9-25 | Barclay College Symposium | Dr. Dave Williams to Present Dissertation Manny Garcia to Respond

posted on September 18th, 2018

Listen live by clicking here!

The God Who Sees Me

posted on September 6th, 2018

Life is hard.  That is a fact, and it is one that rings true for each and every resident of planet earth.  It is also a fact that life is much harder for some of us than for others.

According to recent studies, 1 in 4 children experience some form of child abuse or neglect in their lifetimes,¹ and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence.² To make matters even worse, national news outlets recently reported that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania alone.³

The ugly fact is that it is likely that you or another member of your family has been or will be a victim of traumatic abuse, neglect or domestic violence at some point in life.  The worst part is that this pain is most often inflicted by a close relative or trusted friend, the very people who are supposed to keep us safe and sound.

As usual, the Bible is not blind to this fact.  Bible characters are very real people who lived in very real places at very real times.  Times that were not so different from ours.

One of these characters was a young Egyptian girl named Hagar (cf. Genesis 16), a runaway slave who fled to the Canaanite desert in response to an escalating pattern of abuse and neglect at the hand of her masters, Sarai (Sarah) and Abram (Abraham).  Hagar was pregnant as well, so she was accompanied on this treacherous journey by her unborn child. A surrogate mother, despised and rejected, forced to wander in the wilderness. Hungry, homeless, hopeless and all alone … or so she thought.

In the midst of her desert of despair, Hagar experienced a divine visitation. An angel of the Lord appeared to her with a hopeful and promising message to deliver.  Hagar would not die in the desert. She would return home and give birth to a son named Ishmael (“God hears”), and his descendants would be “too numerous to count.”

Once the angel had departed, Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me” (El Roi), for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

I couldn’t help but think of this story earlier this week, when a new foster baby arrived at our daughter, Sarah’s home.  His name is not Ishmael, but I have no doubt that our good and beautiful God has heard his cries. El Roi has clearly seen the broken lives of his birth parents and the traumatic series of events that ultimately led to this little one’s arrival at his new foster home.  And now, perhaps for the very first time in his very brief life, he is safe and sound, delivered from the desert of despair by “the God who sees.”

According to the apostle James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).  Abuse and neglect make children into orphans and parents into widows. God sees them. Do you?

We have a dream of God’s Kingdom coming to heal the sick and the broken … the homeless and hungry knowing that God cares and has sent friends to help them … orphans and widows and the sick believing that their Creator knows their name.

“We Have a Dream: A Commissioning Prayer for EFC-MAYM”

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” – Psalm 68:5-6, NIV

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

 

¹ https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/index.html

² https://ncadv.org/statistics

³ https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/14/us/pennsylvania-catholic-church-grand-jury/index.html

Multiplications Ministries Conference 2018

posted on August 30th, 2018

The last multiplication movement among Friends in North America was in the late 19thcentury, moving from the eastern seaboard, through the central plains, and on to the west coast.  Today, the winds of God’s Spirit seem to be blowing again. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next movement came in our generation and began in the middle of the country?  That was the very heartbeat of the 2018 National Friends Church Multiplication Conference, co-sponsored by MCM Associates and Barclay College, held August 1-3 in Haviland, Kansas.  Our God showed up along with more than 100 evangelically-minded Friends from all over the United States.   Friends clearly want to make church multiplication a priority! 

Our guest speaker for this year’s conference was Pastor Dave Ferguson from Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois.  Dave is a nationally-known multiplication leader who serves as the primary face of the Exponential Conference, called by many across America and around the world as the “largest gathering of new church planters and teams on the planet.”   He has authored numerous books including Hero Maker, which provided the central focus for his five plenary challenges at this conference.

It was an inspiring Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20), Great Commandment (Mt 22:37-40), and Great Collaboration (Jn 17:20-23) gathering of Friends from Mid-America, Rocky Mountain, Eastern Region, Northwest, Southwest, Iowa, Indiana, and North Carolina Yearly Meetings. These intense five days (including travel) included strategic workshops and equipping sessions to help leaders and churches to get outside of themselves and to see the ripe harvest fields all around us.  The beautiful new Ross-Ellis Center at Barclay College was the setting and the unusually cool summer weather in Kansas made it the ideal place to be at this moment on God’s beautiful creation.   

Dave Ferguson brought a timely challenge to be about Kingdom business by making new disciples into “Kingdom Heroes,” rather than building our own reputations and realms. There were challenges to set goals and then multiply them by 100 or a 1000 like our great big God does, in order to meet the needs of this world by deploying new leaders who start new churches. Though we already have most of the tools we need, we recognized that we do need to develop a culture and commitment to continually make new disciples and to start new churches, so we were challenged to develop new networks for church planting because it is our corporate calling.

