Friday, August 30, 2013

Report on Iowa Yearly Meetings

ESR student April Barnhart shares her reflections on attending the 2013 annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting and Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative:

April reads Dr. Seuss to ESR Dean Jay Marshall and fellow students

Many in the ESR and Bethany community are familiar that I entered the ESR access program as a (Minnesota-Iowa conference) Baptist. Many also know that I am currently a Unitarian Universalist who occasionally attends unprogrammed Quaker worship. Throughout the duration of my courses I have had my faith foundation shaken mightily and yet somehow I survived and am now entering my final year of studies as an ESR access student. 

This year I attended portions of both Iowa Yearly Meeting and Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative. Attending both, in many ways felt like a homecoming. There was a comfort level as I connected with fellow pilgrims and we all basked in the goodness and presence of God in our lives. There was warmth, authenticity, music, faith, food, laughter, a woodland tour, prayer and synchronicity beyond anything we as individuals could have ever orchestrated.

ESR's display at Iowa Yearly Meeting

I expected workshops and meeting and greeting folks as a representative of ESR  at both Iowa Yearly Meeting and Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative.  It was interesting to find myself both within and yet outside of their communities. Perhaps it was my theological journey that had prepared me to see it the way I did:  what I saw was a clear split and yet unity among these two gathered groups. The cause for division in my humble opinion is at the heart of many denominational splits, the age old debate of orthodoxy (correct belief) and orthopraxy (correct behavior)   

Regardless of either yearly meeting's preferred mode of understanding or expressing their faith, it is my belief that God was present at both gatherings and I feel blessed that I was also was in attendance.

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