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Nurturing a Movement at Home and Abroad – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #25

Dear Friends of Jesus,

Greetings from Capitol Hill, where we are still enjoying relatively high temperatures despite being at the end of November. My father, whoThanksgiving on Capitol Hill was here with us for the Thanksgiving break, commented many times on how mild our weather was, and I feel grateful that we have not yet begun to get the wintry conditions that I hear are now developing in much of the country.

This past month has been one of many blessings in our work here on Capitol Hill, as well as in the wider world. Early this month, FaithYoung Adult Friends at Quaker Hill and I were able to attend the Young Adult Friends Intervisitation Consultation, held at Quaker Hill in Richmond, Indiana. The event was jointly sponsored by Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting. I felt blessed to be able to connect with a number of fellow gospel laborers who were also in attendance. I continue to benefit from the wider community of Friends, which helps me to understand my place in our tradition. I hope that my service is of some benefit to the wider Religious Society of Friends.

Following the consultation, I was able to meet with the planning committee for the 2010 YAF Gathering, which took place this past May. This was our last meeting, six months after the end of the conference, and it was good to debrief as a committee and finish the last bits of business that we had before us. Overall, we felt that we had been faithful in our service as organizers for the 2010 YAF Gathering, and we were grateful for the leading and opportunity to serve in this way.

We were grateful for the ways that we as a planning committee were able to connect, and the ways in which we experiencedYAF 2010 Planning Committee in Richmond Christ’s presence in our midst, both in our planning and during the conference itself. We were saddened by the fact that some participants did not feel welcome at the gathering. As we invited Friends to attend, we found that Liberals often felt that they were being invited to an Evangelical gathering, and Evangelicals often felt they were being invited to a Liberal gathering. It is indeed a hard thing to stand in the middle in the diverse and heterodox tapestry of communities that make up North American Quakerism.

The following weekend, we on Capitol Hill were blessed by the arrival of Tyler Hampton of New City Friends in Detroit. Tyler visited amongTyler Hampton us under a minute from his worship group, and participated in a called meeting for worship of Capitol Hill Friends. We traveled with him to visit Rockingham Friends Meeting in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and later to Old Town Friends in Baltimore. Our sense was that Tyler was of great service in his ministry among us, and in our region, and we are thankful to New City Friends for sending him to us.

Tyler is among a growing number of Friends who are feeling a call to take part in a movement of engaged, missional Quaker faith. WithIMG_1124 his and others’ encouragement, I have recently written a series of essays on my blog that give a rough sketch of what such a movement might look like among Friends and beyond. The response to this series has been great, and I am pleased to see how much enthusiasm exists for a more vital, Christ-centered, justice-seeking Quaker witness. I hope to continue to encourage Friends to join me and others in listening for how Christ is leading us today, and to live into the mission that he is calling us to.

There is no doubt that we are being called. In recent months, I have been contacted by Friends across the United States and Europe who are hearing Christ’s call to lead transformed lives that embody the Gospel and serve the “least of these” in our society. I am astonished by the work of the Spirit, and am constantly reminded of how little this has to do with me; God is doing a new thing, and I pray that I may be faithful in playing my own small part in this fresh movement of the Holy Spirit. And I hope that you will join me, finding your part in Christ’s work in this generation.

Locally, I have been encouraged by my recent interactions with two Christian communities in the DC area. To begin with, I have becomeWoman with Stroller in DC increasingly involved with the community of one of the attenders of Capitol Hill Friends. This attender lives with three other twenty-somethings in the Congress Heights neighborhood, which is predominantly low income and African-American. The folks at her house have some Quaker background, but do not have a shared spiritual practice as a community; their main goal is to be good neighbors in their area and to be involved in the wider community. I have begun attending Bible study there, which includes the residents of the house, as well as some other folks from the neighborhood. In addition, I am getting involved with the organizing of a new Food Not Bombs group, which seeks to serve the Congress Heights neighborhood.

