‘News’

New Job Opening | Student Ministries Pastor | Northridge Friends Church

Monday, 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

Monday, 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

Leadership Institute, May 7 | Evangelism and Outreach

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Job Opening | NWYM General Superintendent

Friday, 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”

Monday, 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

Friends Multiplication Conference News

Thursday, March 8th, 2018
 
SAVE THE DATE!
 
National Friends Church Multiplication Conference
August 1-3, 2018
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.
 
WHO WILL BE SPEAKING: Dave Ferguson – Lead Pastor of COMMUNITY Christian Church in Naperville, IL. Dave loves helping people find their way back to God and starting new churches. Dave also provides visionary leadership for NewThing, an international church-planting mission. He is 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!
 
WHAT: The 2018 NFCMC 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!  
 
JOIN THE STORY: This conference is an extension of the growing events held in 2013, 2014 and 2016.  Although planners anticipated originally that only 30-40 might attend the first gathering (which would have been a great start), the first conference brought together 100 Friends who affirmed a commitment to support and encourage a church multiplication movement!  Follow-up conferences were demanded by popular request, including this one.  These grass-roots efforts have given birth to a National Friends Prayer Network with a regular newsletter, a website (www.FriendsMultiply.com), an inspirational quarterly “Catalyst Conversation” video conference, and a leadership team of Friends from around the country: Multiplication Catalyst Ministries.    God’s heart is for the world.  Church multiplication is part of His mission.  We sense His leading and want to join Him in this story that He is writing.  But we are still in the toddler stage of development.  We need God’s help, and yours.  We are praying and anticipating that the 2018 NFCMC will help us take those next steps forward together to make a difference in this country and world for Christ!
 
WHERE:  The campus of Barclay College, Haviland, Kansas.
 
QUESTIONS?  Contact:
Jim Le Shana, NFCMC Planning Team, 607 N. Kingman, Haviland, KS, 67059.
Email: jim.leshana@barclaycollege.edu   Work: 620-862-5252   Cell: 714-337-7596
 
Watch for More Information!


Some of the attenders at the 
2016 NFCMC!

A New Monasticism

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

During this season of Lent, Carol and I have been participating in a weekly online retreat entitled “Into the Wilderness.”  The theme passage for each week is taken from one of the many biblical references to those times when God’s people have been called to spend extended time in the desert, those unusually dry, difficult and dangerous places where, ironically, God chooses to do some of His very best and most transformative work.

One of the original Desert Fathers and a pioneer of the modern monastic movement, Anthony of Egypt (251-356) was called to leave the comforts of home at a young age and go into the vast wilderness that lies between the Nile River and the Red Sea.  There he spent twenty years of his life alone in a cave in an effort to wean himself away from the trappings of an increasingly pagan form of Christianity.  Like so many before and after him, Anthony was driven deep into the desert not out of fear, but out of a desperate desire to discover a purer, simpler and more primitive path of Christian discipleship. 

Abba Anthony emerged from his cave a changed man, passionately devoted to a dynamic ministry of preaching, teaching, healing and spiritual direction. Anthony’s biography, an ancient literary classic written by Athanasius of Alexandria, led many of his contemporaries to reconsider the validity of the Christian faith, including Augustine of Hippo, who went on to become one of the most influential Christian leaders in church history.

More recently, an increasing number of church leaders have suggested that the body of Christ is in dire need of a fresh injection of Anthony’s monastic spirit in our own time and place.  In fact, twentieth century German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, penned the following statement in a letter to his brother in January of 1935 while attempting to remain a faithful disciple of Jesus during the Nazi reign of terror led by Adolf Hitler:

“The restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ.  I think it is time to gather people together to do this.”

During these opening days of the twenty-first century, a “new monasticism” has been gradually emerging at the edges of the established church.  These holy experiments in radical Christian discipleship can be found within nearly every Christian tradition, including our extended family of Evangelical Friends here in Mid-America.

Friends of Lawrence (formerly known as Lawrence Friends Church) is one such example. Lawrence Friends Church closed its doors in September of 2014, following a prolonged pattern of increasing dysfunction and decline, in order to allow freedom for Christ to birth a new movement of the Spirit in the local community.  After a sufficient season of “lying fallow,” allowing adequate time for careful assessment and prayerful preparation, a new expression of Christ-centered ministry, Friends of Lawrence, was born in July of 2015.

Friends of Lawrence is now entering into a new and exciting phase in its growth and development as a new monastic mission.  Over the past few years, the foundations of fruitful and effective ministry have been well established through the faithful and sacrificial service of our self-supporting missionaries, Jeremiah and Wendy Williams.  Close, personal friendships have been formed, deeply spiritual conversations have taken place, and the property on the corner of 16th and New Hampshire is slowly but surely being restored to its original beauty.

