Archive for the ‘outreach’ Category

Reaching out

December 13, 2006

I walked off the plane and into the gate lounge. Standing by the escalator was a man, floppy grey/white hair, tall, looking around as if he expected to see someone he knew. “Kevin” I said, and he looked at me. I shook his hand, then on impulse gave him a hug. Kevin (and his wife) introduced my parents to Quakers when I was nine years old. It was three years since I’d seen him last, and then only briefly. Kevin was over from Brisbane, travelling to Nelson to see his daughter who is two years younger than me, whom I haven’t seen for years.

Caught up in the catching up on career, friends and family with Kevin in the few minutes we talked, I didn’t think to thank him. Every once in a while I get a feeling of incredible good fortune, and ask myself “how, out of all the myriad possibilities in life did I get lucky enough to have found Quakers?” Mum and Dad were seeking something new at the time, and Kevin and Valerie reached out, told them about Friends, and (I imagine) invited them along.

In our non-evangelical brand of Quakerism, how much outreach is OK? Preaching on television is probably out, but if we don’t communicate who we are and how to find us, isn’t that being exclusive? How do we know what is acceptable? Maybe it’s not so much the ‘how’ or the ‘how much’ but the intent behind it. If we seek to convince, persuade others to join by our words maybe that’s going too far.  Spreading messages, pamphlets, going door to door all seems geared to ‘change’ people, to force them to see our way is right. Opening the door, welcoming people, and answering questions when they’re asked seems common practice though. How though do we make ourselves easier to find? How do we get it so that those seeking know there is a door to peer around?

George Fox said:

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.

So maybe it’s more about what we do, than what we write or say?



May 28, 2006

So, after two good nights sleep, falling asleep in Meeting twice today, then a long afternoon nap I'm feeling 1000% better.

I've been thinking about this 'travelling in the Ministry' business. Having agreed to take on the role of YF communications/outreach I'd kind of imagined it'd mean setting up a few email lists, doing web site stuff and maintaining the national YF address list. Somehow it's actually worked out as seeing lots of Friends all over the country. Mostly this is because my work takes me to Wellington lots, and to other centres from time to time.

Over the last year or so I'd just kind of started staying with Quakers rather than work colleagues, as I found it much more restfull. Simply talking about totally different things than work in the evening made a difference to my energy, plus there's all the care and hugs that come with staying with Quakers.

While it's a lot, that's not really enough though to explain why I feel so enthuasiastic about this role. I want to contribute to JYF and YF so when my kids get there it's really strong. I want to help give to the life and depth of this community. I want it to grow. Sometimes this almost feels like it might risk being something like evangelism. Is that wrong? Is it unquakerly to want our faith to grow, to be strong, resilient, and healthy?

There's lots to make sense of in this role. If anyone has useful ideas or information about what's good to do in Quaker outreach I'd love to hear about it.