I have also been blessed to come into relationship with some Friends in Frederick, Maryland who are eager to go deeper in aFrederick, MD missional expression of their faith as Quaker Christians. These Friends also hold a Bible study, and I am hopeful that we might be able to eventually attend at least some of their meetings, though Frederick is about an hour and a half away from us with heavy traffic, which renders the journey a bit difficult. Especially the single mothers with no means to public transport, it’s not everyone that can afford top rated baby walkers to go on long journeys safely with their children.  In any case, I hope that we can continue to encourage each other as we seek to walk in Christ’s Way.

It feels good to be getting more deeply involved in the wider community here in DC. For much of my first year here, my attentionE Capitol Street SE was mostly focused outward, on my work organizing among Young Adult Friends nationally. Now, however, I feel that God is calling me to focus more of my attention on developing relationships locally. I hope that, as I become more integrated into the city’s communal life, I might become a more effective witness to the grace and peace of Christ that has so transformed my own life.

Paradoxically, while I am seeing such amazing growth and opportunity in my life and work, I also struggle at times spiritually. I am often challenged to see the willfulness that still exists in my heart; I want things to happen after my own fashion, and it often takes me a long time to come around to accepting God’s will when it runs counter to my own assumptions and desires. As Christ calls me deeper into his Kingdom-life, I face the prospect of ongoing spiritual baptism. Just like the crucifixion that leads to resurrection, these inward baptisms can be truly confusing and agonizing, especially when I insist on resisting to the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart.

I am deeply grateful for my wife, Faith. God uses her so beautifully to keep me on track and to strengthen me when I pass through theFaith inward darkness. I am also grateful for the support and counsel of my Meeting, and of my fellow workers and elders scattered across the distances, who help keep me balanced and give me an outside perspective. I am who I am, and am released to do the work that I do, because of the faithful example and care of many good friends in Christ.

I pray that God establish in your life the relationships of support and guidance that you need as Christ calls you deeper into his challenging way of engagement with the world and his mission to share the Gospel with all people. I look forward to laboring alongside you in his name.

Your friend in Truth,

Micah

Missional Quaker Faith Series:

Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #20 – YAF Gathering 2010; Service Days; Great Plains Yearly Meeting; and Illinois Yearly Meeting

Dear Friends,

More than usual has happened this past month. The YAF gathering came off without any major hitches, followed by volunteer service in the city of Wichita; I attended Great Plains Yearly Meeting; and, not long after that, I was able to join Friends in Illinois Yearly Meeting for their annual sessions. In the meantime, I have also stayed engaged with Friends in the DC area and in Virginia. This has been a full and fruitful time for Christ’s work in my life, and I hope that you will forgive me if I run a little long in my report.

To begin with, the 2010 Young Adult Friends Gathering was held, with divine assistance, over Memorial Day weekend in Wichita, Kansas. Young adults from across the United States and Canada – Micah and Dave Williamsas well as a few Latin American Friends – came together,  representing twenty three Yearly Meetings. All branches of Quakerism were represented, and Liberal-Unprogrammed, orthodox and Evangelical Friends were present in roughly equal numbers, along with a few Conservative and independent Friends.

Our time together was richly blessed with the sustained and gentle presence of the Holy Spirit who kept us grounded in unity University Friends Sanctuaryand peace, despite the difficulties we faced as we came together from our different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives. We sought God’s face together in periods of extended unprogrammed worship; we also celebrated God’s presence among us with hymns and praise music; and we received teaching from from Dave Williams of Barclay College in two of our evening sessions.

Our different beliefs and practices stretched all of us to seek that which is truly central in our life together as Friends. Some of us were exposed to far more unprogrammed worship than we were Registration used to, while others of us were astonished to see some Friends raise their hands in adoration as we sang songs of praise to the Lord. It is safe to say that each one of us was uncomfortable some of the time, and I know for a fact that some Friends came away from the event feeling that it was a “mostly Liberal” gathering, while others came away feeling that it was an “Evangelical-oriented” conference. I think this speaks to the prophetic power of Christ’s work among us. None of us came away unchallenged.

