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Growing the Body of Christ – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #61

Dear friends,

The transition from the holiday season into a new year of work is both exciting and a little overwhelming! In this past month, I’ve been catching up on all the work that got set aside over the holidays, tackling a new home renovation project, and working with local leaders to launch our small groups into our first cycle of 2014. I’m trying to make sure that I stay busy with the right things, in the right way. I’m want to be attentive to how I can make myself available to other people, prioritizing togetherness in a community on mission with Jesus.

My job with Friends United Meeting is going well as we seek to make more resources available to equip Friends across the world. We on the communications team are examining everything we do and asking: Does this aspect of our work energize and equip Friends to gather communities that live out the gospel? If not, what should we be doing differently?

This is a time of great hope for us as staff members. 2014 is the year that we are putting everything on the table and evaluating how we can be most faithful in supporting the Christian ministry of Friends throughout North America, the Caribbean, Palestine and East Africa. We have a real opportunity to transform the organization into a vital resource for the worldwide body of Christ in this new century.

Please pray for the staff and board of FUM:

  • That we be given wisdom and discernment to embrace creativity and adaptability in new cultural, economic and historical conditions.
  • That we be filled with courage to try new things, take risks, and be willing to fail in order to succeed.
  • That we see past all controversies and human contention, keeping our eyes on Jesus and living in the reconciliation and unity he brings.

Here in DC, the Friends of Jesus community is experiencing a similar kind of opening as we begin our first small group cycle of the new year. We are blessed with a solid core of leadership for each of our groups, and we are feeling energized as we begin to spend six weeks reading Acts 2 together. We hope that this exploration of the beginning of the Christian community will inspire us in becoming a similarly Spirit-led, loving and guided community here in our own day.

Our small groups in Maryland and DC are now meeting on different days of the week, which should allow some interchange and mutual support between them. It also lets folks to pick the day, time and location that works best for them. As our community continues to gain strength, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we dream of becoming a multiplying fellowship of small groups that demonstrates the gospel in word and deed throughout our region.

Please pray for Friends of Jesus – DC Metro Area:

  • That God would continue to raise up leaders and core members who are inspired by the vision that God has given us.
  • That we would be equipped as a Spirit-led community that heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, announces freedom to the captive, and shares good news with all who are hungering for it.
  • That the living presence of Jesus would fill us with boldness and power to push beyond our comfort zone and love like he does.

The Friend of Jesus Fellowship as a whole continues to move forward. The weekend before last we had our first ever East Coast Gathering. This convergence in Philadelphia drew together folks from across the eastern seaboard – DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and the New York City region. We even had folks come out from our community in Detroit! It was a real blessing to have so many of our core members together in one place, and it was great to make new connections and hear about what’s happening in each of our local groups. We’re looking forward to the next such opportunity at our Spring Gathering, April 4-6, in Barnesville, Ohio.

Please pray for the Friends of Jesus Fellowship:

  • That God would continue to guide and nurture our new communities throughout the United States and beyond.
  • That the bonds between us would be strengthened, despite geographical distance.
  • That we would serve as a resource for one another, equipping new leaders & groups, and blessing the wider body of Christ.

As time goes on, I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the connection that we have to one another in prayer. Thank you for your faithfulness in the last months and years, holding me and our communities up in the light of God’s love. Please continue to pray for us, and let us know how our community can be praying for you.

In joy,

Micah Bales

Becoming Friends of Jesus – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #56

Dear friends,

Here in Washington, DC, August is a slow time. Historically, before the advent of air conditioned homes and office buildings, the heat and humidity of DC summers meant that very little business could get done. Rather than sweat it out, Congress took a recess, and most every government agency virtually shut down for the month of August.

These days, we don’t experience the kind of near-complete shutdown that was the norm in the early days of the city. Nevertheless, August definitely still brings a change of pace. Lots of folks are on vacation – and you’d better believe that Congress still takes their recess!

With this seasonal rhythm in mind, our community here in DC is doing our own August slow-down. This past Sunday we had the last meeting of our summer cycle, and we won’t be holding regular small group meetings again until September, when we begin our fall cycle.

This fall is looking to be very exciting for us, as we multiply our original small group into two new groups – one that meets out in Montgomery County, Maryland (serving the northern and western part of the DC metro area), and another that meets in the southern and eastern part of the city.

The multiplication of our first small group is an encouraging development for us on a variety of levels. First, it represents a multiplication of leadership, with a new leader and apprentice leader stepping up to organize the group in Maryland. Second, multiplication encourages us to take a more intentionally local perspective. With two groups instead of one, we will be freer to focus on the specific needs of different regions of our metro area, drawing people together who might not necessarily go for a weekly commute across town.

Finally, our pattern of multiplication positions us to invite more people into the community. Our first small group reached an optimal size almost immediately and stayed relatively stable over the course of the last seven months. By birthing these two new groups, we will be encouraged to look for new ways to reach out to our friends, neighbors and co-workers. We expect to adapt to the needs of our local communities, making us even more welcoming to new people.

As we enter into this new phase of our life together, it feels right to acknowledge our unfolding mission and vision by adopting a new name. For many months now, we have known that the name Capitol Hill Friends was not going to work for us in the long term. We sensed increasingly that our calling is to serve the entire DC metro area, not primarily the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We also realized that having a name that tied us to one neighborhood would be a hindrance as we begin to multiply our small groups across the region.

After months of discernment and prayerful consideration, we have come to unity that we should adopt: Friends of Jesus – DC Metro Area. We feel that this name is a good representation of who we aspire to be, and one that gives a nod to our roots in the Quaker tradition without sounding sectarian. Going by Friends of Jesus has the added benefit of connecting us directly to the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, the wider network we are a part of.

I feel so grateful for the way that our community here is unfolding and growing stronger in depth, commitment and numbers as time goes on. There is no doubt in my mind that your prayers are essential to the work that the Lord is doing here in our midst. Please continue to lift us up in the light, love and power of Jesus.

Specifically, please pray:

  • For the Holy Spirit to bless, encourage and prepare the leaders of our two new small groups.
  • That God guide the planning and preparation for the retreat on spiritual gifts that Friends of Jesus – DC Metro Area will be holding on September 1st.

In peace and gratitude,

Micah Bales