Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seeking the Living Water

[The message I gave out of open worship at the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas consultation in High Point, NC.


At Freedom Friends Church, we always begin with gratitude.  I am grateful to be here with all of you this evening.  I am grateful for safe travels and warm welcomes.  I am grateful for Deborah S, who is eldering for me, and for all of the Friends who are holding me in prayer.  I am grateful for all of you, for the joy and hope and love you bring to this gathering.  I am grateful that God is not finished with us yet.


In Jeremiah 2:13, the prophet Jeremiah speaks the word of the Lord, saying, “My people have committed two sins:  They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and they have dug their own cisterns, cisterns that cannot hold water.”

As I was preparing this message, two images from the natural world came to me.  The first is of dead trees filled with salt in Alaska.

I was born and raised in Alaska, and so was my mother, and so were her parents.  That place is deep in my bones.  There are certain colors and smells and images that I associate with it, and when I see them or smell them, I know that I am home.

One of the most haunting images of my childhood was of these dead trees.  They are a result of the 1964 earthquake.  That earthquake was 9.2 and lasted for four minutes.  My grandparents and my mother thought that it was the end of the world.  They ran outside as their house fell off its foundation.  The destruction was incredible.

In one part of Alaska, the ground sank below sea level, and the trees’ root systems filled with salt water.  Decades later, you could drive by and see these ghost trees, standing exactly as they stood during the earthquake.  It is a haunting image and one that seemed like it would last forever.

This was a natural reaction to a natural disaster.  The water that killed those trees had been living water, but it was no longer life-giving for those trees. 

Sometimes when we encounter God, it feels a little like that: overwhelming.

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus takes three of his disciples up onto a mountain to pray, and while they are there, they have an encounter with the living God.  As Jesus was praying, his face was transformed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening.  (Luke 9:29)

This story is like another story in the Bible, where Moses also went up a mountain to encounter God.  After he did, his face also glowed.  His face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.  (Exodus 34:29)

But the first time Moses went down from the mountain, he found that the people had built a golden calf and were worshiping it.  (Exodus 32:5-6)

The question that people always ask is, How could the Israelites do that?  They had just had an incredible encounter with the living God; God had just rescued them from slavery in Egypt and performed miracle after miracle.  But I think it is not in spite of that encounter with God that the Israelites built the golden calf, but because of it.

A phrase you often hear Quaker ministers say to each other is, “Watch what you fill up on.”  When we encounter the living God, that experience changes us, inside and out, and others can see it.  We feel different and we look and sound different. 

Afterward, there is a strong impulse to recreate the experience, to fill the hole that was so recently filled by the presence of God.

And, in the story of Jesus on the mountain, this is what Peter wanted to do.  He saw Jesus’ radiant face and the two men with him and said, “Master, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters―one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  The Bible says that he did not know what he was saying.  (Luke 9:33) 

But Peter knew that he had encountered the living God.  He wanted to mark the experience and hold on to it by making a tabernacle, but the spirit of God had moved on.

I began with Jeremiah 2:13, a passage that has been important to me.  But when I was in North Carolina a couple years ago, a Friend from Ohio Yearly Meeting reminded me of another passage about water.  Proverbs 5:15 instructs us to “drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.”

The context of this verse is faithfulness to one’s spouse, but I think it works for the Religious Society as Friends as well.  We are all here because we have found something, we have encountered the living God, we have found the living water here among Friends.  Where have we found it?  Where have we abandoned it?  Where do we find it now?

Even if we have abandoned the living water or we have set up monuments to the past, there is always hope.  Even those ghost trees that haunted my childhood won’t last forever.  When I was a teenager, an artist began to make salt and pepper shakers out of the trees. 

The second image from the natural world that came to me is of a place that I used to pass by in Salem, Oregon when I would take walks on my lunch break.  It was a place that had been a concrete driveway, but the concrete had been taken away and there was grass growing where it had been.  After a while, you couldn’t even see where the concrete had been, it was just grass.

Concrete seems permanent.  It is heavy and it seems like it will last forever, but it doesn’t.  It is possible for grass to grow where there was once concrete.

Transformation is always possible.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thoughts on Leadings III

[My reflection paper for the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference.  The theme and quotes for reflection are available online here.]

As I write this from Atlanta, the Pacific Northwest feels very far away.  At the same time, the theme of “Wilt Thou Go On My Journey” speaks to me, and especially the quote from Luke, where Jesus tells the disciples to go out and take nothing on the journey.  Last year, I sold and gave away almost everything I owned because I felt God leading me to go to seminary.  At the end of my first year, I am still not sure why or what I will be doing when I am finished with this degree.  But I felt clear that this was the path for me and I am continuing on it.

