Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reflections on being on the ESR Board of Advisors

Earlham School of Religion Board of Advisors member Dwight L. Wilson shares his thoughts on being a Friend, coming to know ESR, and his decision to join the board:


One of my earliest memories is of being in kindergarten in 1953 when the teacher said, “Let’s all sing Jesus Loves Me This I Know, for the Bible Tells Me So.” I loved my teacher but immediately thought, ‘This is silly. I don’t need the Bible to tell me Jesus loves me.’  Because this incident is so powerful among my foundation stories, I posit that I’ve been a Christian virtually all of my conscious life.  Thus, I was unmoved when, at age 21, a theology professor was offended that Friends feel no need for a human intermediary to shepherd us to the Truth.  He called me “a heretic” to my face.  Here was a Protestant labeling a Protestant to the Protestants as unfaithful to a vision that George Fox and our other spiritual foreparents rejected: no minister should lead by lording. 

True blasphemy lies in saying or even thinking, “My people.”  Even those who are little less than angels, are a lot less than the Holy One.  We affirm that all have equal access to the Holy One even if all do not equally listen and obey.

Shortly after being selected General Secretary of Friends General Conference, an exasperated mortgage officer said, “Make up your mind, Dwight.  Are you a general or a secretary?”  I pondered his question then replied, “I’m a general who acts like a secretary.  My rank is general but my function is to support even the least among us.”  He may not have been converted but he gave me the loan.

My understanding of Earlham School of Religion’s mission is that the institution is called to “value…listening and discerning God’s call into ministry” by lifting up “integrity, equality, and peace.”  I first stepped on campus in 1978 while serving as FGC General Secretary.  Today many of the students who were in that initial assembly are, like me, grandparents!  Time has passed but the mission continues. 

When in 2010 I was asked to join the Board of Advisors I accepted without hesitation.  Any opportunity to pursue a deeper spirituality is welcomed but when it also offers a way to bring healing within our various denominations—yes Quakers have denominations—it should be seized.  My colleagues on the Board of Advisors are more than healers they are also cheerleaders in the Lamb’s War, seekers of peaceful ways which will bring us infinitely closer to the will of God than our world has drifted. 


You can watch an interview of Dwight sharing his thoughts on Quaker Leadership here:

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