Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Report on Indiana Yearly Meeting

 This is an excerpt of a blog written by ESR Student Michael Jay. For his complete blog post, visit http://michaeldavidjay.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/indiana-yearly-meeting-report-and-reconfiguration-thoughts/.

I enjoyed Indiana Yearly Meeting much more than I thought I would.  I found the experience to be prayerful.  I found that worship was indeed gathered, and people spoke respectfully during sessions in spite of their differences.  At some points, (such as the separation of two meetings who will transfer membership to Evangelical Friends Church Eastern Region) the Yearly Meeting showed compassion, and generously forgave at least some of what the accountants named as debts to the Yearly Meeting.  This was in spite of what is certain to be a period of austerity.  By my measure — the Yearly Meeting sessions were very good, people prayed together and sought God’s will in a difficult time.  In spite of this — it is a difficult time, and I will share my own thoughts (which, are only my own impressions and thoughts.)

I will soon be an employee of one Monthly Meetings within Indiana Yearly Meeting.  As I will be an employee — I have a personal interest in what happens.  The best outcome for me would be the decision not to split, which I blindly hoped for until Yearly Meeting sessions.  After attending, I realized that the sense of the meeting is that the split cannot be avoided — so, it must be done in a way which causes the least damage possible.

That being said, I moved from being against the split, to simply hoping that it will do the least possible damage.  This year, no one was recorded.  No one was appointed to any boards or committees.  The business of equipping ministry was shut down so we could deal with the equivalent of someone saying: “remove him from the room, or we will leave.”  There was a sense that it was better to stop doing ministry than risk that the “wrong person” might be involved in the work.  While I think this behavior is deeply sinful — I would choose a split before choosing a complete stop to our share of God’s work.  As this stop has happened — I accept the split as the price to restart the work of the church.

What was laid out was that there are certain meetings which cannot exist in the same organizational structure as certain other meetings.  These feelings are not reciprocal.  There  is a third class of meetings that would prefer to maintain fellowship with both groups of meetings.  (The smallest group is those that “must be removed from fellowship”.)  Whether the group that wishes to somehow restore them to fellowship, or the group that wants to see the yearly meeting split is larger is difficult to guess.  Either way — the reasons to fellowship with the more ‘pure’ group are more compelling for the majority of meetings.

The sense of the meeting was, that they would allow the meetings to self identify.  They specifically said that the Yearly Meeting would not force a choice on any meeting (including those that must choose option A in order for the split to happen in the way the Yearly Meeting considers best.)  This choice is literally trusting meetings which are believed to be outside God’s will to rightfully discern God’s will for the future of the Yearly Meeting — even though this is against what these meetings consider to be in their best interest.  I consider this ‘easy’ option of the larger body setting off the smaller body (which is out of unity) through self identification to be overly optimistic.  Many of the meetings they wish to leave actually wish to stay.

This becomes even more difficult, because the answer to the question: “May we choose both?” was answered with “No!”  This means that the desire for continued affiliation with these ‘liberal’ meetings is seen as evidence of insufficient purity.   (These meetings have the option of remaining in the Yearly Meeting, but not being allowed to serve on boards.)  Bluntly, the easy route is that every meeting that does not wish a split is invited to leave quietly.  It would require Divine intervention for this to happen — so, baring certain meetings pragmatically bowing out, against what they currently believe is the correct action, the current plans will not be accepted at the Monthly Meeting level, which is where the decision must be made.

Michael's complete post can be viewed here: http://michaeldavidjay.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/indiana-yearly-meeting-report-and-reconfiguration-thoughts/.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Student Introduction

We're excited to introduce to you some of our new students that will be joining us for the 2012-13 school year. Today's featured student is John March, who is an occasional student from Durham, NC.

John is a 40+ year Friend who is happily married to ESR student, Margaret Griffin March. They are members of Durham Friends Meeting in Durham, NC, and also of the Practice Community at Southern Dharma, a retreat center in the mountains above Asheville. They have four kids in their 20s, and deep roots with family and friends.  Trained as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, John works as a clinical neuroscientist at Duke University Medical Center.  With a long history of both Quaker and Buddhist practice, he's interested weaving together streams of Silence and outward action from Buddhist and Friends traditions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ESR alum Steve Cleaver

We're launching a series of profiles of ESR graduates where they have the opportunity to share with Learning and Leading readers about the work in which they are now engaged. Today's featured alum is Steven Cleaver, who recently came to the Earlham campus as the College's Interim Religious Life Director. You can learn more about Steve on his website.