This gathering was a wake-up call for many of us as to the reality  of the divisions within the Religious Society of Friends. The splits, Welcome Young Adult Friends Gatheringwhile they may have begun as disputes over seemingly minor points, have grown to a breadth and depth that we are forced to acknowledge that we are incapable of mending the wounds ourselves. It is in this surrender, this recognition of our own inability to save ourselves, that I pray that we will become receptive to the reconciling power of Christ in our hearts and in our midst as a people gathered in His Name.

The weekend gathering was followed by a few days of service. Between a half dozen and a dozen of us who had stayed on after the gathering worked with Mennonite Housing in Wichita. We did landscaping at two different sites, and we were surprised at how happy folks were to see us at Mennonite Housing and in the communities where we were working. We did not expect any gratitude for our brief time of community service, and we were humbled by the appreciation we received.

We were surprised at how simple it was to set up a work-camp for YAFs. Tyler Hampton, the main organizer for the service days, said that setting up the service project was, “the easiest thing [he] had done in [his] life.” We would like to encourage young adults to organize their own work camps through established organizations like Mennonite Housing. It can be done – and quite easily.
We concluded our service by helping Friends at Heartland Meeting to prepare their meetinghouse to host the annualHeartland Meeting House sessions of Great Plains Yearly Meeting. About half a dozen of the YAFs from the Memorial Day gathering stuck around for GPYM, and it was a blessing to have their prayerful presence with us as we conducted our business as a Yearly Meeting.

This year’s sessions of Great Plains were probably the best that I had ever experienced. We enjoyed new leadership from Laura Dungan, who has taken over as presiding clerk.  Her energy andGreat Plains Yearly Meeting vision has been indispensable in the past year in mobilizing Friends to  take on the ministry of intervisitation in the Great  Plains region, and it was a joy to see her presiding over her first Yearly Meeting business sessions. I appreciated the discipline I saw her bring to our proceedings, and I felt blessed by both her warmth and her seriousness in the role.

We were grateful to have many guests – YAFs from the recent gathering; visitors from other Yearly Meetings, FGC and FUM; and visitors from neighboring Meetings in the Great Plains region. It was gratifying to see Great Plains Yearly Meeting serving as a bridge across the branches, both nationally and regionally.

We also faced great sadness together as a Yearly Meeting. We were shocked and deeply grieved to learn that our friend John Damon, an active member of Great Plains Yearly Meeting, was dying of a post-op infection following an otherwise-successful liver transplant. We were not prepared for this news, and many tears were shed over our dear friend. John was a valued member of our fellowship, and his loss is a great blow to us.

This year’s sessions were a time of letting go for me, personally. As I am now living at a considerable distance from the GreatMicah and Faith at GPYM Plains and have no plans to return, it felt right to lay down my leadership roles in the Yearly Meeting. I had served as co-clerk of Ministry and Counsel, as well as serving on Continuing Committee; I stepped down from both of these positions. I feel  much gratitude to Friends in GPYM who have upheld my ministry and have allowed me to serve among them. While I am saddened that I am no longer in a position to take an active role in Yearly Meeting leadership, I am confident in the work that Christ is doing YAFs at GPYMin the Yearly Meeting. The spiritual gifts that Friends need to do the work they are called to are present in the body; I pray for Friends in Great Plains Yearly Meeting the wisdom to be used in God’s service.

After a brief trip back to DC, I was once again on the road, this time out to Illinois Yearly Meeting. ILYM has its sessions near McNabb, Illinois, at the beautiful Clear Creek Meeting House. Near the meetinghouse, there is space for camping, six cabinsThe Front Porch with room to sleep almost fifty, as well as another building (used by the teenagers) that can house many more. In addition to these facilities, Friends were excited last year to acquire neighboring land, including a farmhouse that they have been busily renovating since then. All in all, these Friends have a wonderful facility to host their Yearly Meeting, as well as other events as they see fit.