Jeremiah and Wendy are in immediate need of our prayerful support and practical assistance if this dream of rebuilding a vital center for missional ministry in Lawrence, Kansas, the original headquarters of EFC-MAYM, is to become a reality.  With the blessing of our yearly meeting elders, Carol and I are devoting two weekends a month from February through July to provide personal, on-site support for Friends of Lawrence.  Approximately $40,000 in one-time contributions from individuals and churches must be received by April 1 in order to complete the first phase of the renovation process. 

Would you be willing to pray about what type of personal contribution the Lord may be calling you and/or your local church toinvest in Friends of Lawrence?  Additional information, including an online giving portal, can be found on the Friends of Lawrence website.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Leadership Institute, March 5 | The Personal Life of a Leader – Part 2

Monday, February 12th, 2018

David Williams will bless us again in the Church Leadership Institute as he teaches our second class on “The Personal Life of the Leader,” March 5, 2018. We especially welcome David’s teaching, because we live in a time when stresses in society are enormous. We, the church leaders, need to be watchful and take care not to allow external pressures impose upon our personal and family lives. David is devoted to enable us to strengthen and enrich our spiritual lives and overall health amidst the strains and tensions in our culture.

David Williams has a breadth of experience in healthy leadership, as a Friends pastor, as a college professor and administrator at Barclay College, and as a Yearly Meeting Superintendent (Lead Pastor of EFC-MAYM)), and he has been intentional to observe wholesome spiritual disciplines to maintain his own spiritual, emotional, and physical health, while fulfilling his vocational responsibilities. Additionally, his Doctor of Ministry education provided numerous, rich resources from the Bible and Church history, which are helpful in healthy living and leadership. He will continue to share these with us in his commitment to help us maintain the healthiest possible lifestyle and church leadership.

We hope you will join us for the live session, in which we will see and converse with David and one another. Sites where the classes are live are: 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), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope 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, and Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica,

If one of these locations is inconvenient for you, and if you inform me, I will send the WebEx invitation to you. Or if you prefer to view the video-recorded session at a different time, here is the YouTube link.

We have several people around the world, who participate in the Institute by listening to the recordings.

I am eager to hear David Williams’ counsel on ways to enrich our personal and spiritual lives as Church leaders, Monday, March 5, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Development

Dust in the Wind

Monday, February 12th, 2018

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” I was once a high school student. In fact, I was actually sitting in a theatre in Wichita when these very words from the opening scene of the very first Star Wars movie scrolled across the big screen for the very first time back in the summer of 1977.

Yes, I am that old.

Back in the day, I was a big fan of what is now referred to as “classic rock.” One of my favorite bands was a group called Kansas, made up of six ordinary guys from nearby Topeka. I loved their unique brand of innovative and progressive rock music, but I was also deeply fascinated by their faintly spiritual song lyrics. I later discovered that the band’s founder and main songwriter, Kerry Livgren, had grown up in the church but had drifted away from the faith during adolescence and had begun seeking “truth” in earnest from every imaginable source.

Kansas did not have a ton of big hits, but in the summer of 1977 Kerry wrote a song called “Dust in the Wind” that he reluctantly agreed to include on the album, Point of Know Return. According to Kerry, the song was a very personal reflection of his own spiritual journey at the time. “The lyrics almost spewed out,” he later wrote, “a reflection of my inner despair and longing for something that would not pass away, something eternal.”

The prodigal son eventually found his way back home to the Father’s house in 1980, but it was “psalms” like this one that helped Kerry to translate the deepest cries of his heart into a personal prayer language. Thanks to its beautiful, yet haunting melody and thought-provoking lyrics, the song has remained surprisingly popular over the years.

What Kerry could not have known when he wrote “Dust in the Wind” in the summer of 1977 is that I was at a very similar place in life at the time as well. I, too, was wrestling with “inner despair” and “longing for something that would not pass away.” Thanks to the mysterious and relentless grace of God, Kerry’s honest and transparent songwriting was one of the key influences that also led me to return to the Father in, you guessed it, the summer of 1977.

As we enter together into this season of Lent, a special time set aside on the church calendar for each of us to return to the Father through a process of personal reflection, repentance and restoration, we do so with complete confidence that our good and beautiful God will be with us at each and every step along the journey, including those times when we may find ourselves in places of “inner despair and longing.” And on Ash Wednesday, in particular, when many will receive the sign of the cross on their foreheads as an outward symbol of an inner desire to “repent in dust and ashes,” may we all be reminded of this unshakable assurance:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love … as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8, 13-14).

