ministry? Probably not in the sense of an explicit call, and certainly not with an explicit backing of my home meeting. But I can see there must have been ministry involved. On my trips to the GDR my initial intention had been to make up for rigid travel restrictions that made it impossible to leave the country westward. I continued these travels over many years as my little contribution toward briding a gap-in-the-making between Friends in the East and the West of my country, fearing it could siden with a new generation growing up separated from one another. I never made a conscious commitment to continue my travels, and I seldom reflected why, precisely, I kept these contacts over all those years. Nor did I ever give account of my motives or of what it was that I received and that I brought. Looking for an answer now, there is one word that comes to mind: friendship. It was only in the process that I found that my regular visits were perceived as a special act of friendship. There are times and circumstances where simple friendship, the holding up of as much normality as possible in an abnormal situation, become ministry. It should be normal that families of one mother tongue and fatherland can freely meet wherever they wish and interact however it pleases them. A situation denying these rights is surely abnormal. In that sense I can see, in hindsight, I was certainly traveling n the ministry, in the ministry of friendship and normality. (pp. 208–209)