Having spent such a long time in cities, it was a relief to be in the ILYM Campgroundscountryside and out of doors for long periods of time. For me, the site was almost magical; I was mesmerized by the sound of frogs, insects and the wind rushing through the trees, accompanied by the blinking lights of the fireflies that hung in the air throughout the camp site and across the cornfields.

This was a good environment for the ministry that I was called to do. Friends in ILYM asked me to speak to them during their first evening sessions; they asked me to share about my spiritual Clear Creek Meeting House Interior journey. No further instructions. I spent a lot of time in prayer about what I was to say, and as I arrived early at the Yearly Meeting site, I was beginning to feel around the edges of it. On the morning of the day I was to speak, I felt clear that I had been given a word from the Lord to deliver to Friends.

And so it was. That evening, I shared with Friends about my trials and stumblings as a youth; my existential despair and confusion; my eventual convincement as a Friend; and my long journey, ILYM AYFswhich continues, to grow closer in my walk with Christ. My message ended up being centered around listening, and I asked Friends in ILYM to consider how they taught their young people  to listen for the voice of God in their hearts. Based on the worship that followed and the comments that I received afterwards, I believe that I was faithful.

Except for a workshop which I presented the following day about the North American Young Adult Friends movement, I was mostly free to spend the rest of the sessions in prayer and Micah with Caryn and Zoe conversation with Friends. I spent much of my time with the Young Adult Friends (in ILYM called “Adult Young Friends”), and I was grateful to be available to them as they did some discernment around what they are called to as a community within ILYM. I was pleased to hear a vision emerge among them: That their  community was to be a place of transition, aiding young Quakers in the transition to full adult membership and participation in the Yearly Meeting.

It was truly a gift to be with Friends at ILYM’s sessions. I felt very warmly welcomed among them, and I look forward to how I might be of service in the future. I have seen that the Lord has blessed them with competent and Spirit-led leadership, and I am confident that God is working out God’s purposes in their midst.

The next couple of months are going to be just as intense as the last month has been. I am leaving today for Barnesville, Ohio, to attend the Wider Gathering of Conservative Friends. Following that, I will continue on in Barnesville for QuakerSpring – a unique, completely “unprogrammed” time to gather together in Christ. Finally, after a few days back in DC, I will make my way out to the Pacific Northwest for the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage, where I will serve as one of four adult leaders, serving with almost thirty high-school-aged Young Friends as we discover together our rich heritage as Quakers. I will not be back home until mid-August.
I appreciate your prayers for me as I continue to travel and minister as God leads. I hope that you will continue to hold me in the Light, and that you will let me know if you have prayer concerns that you would like me to take into my prayer life.

Your brother in the family that is Christ’s Reign,

Micah Bales

Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #19 – After Months of Prayer and Preparation, YAF Gathering 2010 is this Weekend

Dear Friends of Truth,

This past month has been one of intense, final preparations for the Young Adult Friends Gathering that will take place this weekend in Wichita, Kansas. We on the planning committee have juggled Arkansas River - Wichita, Kansasthe logistics of food preparation and where to purchase necessary supplies; the ins and outs of insurance regulations; putting  together information packets and nametags; and making plans for housing conference participants. On top of this, we have made a concerted effort to get the word out, so that all YAFs could learn about the conference and consider whether they were being led to attend.

