Thursday, February 09, 2012

Being Salt & Light

I can't remember if I've said on here before or not yet (probably not given how rarely I've been blogging over the last year!) but I'll be one of 6 representatives from Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting going to the 6th World Conference of Friends in Kenya in April this year.

Recently we had a couple of days of discussions at Mt Eden QMH in Auckland looking at the theme 'Being Salt and Light: Friends living the Kingdom of God in a broken world' (the organisors capitals not mine!) and accompanying study booklet. Of course being liberal Quakers we therefore discussed what we understood by salt, light, kingdom of god, god and a broken world! Having straightforward universally accepted truths on such matters isn't really our way... but of course for some Friends from other traditions there is a much greater shared understanding and certainty, with more 'conventional' answers and no doubt more clearly articulated too!

It was such a priviledge to have have most of a Saturday and a few hours of Sunday set aside to talk about the World Conference with Friends. One of the other reps drove 4hrs each way to be with us on the Saturday, I spent about 13hrs sitting on buses to get there and back, but it was worth every minute of it. One of the delights and challenges of international Quaker events is having time to really get to grips with each others' faiths, its similarities and differences, but if you haven't had time to spend looking at that with people from your own tradition it is extremely hard to explain it to someone from another.

We've got a seminar at the Quaker Settlement in Whanganui 24-26th Feb again based on the theme and focusing a little more on the event itself which (hopefully!) all of the reps and others will be attending to take us a step further along our shared journey, after all these events are always about and affect the lives of far more than those who actually attend.

One very exciting aspect of the World Conference for me is the opportunity to be reunited with Friends from WGYF 2005, my time with FWCC EMES and from being a part of Britain Yearly Meeting for many years. I have to keep focusing on that and try to ignore the fact that the event will be about 1000 people strong, which is dauntingly large for a country bumpkin like myself who gets peopled out at events like Summer Gathering with about 120 people present!

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