With tracks and workshops for Latino leaders in Spanish, as well as other cultures, this conference was relevant and inspiring for all.  The Thursday night session included an invitation to pray at the front of the auditorium where numerous individuals and couples prayed to be used and empowered by the Spirit of God to go and to build Christ’s Kingdom!   

We invite others to join in the quarterly MCM-hosted “Catalyst Conversations” with people who are actively involved in the stateside mission work of new church planting to hear what God is up to and to learn how we can be more involved.  The next Multiplication Conference will be decentralized into multiple regions and is planned for the year 2020 with inspirational leadership coming from online sessions presented by some of our international heroes from around the world.   More information will be coming, so plan now to be a part of the beautiful “new thing” that the Lord of the harvest is doing in our midst!

 

– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries

Leadership Institute, Sept 10 | Church Leadership & Administration PART II

posted on August 13th, 2018

We eagerly anticipate Tom Showalter’s second class on “Church Leadership and Administration” on September 10, 2018, which promises to be a rich and most helpful learning experience. Tom enlightened us last month to a style of church leadership patterned after Jesus’ servant leadership and transformational ministry. He will journey with us even deeper in our desire to be transforming agents for Christ.

Tom is certainly well prepared to teach us. He has taught and ministered among numerous Friends as a Friends pastor. His responsibilities as Iowa Yearly Meeting General Superintendent are giving him a broad base of experiences in teaching pastors and other church leaders. Tom’s leadership on the Barclay College and William Penn University’s Boards of Trustees and the Board of Friends United Meeting are adding to his deep well of effective leadership methods. His educational background, with the Master of Arts degree in Transformational Leadership – Professional Studies from Barclay College, has given him valuable insights into ways church leaders can minister to their people, to open their hearts to the transforming work of Christ. Tom, in his love for us and the Church, is enthusiastic to teach us from his insights, experiences, and practical wisdom.

Here are the places you can interact live with Tom: Eliyazer Biumba and Mitaci Ekwenya, Congo Friends in the Abilene, TX Friends Church, St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Linnette Moodie, a Jamaican Friend, Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Barclay College (Jackson Hall), North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, and New Hope Friends Church.

If you need to listen to Tom at a different time, here is the YouTube link to Tom’s presentation here.

Tom will provide the best counsel for us in his class on Monday September 10, 2018 (the second Monday in September, since the first Monday is Labor day) at 7:00 p.m. central time.

With anticipation to learn more about being a transforming church leader,

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Giants in the Land

posted on August 13th, 2018

As our children and grandchildren return to school this month, one of the first questions they will surely be asked is, “So what did you do on your summer vacation?”

As for me and my house, we love to camp, so one of the highlights of our summer was to embark on a 10-day road trip across the American west with my younger brother and his family.  During our 4,000-mile pilgrimage we were able to take in a staggering variety of breath-taking vistas and awe-inspiring wonders of the natural world along the way.  Needless to say, it was an epic adventure. But there was one particular sight that stood out to us above all of the rest … literally.

During our visit to Yosemite National Park, we took a short yet strenuous hike down a peaceful trail that leads to the Tuolumne Grove, one of the few places left in the entire world (outside of fairy tale books, that is) where you can stand in the presence of genuine giants and live to tell about it.  The Giant Sequoia trees that populate the western Sierra Nevada 

may be gentle giants, but by no means does this reduce the “shock and awe” factor when you behold them for the first time.
Giant Sequoias are the largest trees in the world.  Record trees have been measured to be over 300 feet tall and more than 50 feet in diameter, with bark as much as 3 feet thick at the base.  With a total weight of several million pounds, these pine pillars are true freaks of nature.  Like Frodo and his friends from the Shire, we all felt like Hobbits in the presence of the Ents that day during our visit to the Tuolomne Grove.

Upon further review, however, we discovered that there is much more to Giant Sequoias than initially meets the eye.  What I found most fascinating and most compelling in correlation to Christian discipleship and spiritual formation, in particular, is what is actually required for Great Sequoias to grow so strong and tall:

COMMUNITY: Giant Sequoias cannot survive on their own.  They only grow in groves.  Their shallow roots can extend more than 200 feet from each tree, creating a massive, interdependent root system. The sustainability of each individual tree hinges upon the health and vitality of the wider community.  There are no lone rangers among Giant Sequoias. Cooperation is non-negotiable. 

Giant Sequoias must remain closely connected to one another in order to thrive … and so must we (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16). 