As I write to you today, we still have many details ahead of us: rides to and from the airport, bus station and train station; housing assignments; food preparation; and more. However, despite the details that remain, I feel confident in saying that we are on course. This gathering is happening. The rest is up to God.
It has always been up to God, of course. It was God who brought us together as a planning committee; who gave each of us a heart for this ministry of reconciliation among Friends. It was God who guided us and showed us what our theme was to be – drawing on 1 University Friends Meeting HouseJohn 1:1-3 – Bearing Witness to the Word Among Us: Witness,  Testimony and Transformation. It is God who has raised up Dave Williams of Barclay College to be our main speaker; God spoke to his heart, and led him to share of himself and his experience of Christ with Young Adult Friends. It is God who is drawing approximately seventy-five Friends from across North America to come together this weekend in Wichita, to see what love can do – so that we may be witnesses to God’s mercy and power, to the ways in which God is working among Friends across the continent.

This is the faith that we on the planning committee had to have in order to stay sane during this planning process: That God is in Keeper of the Plains - Wichita, Kansascontrol, guiding and caring for us as we seek to be instruments for God’s purposes. We have sensed God’s providence in the way the Spirit has spoken to each of our hearts – not only those of us on the planning committee, but also our speaker, works hop leaders, Bible study leaders, pastoral care team members; indeed, to all of us who will be in attendance this weekend. We have been called together for a purpose, and I am waiting with baited breath to see what God will do with us as we are gathered in God’s name.
 
Please pray for all of us – planners, leaders, participants, young adults and older adults. Pray that we may know Christ’s presence in our midst as a community, and that we may be brought into true unity in the Spirit. May God’s Word be revealed to us  – let us hear it and see it and touch it, so that we may be witnesses to the whole world of what we have experienced of the Truth.

Your friend in the life and power of the Spirit,

Micah

El plazo de la registracion se acerca para la reunion de Jovenes Amigos 2010

Queridos Amigos,

El plazo de la registración para la reunión de Jovenes Amigos en Wichita se acerca rápidamente. Mientras el evento se acerca me gustaría compartir con ustedes un sentido de nuestro estado espiritual en cuanto a la reunion, y también lo que ésta conferencia significa para el resto de la sociedad religiosa de los Amigos.

Creemos que ésta reunión podría ser el más diverso evento cruz-rama para Jovenes Amigos desde por lo menos los años sesenta. Hasta el día de hoy tenemos, al menos dos registraciones de casi  todas las juntas anuales en norteamérica. Estamos pronosticando que los Amigos de la Iglesia Evangélica Amigos; reuniones pastorales en la Junta Unida de los Amigos; y la Conferencia General de los Amigos van a participar aproxidamente en igual Wichitanumero. Ésta es una oportunidad increible para todos Jovenes Amigos a reunirse y participar con lo que el Espíritu nos esta llamando a hacer ahora. Me siento bendecido de participar en este proceso.

Nuestra esperanza es que la reunión sea un espacio donde los Amigos de gran variedad de fondos, auto-conocimientos, creencias, e identidades puedan encontrar unidad en aquello que es eterno: El Espíritu de Dios. Es nuestra oración que todos puedan traer a su ser completo, y ser amados y respetados en nuestra comunidad así comos Dios nos ama – sin condiciones.

La conferencia del último fin de semana de mayo ha sido el enfoque de nuestras oraciones para muchos de nosotros por los ultimos seis meses, y nosotros como planificadores estamos agradecidos por el apoyo espiritual que se nos ha brindado así como hemos buscado proveer un espacio seguro y formentador para todos los Amigos. Gracias por sus oraciones, y por favor continúa sosteniendonos en la Luz del Amor de Dios.

Por increible que parezca para aquellos de nosotros en el comité El Templo de la Iglesia Amigos Universityde planificación, la conferencia casi ha llegado. La reunión se llevará acabo en menos de tres semanas – 28-31 de mayo; y éste Sabado – 15 de Mayo – es la fecha plazo para registrarse para el evento. Para aquellos de ustedes entre las edades de 18-35,  esperamos que se unan a nosotros en ésta oportunidad histórica de reunirnos con jovenes cuáqueros de todo norteamérica para descubrir juntos qué puede hacer el amor entre nosotros. Para aquellos de ustedes que estan muy jovenes o muy mayores para asistir – por favor mantengannos en sus oraciones mientras buscamos abrir nuestro ser al gozo, paz, humildad, y a la ternura del Amor de Dios.