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Marvelous Moments

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Let me be clear.  I am not, have not, and never will be a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide.  As a lifelong member of Buckeye nation, cheering for Alabama would be a blatant breach of sports etiquette, second only to marrying a Michigan fan.

I am, however, fully capable of recognizing and appreciating gridiron glory wherever it may be found, even in the most unexpected places.  And so I have to admit, somewhat reluctantly, that what I witnessed during Alabama’s victory over Georgia in this year’s NCAA College Football Championship was a thing of pure beauty.

Just in case you missed it, Alabama was down 13-0 at halftime so they decided to shake things up by replacing their starting quarterback, the guy who got them to the big dance, with a highly touted but relatively unproven freshman from Hawaii by the name of Tua Tagovailoa, who then proceeded to lead the Crimson Tide to a 20-point second half, setting up an overtime showdown with the Bulldogs.  Georgia kicked a field goal on the first possession in overtime, then gave the ball back to Alabama for one last shot at the title.  After Tau was sacked for a huge loss on the first play from scrimmage, I think it is safe to say that nearly everyone watching the game had all but given up hope on the prospects of another national championship for Alabama at that point. Everyone, that is, except Tau.  Against all odds, the pigskin poet from Polynesia calmly took the snap, dropped back into the pocket and threw a perfect, 41-yard spiral to fellow freshman, DeVonta Smith for the game-winning touchdown.  Cue the band and let the bedlam begin.

It was, without question, a truly marvelous moment in sports history.  But what made the moment much bigger, infinitely more meaningful and, dare I say, divinely providential, was what took place after the game was over.  When asked about his performance during the postgame interview, Tau took a deep breath, searching for just the right words.  Having gathered himself, he peacefully and publicly declared to millions of viewers from all around the world:

“First and foremost, I would just like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  With him, all things are possible.  All glory goes to God.  I can’t describe what he has done for me and my family. I just thank God I was put in the place and the position that I’m in now.”

What a marvelous moment indeed.  And what a marvelous testimony to the difference that Jesus can make in the hearts and lives of those who trust in him.

Just to be clear, I share this story not to try and make the case that God will give us national championships just because we believe in him.  I’m confident that Georgia has just as many devout believers as Alabama.  We all must cope with our fair share of devastating losses in life, regardless of how talented, hard working or spiritually mature we may be.  But I also know from firsthand experience that we can become so accustomed to sorrow and loss that we may have trouble recognizing and/or receiving good news even when it slaps us in the face. Worst of all, our dreary demeanor prevents us from giving full glory to God for all of the good and beautiful gifts that accompany us on our journey with Jesus, including every little victory that we experience along the way.

With this in mind, I am compelled to begin this new year by praising God for just a few of the many marvelous moments he has allowed us to share together as an extended family of Friends during the past year, including the following: the official launch of a new church among our Bhutanese and Nepali friends in St. Paul (MN), the hundreds of young men and women whose lives were transformed through our student ministries (including over 400 students and adults who participated in summer camp), the practical assistance provided by Family Promise on behalf of more than 500 homeless people in Greater Wichita alone, the celebration of the Barclay College centennial, the revitalized work of our Texas Area Friends Disaster Service in response to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, the investment of over 200 local church leaders in seven Area Leadership Retreats, the life giving rest and renewal provided by our Pastor’s Sabbath Retreat, the six men and women who were publicly recorded as ministers of the gospel during our annual Ministry Conference, the addition of two new staff members to our yearly meeting leadership team, and the countless examples of newfound faith, renewed hope and healing, recovery from addiction, and fresh calling to vocational ministry that are impossible to measure this side of heaven.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many marvelous moments that we have had the privilege of witnessing in our midst throughout EFC-MAYM in recent days.  To borrow from the Chronicles of Narnia, “Aslan is on the move.”  May we continue to follow him faithfully and fearlessly in the days ahead, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Job Opening | Lead Pastor | Newberg, OR

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
Newberg Friends Church, the historic “mother church” of Northwest Yearly Meeting is searching for a lead pastor with significant public teaching and preaching gifts, a readiness to support evangelical Friends biblical testimonies and a clear commitment to Christian evangelism and world missions. The goal is to find God’s leading for ministry to begin in July 2018 or as soon after as possible.  
 