ADVERSITY: Giant Sequoias cannot reproduce without the stress and pressure that accompany an occasional forest fire.  Fire brings hot air high into the canopy which in turn dries and opens the Sequoia cones so they can release their seeds. Periodic wildfires also clear competing vegetation.  Without fire, other shade-loving trees will crowd out young Sequoia seedlings, preventing germination. 

Giant Sequoias must be willing to endure the heat in order to bear fruit … and so must we (cf. James 1:2-4). 

LONGEVITY:  Giant Sequoias are no overnight sensations.  In fact, it has been documented that some of these trees have been around for more than 3,500 years, dating back to the days of Moses and the founding of the nation of Israel. Giant Sequoias are completely counter-cultural in this respect.  They don’t speak the language of instant gratification. On the contrary, they stand as towering testimonies to the truth that the best and most beautiful things in life take time. 

Giant Sequoias require lots of time in order to reach their full potential … and so do we (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:11a).

When our family looks back on this year’s summer vacation, I have no doubt that we will always have many wonderful memories.  But when we recall our time in California, I hope we will never forget the larger-than-life lessons we learned during our visit to the Tuolumne Grove at Yosemite National Park.  Community, Adversity and Longevity are not only essential for the healthy growth and development of Giant Sequoias.  They are essential for the healthy growth and development of spiritual giants as well.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Leadership Institute, Aug 6 | Leadership & Administration

posted on July 11th, 2018

We have a wonderful blessing coming our way in the Church Leadership Institute for Ministry. Tom Showalter will be teaching our new course on “Leadership and Administration,” with the first class on August 6, 2018. We are all well aware that the strength of our churches is directly related to the strength of the leadership, so Tom has graciously agreed to share ideas and experiences that he has gained during many years of effective Friends Church leadership.

Tom Showalter is the General Superintendent of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends Churches.  He enjoys the opportunity to work with pastors and other church leaders to challenge them toward church health.  Tom is involved with various boards and committees, including two college boards (Barclay College and William Penn University) and Friends United Meeting board.

Tom was recorded as a Friends minister in 1994 and served in pastoral ministry in various locations and settings throughout Ohio as part of the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region.  He is married to Rose and has four children. His eldest daughter, Paige, is a NICU nurse in Columbus, Ohio; his second daughter, Victoria, is married and lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Tom resides in Oskaloosa, Iowa, with his wife, who homeschools their two younger children, Grace and Josiah.

Tom is a 2014 graduate of the Barclay College Master’s Program in the Transformational Leadership-Professional Studies tract.  The capstone project for the degree was based upon research completed regarding millennials and entitled, “Understanding Millennials to be More Effective in Disciple Making.”  His undergraduate work was completed at Malone College in Canton, Ohio.

Jesus’ model of servant leadership as found in John 13 provides the example and framework for Tom’s ministry as he strives to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

We invite you to hear Tom, and to share in discussion with Tom and other members of our Institute family. Here are the locations where the technology is set for videoconferencing with WebEx: Friends Community Church (Angleton), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Barclay College (Jackson Hall), North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Linnette Moodie, a Jamaican Friend, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, and Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica.

If you would like to receive a WebEx invitation for you to log in at a more convenient place, please inform me, and I will send it to you.

Some of you will need to view the video-recorded session, which will be available on YouTube, thanks to Drew Davenport, when you click here.

Whether participating in the live session or listening on YouTube, you will prosper, because Tom will provide valuable guidance to us through his teaching. The class begins at 7:00 p.m. central time on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Looking forward to being with you and Tom,

Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Ministry in San Antonio

posted on July 11th, 2018

Under the weight of immigration pressures, the Spanish-speaking people of San Antonio are often reluctant to make new friends or even to talk with people on the street.  When Pastor Runy goes out to the Home Depot to meet people as they are coming and going, the people often turn away from him when they see him approaching. There is fear and distrust even among fellow Hispanics.  That is only one of the challenges that has faced the San Antonio Friends Church over the last 6 years since they began meeting.

But God has been faithful and the Lord has brought fruit in its time.  Pastor Runy and the other Friends have waited expectantly and served faithfully, seeking ways to honor God and minister in the community while sharing the good news of God’s salvation.  It didn’t happen all at once

Day by day Friends have prayed.  They have seen healings and they have also seen tragedies and loss.  They have faithfully met for worship and had times of encouragement and infilling with God’s presence and have faced long periods of drought while those they had ministered to turned their back on the one who gave his life for them.  They have studied God’s word together and sought ways to care for other people in Jesus’ name, and yet for one reason or another people have for the most part heard and moved on.