Registration Deadline Nears for Young Adult Friends Gathering 2010

Dear Friends,

The final registration deadline for the 2010 Young Adult Friends Gathering in Wichita is fast approaching. As the event nears, I would like to share with you where we are at in terms of our sense of the spiritual state of the gathering, as well as what this conference means for the wider Religious Society of Friends.

This gathering may prove to be the most diverse cross-branch event for Young Adult Friends since at least the 1960s. To date, we have at least two registrations in from nearly every Yearly Meeting in North America. We are forecasting that Friends from Evangelical Friends Church; pastoral Meetings in Friends United Meeting; and Friends General Conference will participate in roughly equal numbers. This is an incredible opportunity for P1010915Friends from across the spectrum to come together and engage with what the Spirit is calling us to today. I feel very blessed to be a part of this process.

Our hope is that this gathering will be a space where Friends from a wide variety of backgrounds, self-understandings, beliefs and identities can find unity in that which is eternal: the Spirit of God. It is our prayer that everyone who attends the gathering feel able to bring their whole selves, and to be loved and respected by Friends, just as God loves each of us without condition.

The conference this Memorial Day weekend has been the focus of prayer for so many for the last six months, and we as planners are grateful for the spiritual support that we have been given as we have sought to provide a safe and nurturing space for all Friends. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to hold us in the light of God’s love.

As incredible as it seems to those of us on the planning  committee, the conference is University Friends Meeting Housealmost upon us. The gathering takes place less than three weeks from today, May 28-31; and this Saturday – 15 May – is the last day to register for the event. For those of you between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, we hope that you will join us for this historic opportunity to come together with other young adult Quakers from across North America to see what love can do in our midst. For those who are too young or too old to attend – please hold us in your prayers as we seek to open ourselves to the joy, peace, humility and tenderness of God’s love.

Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #18 – Entering the Home Stretch towards YAF Gathering 2010

Dear Friends of Truth,

I’ve been on the move a lot this last month. After a time of relative settledness and rest on Capitol Hill, I emerged again this April as I began the final Capitol Hillpush in the planning of and outreach work for the Young Adult Friends Gathering 2010, to occur this Memorial Day weekend in Wichita. I am currently on the road, visiting Friends in Wichita, having first spent a week in Chicago.

This month’s letter was to have begun with a report on the gathering of New York Yearly Meeting’s Young Adult Friends. Faith and I had intended to attend their event near Ithaca, New York, in late March. Unfortunately, both Faith and I were struck by sudden illness just before we were to depart. Though we were Circle of Young Friends (NYYM)very sad to miss the gathering, we trust that God has a plan in everything and that the Spirit was present with our beloved brothers and sisters in New York Yearly Meeting during their time together.

The gathering in New York was only one of several regional Young Adult Friends gatherings that have taken place this spring. There were also gatherings held in Philadelphia, DC, and Wichita.  At these events, Friends had the opportunity to engage with the advance materials for the May gathering, prepare themselves for  the event over Memorial Day weekend, and to get to know better other Friends from their area. Turnout for these gatherings was generally small, but we know that many who were not able to attend will be able to engage with the conference materials individually.

Shortly following the DC regional YAF gathering,Chicago I boarded a train to attend the Religion Communication Congress (RCC), held in downtown Chicago, April 7-10. It was a really eye-opening  experience to gather with hundreds of other religious communicators, learn about the state of communications among religious organizations across the country, and dig deeper into the emerging technologies and communications strategies that are shaping our intellectual and social landscape. Particularly important for me was learning more about the importance of video as an outreach tool. (To see some fruits of my exploration thus far, click here.)