Resumés and letters of interest may be directed to Newberg Friends Church, Ron Stansell, clerk of Elders at P. O. Box 487, Newberg, OR  97132 or preferably by e-mail to rstansell@georgefox.edu

Leadership Institute, Jan 8 | Josh Bunce on NT

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Josh Bunce will conclude our fascinating journey through the New Testament in his third class on January 8, 2018. Having entered a new year and having so recently celebrated the birth of Christ, we will come with new life in a spirit of celebration. We will also come with anticipation of Josh’s informed teaching. In his final class with us, Josh will center his teaching on the General Letters and Revelation,

With a seminary education and college teaching experience, Josh is giving us excellent instruction, while providing us a model for our teaching. And his teaching is through the lens of Friends faith and practice. Josh is leading us in a deeper experience of the written Scriptures, while encouraging us to listen to the Inward Voice of Christ for clear understanding and interpretation of the events and messages in the Bible. He is helping us to appreciate and understand more profoundly the eternal truths of God revealed in the Bible. I am excited for this last class with Josh, who is my personal friend and colleague, and who continually keeps me informed of new, scholarly Bible resources.

I hope you will make this class a priority and join us at one of these locations:

These are the locations where you can listen to and interact with Josh and other Friends in the Institute: 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, 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 at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Mary Carter-Haynes 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), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

If you have a conflict Monday, I invite you to view the video recording on YouTube Here.

This will be the third class in our study of the New Testament and our sixth class in the Bible. I am sure that you, like me, are growing immensely. Josh will begin at 7:00 p.m. central time onJanuary 8, 2018. This is the second Monday in January, since New Year’s Day is the first Monday.

Hoping you can join me in hearing Josh in his concluding class,

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

HMB Update | A New Arrival

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

What would you expect to be reality and reaction of a man and woman, perhaps with other children in the home, when the announcement is made of a new arrival coming soon to their family?   The gift of new life brings enthusiasm and excitement all around. Perhaps it was planned for a long time, and perhaps not, but reality is a newborn is coming. Most leaders across our family here in middle America are inclined to lend a hand as needed. This is the situation presently as a new baby church is developing here in our Mid-America Friends family.

Through communications from a parent in Africa, a refugee family has recently arrived in Abilene, in west Texas, named Ekwenya and Veronica Mitaci, along with their six children. This communication was sent to all by Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, who is the Pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church in Congo at the Uvira Monthly Meeting, as well as the treasurer of the Great Lakes Theological Training School, in Africa. Veronica Mitachi is the daughter of Pastor Manaseh Kisopa.

In late 2016, this communication was circulated through various leaders of Evangelical Friends International. This letter was a plea from a father to Friends leaders in America to connect and to assist their family to adjust to a new culture, and to settle with a connection to the Friends family of God. Randy and Charlene Littlefield traveled to Abilene TX and through a connection in a Not-For-Profit Administrative office, were able to speak with an officer who knew of an Ali Mitachi, about whom we were told worked in a local hotel. As we entered the hotel, we were connected with the maintenance/repair manager, Ali Mitachi. We introduced ourselves, and found that he was the brother-in-law of the Ekwenya Mitachi family, and was also a refugee now living in Abilene for nearly 10 years. Ali Mitachi spoke excellent English and explained that his relatives had only recently arrived in the city. We explained the communication from Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, and his desire for his family to connect with the Friends Church. Ali understood completely, and with an exceptional Kingdom perspective, communicated that he felt that Ekwenya would be a great Friends Church planter. He then explained that Ekwenya had already obtained a job at a local restaurant. Since the family only spoke Swahili, he made a phone call for us and found that the entire family was at home at their apartment. So we were invited to come visit.  

What a delightful experience we had as Ali introduced this family and translated from English and Swahili for a couple of hours.   During that time we met the six children, from age seven to seventeen, including two girls and four boys, one of whom was named after his grandfather Manaseh. The mother, Veronica, was already busy in her kitchen preparing a native delicacy of fried bread, which they called “Versace”. She then served this delicacy to her children and guests around the kitchen table. I explained that we have the privilege to work with the leaders and churches of Mid America Friends to plant new churches across our region. They knew the process well from their experience with the Friends Church in the Congo, and communicated that they had been praying that God might use them to help plant a new Friends Church in this community. God has a way of working ahead of us through His Holy Spirit, and that work becomes very evident when we have the chance to pray together. As a result, through that single visit, we came away feeling sure of Jesus’ confirmation.

We are very early in the development process with this pastor, however are very excited, as is the father-in-law Pastor in the Congo, about this opportunity. Additionally, through consultation with EFM leadership, please pray with us that others across Mid-America churches might have connections of others in Abilene, TX, or the Swahili language, and/or, that you might just be the one to experience the burden to assist, even from afar, to pray and then possibly, to let me know who may be interested in serving with this effort. We are now forming our new Partner Church Advisory Team, with the leaders from Texas Friends Churches and any other church across Mid-America. We typically would meet with the local leadership at least monthly over some internet-based online tool, and use our standard Home Missions process we call our “Journey Toward Maturity”, to guide this exciting cross-cultural new church planting project.