The quote from Isaiah (“Here I am.  Send me!”) made me smile.  Out of context, it seems so hopeful and encouraging.  But the chapter goes on to say that Isaiah will speak but the people will not understand.  When Isaiah asks how long, God responds, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate.”  (Isaiah 6:11)

This is a hard message.  God is asking Isaiah to go out and speak to a people whose eyes are shut and ears are closed, until everything is destroyed.  But at the end, a stump remains, and “The holy seed is its stump.”  (Isaiah 6:14)  This passage and the other quotes remind me that in ministry, our goal is faithfulness, not success.  God may be calling us to do or say hard things, things that others may not understand.  And yet, even when it seems like everything is falling apart, God is still there.

At the beginning of a leading, everything feels easy and rightly ordered.  I am afraid, of course, because I am taking on something new, but I also have a deep sense of joy.  As I go on and follow that leading, things become harder.  I find myself feeling worn down, or in conflict with people I care about, or simply questioning whether I heard correctly.  I start to calculate the costs of setting out on the journey and think that it would have been easier just to stay home.

I have also found that following leadings tend to bring up my deep stuff―the things I need to work through.  In fact, this is one of the signals for me that I am on the right track.  When I find myself struggling with old issues, I know there is something for me to learn from the situation and that my perspective is valuable in some way that I can’t quite see.

Fortunately, I don’t have to go it alone.  I have a massive “spiritual pit crew” for this journey including my spiritual director, an anchoring committee, elders, peers in ministry, and many friends who are willing to provide a listening ear or a timely prayer.  It is also a blessing for me to be able to accompany others in this way, whether it is through an ongoing spiritual friendship or a spontaneous phone call from a different time zone.

When I get to the end of a leading, it never looks quite the way I expected.  The fantastic visions I had when I first felt led have been replaced with a more solid reality, but one that feels earned and better than what I imagined because it is real.  I am grateful for the things that I have learned along the way, even the hard things, and for the relationships that have deepened.  I can see how God was with me through it all.  Most of all, I am tired and ready for a rest―happy to lay down this particular thing for a while and take a break before the next journey.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Date

[This semester, I am taking a class called Vocational Discernment for a Sustained Life of Ministry.  Our first assignment was to write a creative conversation in which we discuss our call to ministry with another person.  This is my paper.]

I have been going on a lot of dates lately and inevitably at some point during the date, the conversation turns to how I am in seminary and that I am a Quaker.  Here is an only slightly exaggerated version of how those conversations go.

DATE:  So, you’re in seminary.  Does that mean you want to be a minister?

ME:  Actually, I already am a minister.  I was recorded as a minister by my Quaker meeting last June.

DATE:  Recorded?  What does that mean?

ME:  Quakers do not have ordination―we believe that only God can ordain ministers.  Instead, Friends observe and record the gifts of ministry.  My meeting observed my gifts of minister over several years, then I went through a recording process, and the meeting recorded me as a minister in a special business meeting.

DATE:  I don’t really know much about Quakers.  How are they different from other denominations?

ME:  Quakers believe that everyone has direct access to God.  Instead of looking outside ourselves for guidance, we turn to the inward Christ, or the light of God that we believe is inside of each of us to guide us.

DATE:  If we all have God inside of us, why do Quakers need to get together in groups?  Can’t you just turn inward?

ME:  A couple reasons.  One is that we are not always good at discerning what is coming from God and what is coming from us.  Our Quaker meetings help us to tell the difference.  Also, we believe that God can speak to us through anyone, so during our meetings, we wait in silence to see if anyone will feel led by God to speak.

DATE:  Wait, do you hear God talking to you?

ME:  Yes, I believe I do.  I hear God in the things that other people say to me, and in the things they do without speaking.  I also hear God in messages in meeting, and in nudges that I feel throughout the day to do or not do something, or to hold someone in prayer.

DATE:  But have you ever heard God speak to you directly, with words?

ME:  Yes.  That doesn’t happen very often, but I have experienced it.

DATE:  Can you tell me about a time when it happened?

ME:  A good example is the story that I consider my call to ministry.

It was in 2008, at the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  I enjoyed the conference very much, but by the end of it, I felt exhausted and very ready to go home.  I had agreed to be co-clerk of the planning committee for the next conference, and I was feeling overwhelmed because I had never done anything like that before.


I was sitting in our final worship for the conference when I heard God say to me, “It’s not always going to be this easy.”

I said, “What?”  Of all the words I could think of to describe my experience at the conference, “easy” was not one of them.

God responded, “Yes, this is the easy part.  It is going to be a lot harder after this.  But I will be there too.”

DATE:  Wow.  That sounds intense.

ME:  It was.

DATE:  Has it been hard?

ME:  Yes, sometimes ministry has been very hard.  I tend to resist God―mostly out of fear―making it harder for myself.  But I have always had the sense that God is with me.

DATE:  I get the sense that for you, ministry means something different from being a pastor of a church.  Is that right?

ME:  Being a pastor is one form of ministry, but I do not feel called to pastoral ministry right now.  My ministry has taken lots of forms: I have done traveling ministry among different branches of Friends, I lead workshops and preach, and I do quite a bit of writing.  I try to stay open to what I feel God is calling me to do.

DATE:  But what about seminary?  Why go to seminary if you are already a minister?

