Dear Friends of Truth,
I write to you from Seattle, Washington, as I await the other leaders for the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage (QYP). The Pilgrimage will bring together around twenty-five Quaker youth, between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, from across North America and Europe. Together with me and three other adult leaders, we will venture around the Pacific Northwest exploring what modern-day Quakerism looks like in this part of the world. We will discover together what it means to be Friends, and seek to encourage one another in our walks with the Lord.
QYP occurs once every two years and is a joint program of FWCC Section of the Americas and FWCC Europe and Middle East Section. Hosting for the Pilgrimage rotates between the two sections; in 2008, it was held in England, but this year we in the Americas are hosting. There are two adult leaders selected by Friends in each section, and I was asked to be one of the leaders from the Section of the Americas this year. The other three leaders hail from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Britain Yearly Meeting.
The pilgrims come from across the unprogrammed Friends world. Representing Europe, we will have pilgrims from Ireland, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Sweden. From North America, there are pilgrims from the eastern and western United States, the Midwest, and Canada. While the group will certainly be diverse in national and regional background, there may be far less diversity in terms of Friends perspectives. The group is almost exclusively unprogrammed in background; as far as I am aware, there is only one pilgrim from a pastoral Meeting. I am pleased that we will be traveling together in the Northwest, where there is a fairly wide variety of Friends represented, and I hope that our encounters with Evangelical Friends will prove helpful in expanding our understanding of what it means to be Quakers.
We will be together for a solid month. QYP goes from July 13th until August 13th, and the leaders and pilgrims will be living and serving together this whole time. I am sure that it will be a very intense experience, and that we will have the opportunity to get to know one another deeply. Based on what I have heard from past leaders and pilgrims, I am confident that the Pilgrimage will be a very rich experience for all of us. I am also sure that it will carry with it a unique set of challenges that will stretch us in many ways.
In the past months, I have been doing a lot of praying about the Pilgrimage. At times, I have felt very uncertain as to what my role was to be in this program. I have very little experience with ministry among high schoolers, and volunteering to be a leader for QYP was way outside my comfort zone. However, I felt clearly led by God to undertake this work, and I trust that God will sustain me, show me how I am to walk with this group, and provide us with the spiritual gifts that the group needs to accomplish God’s purpose for us.
After much prayer and counsel from my elders, I have come to view my role with this group as being that of a chaplain and spiritual nurturer. I am seeking to let go of my expectations and my desire to control outcomes, and to simply be the person that God has created me to be. My example, my groundedness in Christ, and my love and care for the pilgrims and adult leaders will speak clearly. I believe I am called to be a model (a “pattern and example,” if that strikes my Quaker readers better) for the QYP participants.
The great challenge that I see before me, and for which I beg your prayers, is this: I am called to be like good potter’s clay. I am to be yielded, receptive to whatever shape the Potter chooses to give me; yet I am also to be firm enough that I hold my given form, even against great external pressure. I pray that I will be yielded and tender in the Spirit, and yet never lukewarm or insecure.
The adult leaders will be gathering this evening in Seattle, and the pilgrims will arrive on the 15th. Please pray for the QYP leaders as we meet together and seek to be united in God’s Spirit. And please continue your prayers for leaders and pilgrims both as we seek together God’s mission for us as Friends.
Your yoke-fellow in Christ Jesus,