Barry Crossno, Friends General Conference
Given the work of Friends General Conference (FGC), I’m in worship quite a bit, but it varies a great deal as to where it’s happening and with whom. There might be a longer worship that precedes committee meetings, or impromptu worship with donors. Formal worship at my own Meeting is actually more rare than I would like, in part because FGC committee meetings are often on the weekends. So I’m traveling back to Philly often on a Sunday night. Arch Street Meeting has a regular Wednesday night worship that I try to go to occasionally. I found there are anywhere from five to nine of us who are there. So it’s an intimate, quiet experience. I’ve enjoyed that. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to connect with newcomers. Usually there are one or two newcomers every time.
For more of Barry’s story, click here
Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation:
My membership is still in Hartford. My husband and I attend Langley Hill Friends Meeting, which is in Northern Virginia, most regularly. We haven’t transferred our membership there, but I like the physical space, and it’s a meeting that has good vocal ministry and good silent ministry. I’m finding it difficult to serve on committees and do that kind of work that is really important for monthly meetings. I think that monthly meetings really are both the seedbed of how we grow, and the flourishing garden of what makes our community strong, and so I think it’s really important to be present in Meeting and to participate. Participating for most of us has to be on committees, and because of the job, that’s hard.
For more of Diane’s story, click here
Jen Karsten, Pendle Hill:
I have a love/guilt relationship with my meeting attendance. Living here at Pendle Hill, I’m so lucky to get to start every day with worship if I opt in. I don’t start every single day with worship, but probably 3-4 times a week. I get to begin my day grounded in stillness, which is incredible. But I feel guilty, sometimes because my monthly meeting attendance has been so sparse, and that’s largely due to wanting to balance my work life with family time on weekends. On First Day mornings we typically like to just get up and make pancakes and hang out together, and it’s rare that we decide to head into meeting. I don’t feel like I have too few opportunities for worship, but I do recognize that being part of a monthly meeting includes showing up and being part of the community. I feel well nested in the Pendle Hill community, and a little bit negligent in my longer worship opportunities.
An interesting thing about worshipping here at Pendle Hill for half an hour is that when I go to monthly meetings, and I sink into that hour, I have this mid-worship “coming out of the depths” experience about half-way in, like I’m being pulled up into my head and my thoughts because I’m so used to half-hour worship. I try to dive back down-and, when I’m able to do so, it’s in that second dive where there’s richer depth and noticing the inner teacher. I appreciate both types of worship, for different reasons. The ministry from around the world here at Pendle Hill, it teaches me so much. It’s funny how there are days when there’s no spoken ministry at all, and other days where it’ll be bubbling with words. Either way, I get to experience the ministry and the seeking of others, and I like that. Here, it’s a continually renewing cast of ministers, you might hear words that move your thinking for a week by someone you’ll never see again. It’s a gift-half an hour daily, compared to weekly hour-long worship, or extended worship once in awhile. I’ve noticed, for myself at least, what a really different experience half an hour is.
For more of Jen’s story, click here
Shan Cretin, American Friends Service Committee:
Since I have this job, I often have to travel on the weekends or be other places. I haven’t been able to, as regularly as I would like, be in one service. So sometimes I’m with another meeting. I like that ability to go and worship with new Friends, and see the different space. It’s a very different thing, I’ve come to understand, than being in a meeting in a more integral way. When I go back to my home meeting in Santa Monica, which I do maybe, 8 times a year, I really have that sense of coming home. There is a difference in being in a place where you really know everybody, and they know me; not as the General Secretary of AFSC-they’ve known me for a long, long time, and so it’s a different thing. When I go to these new places, even here-I’m a sojourning member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting-but even here I feel like these people only know me in this role, and it’s harder to get them to know that you have more than that. There’s good and bad about seeing other meetings, and seeing how they do business, and understanding that just because it’s done one way in your meeting doesn’t mean that every Quaker meeting has the same idea or practice.
For more of Shan’s story, click here
Gretchen Castle, Friends World Committee for Consultation:
I get to worship with all kinds of groups. I think it is important to be grounded in a meeting, and I still feel grounded in my meeting in Doylestown. When I’m back I try to go there, because I was in that meeting for 30 years. I find it hard to get into the nitty-gritty of the meeting as much as I did in the the one I was in for 30 years: leading the young people, teaching First Day School, being clerk. It’s hard to be in at that same level, so then worship becomes the crux more than the activity of community building.
For more of Gretchen’s story, click here
Gabe Ehri, Friends Journal:
I go as often as I can. It helps that my six year old likes to go, so I would say most months we go three Sundays.
For more of Gabe’s story, click here
Christina Repoley, Quaker Voluntary Service:
I’m a member of Atlanta Friends Meeting and attend regularly—not every Sunday, but as often as I can. Definitely, that’s my community.
For more of Christina’s story, click here
Drew Smith, Friends Council on Education:
I do, though ever since I became the head of a Friends School, one of the things that happens when people figure that out is that meeting becomes a place where they do business with you. So my meeting is a lot of different meetings. I travel around a lot, from meeting to meeting, and it’s mostly self-preservation more than anything else. I’m still a member at the meeting where I grew up, and I attend meetings all over the Delaware Valley. Like most Quakers, I still have to really practice at centering. I’d say the experience for me at meeting–I feel like it’s two halves every time I go, and I’m getting better and better at the second half. The first half is mostly just slowing down, and I feel like I open a drain and all of the things that have been swirling around in my head, I try to get those out of the way. What I find often is there are times when I’m really good and I can get to a place where I almost feel like inside I’m kind of glowing. It’s not like I’m seeing light. It’s like I’m feeling it. When worship’s over, I always feel kind of relieved about something. I don’t even know what it is all the time. It may just be from the hustle and bustle of the week. Maybe it’s a problem or a concern in my life that was bothering me. But it feels very relieving and comforting. It always has been, to be with members of your tribe. That has always felt like part of my worship.
For more of Drew’s story, click here
Doug Bennett, Earlham College (Emeritus):
I’m now a member at Durham Monthly Meeting, to my surprise, having coming to Maine expecting to come back to unprogrammed Friends. I tried Brunswick Meeting, which is literally across the street-I could go in my pajamas-but there no kids and there is virtually no spoken ministry. Robbie and I became members at Durham Meeting about a year ago. My wife, Ellen meanwhile who has a lot of affection for Quakers, got her fill of Quakers at Earlham, she cheerfully joined First Parish Church at UCC Church in Brunswick, with its magnificent organ and choir, which she’s in. Some Sundays, especially when there’s singing we go to First Parish Church and enjoy it.
For more of Doug’s story, click here
Colin Saxton, Friends United Meeting:
I attend worship every week, but usually it’s different places, because my job has me traveling a lot. So I’m only at what has become my home Meeting here, every couple months. To me that’s really important discipline, the spiritual practice of gathered worship in community. What I miss deeply right now though is the sense of being connected in a community. It feels like a hole in my life. I’m a big strong advocate for worship, and it ain’t happening right now, in terms of that kind of ongoing practice.
Some of it’s the worship itself. There’s something for me that’s transformative and powerful when two or three are gathered. It’s different from my own worship, and that’s good. God shows up in some often remarkable ways, through the spoken ministry of others, through the experience of the Spirit connecting us. I also think it’s really important, because I tend to think of a Meeting or church as a laboratory of faith, where we get to practice loving one another and serving one another and forgiving one another. It’s not just the means to an end. It’s the end, too. What happens in community is core to our spirituality. That’s the piece I probably miss the most.
For more of Colin’s story, click here