“People come to me for treatment and they want me to heal them and to make life “like it was before”. My purpose is to help them live into life as it is.”  
- Terrie Lewine, Network Chiropractor

That purpose nicely sums up my experience at and from attending the Earlham School of Religion.  To learn to live authentically and with faith into the world as it is.

I came to ESR after 20 years of managing a non-profit that provided services to over 7,000 children a year. During my time as a non-profit manager, I had been able to create programs and support teaching staff in their growth, won awards, and had been promoted enough times to finally be the Executive Director.  I had also encountered the politics of management and at one point had to confront a situation where the Executive Director was embezzling. As far as my faith and religion went, I was attending Quaker meeting, but was not assertively (though I would dabble) involved in an internal search nor could I say that I had more than a lived sense of what it was to be a Quaker.

I decided to come to ESR because I realized I wanted to return to my Quaker roots and truth be told I felt a calling-stubborn as I am, I often just let the call go to Voice Message where I could delete it without listening. Initially my search took me to MBA programs, then Quaker MBA programs, and then a realization that I actually wanted the Divinity program. Unlike some who arrive with a certain purpose, either to become pastors or Quaker leaders, my purpose appears to have been to deconstruct some of the inadequate faith structures I had built, and in response, replace them with models and belief systems that could support a mature being. This purpose would inform and define the route of my life after graduate school.

ESR gave me the time and space to focus on myself and my writing. As a result of my experience at ESR, and through the mentoring of Tom Mullen and Barbara Mays, I not only had several poems published, but wrote a book, Saving Erasmus, which was published by Paraclete Press in 2007. I graduated in 2004 with the thought that I could just return to life the way it had been, that I could run a non-profit again, and settle back into life the way it had been before I started seminary. This was not what God had in mind.

I found myself living a peripatetic lifestyle. Though my traveling was more often by old car, than by foot, I started a journey that would take me not only to a wide variety of spiritual centers but would also reveal the underlying crisis of faith that unbeknownst to me,  had brought me to divinity school  I moved to New York City and lived in Staten Island. During this time, I worked at a spiritual center based out of Harlem and in a Quaker founded organization that promoted cultural understanding through travel. I had been comfortable for so long and now I found my moorings destabilized and I was challenged by uncertainty. Each job I took became short term as in one the Director went into the hospital and I discovered that there was no money and in the other the organization was pushed out of New York City by eminent domain.

Underneath my call, had been a crisis of faith that I had been able to ignore. I had been distracted by the business of a non-profit and my own movements. Childhood fears of being homeless and abandoned surfaced. I volunteered at the 15th Street Homeless Shelter so that I could witness what it was to be homeless. I sunk lower at times in my own lack of faith. I had grown up believing I alone was responsible for taking care of myself and others, and in this system there was no room for God.

I continued my search, albeit with new awareness and found myself working at Omega Institute, the largest holistic center in the world. Here I discovered a buffet of healing and spiritual practices and while I identified as Quaker, I was able to explore other faiths and belief systems. To make sense of a people who believed strongly yet differently, I recognized faiths as languages, and the heart as the interpreter. One winter I took a job as a dish washer at a Jewish Retreat Center. Here I was an integral part of the kashrut process as I had to change the dish machine water when we switched from meat to dairy or vice versa.

As I wrestled with my own faith, I returned now to my Quaker roots to find sustenance. I found in the small yet vibrant Bulls Head Meeting a depth of understanding and ability to articulate beliefs that supported me in recognizing the strength of my Quaker beliefs and faith. I took a position at Pendle Hill Retreat Center. I found myself slowly, yet not surely, embracing the unknown. I recognized that security comes from within, yet still struggled to believe that. I took a position as an Intern, so that I would have relatively little supervisory responsibility. My task was to work on me.

I took a class in George Fox and miracles. This gave me opportunity to learn more of the lost practices of my own religion, and in that see how I could embrace the various faith practices that I had witnessed. I was able to identify my own patterns that brought suffering and in that recognize what I wanted most of all was to live in a world the way it is, but live fully in love and with love. To do this required changing myself, not others. I had been seeking material recognition or titles, when in truth, as the bible asks, I was losing my soul.

