Emerging leaders

I recently attended FUM’s emerging leaders conference. I enjoyed a weekend talking with about 30 people who have a passion for the future of the Society of Friends. Most, but not all of us were in the age range called Young Adult Friends (Under 35). I do believe that instead of age, the people were chosen based on their ‘convergent Friends’ credentials. While it was a FUM meeting, there were also guests with membership in EFI or FGC only.

One might comment upon the quality of the ’emerging leaders’. To be honest, several of the students seemed quite emerged to me, having been active in leadership and ministry for years. Some of them seem recognized by sight everywhere they go. I might consider it somewhat intimidating to be among such giants, except that I know some of them socially. In the room, there were several new, experimental meetings represented. We enjoyed lively discussion about where faith meets practice outside of the various parts of the program. If the passion and intelligence stays alive, Quakerism is looking to grow deeper in the 21st century.

If these are the new leaders, the future of Quakerism is likely small worship groups (often house churches, worship in coffee shops, et c.) with a strong volunteer ministry. The future will recognize that there are multiple ministry gifts and ministry models as well as a variety of needs. Most likely these new worship groups will be tightly networked, and interdependent upon one another. It is interesting that there are a such a variety of people with compatible dreams.

To be honest, what impressed me was not the quality of people I already knew to be people of quality, but the FUM’s desire to prepare for our dreams. Yes they provided lectures and workshops but they also asked questions. Staff wanted to know our dreams, what they did that helped, and what they did which was harmful. They wanted to know our vision and our frustrations with Quakerism. They also asked for suggestions on building a support system for leadership and new ministries. I am excited, not only because we have passionate people but, because the wider body wants to support this new passion.

It is difficult to predict what will happen, but I am deeply optimistic about the future of the Religious Society of Friends.


2 comments on “Emerging leaders

  1. So is there a credentialing process for Convergent Friends? I know you were speaking metaphorically but I hope it doesn’t all start institutionalizing quite so fast.

    It sounds like a great gathering. And I’m surprised (in a good way) that FUM was being so supportive. I don’t see these new-model ministries needing the big established institutions the way that old missions might have–which is probably good because many of them are so strapped for cash anyway. FUM and the others could provide a crossroads to bring together emergent ministries, like they did for this conference.

    An even more important for FUM, etc. would be for them to help create forums to share the work and vision of the “emergent” ministries with Friends from established meetings. The style differences are real and there’s some theology behind all this, but there’s no reason there’s can’t be crossovers and connections. I’m worried that there’s a divide taking place. It’s more stark in some places–seriously gaping in my own yearly meeting, Philadelphia, for instance. Keeping everyone “in the loop” is important. Glad to see it’s on FUM’s radar.

    • I was also surprised (in a good way). I am not a member of a FUM meeting, so I was not able to help the discussion much, however my own Yearly Meeting (EFC-MAYM) has monthly meetings for everyone in Kansas who is interested in ministry. They have a lecturer, a common meal, and time for general discussion and worship. I suggested they create a similar program.


      Several of the people attending Emerging leaders seminar either started a new-model ministry, or worshiped with one. Part of me wanted to skip the workshops, and just discuss dreams with a couple people who are starting meetings unlike anything in the area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s