This past weekend, Friends from across the United States gathered in Barnesville, Ohio, which has been a key site of Quaker activity for well over a century. Much more recently, this little Appalachian town has become a meeting place for the Friends of Jesus Fellowship.
The event this weekend was our Spring Gathering, one of two regular get-togethers that FOJF puts on each year as we explore what it means to be a community gathered by the Holy Spirit. We had folks make the drive from Detroit, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, NYC, New England and St. Louis – and one Friend even flew in from Seattle! It was inspiring to hear what is happening in the communities that are organizing themselves in many of these cities, as well as a new virtual group that has begun to meet via Google Hangout.
The theme for this gathering was John 11:14-26, particularly Jesus’ declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life.” This scriptural focus was helpful for us as we listened together for where the Christ’s life is emerging in our life together. All of us face great challenges to living as children of light in a world that so often embraces the darkness, yet we found courage and strength in one another, and the ways in which the Spirit is preparing us for the work of love, justice and compassion.
The sense of our gathering was summed up quite well in an epistle (a spiritual letter) that was approved by those present, as well as our minutes of exercise (a document of spiritual insights). I encourage you to read and share these documents with those who have affinity with the mission and vision of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship.
For my own part, I feel deeply encouraged by the many passionate, faithful people that the Spirit is calling into the work of being and making disciples to Jesus. In a culture that often values wealth and social status above all else, I am inspired to be in community with women and men who are staking their lives on the gospel message that we have heard and experienced. I feel so grateful for the growth of Christ’s body that we are witnessing today, and I am thankful for the care and safety that I feel as a part of this new community.
Probably the most important lesson that I took away from this weekend is how much I really do rely on the gifts and ministry of others. The journey of discipleship is not something that I can carry by myself. I need my brothers and sisters to walk with me, guiding and correcting me at times, comforting and supporting me at others. I give thanks to God for the love, wisdom and courage that I see in those whom God is gathering in the Friends of Jesus Fellowship.
It is my prayer that God will continue to gather this community, adding to our numbers, spiritual depth and love for one another. For those who are reading this message, I hope that you will feel invited to participate in this new movement of the Holy Spirit, perhaps joining us at our next gathering in the fall.