But over the last few months, there have been people who have heard and responded.  In the home group studies new people have come in and said “yes” to Jesus. Three new families have recently become a part of the church and through meetings in their homes there are another three families and friends who are also responding.  There is a sense of the power and glory of God at work.

Attendance is still only about 30 and there is still a long way to go.  They have plans for camping together and a baby shower along with pastoral visits, ongoing Bibles studies, prayer, and worshiping the Most High God.

There are churches across EFC-MAYM that are looking for a key to growth and expanded ministry and sometimes just looking for a key to survival.  Maybe when we say “key” we mean something simple and easy. It seems to me that faithful ministry and worship is enough. May the Lord bring the harvest in its time and let’s pray for one another as we walk as obedient friends.

David C. Byrne, Director: CHM

 

Keeping the Faith

posted on June 19th, 2018

During the first two weeks of June, more than 500 people descended upon Camp Quaker Haven to participate in our three EFC-MAYM summer camps (181 at Kids Camp, 166 at Junior High Camp, and 168 at Senior High Camp). 

This represents by far the largest annual gathering of Evangelical Friends here in Mid America.

 

I was able to make a personal visit to camp on Sunday evening, June 10, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that the Lord is continuing to do a mighty work among His people through our camping ministries.  I was also reminded once again that it was at Camp Quaker Haven, way back in June of 1977, that I began my personal journey with Jesus in earnest.  It was a special blessing to be back at camp 41 years later to offer a blessing on behalf of the entire yearly meeting and to pray specifically for my son, Josiah, who was serving as the guest speaker for this year’s Senior High Camp.

 

I want to give a big shout out to our entire camp leadership team for their endless hours of hard work, and for the many personal and sacrificial investments each of them have made in the lives of our students over the past two weeks. This long list of servant leaders includes a multitude of counselors, college students and program staff from across our extended family of Friends here in Mid America.  Special thanks to Joe and Carole Corder (Camp Directors), Jesse Penna (Director of Student Ministries), Jenna Easley (Director of Support Ministries), Manny Garcia and Shawn Penrose (Kids Camp Directors), Katie Newton and Drew Davenport (Junior High and Senior High Camp Directors), Janet Penna (Administrative Assistant) and Spencer Linville (Camp Board Chair).  These folks, in particular, were entrusted with doing most of the “heavy lifting” during the past year when it comes to planning and implementing our summer camp ministry.  Rest assured that your labor is not in vain, my friends, but will bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom! (cf. Is 55:10-11; Jn 15:5-8; 1 Cor 15:58; Heb 6:10)

 

I would urge you to join me in praying even more diligently for our students as they return home from camp.  We make an intentional effort to constantly remind our students during summer camp that they are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today. But this message will only ring true if we are willing and able to help these young men and women keep the faith by making space for them to participate fully in the life of our local churches when they return home.  That will require much more than mere lip service or an occasional “youth service.”  It will require us to include them in each of our regular worship services, in our leadership teams, in our discipleship ministries, in our outreach initiatives, and every other aspect of church life.

 

After making personal, on site visits to each of our EFC-MA churches in recent years, I can tell you with absolute certainty that, without exception, the healthiest, liveliest, most effective and fruitful churches in Mid America always make a strategic, sustained effort to include student ministry as a core part of their mission.  The corollary, of course, is that those churches that fail to do so are generally dying on the vine.

 

So I want to offer a challenge to each and every one of you who are reading this right now: Find a camper when they return home and ask them about their experience at Quaker Haven this year.  Ask them how God is moving in their life, and how He may want to move in their own family, school, neighborhood, workplace AND home church.  Pray with them, and ask them to pray for you.  Offer to meet with them every now and then, maybe over coffee or ice cream, just to listen, talk and pray together.  They need your wisdom and support, you need their passion and hope, and we all desperately need “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament” in order to grow and build itself up in love “as each part does its work” (Eph 4:16).  To borrow from Ignatius of Antioch (35-108) …

 

“Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.”

 

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent     

Better Together

posted on June 14th, 2018

I recently attended a series of semi-annual meetings with our six regional leaders from Evangelical Friends Church-North America (EFC-NA) and the governing board of Evangelical Friends Mission (EFM).  I must confess that board meetings have never been high on my list of favorite activities, but this particular gathering was especially fruitful and life-giving.

 

It didn’t hurt that both meetings were held at Quaker Ridge Camp, located in the high country of the Colorado Rockies, in the shadow of majestic Pike’s Peak.  But by far the best part of this week was having the privilege of spending time with a group of spiritual leaders from across our extended family of Friends here in North America who share a common love for Jesus and a deep passion for “equipping the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world” in Jesus’ name.

