On January 18 -19, 2013, FGC hosted a consultation with representatives of all fifteen FGC affiliated yearly meetings in attendance. Almost 40 Friends gathered at Pendle Hill for this event. This consultation was funded by a generous grant from the Shoemaker Fund. After a period of deep worship, the Friends who were gathered shared why they came to the consultation and what their hopes were for the weekend. Then FGC staff presented an overview of the New Meetings Project (NMP), its funding stream, goals, and progress to date.
On Saturday morning, everyone participated in a World Café exercise. In World Café, people gather around tables and each table has a set amount of time to deal with a question. Then everyone (except one person) gets up and moves to new tables. Chart paper and markers are set out on each table and each person is encouraged to record on the tablecloth any ideas, insights or questions that emerge. The questions the group worked on were:
- What hopes do you have for this project?
- What roles should the yearly meetings take in this project?
- What roles should FGC take in this project?
- Is there anything FGC needs to know about working with your yearly meeting and new meetings/worship groups in your area?
- How do we do this work together? Communication, visiting, sharing materials, whatever comes to mind.
After sharing the responses to these questions (and recording them), Friends then picked another Friend they did not know well and did spiritual interviews with each other. Each person asked and answered two questions – “What brought you to/kept you in Friends?” and “What is one of the most memorable life giving experiences for you among Friends?” We recorded the responses to the first question so that we could learn from our own experiences what attracts people to Friends. We listened deeply to the second question, but did not record those answers on paper. Hearing the stories of Friends across FGC was a powerful spiritual experience.
Our final exercise was asset mapping. In asset mapping, each person gets a stack of of 5x7 colored Post-It notes and markers. Each person generates a stack of assets by writing one asset per sheet of paper. The papers are posted on the wall by asset type. The assets we invited Friends to name that they thought would be helpful to the NMP were people assets, resource assets (media, booklets, etc), physical assets (camps, buildings, etc), and economic assets.
The last session of the day was a chance for Friends to raise questions or concerns they had not had answered yet or which arose as part of our time together. FGC staff and NMP working group members addressed these as best they could, noting that we’re very early in the process and still building this program.
It was an engaging and exciting time together, marked by enthusiastic and prayerful participation.
To view the photo gallery of this event, click here.