Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Practicing Prophetic Listening

Workshop Number: 
Debbie Humphries, Jonathan Vogel-Borne
Who may register?: 
Open to All (adult & high school)
Experiential Activities: 
full-time attenders only

Listening for God's Spirit speaking in our lives and in the world is the foundation of Quaker witness. Reflecting on the prophetic stream from the Hebrew prophets to today, we will share stories of deep listening that help us hear patterns of the Spirit manifesting now, bringing healing to a broken world.

Workshop Description

Practicing Prophetic Listening. The workshop will be a prayerful exploration of how we, as individuals and as a religious society, live our lives in the prophetic stream, taking our part in the eternal story. Prophetic listening—the act of listening for how God’s Spirit speaks though our lives and in the world around us—is at the foundation of our Quaker experience and witness. We will trace how the prophetic is revealed in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, flows through the lives of early Friends and ministers to our modern condition. Reflecting on our experiences, we will share stories of how the Spirit speaks through us today. We hope that participants will gain a clear sense of how we can nurture and encourage a deep listening to one another, drawing out the prophetic voice in our meetings and empowering our healing witness to the world.

We will combine presentation/lecture with experiential activities and discussion on topics such as recognizing and naming the prophetic, walking humbly with a call, the role of community in listening for the prophetic, and conflict and transformation around callings. We envision the experiential aspect of the workshop to include activities such as writing, role playing, worship sharing, and case studies.

Worship – 30 minutes
Reflections on worship – 5-10 minutes
Presentation/lecture – 15 minutes
Discussion – 15 minutes
Experiential activity – 40 minutes
Discussion – 30 minutes
Closing worship – 15 minutes 
[155 minutes total] (165 minutes each day)

Overview of Daily Themes

  • Day 1 – The Prophetic Stream: Introducing Ourselves and the Topic Where are we in the prophetic stream?
  • Day 2 – Responding to the Call: Sharing Our Stories How do we see God’s Spirit speaking through the ages and through our own lives?
  • Day 3 – One Body, Many Parts: Naming our Prophetic Gifts How do our spiritual gifts build up the whole community?
  • Day 4 – Conflict Transformation: Speaking the Truth in Love How do we balance our desire to be faithful to God’s promptings with the risk of being misunderstood?
  • Day 5 – Change from the Inside Out: Being a Prophetic People As Meetings and as individuals what is our prophetic witness to a broken world?

Advance Readings: Read the following Pendle Hill pamphlets: William Taber’s The Prophetic Stream (#256), Howard Brinton’s Prophetic Ministry (#54), Mary Grundy’s Tall Poppies (#347). Read one or more of the Hebrew prophets, e.g., Isaiah, Zechariah, Amos, Hosea, Daniel, etc. We will post the daily schedule, readings and other material on an interactive website, bringing paper handouts as needed. Also, please hold the workshop in prayer.

About the leaders:
Debbie — has co-led interactive workshops at New England Yearly Meeting, Woolman Hill, and FGC. She finds that a combination of information and experiential activities provides the most satisfying learning experiences.
Jonathan — has served Friends in various Quaker staff and volunteer roles over the past 30 years, including New England Yearly Meeting (Field Secretary and Yearly Meeting Secretary, 1991–2013) and Cambridge (MA) Monthly Meeting (Resident Friend, 1985–1990). He has led numerous interactive workshops on various topics at local meetings, yearly meetings, and at other Quaker events.

Leader Experience

From our experience co-leading last year's FGC workshop, "Practicing Prophetic Ministry," we are led to offer a repeat of a similar workshop for this coming year. We are, though, changing the title so as to emphasize the listening spirituality at the heart of the Quaker tradition that undergirds our prophetic witness. We will continue to develop the content of the daily schedule throughout the coming months and may ask one or two other Friends to serve as our elders.