One of the greatest blessings for me, personally, was the fresh realization that EFC-MAYM continues to play a critical role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission through the ministry of EFM.  This is reflected in many practical ways …

  • We have three of our very own, “home grown” missionaries currently serving on three very strategic EFM fields in Africa (Carpenter), Asia (Linville) and Latin America (Hughes).
  • We have several other missionaries serving around the world who were equipped and sent through our strategic partnership with Barclay College.
  • We have invested over one million dollars in the work of EFM during the past two years alone, which represents nearly 1/3 of the EFM annual budget.
  • We have 41 churches and 319 individuals who are currently contributing to the work of EFM, as well as 14 Friends Women groups.
  • We have offered a portion of our office space at the Ministry Center in Wichita as an interim headquarters for EFM, and will do so as long as needed.

During our time together at Quaker Ridge, I was also impressed by a growing sense of unity among our six yearly meetings here in North America.  We have been entrusted with a shared vision for making disciples here in our own country and around the world. 

We are part of an extended family of Friends here in North America that includes more than 300 churches representing at least 40,000 people in six regions (Alaska, Eastern Region, Mid America, Northwest, Rocky Mountain and Southwest). We are developing new leaders together, we are planting new churches together, and we together we are  supporting a gifted team of cross-cultural missionaries serving on at least nine foreign mission fields (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nepal, Rwanda and the Philippines).

 

Clearly, we are better togetherand after our recent gathering in Colorado, I have renewed confidence that the best is yet to come!

 

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

New Job Opening | Student Ministries Pastor | Northridge Friends Church

posted on May 21st, 2018

Northridge Friends Church (Wichita, KS) is seeking a half-time Student Ministries Pastor that puts a high premium on building relationships—with youth and among youth, with parents, and with the congregation—to be disciples of Jesus and to lift him up, that all may be drawn to him. We are a growing and committed community who seek to make Christ known in our neighborhood, city, and world. For more information or to apply please email our search team lead, Brandi Stockebrand at searchteam@northridgefriends.org or call 316-734-9541. 

Adventures in Missing the Point

posted on May 7th, 2018

I recently had the privilege of attending my niece’s wedding at Buckingham Friends Meeting House, located in a quaint village just a short drive from Philadelphia.  It was a beautiful ceremony, but it had extra special significance for our family, as we all found ourselves sitting in the very same place and on the very same benches where our very first American ancestors once sat, most of whom were laid to rest in a nearby cemetery.

Established in 1702, Buckingham Friends Meeting served as a house of worship for some of the earliest Quaker immigrants to this country.  Many of them were first generation Christians as well. The Friends movement was still relatively new, but its founding fathers and mothers were slowly disappearing (Margaret Fell died the same year that the meeting was opened). Now it was up to this new generation of Christ followers to carry the torch, faithfully and fearlessly bearing witness to the revolutionary gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the New World.  And this they did, through great personal sacrifice, some of them giving their very lives in the process.

Sadly, it became painfully clear to me during my visit to Buckingham that the torch had been dropped at some point along the way. As I walked around the meeting house and read through the literature that was most prominently displayed, I was unable to find any direct reference to Jesus whatsoever. And yet it was George Fox himself who declared with great joy, “There is only one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition.”

Some might describe this as a classic example of “mission drift.” Others might attribute it to an inevitable process of cultural adaptation and accommodation. I can only summarize my personal feelings that day with one word: heartbreaking. It was as if they were missing the whole point. To borrow from the Apostle Paul, it seemed as though they had embraced “a form of godliness” while “denying its power” (2 Tim 3:5). Correct me if I’m wrong, but were not the first Friends seeking to do the exact opposite?

As we look back over church history, including our own history as a people called Quakers, I would like to think that we might be smart enough to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat them. But when I survey the overall health and vitality of the American church in general, and the Evangelical Friends Church in particular, I can’t help but wonder …

  • Like our friends in Buckingham, is it possible that we are devoting so much energy to preserving and protecting our Quaker traditions that we are missing the whole point of the gospel? (cf. Mk 7:9)
  • And are we also in danger of exchanging the very power of God for an empty form of godliness? (cf. 2 Tim 3:5)

I don’t have all of the answers, of course, but I would humbly offer these questions as potential “queries” that each of you may want to share with your congregations as well at some point in the near future.