We continue to trust in Jesus’ promise that “He will build His Church, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it!” Simply contact me at newchurches@efcmaym.org or 913.683.3831 or Janet at the Ministry Center office, if you would like to explore with us what our God is doing in Abilene TX. God bless!    

– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries 

Regional Leadership Summit| Register Now

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

“Standing at the Crossroads”

Regional Leadership Summit

Live Video Conference | January 27, 2018, 9am-4pm

Registration below | *10 Per Person

Registration Deadline has been extended to January 19, 2018!

An event for church leaders that is designed to encourage, equip and empower the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world in Jesus’ name.

Here is a brief summary of the core passion and purpose behind this regional leadership gathering:

“Pastoral work originates, as does all Christian ministry, in the biblical sources. But for at least two generations the perspectives generated by recent behavioral sciences have dominated the literature directed to pastors. The rationale seems to be that since we are in a century of rapid change, that since so much of what we encounter is unprecedented, and that since there have been quantum leaps in knowledge and technology, anything that worked in an earlier age certainly won’t work now. But the work which has to do with the human’s relation to God and God’s will for the human does not come from knowing more about the times but from knowing humanity – and God. It has to do with continuities, not novelties; with what is essential in the human condition, not with what is accidental. Pastoral work gathers expertise not by acquiring new knowledge but by assimilating old wisdom, not by reading the latest books but by digesting the oldest ones … otherwise we float on fads; or we develop pastoral strategies in response to the fake little cycles of death and rebirth which are monitored by the seasonal rise and fall of the hemline … hastily put together out of whatever is at hand from the graduate schools, the bestseller lists, and the latest opinion poll listings of what people want. Meanwhile scripture is at hand for those who will use it, foundation stones upon which a better pastoral work can be constructed.” (Eugene Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work)

Schedule:

9:00 – Warm Up

9:30 – Session 1: Standing at the Crossroads with our Lord (presented by David Williams, General Superintendent, EFC-MAYM)

10:30 – Coffee Break

10:45 – Session 2: Standing at the Crossroads with our Families (presented by Tony Wheeler, Founding Director, Family Ministry Institute)

12:00 – Lunch Break

1:15 – Session 3: Standing at the Crossroads with our Neighbors (presented by Carol Williams, Wife of General Superintendent, EFC-MAYM)

2:15 – Coffee Break

2:30 – Session 4: Standing at the Crossroads with our World (presented by Matt Macy, Associate Director, Evangelical Friends Mission)

3:30 – Wrap Up

Area Sites/Hosts/Facilitators:

Central Kansas: Northridge Friends Church/Manny Garcia/David Crisp

Central Oklahoma: Chandler Friends Church/Keith Reeser/Brad Wood

Northeast: Emporia First Friends Church/Jared Warner

North Central: Glen Elder Friends Church/Wanda Warner/Diana Roe

Texas: Angleton Friends Community/Karl Newmann/Robyn Burns-Marko

Tri-State: Independence Friends Church/Grady Miller/John Penrose

Western: Seward County Community College/Dennis McDowell/Diana Hoover

Cost: (payable upon arrival at area host site): $10.00 per person

Registration: (due by January 19, 2018): Contact Janet Penna at 316-267-0391 or janet@efcmaym.org

A Christmas Scandal

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

It’s been more than twenty years now, but it is one Christmas I will never forget.

We were in the midst of yet another busy Advent season at West Park Friends Church in Cleveland, Ohio, where I was serving as lead pastor. At the center of the festivities was a very special manger scene that had been made by a member of the church. It was a beautiful yet very fragile replica of the nativity, complete with meticulously hand-crafted shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph and, of course, baby Jesus.

One day as I was in the sanctuary preparing for an upcoming service, I happened to glance over at the manger scene. It was set up next to the altar, right where it belonged, but something just didn’t look right. Much to my surprise, I discovered that there was one very important piece of the nativity missing – baby Jesus!

I looked as hard as I could but there was no sign of baby Jesus anywhere. I asked Carol, who was serving as church secretary at the time, if she knew where baby Jesus went but she was equally perplexed. And suddenly a chill went up my spine as I was confronted with the ugly truth: somebody stole baby Jesus from the church manger scene. It was a full-blown, five-alarm Christmas scandal!

Just as I was about to hit the panic button, our then three year-old daughter, Hannah, walked into the room with a very sheepish look on her face, holding both hands behind her back. Her posture begged the question, so I took the bait: “I can’t find baby Jesus, Hannah. Do you know where he went?”

