Monday, October 26, 2015

Orange Grove Meeting and Whittier Friends Church connect through World Quaker Day

World Quaker Day - FWCC

As the official representative of my Yearly Meeting to Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), I was intrigued to learn about "World Quaker Day." It was started a year ago by the FWCC as a way to help Quaker around the world to feel more connected with each other. World Quaker Day is intended to deepen the spiritual bonds among Friends who have been historically split along theological lines. I find these words very inspiring:

"As the sun rises in each area of the world, we want to remember that Quakers are worshiping through every time zone, celebrating our deep connections across cultures and Quaker traditions. We are united in love and can accompany each other on this special day that draws us together. As we worship, let us hold each other in prayer and thanksgiving, and let our hymns of praise resound across the world." See World Quaker Day

Orange Gtove Meeting Friends
I was led to involve Orange Grove  Meeting (an historic 100-year-old unprogrammed Meeting in Pasadena, a city 20 miles north east of Los Angeles) in World Quaker Day through an "exchange program" with Whittier First Friends Church, a pastoral meeting 20 miles south east of LA and Pasadena. Friends in these two Meetings have had close ties in the past.  World Quaker Day gave us  an opportunity to renew and deepen our friendships.  

Sarah Rose House and Shayne Lightner of Orange Grove Meeting went to Whittier Friends Church along with Hulda Muaka, a Kenyan Friend who attends Palo Alto Meeting (in Northern California). Hulda spoke and Shayne showed his documentary about the World Conference of Friends in Kenya. During the worship service, the Whittier Friends Church choir sang a hymn in Swahili--which deeply moved Hulda since that is one of her native languages.

Deanna Woirhaye of Whittier Friends Church came to Orange Grove and shared about her
Deanna, Anthony, Jill, Sarah, and Gretchen
experiences at the World Conference. She and I had gotten to know each other at this Conference and have become friends. I shared a slide presentation about World Quaker Day and the FWCC Mexico gathering I attended along with my wife Jill. 

Deanna shared that she was relatively new to Quakerism--she had married a Quaker--when she went to Kenya for the World Conference and it was a life-changing experience.

I explained that "Quakers around the world are incredibly diverse ethnically, racially and theologically, but we are committed to being friends despite our differences and FWCC helps us to stay connected." 

Asked what Quaker around the world have in common, I replied, "I believe that one of the important things that connects Friends world-wide is our Peace Testimony. This was especially clear when we went to Kenya and saw the amazing work that Kenyans are doing to promote peace and nonviolence."
Jill with Kindred Gottlieb and Orange Grove kids

After the adult study, Jill and I talked about FWCC and shared about their experiences in Mexico with the children of the Meeting. There was a lively discussion and the kids  made pictures and learned to say "hello" in French, Spanish, Chinese and Swahili. Jill told the kids what she learned when she went to Mexico for the FWCC gathering, which was followed by a field trip conducted by the Casa de los Amigos. She and I went to little village called Vicente Guerrero, where the Quakers had been involved since the 1980s. There courageous Mexican farm workers had stood up to Monsanto and helped to get GMO corn banned in their state, and eventually all over Mexico  through a class action law suit. The children shared what they learned with the adults at rise of Meeting. Then we met in the library for a group picture. It was a good day!

I'd like to conclude with a poem about Quaker worship that "speaks to my condition" and touches my heart. It was written by a Quaker in Kigali, Rwanda:

Siting .silent .still .waiting
Eyes closed ears open
My heart’s ready my mind’s prepared
I sit and listen not to what is out there but to what is within
A verse is read, a hymn is sang and a ministry is shared

My frown has been turned upright my face has been transformed
I feel peace I feel joy I even feel excited
My morning has turned to light I am the salt of this world
I feel a little proud hope that’s n
ot immoral

Sitting .silent .still .waiting
I stretch my arm out wide and a hand shake is what I receive
I look next to me and a friendly face is what receives mine
I look to my left and a gracious smile is what I see

I look to my right and loving eyes is what meets my gaze

Friends we gather in the light seeing that of God in one another
Seeing that of good in each other
Seeing that of truth
Friends we gather to smile with each other and know that a gift of laughter can bring peace to us all
In my quest for peace I found friends
In my quest for spiritual growth I found the process

Sitting .silent .still .waiting
In silence I listen to my inner being
In a circle I see the truth, simplicity and love
Holding hands we share our diverse cultures in unison
Holding hands we [feel] transforming power
Simplicity, integrity, equality, community and peace is the space we choose to create

We are the seeds of this earth, the light of this community, the salt of this world
We sit in silence to listen to our inward teacher
We wait expectantly, we wait faithfully and we wait meaningfully
We wait for spiritual deepening,
because that is the Quaker way…

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