My job at Pendle Hill was a 2 year appointment. When I started my job search I went about it differently. I knew that the uncertainty would create anxiety, but rather than isolate, I chose to seek guidance. Part of the support came from my Dark Night of the Soul Support Group. I asked questions. I used what I had learned in family systems classes that told me how to create balance. More than anything I practiced stillness and listening to that “still small voice.” As I looked at this as a practice in my own development rather than a threat, doors opened. I was reading Reginald Ray’s Buddhist book, Touching Enlightenment. I mentioned this to a friend (rather than anxiously discussing my job search), he told me that he knew someone who worked with Ray, and pointed me to a job opening. I received an interview, and while not the right place for me (14,000 feet up in Colorado and isolated half the time), it demonstrated to me that it was my authenticity that would open the right doors. As I interviewed for the position of Interim Religious Life Director at Earlham, I told myself to be authentic, and then if I was hired, I could be myself. The interview process was a different experience and I found opportunity, rather than the constriction of my previous anxious searches.

My experience of Divinity School is unique to my journey. Some people will come with specific needs and goals, and find their exit takes them to the job or position they had in mind. My journey and my intent was to learn to live fully into a life and world that is not always how I want it, and that can be violent and harsh. My soul called me to live into this life fully able to trust and love, despite the externals that challenge me. The tools and experiences I gained in seminary helped to challenge, support, and guide me during some incredibly difficult times and during times of elation.

I am utilizing the skills I gained from my experience. I have a radio show at WECI on Earlham Campus. I continue to write and have had a play performed and have a second book in development. My peripatetic lifestyle allowed me the opportunity to learn and witness various faith traditions, and this information will inform me as I work with students who come from a wide range of backgrounds and who will be seeking also. At one time I thought that I should always have a certainty about what I was doing and where I was going. I now know the value of the wilderness experience, and in knowing that, am also aware of accepting it and in this, finding the stillness in the midst of uncertainty.

I am, of course, still a work in progress. I wrestle with and question what it is to be faithful and how to live in this world. I have been humbled in my own search and in that, through my own journey, have realized that it is my own humanity and being, and in my own ability to be truthful and loving with myself, that I am connected and complete.

I do not know what someone else’s experience will bring them. I do know that my own time was invaluable, in what I learned and in the time I had to be still in a community of believers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ESR Alum Takes on New Role with FUM

It is always exciting to hear about ESR graduates finding work in the wider world of Friends. Micah Bales left his work with us at ESR in June and is now working with Friends United Meeting as Interim Communications and Web Specialist.

This is an excerpt from a blog post by Micah Bales. To view the complete blog post, visit this link: http://lambswar.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-new-job-at-friends-united-meeting.html


My New Job At Friends United Meeting

This month I begin work with Friends United Meeting (FUM), an international association of Quakers with member churches in North America, the Middle East, East Africa and Latin America. My official title is Interim Communications and Web Specialist. The "interim" part of this means that the job will last from July until December, and we will evaluate at the end of that time whether the position should continue in its present form. This job is in many ways experimental, which excites me; I am a starter, an entrepreneur and an innovator, and I am looking forward to pioneering a new chapter in FUM's role as a communicator on behalf of and among Friends.
The "communications" part of my job title means that I will be focusing on FUM's strategic outreach, especially online and social media communications. In addition, I will be collaborating on Quaker Life, one of the most prominent print publications in the Religious Society of Friends. As FUM's magazine for more than 50 years, Quaker Life is probably our most important tool for communicating across the entire association at the present time. This is especially true considering the limitations of internet access in East Africa, where the majority of Friends reside.
The "web" part of my job will be especially prominent in this interim period. I will be working closely with other members of the FUM staff as we roll out an entirely new and re-designed website. The current website was originally set up in 1997, and although the site has had an amazing 15-year run, it is clearly time for an upgrade! I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this work.
It is an honor to be on staff with Friends United Meeting. My faith is deeply rooted in traditional Quaker faith and practice - including waiting worship, orthodox Christian belief, and Quaker business practice - and, for me, Friends United Meeting represents the beautiful diversity that is possible when we are gathered together in Jesus Christ. Like so many established Christian organizations today, FUM faces huge challenges. As a diverse and multicultural association of Friends, we are stretched almost the breaking point around questions of authority, our understandings of Scripture, our different levels of access to wealth and mobility, and our vision for what the Body of Christ looks like when we are faithful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Student Introduction

We're excited to introduce to you some of our new students that will be joining us for the 2012-13 school year. Today's featured student is Danny Coleman, who is a new Access student from Edmonds, WA.