With an earnestness that only a three year-old could muster, Hannah looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and confessed, “I took baby Jesus, daddy. He looked cold. I love him, and I just wanted to hold him close to my heart. Can I keep baby Jesus, daddy?”

Looking back, this incident continues to remind me that Hannah grasped the real meaning of Christmas much better than the rest of us that day, including her dad. She knew that Jesus didn’t come to be put on display. He came to be held. God sent his Son to be embraced, not enshrined. Jesus is not a fragile god of porcelain, but a living, breathing God of flesh and blood. We want to keep Jesus at a safe distance in the manger, but he wants to be our most intimate friend, kept close in our hearts.

Through his incarnation, scandalous as it may seem, Jesus gives sinners permission to hug a holy God. Through his birth, life, death and resurrection, Jesus makes God readily accessible to three year-olds … and anyone else who is willing to receive him with the simple faith and wide-eyed wonder of a little child.

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:11-12)

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

HMB Update | Heroes in the Making

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Throughout Scripture, the most basic words of our faith—hope, promise, Heaven, eternity—connect us to our future. Scripture is filled with verses that urge us to look forward. We anticipate what lies ahead and look to identify our role in God’s mission to redeem the world—essentially Jesus’ big dream of a movement spelled out for us in Acts 1:8.  If we are to see a change in the scorecard of success in the U.S. church, we must first see a paradigm shift in our thinking, a shift that overflows and infects others. Big dreams prompt change.  Big Dreams change our questions.   Big Dreams change our prayers.  Big Dreams change the people around us.  Big Dreams change our churches.  Big Dreams change us.  The future of the movement of Friends lies outstretched before us!  Your Home Missions team is currently envisioning how we can better come alongside the local churches of Mid America.

I find it difficult to address the subject of multiplication without at least touching on some very fundamental concepts of math.  When it comes to church growth and church multiplication, words like “growth,” “subtraction,” “plateau,” “addition,” “reproduction,” and “multiplication” are unavoidable.  As leaders, we tend to adopt our own definitions based on our unique context for church.  Our temptation might be to look at our success and incorrectly conclude that we’re being obedient to Jesus’ commands and multiplying, or to look at our church size and mistakenly conclude that we can’t be a reproducing or multiplying church if we’re small.  

Let’s start with a very simple and basic review of some mathematical concepts—just enough basics to equip you for the journey to becoming a multiplier. Rather than making up our own definitions, I’m embracing the terms that have been handed down to us through mathematics. These are not “secular or business” concepts but rather the principles that emerge from God’s creation.  Subtraction occurs whenever the output result decreases with time.  With every positive unit of effort, subtraction occurs with a loss or decrease in the output number.  We all know the pain of seasons of subtraction.  On the personal front, it might be losing loved ones.  In ministry, losing team members is agonizing.  Subtraction compels us to action.  But subtraction is a normal part of life, including the life of a church.  As we think about the first 500 churches founded in the first century after Jesus, all of these churches ultimately experienced subtraction all the way to their death.  But the church is still around and vibrant today, but not because of the growth of churches, but because of the sending nature of churches.

Growth is the process of increasing in size. Growth can happen through addition, reproduction, or multiplication.  Regardless of the strategy, model, or culture we embrace and pursue, growth is a primary goal. But real multipliers must throw off the shackles of an addition-growth scorecard, opting instead for the pursuit of multiplication growth.  In all the turmoil of subtraction, we desperately pursue and seek out addition growth. But even addition is temporary.  

C.S. Lewis once stated “You get to decide what legacy you will leave.”  Don’t let the reality of subtraction discourage you, but do let it mess with your thinking.  Addition-focused scorecards and cultures constrain us to less abundant thinking that moves from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, and so on.  By embracing accumulation cultures, we miss the abundance Jesus intends for us through multiplication. The best multipliers are leaders who surrender their personal addition-based scorecards to a far better scorecard using Jesus’ math.  Multiplication carries the legacy of your church to future generations, far beyond the accumulation you achieve in your local context.  That’s why sending out leaders to multiply and start new churches, and then continuing the movement into the future is so vitally important. Your sending capacity is your best asset, and your sending results could ultimately be your primary legacy.  

We leaders here in EFC-MAYM believe our best days are ahead and not something we just dream about from time to time.  The process of multiplication must be reflected in the local church.  It is extremely difficult to multiply new ministries and ultimately new churches unless our congregations are multiplying new leaders and new groups at the local church level.  We in Mid-America believe we must be about this sending of new leaders and ultimately new churches.   Home missions team members are those regional leaders that have been designated by leaders from your seven Areas across Mid-America.  And though our Friends congregations extend from south Texas in the Houston area all the way and including our newest church in St. Paul Minnesota, we do see signs of new life all around.  So there are really great opportunities to expand the Kingdom of God.  New opportunities require new vision and new leaders.  Throughout the last two millenniums of church history, the Kingdom has advanced as new leaders and visionaries stepped into new territories and attempted new methods in obedience to our Lord Jesus’ command to go and make new disciples.  

Our dream and our hope is that those apostolic workers from each congregation will join in the new opportunity to catch and share a new vision for sending new leaders on this exciting apostolic journey.  May we be faithful.  Please connect with these area multiplication leaders to whom you have asked to serve your Areas:  Texas Area – Drew Davenport or David Byrne;  COK Area – Nick Shaffer and Brad Wood;  Western Area – Caty Zortman or Dennis McDowell;  North Central Area – Jonathan Harkness;  Northeast Area – Mike Herriges or Walt Mills;  Tri-State Area – Josh LeeMasters;  Central KS Area – Marc Compton or Carrie Corliss.  These leaders and our new church planters already serving in various communities across Mid-America are our heroes, and God is calling numerous others of you to join their ranks in Jesus’ mission to build His Church to the glory of our Father in heaven.  God is at work through His Holy Spirit!  Amen.  

– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries

Kingdomtide

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

As we move into the month of November, it feels as though we are doing more than simply turning a page on the calendar. Things just feel different.  The air is cooling, the leaves are disappearing, and the stores are bustling. Ready or not, the holiday season is suddenly upon us.

We are entering into a new season on the church calendar this month as well. The period between Pentecost (“fifty days” after Passover, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church) and Advent (the beginning of the Christian year, celebrating the “coming” of Christ into the world through his Incarnation and Virgin Birth) is commonly referred to as Ordinary Time.  The final month of this Season after Pentecost, the period between All Saints’ Day and the First Sunday of Advent, has been designated as Kingdomtide in many church traditions, an intentional time of celebration and reflection on the reign of Christ.

Personally, I find it difficult to describe the ongoing, life-altering, transformational ministry of Jesus in the lives of his followers through the power of the Holy Spirit as “Ordinary Time.”  I much prefer the term “Kingdomtide,” emphasizing the central message of the gospel which was continually proclaimed by Jesus and the early church: “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15).

Regardless of our personal views regarding the church calendar, I know that we can all agree on the centrality of proclaiming this “good news of the kingdom” (Mt 24:14), through both word and deed, until our Lord’s return.  We have all been called to engage in a common mission as we join our hearts, minds, hands and feet in the corporate embodiment of our Lord’s prayer: “May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10).

This is also in keeping with the good and beautiful dream that has been entrusted to us as an extended family of Friends here in Mid-America:

We dream that whatever is true in heaven be true on earth … in our local churches, in the communities where our churches serve, and in the family of churches called Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America Yearly Meeting.

So how might we embody our prayers during these high and holy days on the church calendar in such a way that “whatever is true in heaven be true on earth?”  And how might we proclaim the good news during this season of Kingdomtide in such a way that our lives and the lives of our friends and neighbors might be genuinely transformed from something merely ordinary and lifeless to something truly extraordinary and life giving?  And how might these seasonal practices become increasingly integrated into our daily lives throughout the remainder of the year as well, converting good and beautiful dreams into unforced rhythms of grace that faithfully reflect the rule and reign of Christ?

Each of us will need to answer these questions for ourselves, of course, but allow me to offer just one practical suggestion in order to help prime the pump just a bit:

Invite someone outside of your own family to join you for Thanksgiving dinner.

For some of us, this is already a common practice.  If so, we might consider how to expand our guest lists this year.  For others, this may be a brand new idea.  If so, I would encourage you to try it on for size.

In an iCulture that is rooted in rugged individualism and increasingly saturated in national self-interest, the ministry of hospitality is an increasingly rare and priceless commodity these days.  A recent study published in the American Sociological Review indicated that at least “25% of all Americans have no close confidants” whatsoever.  And yet, from the very beginning of human history our Creator made it clear that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Ge 2:18). As Henri Nouwen once observed, “We are able to do many hard things, tolerate many conflicts, overcome many obstacles, and persevere under many pressures, but when we no longer experience ourselves as part of a caring community, we quickly lose faith.”

Inviting someone new to Thanksgiving dinner won’t instantly remove loneliness from the world, but it will certainly reduce the risk for the folks who gather around our tables. In the process, we may find that our capacity for extending Christ-like hospitality to our friends, neighbors, co-workers and even complete strangers will increase exponentially. We may even find that “loving foreigners” (Dt 10:19) and “caring for orphans and widows in their distress” (Ja 1:27) is no longer reserved for special seasons, but is considered nothing more than a normal Christian life.  Before you know it, we may just end up living in such a way that our entire lives become so permeated with the passionate, relentless grace and mercy of our good and beautiful God that the people around us can’t help but proclaim, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Happy Kingdomtide.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent 

Leadership Institute, Nov 6 | New Testament Course

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Josh Bunce, Bible/Theology Professor at Barclay College, will teach the three-month course on the New Testament, beginning November 6. Last month, Kevin Lee described Old Testament prophesies, foreshadowing Christ and New Testament events. Now Josh, with clear instruction, will give accurate meaning and interpretation of the New Testament events and teachings that underlie our Christian faith. Josh’s hope, and the desire of each of us, is to understand more fully God’s revelation in the Bible, so that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we might be more effective ministers and church leaders in our world that desperately needs the Gospel. Josh is committed to help us in this noble mission. His first class will focus on the Gospels.

Josh Bunce is Chair of the Bible/Theology Department and Professor of Biblical Studies, Church History, Christian Beliefs, and Youth Ministry at Barclay College. He is a graduate of Barclay College, with Summa Cum Laude honor. He did graduate work at Friends University in the Master of Arts in Christian Ministries and earned the Master of Divinity degree from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Josh was recorded as a Friends Minister in Northwest Yearly Meeting. He has Friends pastoral experience, having served on the pastoral team at Netarts Friends Church in Northwest Yearly Meeting. Josh is active in the Haviland Friends Church, where he provides volunteer leadership in worship and preaching. He is married to Marcy, and they are the loving parents of three beautiful children: Audrey, Ethan, and Clayton.

We wish for the greatest number of us to be able to participate in this creative learning experience, so we will offer live, interactive classes at these places: 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, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church Atlanta, GA (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul and Gabriel Sunday (pastors in Nigeria), Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center,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), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

For Friends unable to join us November 6, Drew Davenport will place the video recording of the class on YouTube at this link.

I invite you to expand your knowledge of the New Testament under the informed teaching of Josh Bunce. The class will begin at 7:00 p.m. central time on November 6.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Soul Keepers

Friday, October 6th, 2017

*While I thoroughly enjoy the ministry of writing, there are times when it seems even more helpful to borrow the words of a fellow colleague. As I was preparing to pen an article for this particular edition of Insights, focusing on the celebration of Pastor Appreciation Month, I came across the following words of wisdom from Pastor Eric Geiger, and I share them here with great pleasure. The original article in its entirety can be found on Eric’s blog. 

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

 

 

October is fast approaching, which means so is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Very few folks celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month, and I am not advocating that it become a more prominent holiday on our calendars. While I am grateful for those in our churches who express appreciation to pastors during October, it is far better for the pastors, their families, and the churches they serve if the love, support, and encouragement is ongoing. Below are two important passages and five gifts we should give our pastors.

“Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith … obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.”
(Hebrews 13:7, 17-18)

“The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages.”
(1 Timothy 5:17-18)

  1. Pray for them. The greatest gift you can give your pastors is prayer. Pray that the Lord will keep them to Himself, pure and blameless (1 Timothy 3:2). Pray they will persevere in life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). And pray for their families as their families shoulder the burden of ministry alongside them. As you pray for your pastors, you will find yourself loving them more and more. You can’t pray for someone and despise them at the same time.
  2. Imitate their faith. Of course, this is a challenge for leaders to be imitable, to live holy lives in response to the grace of God. And obviously this does not mean our pastors are perfect, as the writer of Hebrews has clearly articulated Jesus as the only perfect One. But this does mean we should learn from our pastors; we should put into practice the faith we see displayed in them.
  3. Follow their lead. In His providence, God places pastors in their places of ministry. The Lord gives them unique gifts and specific passion for the churches they serve and the communities they serve in. Their passion, sense of mission, and specific gifting will and should impact the direction of the church.
  4. Pay them well. This is biblical. The church’s goal should not be to “starve the pastor to keep him humble.” That is the Lord’s work, not the work of the finance committee. Too many pastors and their families are under unnecessary financial stress because some churches are not generous in this manner.
  5. Help them love their families well. Pastors must be able to love and shepherd their own families well if they are to lead the people of God (1 Timothy 3:5). Help your pastors love their families well by not putting expectations on them that would equate to neglecting their families if they actually lived up to the expectations. Rejoice that your pastors disappoint others by not accepting all invitations so that they may invest more in their own families.

A pastor never “clocks out.” A pastor is a pastor all of the time. The responsibility is enormous as, to quote Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor “is given charge of souls.” Let’s encourage, love, and support our pastors as they seek to faithfully fulfill all the duties of their ministries.