In the midst of such growing concerns, I must tell you that I am encouraged by what appears to be happening at our two Friends-related colleges and universities here in Mid-America:

  • I recently finished teaching a course on “Spiritual Formation and the Transformational Journey” for students enrolled in the School of Graduate Studies at Barclay College.  The course concluded with a three-day, intensive, face-to-face gathering on the Barclay campus. It was a wonderful, life-giving experience for all of us, and I am deeply grateful to have a small part in helping Barclay continue to fulfill its critical, core mission as a community that is called “to prepare students in a Bible-centered environment for effective Christian life, service and leadership.” 
  • I had the privilege of speaking in chapel at Friends University several weeks ago during their Quaker Heritage Week, at which time the building that houses the graduate school was renamed in honor of John Woolman and Elizabeth Fry.  I was also invited to share this same message with the Board of Trustees during their spring meetings. I couldn’t be more thrilled by recent developments at
    Friends, as the University seeks to return to its roots as a “Christian University of Quaker heritage,” that “equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives.”

During these increasingly dark and difficult days, when the hearts of so many appear to be “growing

 cold” (Mt 24:12), may those of us who are part of the extended family of Friends here in Mid-America “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Heb 10:23) and to our core calling and true identity as faithful Friends of Jesus, remaining ever mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus himself: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (Jn 15:14).

For the love of God, we can’t afford to miss the point.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Jr. High Quiz Season Comes To An End | Friendswood, Tx | 4-28-18

posted on April 30th, 2018
The Jr. High Bible Quiz Finals were held on Saturday, April 28 at Friendswood Friends Church.  Twelve teams from seven churches competed over Matthew 15-28. There was fierce competition, but in the end, Northridge Blue came out on top, taking 1st place.  Haviland Blue finished in 2nd place.  Argonia Blue placed 3rd, and Friends Community ended up 4th overall. 
The standings are as follows:

National Friends Church Multiplication Conference | August 1-3, 2018 | Barclay College

posted on April 24th, 2018
The National Friends Church Multiplication Conference is a gathering of evangelically-minded Friends leaders, students, and others who have a heart for church planting and who want to be faithful to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission through the Friends Church. The 2018 conference will feature inspirational messages, best practice workshops, and time for fellowship and synergistic networking with other forward-looking Friends from around the country.  Recognizing that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people, a number of different methods and approaches will be discussed.  This conference will be informative, stirring, and help us refocus on God’s call with a “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” passion.  Christ is in the process of building His Church.  With God’s help, we need to prayerfully consider how we might shed a maintenance-mentality and stir up a strategic church multiplication movement among evangelically-minded Friends!  
 
The featured speaker at this year’s conference will be Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, and president of the Exponential Conference, equipping church planting leaders around the world. He is the author of The BIG IDEA (2007), Exponential (2010), On The Verge (2011), Discover Your Mission Now (2013) and Finding Your Way Back To God (2014). Dave will come with a special message for Friends you won’t want to miss!
 
For additional information contact: 
Jim Le Shana, Chair of the NFCMC Planning Team 
Work: 620-862-5252
Cell: 337-7596 

Leach Graduate Scholarship | Deadline to Apply June 1

posted on April 23rd, 2018

The purpose of the Leach Scholarship Endowment is to assist students who are members of the Friends Church and who are involved in graduate studies in preparation for ministry. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, pastoral ministry, missionary service, Christian education and youth ministry. Enrollment is not limited to specific institutions; however, those with an evangelical orientation will be given priority when reviewing applications for scholarships.  The application deadline is June 1.  Additional information on the Leach Scholarship, including an online application, can be found on the EFC-MAYM website: http://www.efcmaym.org/leach-graduate-scholarship/.

Leadership Institute, May 7 | Evangelism and Outreach

posted on April 19th, 2018

I am eagerly anticipating Alan Amavisca’s teaching the Leadership Institute course on Evangelism and Outreach. The first class in this course will be May 7, 2018. We all know that for the Kingdom of God to become realized “on earth as it is in heaven,” the Church needs to reach out and evangelize. This is our call from Jesus, who invites us to follow Him as His disciples. As Alan enables us through his teaching to fulfill Christ’s call, he will give us a strong Biblical foundation for evangelism, outreach, church planting, church multiplication, and disciple-making.

We are very blessed that Alan Amavisca will be our teacher. He has given his life to the ministry of church multiplication, evangelism, and disciple-making. Alan spent fourteen years as a missionary/church planter in Central America, ten years as a pastor on the Yorba Linda Friends Church ministry team, and then nine years as Director for Missions and New Church Development at Evangelical Friends Church Southwest. He has also served at length on the boards of PMI (a Latin American mission to the Islamic world) and Solidarity (an incarnational ministry serving migrant populations). His current role, as the Director of North County Project, allows him to focus on grassroots disciple-making: both with emerging young leaders in the church (in a learning community called The Lab), and with unchurched people who want to know more about Jesus. Alan and his wife, Barbara, live in Placentia, California and have four children: Andrea (and her husband, Scott), Aaron (and his wife, Melissa), Kirsten (and her husband, Jordan), and Stephanie (and her husband, Chad), as well as six grandchildren.

