Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

An Interview with Barry Crossno - Part 2


3.    I've read some of your blog posts. You've clearly seen blogging as a medium for exploring Quaker theology.  What has been your experience been of blogging among Friends?

Blogging among Friends is very important.  There are not a lot of Quakers.  We're spread out across the world.  Blogging opens up dialogues that just wouldn't happen otherwise.  While I laid down my blog, “The Quaker Dharma,” a few years ago, and my thinking on some issues has evolved since then, I'm clear that blogging is what allowed me to give voice to my call.  It helped open some of the doors that led me to work for Pendle Hill and, now by extension, FGC.  A lot of cutting edge Quaker thought is being shared through blogs.  Writing Cheerfully on the Web: A Quaker Blog Reader really speaks to the truth of this.  It's a great compendium, though if you want to see the very latest writings you should, of course, go online.  You might be moved by what you find.

4.    What do you understand to be FGC’s unique gifts and purpose?

In terms of purpose, the FGC mission statement sums it up well:
Friends General Conference, with Divine guidance, nurtures the spiritual vitality of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) by providing programs and services for Friends, meetings, and seekers. 
For me, I think it is a combination of things that makes FGC a special and wonderful organization.  First, FGC serves the US and Canada and has representatives and participants from across Canada and the United States.  The people who serve FGC together on Central Committee see the big currents and needs moving through our Quaker communities and then have the opportunity to forge programs and services that do more than serve those needs—they stir renewal, they inspire.  Further, FGC, through Central Committee and our working groups, has a tremendous reservoir of talented people who have chosen to make common cause.  During my four years on Central Committee I was continually astonished by the dedication of the volunteers and staff who make FGC's programs and mission possible.  These are faithful Friends.  In addition to all this, the recently approved new structure of Central Committee at FGC has amazing possibilities.  We'll be able respond to needs with more flexibility and draw on the time and talents of people who sit on Central Committee and of those who are volunteering for individual projects but who might not have other ties to FGC.  What FGC has already accomplished is fantastic.  What we can accomplish with the new structure and our shared vision around strengthening our tradition, I think, might be astonishing.  As George Fox said, there is a great people to be gathered.  I believe the Quaker message is still revolutionary.  The Quaker way is deeply transformative and FGC, through a wide range of programs, projects and initiatives, is dedicated to helping people experience it.

5.    How would you describe your calling to serve Friends as the next General Secretary of FGC?

I accepted this position because I believe in the reality of something greater than ourselves in the Quaker message, in our capacity to hold those who seek communion with the Divine and to hold those who are inspired by the Quaker witness in the world.  
Several years ago Spirit shared a message with me, “Quakerism is a doorway through which many will walk.”  I believe that.  I believe the Quaker way is one of many profound and important gateways to God, the Sacred Mystery, or whatever you might want to call your experience and understanding of That Which Is.  My call is to help Quaker communities of all kinds: yearly meetings, monthly meetings, worship groups, study groups, spiritual peer groups, and others develop the tools, grounding, and experience they need to be vital and grounded in the Spirit.  I am convinced that we can change the world when we act from our deepest truths and offer opportunities for commitment, growth, and renewal.  In particular, I've run into many young adults who want to live a deeply committed life.  I hope, as a religious society, that we challenge them to live into their full brilliance and capacity.  I hope by choosing to walk a Quaker path, young adults will feel inspired to be faces of God in the world and to use their unique gifts in the arts, sciences, business, teaching, direct religious service, and other professions so they can serve the greater good and be faithful to the seed of God that lives in their heart.