Not everyone can say an Episcopalian Deacon guided them toward Quaker faith, but Gretchen Morse can. Gretchen "found God at the top of my to-do-list" following a family tragedy. She took the deacon's advice and started her faith exploration with an online Quaker meeting originating from Great Britain.
"At first I had to adjust to the time difference. Then there was the process of logging in and out--twice. The first time was for worship. Then we would get our own tea or coffee and log on again for fellowship."
This was in 2009. After six months, Gretchen started attending worship in-person with a small early morning meeting--3 or 4 Friends with a clerk--that met in the backroom of a bookstore. Eventually, Gretchen made her way across town to the larger mid-day Red Cedar Meeting in Lansing, Michigan, where she is on the Membership and Outreach Committee today.
As a new Quaker, Gretchen attended the FGC Gathering to be immersed in Quaker community and discovered an uplifting experience that blossomed with each subsequent Gathering.
"My first Gathering was like spiritual Disneyland. I found opportunities to stretch and grow personally and spiritually. I gained grounding and hope."
Gretchen, a classically-trained oboist, has seen Quaker faith influence her music, "I play with more fluidity and openness." So it was not surpising for music to play a role in the first workshop she would co-lead at the 2018 Gathering: The Deep See Journey on Spiritual Practices. As part of the workshop, Gretchen invited participants into symphonic listening--a whole body approach to experience messages given and received through music.
Like many Friends, Gretchen juggles multiple jobs and responsibilties. Finding time for spiritual nourishment can be a challenge. This fall, she enrolled in her first FGC eRetreat, Becoming Patterns and Examples. She enjoyed how the eRetreat "nudged me into listening to podcasts, watching videos, and exploring readings that I would not normally find on my own."
"Quaker faith has a commitment to honesty," Gretchen shared. A workshop at her meeting on racial healing opened Gretchen "to a new level of awareness," and impressed her with the importance of being a public witness to injustice.