Our desire is to make the Institute classes available to as many Friends as possible; therefore, we have many sites where you can join in live, for the interactive discussion with Alan. Locations where you can interact with Alan and other Institute participants are: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica, Linnette Moodie, a Friend in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and  Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

We recognize that everyone is not available at the time of the meeting, so Drew Davenport will upload the video-recorded session (usually within three days) to YouTube. Thanks, Drew. Click on this link to see and listen to Alan.

I assure you that you will be grateful to learn from Alan, when he teaches Monday, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

The Primacy of Prayer

posted on April 19th, 2018

In his introduction to The Journal of George Fox, Quaker statesmen William Penn makes this fascinating observation regarding the enduring legacy of the man now known as the founder of Friends: “Above all, he excelled in prayer.”

This emphasis on the primacy of prayer in the life of our spiritual forefathers should come as no surprise for those of us who aspire to be faithful friends of Jesus in our own time and place. We follow a praying Savior, after all. According to the Gospel of Luke, often referred to as “the praying gospel,” nearly every transformational moment in Jesus’ life and ministry took place “as he was praying” (cf. Lk 3:21; 6:12; 9:16; 9:18; 9:29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:32; 22:44; 23:34; 23:46; 24:30; 24:50).

I have been following Jesus for more than 40 years now, and I must confess that I have found prayer to be the most essential and most challenging of all the spiritual disciplines. But what has helped me most in recent years is the discovery that prayer is not limited to a few, specific methods or models that are unique to any one Christian denomination or church tradition. As my good friend, Fil Anderson likes to say, “There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in the day.”

Over the years, I have found that the more my prayer portfolio has expanded, the more freedom, depth and joy I have experienced in my walk with Christ. This has also helped me to more readily embrace biblical admonitions to pray in ways that once seemed unattainable, such as “pray always” (Lk 18:1) and “pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17). I have found it much more do-able to pray always when I am better equipped to pray all ways, and much more fruitful and effective to pray as I can, not as I can’t.

But perhaps the most life-giving and liberating reality I have discovered on my journey is the fact that we are never alone when it comes to this life of prayer.  Scripture reminds us that God the Father “knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6:8), that God the Son “always lives to intercede” for us (Heb 7:25), and that God the Spirit “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Rm 8:26).

As we learn to pray with God, not just to God, we grow to understand that prayer is simply a matter of staying in the conversation, i.e., continually and intentionally resting in the gracious embrace of our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, the Lover of our souls, the One who longs to communicate with us “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex 33:11).  And somehow, in the midst of this unfolding friendship with God, we are mysteriously and progressively transformed in such a way that others can actually see in us an imperfect yet increasingly authentic reflection of the very face of God (cf. 2 Co 3:18). As C.S. Lewis has testified, “prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.”

We will be continuing this critical conversation on the primacy of prayer during our 2018 Ministry Conference, to be held July 26-29 on the campus of Friends University in Wichita. Our conference theme, “Seasons of the Soul: Rediscovering the Ancient Paths of Prayer,” will be enriched by the ministry of our guest speaker, Fil Anderson, Executive Director of Journey Resources, and it will be reinforced through participation in a wide variety of prayer exercises throughout our time together during the 147th annual gathering of the Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America Yearly Meeting.

Please make plans now to join us at this year’s Ministry Conference in Wichita. More details will be coming soon!

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Jr. High Quiz | Rose Hill, KS | 4-7-18

posted on April 10th, 2018
The Rose Hill Quiz took place on April 7, 2018 with a total of 10 teams competing. 
Northridge Blue came out on top with 1st place,
Haviland Blue took 2nd
Bethel Blue came in  3rd
4th place went to Bethel Red.  
 
The other teams placed as follows:

5th–Northridge Red and Friends Community

6th–Friendwood Red and Friendswood Blue

7th–Argonia and Haviland Red
 

Quaker Qualities Appeal to Younger Generations

posted on April 9th, 2018

The world is an increasingly complex place. We are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages about who we are and how we should live in the world. We seem to struggle to know how to live well in this rapidly moving, ever-changing culture.

At Friends University, we experience these same cultural messages. As we consider the future, and the role our graduates play in this world, we hope they are encouraged to make our world a better place. And that’s shaping how we educate our students.