My name is Danny Coleman.  I am a progressive Christian Quaker.  I am about to turn 50 and have been a follower of Jesus since my early 20's, but only became a Quaker about 5 years ago.  My interests are theology, history and music.  My idea of a good time is reading N.T. Wright or Walter Wink or Richard Horsley or John Woolman while plinking a ukulele.  I also have a keen interest in Christian mysticism--from the desert monastics to the Cappadocian fathers to the Catholic mystics to Ignatius of Loyola to George Fox and beyond.  I grew up in Denver but now live in Seattle with my wife Carla and dog Yoshi.  Our son lives in Germany and is a laser physicist.  I love to teach and to write and have a desire to deepen my knowledge of Quakerism, theology in general and scripture.  I am particularly interested in how the theological stories we live in shape our view of the world and our attitudes towards and interactions with God and people.  I think Friends have a message that is both profound and profoundly relevant for these times.

You can read more of my story here:  http://dannycolemanstory.blogspot.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reflections on the 2012 Quaker Historians and Archivists Conference

Quaker Diversity, Past and Present:
Reflections on the Quaker Historians and Archivists Conference, 2012
By Stephen W. Angell
About 35 persons attended the Quaker Historians and Archivists Conference at Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, from June 22 to 24. (Newmarket is about 25 kilometers north of Toronto.) It was our first time since 1988 to meet in Canada, and at Pickering College (actually, despite its name, a Quaker-founded secondary school which houses the archives for Canadian Yearly Meeting). Program details may be found at http://libguides.guilford.edu/content.php?pid=248768&sid=2054977
The program contained its usual mixture of interesting surprises. Robynne Rogers Healey, a historian from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, spent a recent sabbatical in South Africa, consulting the archives of South Africa Yearly Meeting. Her paper was on the conflicts between the American Friends Service Committee and South Africa Yearly Meeting between 1977 and 1991 on how to end apartheid. Briefly, many at the AFSC were much more interested in a kind of liberation theology that placed little importance on traditional teachings of Quaker nonviolence. On the other hand, South Africa Yearly Meeting sought to address the oppression and inequality of the South African apartheid system using traditional Quaker methods of pacifism and nonviolence. Healey’s paper featured H. W. van der Merwe, an Afrikaner Quaker and a friend of the Nelson Mandela family and of Steven Biko, and an expert in conflict resolution. In 1984, Van der Merwe set up the earliest meetings between African National Congress exiles and supporters of the South African government, “a key step in breaking the deadlock over apartheid in South Africa.” (Marge Abbott et al., Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers), 2nd ed., 2011, p. 356.) Evidently, the archival resources on this subject are voluminous, and we look forward to hearing more from Healey on this subject.
Sharon Temple
Race relations continue to interest Quaker historians. Allan W. Austin of Misericordia University, whose forthcoming book Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917-1950, will soon be published by the University of Illinois Press, discussed the AFSC’s sponsorship of African-American lectureships on Quaker and other campus in the immediate post-World-War-II context, and the variety of experiences that the African Americans who participated in those lectures had. Betsy Cazden, an independent scholar from Rhode lsland, continues to produce fascinating work on the Quakers, especially in Rhode Island, who lived at the time in the mid-eighteenth century when the Society of Friends turned decisively against slaveholding amongst its members.
Jacob's Ladder
There continues to be a great deal of interest on various groups of schismatic Quakers, as exemplified by the papers we heard. One session was devoted to papers on the Free Quakers, a group centered in Philadelphia that offered support for the American Independence movement during the 1770s when the main body of Friends attempted to remain neutral; also, the Progressive Friends of the mid-nineteenth century, who decried the unwillingness of both the majority of Hicksites and Orthodox to form common cause with antislavery activists of other denominations, for fear that the wayward religious principles of the other groups might infect and contaminate their own members. Both Free Quakers and Progressive Friends emphasized the need for any Friend to consult their conscience whether they might not need to support warlike measures: in the case of the Free Quakers, during the American Revolution; and in the case of Progressive Friends, in support of the Union cause during the American Civil War.
But the most interesting insights of all came not from the papers per se, but from the many Quaker sites of significance in Newmarket, Ontario. Yonge Street Quaker Meeting is celebrating its bicentennial, and it is embarking on a major rebuilding project. http://yongestreet.quaker.ca/ Many of the Conference attenders worshipped with Yonge Street Friends at 10:30 AM on First Day morning. It is now a very traditional meetinghouse with old style meetinghouse benches; one can divine where the partition would have been to divide the meeting into men’s and women’s meetings. Its logo surrounds a simple depiction of the meetinghouse with the motto, “Tend to the Light of the Spirit within.” And Friends did so on the morning that Quaker historians and archivists gathered with Newmarket Friends in a lively and gathered meeting for worship.
Ark of the Covenant
The founding of the Yonge Street Meeting is only one of the bicentennials being celebrated this year. On the Seventh Day evening immediately previous, we encountered another when we visited the Sharon Temple, about five kilometers distant from Newmarket. http://www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=14 From 1812 to 1887, this was the place of worship for the “Children of Peace,” a group that had separated from Quakers in the same year that the War of 1812 broke out. The charismatic founder of the group was David Willson, a former Presbyterian who became a convinced Friend about 1805. In 1811, Willson asserted in worship that Jesus “was not God . . . but a man endued with divine power.” This seemed an unorthodox enough expression to some Quakers in his Queen Street Preparative Meeting that some Friends bore public testimony against him and, at a Select Meeting of ministers and elders in 1812, demanded an explanation from him of his views. Willson declined to elaborate and decided to withdraw from the Friends Meeting. More than 30 other Quakers withdrew or were disowned at the same time. A vision given to Willson several weeks after war broke out between the United States and Britain caused him to proclaim that the Quakers’ testimony of peace should be raised up higher “as an Ensign to the Nations” – hence the group’s name. After the war, however, the Children of Peace would engage in military drills – both men and, quite unusually for their times, women. Some of the Children of Peace – notably, not Willson himself – participated in an 1837 rebellion against the British led by William Lyon Mackenzie that was a notable precursor to modern Canadian nationalism. http://www.biographi.ca/EN/009004-119.01-e.php?id_nbr=4776
As Willson’s visions and revelations continued, the Children of Peace (who numbered in the hundreds in their heyday from the 1820s to about 1850) diverged from other Quakers in several ways. Although at least nominally devoted to equality, Willson implicitly occupied a unique position as the group’s main (or only?) prophet. By the 1830s, a Select Committee of Elders had developed. The elders had been the rebellious youth when they broke off in 1812, but by the 1830s the Elders needed to keep the younger generation in line. Willson was very influenced by early Socialists such as Robert Owen, and, while the Children of Peace participated in the markets of Upper Canada, they were not really a part of “market economics” as that term is commonly understood, because they did not care to see their produce at the highest price that the market would bear (this became a source of generational conflict within the group, with the elders more dedicated to cooperative economics than the youth). While honoring Christ, Willson, in his writings, also looked toward the coming of a future messiah who would inaugurate a full economic and social equality among all.
One of the original members, Ebenezer Doan, was a master builder. The Children of Peace constructed several notable buildings during their existence, including two meeting houses that do not survive today. But from 1826 until 1832, they constructed their impressive Temple at Sharon. While the Yonge Street Meeting looked like many other meetinghouses in North America, the three story Sharon Temple was quite unique in almost every way. Its hundreds of window panes let in much light. Each of the three stories signified a different person in the divine Trinity.
Inside temple, illuminated
Another unusual feature of the Children of Peace was their eagerness to incorporate Old Testament remembrances. When I walked into the Sharon Temple, the first thing I saw was “Jacob’s Ladder” which at one time provided a way up to the second story. It is now cordoned off – too fragile for modern-day foot traffic. And in the middle of the Sharon Temple is the “Ark of the Covenant.” At some time in the recent past, researchers discovered that the Ark had a false bottom, and that thousands of pages of priceless documents were hidden underneath that false bottom. (David Willson was very interested in the Biblical King David; the term “Davidites,” sometimes used to refer to the Children of Peace, seems very much like a double entendre.) Around the Ark are four central pillars of the temple, labeled “Faith,” “Hope,” “Love,” and “Charity.” And around those are twelve more, labeled with the names of the twelve apostles. The building is rich and resonant with a great deal of Biblical symbolism.
Also in the Temple is a pump organ. The Children of the Peace were one of the first Quakers to love music. Perhaps this was Willson’s birthright Presbyterianism coming out! At any rate, he commissioned a barrel organ, pre-programmed with familiar hymn tunes. Willson also encouraged the Children of Peace to learn to play brass instruments, and hired a band master to teach them! On their monthly march to the Temple to consecrate their alms, the Children of Peace would march right by the Queen Street Preparative Meeting while it was in session, playing away on their brass instruments. Evidently the Children of Peace were among the first to play musical instruments in this part of Canada; not only Quakers, but also Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist clergy in Canada opposed instrumental music in the churches during Willson’s lifetime. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/emc/children-of-peace
David Willson's Study
Willson also composed hymns, but out of respect for the continuing revelation of the Inner Light, he insisted that each of his hymns only be sung once! (Willson’s light-filled study, where he wrote his hymns and theological treatises, survives and can be seen on the Sharon Temple’s grounds.) Our visiting group diverged in practice slightly on this last detail, listening to a recorded cantata on the subject of peace in the Temple illuminated by candles as darkness fell after a long June day.
The Children of Peace did not survive long after their founder David Willson’s death in 1866. The last worship service in the Sharon Temple was held about two decades later, in 1887. Then the Temple fell into disuse and disrepair. Cows wandered through the temple; about one-third of the windows were broken. But in 1917 the York Pioneer and Historical Society purchased the Temple and its grounds, and historically-minded persons have lovingly cared for this most unusual facility ever since., with a major restoration completed just last year. http://www.sharontemple.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=16
Whether it was the Progressive Quakers and Free Quakers, who were represented only in historians’ papers, or the Yonge Street Quakers and the Children of Peace, in whose worlds we were guests for a remarkable weekend, the creativity and the dedication to following the Light Within of Quakers past and present is astonishing and can obviously lead to quite diverse ways of being faithful to the God known to us through revelation, whether Biblical, the fruit of past Quaker witness, or continuing. Thus the richness of this weekend’s events leaves me with much still to ponder!
Steve Angell is the Professor of Quaker Studies at ESR

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Report on QuakerSpring

By: Micah Bales

This is an excerpt of a blog written by ESR Alum Micah Bales. For his complete blog post, visit http://lambswar.blogspot.com/2012/06/quakerspring-new-creation.html/.

QuakerSpring: A New Creation

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
- Isaiah 60:1-2

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
- Romans 8:22-23

God continues to surprise me. All the Holy Spirit has to do is blow through, and I am back to square one; the sand castles that I have built are swept away by the tide, and I am left without fortifications before God. I suppose it could be frustrating to realize that most of the things I had been worrying about for months do not really matter. But all I feel is joy. I see with stunning clarity that God is not like me at all. Though I am characterized by grasping and self-centeredness, God's character is one of self-giving, healing and mercy. God's presence is power to receive forgiveness, and to be remade in the image of Christ.

This presence and power was very much in evidence this past week at the sixth annual gathering of QuakerSpring in Barnesville, Ohio. QuakerSpring is a unique, Spirit-led retreat that was conceived as an alternative to the frantic programming of some other Quaker gatherings. Rather than planning the schedule ahead of time, each day's agenda is set out according to the group's sense of the Spirit's leading. Rooted in deep worship and shared discernment, QuakerSpring unfolds according to the community's sense of God's call.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Student Introduction

We're excited to introduce to you some of our new students that will be joining us for the 2012-13 school year. Today's featured student is Chris Kight, who is a new Access student from Syracuse, New York.

Hi there!

I'm Chris Kight. I am Director of Information Technology for a hotel management company headquartered out of Syracuse, NY. Before that I spent my working years in the U.S. Navy, mostly involved with computers. I've lived along both American coasts, as well as in Italy and Japan.

I grew up Baptist, and spent some time with a Buddhist congregation while in Tokyo, but have been involved with Unitarian Universalists and Quakers for more than twenty years now. As a child, my favorite part of the Bible was Genesis-Exodus and the other "Histories"; then it was the Gospels and Epistles; now it's the "Wisdom" books - I'm wondering when the Prophets will capture my attention.

A few of the movies I enjoyed most this past year include: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; and Crazy, Stupid, Love. My favorite reads have included: The Magician King; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; The Difference Engine. I'm currently reading Kierkegaard's Spiritual Writings and Silence, by Endo. My favorite listens are all over the map: The Carolina Chocolate Drops; The Welcome Wagon; Jack White; The Black Keys; Zoe Keating; and Buke and Gass. I would feel very accomplished if I took the time to learn to play blues on the Ukelele. Interesting local groups I enjoy hanging out with include those for Gaelic Football, Roller Derby, and Community Shakespeare.

I have two dogs, both rescues: a greyhound and a beagle/puggle mix. My second of three sons just graduated high school and is moving to Seattle for a year. The oldest leaves in December for the Peace Corps. The youngest lives in Florida with his mother. After years of trying to make all sorts of very bad relationships "work", I'm now engaged to the best friend I've ever had, ever. 

Finally, being able to formally study at the Earlham School of Religion is pretty much the icing on the cake that this past year of my life has been. I am thrilled to be in the M.A. Access program and look forward to taking classes with each of you.

In Friendship,

Welcome Chris! We'll be sharing more new student profiles in upcoming posts.