Following the RCC, I spent several days with Garnet and Eileen Chicago mass transitFay. I was very grateful for the warm hospitality they showed me. It was a blessing to accompany Garnet to worship at Chicago  Friends Meeting. My parents were co-pastors at this Meeting back in the late 1970s, and it was good to see the meeting house where they served together just after getting married. It is a very different Meeting now, having become non-pastoral in the mid-1990s. I was glad to get to know these Friends and to share worship with them.

Faith met up with me in Chicago and we took the train together to Planning committe in WichitaWichita, where we spent a weekend with the planning committee for the YAF Gathering 2010. There were seven of us, from across  the United States, who met together to conduct the last major items of business that we had before us as we geared up for the final weeks of conference registration. During the weekend, I spent a lot of my time shooting and editing videos to share our meetings with everyone who couldn’t be there in person. You can see the videos on YouTube by searching with the keyword “YAF2010” – or, just click here.

Faith headed home following the committee meetings, but I am staying on in Wichita for another week, specifically in order to be present this weekend at Earlham School of Religion’s 50th anniversary celebration at Heartland Meeting House. Yesterday,

I travelled with Charity Sandstrom out to Barclay College. We spoke with the students there about the upcoming YAF gathering, and invited them to participate. The Friends at Barclay were very welcoming and sweet. I felt honored to be among them. Our main speaker for the gathering, Dave Williams, is professor of pastoral ministries and chaplain at Barclay; so we hope to get a good turnout from Friends there.

In the midst of my travels, I managed to launch QuakerMaps.com, a joint project with Jon Watts. QuakerMaps is a site where Friends and seekers from around the QuakerMaps.comworld can  discover Quakerism and explore the location of local Meetings and Yearly Meetings through embedded Google maps. We still have a lot of work left to do, but it is coming along nicely. I would encourage Friends Meetings to check out our Active Outreach Program, which we hope will serve local Quaker Meetings in their internet outreach efforts. Also, if you or your Meeting have a website, please consider linking to QuakerMaps.com.

In the month ahead, I will be engaged in the final preparations for the 2010 YAF Gathering. Please pray for me, and for the planning committee, as we seek to be faithful to God’s guidance. We believe that God wants to open a welcoming space for Friends from across North America – and across the branches of Quakerism – to come together and know one another in the Spirit of Christ. I am convinced that God is active in guiding and preparing this conference. God is in control, in a very real sense, and I can only look on in awe as the Holy Spirit prepares us for what we are to see, experience and learn this Memorial Day weekend.

Your friend in Love,

Micah Bales

Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #17 – Growing Roots in the City and in the Soul

Dear Children of the Day,

Greetings in the love of Christ. The last month has been full of work and blessings, and there is much to report. After being able to spend some weeks at home in DC, travel has reemerged as a signature feature of my life and work. In the months ahead, my schedule looks to grow only more intense as I work to strengthen Friends throughout my region and in North America as a whole.

In the DC Area


William Penn House I have been mostly settled in DC for the past month, and I’ve had the chance to focus more on ministry within the local region. Capitol Hill Friends continues to meet, and Faith and I attend the nearby Takoma Park Meeting on an increasingly regular basis. We have also made two visits this month to Old Town Friends in the neighboring city of Baltimore. I have enjoyed getting to know the Friends at these two Meetings, and I hope to work with them to nurture the life of the Spirit in our midst.

P1010201

Most of this month has been a time of slow, quiet development. I am frustrated sometimes at how slowly my roots seem to be growing here in the District of Columbia. However, I know that building relationships takes a long time, and that it may well be years before I truly feel connected with my new hometown. The challenge is deepened by the fact that my professional life is largely unconnected to DC, and calls for frequent travel to other cities. Though I am impatient to go deeper in developing relationships where I live, I seek to trust in God’s timing, which is often very different from what I would prefer. I recognize that friendships do not develop overnight.