To accomplish our goal of preparing graduates to lead, influence and transform our world, we are leaning on ideas that have shaped the lives and faith of our founders, the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers), a Christian community seeking to embody the words of Jesus: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). These ideas are known as SPICES (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship). We believe these qualities, along with the grace of God and the incredible education they receive, make our graduates stand out and serve our world for the better.

Simplicity can come in many forms and is about reducing much of life to what is necessary, essential and important. This can come in word, deed, dress or desires.

Peace seems self-explanatory, yet we often struggle to know how to live into it. When we learn to listen, and really hear others, we can better understand, empathize and seek the greater good above our own selfish desires. This leads to a higher level of internal and external peace – which can be contagious!

Integrity. In a world where we often mask our true feelings and self, integrity is a call to be the same person – in all places, to all people, at all times. What you see is what you get. It is a simpler existence that creates more peace – internal and external.

Community is more than just being connected. Research tells us while we are more connected (digitally, virtually), we are more relationally disconnected, and more unhealthy and unhappy, than we ever have been. We are created as relational beings to be in intentional relationships with others. Embracing simplicity, peace and integrity leads us into deeper connections and healthier community.

Equality is a buzzword these days. Yet it highlights an important issue plaguing humanity in most cultures.  Quakers have sought to address this issue from their origin. We are all created equal. When we embody this reality, you can see how it shapes the health of our communities and culture.

Stewardship is an idea and practice that helps us see ourselves as implicated in all things. We are called to be caretakers of the elements of life we encounter. Each of us plays a role. We do not leave the work of taking care of our world and resources to someone else. It is our shared responsibility.

Education will always be important and essential. If we fail to incorporate the SPICES that embody the ways Quakers have sought to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, I wonder where we will end up as a society?

We remain hopeful because this younger generation believes things need to change. At Friends University, we believe the ways we are preparing and equipping the world’s future leaders speaks to the changes our world so desperately needs.

Dr. Guy Chmieleski is campus pastor and dean of campus ministries at Friends University. Friends University is celebrating Quaker Heritage Week April 8-14. This editorial ran in the Wichita Eagle April 6, 2018.

Job Opening | NWYM General Superintendent

posted on March 23rd, 2018

The Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends is seeking a new General Superintendent.  We are looking for a mature, experienced leader to help shepherd our yearly meeting following a time of transition.  The new superintendent will be working with different yearly meeting boards and committees, as well as local churches and meetings throughout the Pacific Northwest, to carry our shared revitalized vision for the future, and to discern God’s leading as we move forward into the future together.  Strong administrative skills, matched with a mature and passionate relationship with Jesus, will be needed to help strengthen the community of faith called Northwest Yearly Meeting.

For more information about NWYM, visit our website: nwfriends.org. The application documents and process can be found there beginning March 30, 2018.  Application deadline is April 30, 2018.

Leadership Institute, April 2 | Final Class on “The Personal Life of the Leader”

posted on March 12th, 2018

David Williams is devout in his intention to counsel and guide us in maintaining the healthiest possible lifestyle as church pastors and leaders, as he teaches our Leadership Institute class on April 2, 2018. Church leadership burnout has reached epidemic proportions, and much of the problem lies in neglect of the leader’s personal and family life. It is far too easy to minister to the people in the church to whom God calls us and neglect our own and our family’s health. But the revealing question is, “How can I minister faithfully to other persons and other families, if I do not care properly for my own life and family?”

David Williams is well prepared to teach us about care of ourselves and our families. He has led numerous retreats and workshops in soul care; he has taught college undergraduate and graduate courses, giving spiritual counsel to students; and as Mid-America Yearly Meeting Superintendent, he has provided spiritual nurture for numerous pastors and other church leaders. He will continue to share with us knowledge he has gained from his experiences, study, and teaching. David has been for many years my treasured personal friend, teacher, mentor, and encourager.  Many of you can testify to the same.

Our hope in the Institute is that as many of you as possible will be able to share interactively with David at one of these sites: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul (pastor in Nigeria), Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie (pastor at Dover Friends Church in Jamaica), Mary Carter-Haynes (pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica), Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

You may be unable to join us for the live class. If so, you can click on the link below to view the video recording on YouTube here.

You might gather a group in your church to view and discuss the video of David’s presentation.

The living Christ, whose resurrection we will have celebrated in our Easter worship services, is our Divine model for healthy spiritual living. He maintained a rhythm of ministry in the world and retreat to a solitary place for prayer.

Hopefully, you will be able to share with us Monday, April 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time for David’s last class.

Celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and looking forward to seeing you at the Institute,

Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute