Faith and I arrived home in DC late last Thursday after spending a little more than a week in Nebraska and Kansas. During our trip, we attended Great Plains Yearly Meeting and visited family and friends in Wichita. GPYM was held this year in Central City, Nebraska – which was surprising, since just a few years ago it seemed as if the Meeting in Central City would cease to exist. Instead, Friends there seem to be gaining in strength, and they enthusiastically hosted yearly meeting sessions. I give thanks to God for the new life that the Spirit is breathing into Friends in the Great Plains region!
With all of these positive developments emerging in my former Yearly Meeting, I feel sad that I am unable to be of any direct assistance. With my commitment to ministry in the DC area, there is not much I can do for Friends in GPYM except pray and remain available for electronic correspondence. Yet, I dare to imagine that perhaps my earlier ministry had some positive impact on the Yearly Meeting. I planted, and Laura Dungan is watering – but it is God who gives the growth. To him be all glory, honor and praise!
In recent weeks I have had an increasingly urgent sense that the Body of Christ is much bigger than our traditional ideas of what a “congregation” looks like. I am realizing that the old model of church does not necessarily work in our post-modern, urban context. Regular gatherings for worship are necessary, of course, but I am seeing that there are many other things that are equally crucial if we are to strengthen the Body. For example, teaching everyday spiritual practices that individuals can grow into, whether they “go to church” or not. Community is a complicated thing in this city, and the formal, weekly gatherings of the traditional congregation are not necessarily the best thing to lead with. I am becoming convinced at a heart level that I must meet others where they are at. I must let nothing – not even the beautiful traditions of the church – present a barrier to sharing the good news that we have found in Jesus.
We also give praise for Sammy and Ceress Sanders, missions students at Barclay College who are summer interns at the William Penn House. They are actively participants in Capitol Hill Friends, and they have added greatly to our fellowship – not only through their joyful presence and enthusiasm, but also through their helpfulness in set-up and clean-up, and their excellent cooking skills! With all the work that the Lord has given us to do and all the helpers that he has provided, we are truly blessed.