Travels to New Jersey and Philadelphia


In contrast to most of the month, this last week has been one of intense activity and travel. To begin with, Faith and I traveled to New Jersey and Philadelphia to meet with Friends there and encourage participation bymartinfamily young adult Friends in the Memorial Day YAF gathering in Wichita. We were honored to stay with Martin Kelley and his family at their home in New Jersey. It was good to re-connect with them over pizzelle, tea, pizza, and late-night card games. They were kind enough to let us use their house as a base of operations while we visited Friends in the city.

Our time with Friends in Philadelphia felt good. We met with Emily Stewart and Sadie Forsythe (young adult Friends coordinators at FGC and Philadelphia YM, respectively) and heard from them about how their communities were feeling about the upcoming YAF conference in Wichita. It was helpful to hear their sense of the communities where they serve as leaders. Following our time with them, we were able to have lunch with most of the YAF staff members of Philadelphia-based Quaker organizations (FGC, PYM and AFSC, in particular). It was a blessing to be able to share about the Wichita gathering and to address questions and concerns that Friends had about the event. The meeting left us feeling hopeful that we were developing good relationships with Friends in Philadelphia.
philadelphia
We felt grateful for the chance to spend time with Julian Brelsford, who works for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and has spent a great deal of his personal time and energy doing work in Haiti, where he was present during the recent, devastating earthquake. Faith and I appreciated his spirit, and we are grateful for the work that we see God doing through him.
We were also able to visit Betsy Blake, a fabulous Quaker minister and entrepreneur (her laundry detergent is amazing!) who is living as Pendle Hill‘s artist in residence this year. It was a joy to be with her and to share with one another what we have been experiencing in the last weeks and months, as well as to connect with some other YAFs who were present for a concert.

FWCC Section of the Americas Annual Meeting


pearlstone retreat center That evening, we drove to the FWCC Section of the Americas annual meeting site outside of Baltimore, and I attended the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage working group the following morning. I will be serving as a leader for the program this summer, which will take place in Oregon and Washington state. The pilgrimage will bring together Quaker youth (aged 16-18) from across the FWCC Section of the Americas and the European and Middle East Section, to spend a month together exploring our heritage as Friends and deepening our relationship with God. I have not had much experience with youth work before, but I feel that God is leading me to serve in this way. I trust that God will work through me, despite my sense of personal inadequacy for the task.

Ministers Retreat in Ohio


friends center sign After an evening back in DC, I was off again on Friday morning to a ministers retreat at Friends Center, in Barnesville, Ohio, facilitated by Brian Drayton, author of the widely-read “On Living With a Concern for Gospel Ministry.” The gathering included almost thirty ministers from throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. There was a very strong showing from Ohio Yearly Meeting – I was informed that most of Ohio’s active, recorded ministry was present at the event – and there were a number of Friends from Baltimore, Illinois and Ohio Valley yearly meetings.

stillwater meeting house Our time together was well-spent. The weekend was a time of almost constant worship and deep, expectant waiting on the Lord. It was a blessing to be among so many Friends who shared a concern for Gospel ministry, and I felt that my relationships in the Lord were deepened with a number of individuals. Perhaps most importantly, I had the opportunity to connect with other ministers from the DC area, two of whom I had never met before. I am hopeful that we might seek ways to support one another in our Gospel labors in the region.

Looking Ahead


Faith and I will be traveling again to New York state this weekend, to attend a gathering of Young Adult Friends and encourage them in their engagement with the Spirit. Then, on April 3rd, we will be hosting a regional YAF gathering at the William Penn House, for young adults in the DC/Baltimore area. Please pray for these events: May God pour out the Holy Spirit on us and deepen our commitment to Christ’s work in the world. Also, please pray that God prepare us for the challenges and the blessings that will come to those who gather in Wichita this Memorial Day weekend.

Blessings to all of you in the name of our Lord, who longs to gather us under his wing like a mother hen does her chicks. May we be brought into peace and unity in Christ’s name.

Yours in the love and hope that is in Christ Jesus,

Micah Bales