ME:  One reason is that I carry a concern for supporting leaders in the Religious Society of Friends.  We don’t always do a good job of supporting leaders, and I wanted to go to a school that was clear in its support of leadership and bring what I learned there back to my denomination.  


I was also hoping that seminary would help me learn how to have a sustained life of ministry.  Burnout is far too common, and I would like to be able to do this for as long as I feel God is calling me.

DATE:  I know that you are also a lawyer.  Are you planning to continue practicing law?

ME:  I am doing some legal work while I am in seminary to help pay the bills, but I am hoping to transition to full-time ministry over the next few years.

DATE:  And you’re from Alaska?  Are you planning on going back there after you finish seminary?  Or back to Oregon?

ME:  Probably not.  I love the Pacific Northwest, but I will probably go wherever I find a job.

DATE:  It sounds like you are going through a lot of changes in your life right now!

ME:  Indeed.  How about you?  Let’s talk about you for a while!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recorded Minister Report for 2013

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:20.
Shortly after Freedom Friends Church recorded my gifts of ministry in June 2013, I had a couple opportunities for public ministry.  On June 30 to July 6, I led a five-day workshop on Convergent Friends at the FGC Gathering, and I had the opportunity to preach at Camas Friends Church on July 28.  I also found I had many opportunities, both formal and informal, to use my gifts.  I clerked a conference call clearness committee for a Friend who was discerning how to leave her job, and I was approached by several (mostly young) Friends, online and in person, to talk about topics that have been important for me over the past several years, such as the gift of prophecy, being a woman in ministry, and how it feels to be led to give vocal ministry.  My primary focus during that time, however, was the transition from my life in Salem to beginning seminary in Atlanta.  It was a full, emotional, and surprisingly productive summer!

On August 19, the cats and I flew across the country to our new home in Atlanta.  Orientation at Candler School of Theology began two days later.  The transition was harder than I expected, and my experience at Candler so far has been decidedly mixed.  There are things that I love about studying at Candler: my classes are interesting, the professors are brilliant and entertaining, and my classmates are thoughtful and kind.  I am especially excited about getting to take practical classes such as Nonprofit Leadership and Management and Vocational Discernment for a Sustained Life of Ministry.  As part of my contextual education, I spend Mondays as a chaplain intern at a women’s prison located about an hour north of Atlanta; that is one of the highlights of my week.  I also enjoy singing in a choir for credit.

But in the first few weeks of my time at Candler, the administration decided to give an alumni award to Eddie Fox, a man who has been extremely vocal in the fight to prevent full equality for LGBT people in the United Methodist Church.  I ended up in tears in a meeting with the dean and other students and faculty, saying how hurt I felt by the decision to give this award and questioning whether, as an out bisexual, I was really welcome at Candler.  In response to this controversy, an alum wrote that she feels Candler is “welcoming but not affirming,” and I have to agree.  It was especially disappointing for me because that is not the way Candler presents itself in its promotional materials.  One positive outcome is that I quickly connected with the LGBT group at Candler (Sacred Worth), and I have felt very supported by the Emory Office of LGBT Life and other allies on campus.

Another source of support has been friends at Atlanta Friends Meeting.  It was easy to decide which Quaker meeting to attend in Atlanta because there is only one!  Atlanta Friends reminds me a lot of University Friends Meeting in Seattle, both in size and culture, and Friends there have been very welcoming.  I became a sojourning member in October and I anticipate joining a meeting committee soon.  I have also asked the meeting for a support committee.

In November, I had the opportunity to attend a School of the Spirit spiritual renewal weekend in Durham, NC.  I also got to spend the night before the retreat with Friends at Wings of Dawn Farm.  It was wonderful to see so many friends from my School of the Spirit class and others.  I found while I was there that the planned theme of the renewal weekend (on loss and failure) was not speaking to me, so I spent most of the weekend on a true retreat, taking time for quiet rest and reflection.  It was good for my soul and reminded me of my need to incorporate more times of retreat into my daily life.

I have continued to do some writing, though writing on my blog ebbs and flows as usual.  I published a piece on working with an elder in the Western Friend book An Inner Strength: Quakers and Leadership, which came out in July.  I have an upcoming article in Friends Journal on the importance of financial support for ministry.  I have also been doing a fair amount of writing for my seminary classes and expect to do more this semester.

I feel that my self-care during this time of transition has been good.  My course load last semester felt manageable and I did not do very much paid legal work.  I have been intentional about my spiritual practices: setting aside time in the morning for prayer, reading a chapter of the Bible each night, taking Saturday as a sabbath from schoolwork, and getting regular exercise.  I have begun meeting monthly with a spiritual director, and Aimee M and I have kept up a spiritual friendship, checking in with each other over the phone every few months.

Looking ahead, the biggest thing on the horizon is that I will be giving a plenary message at the FWCC Consultation in High Point, NC on April 11.  I am preparing the message in advance so it can be translated into Spanish for simultaneous interpretation.  I hope to spend next summer working in Salem, and I have offered to lead a workshop on prayer at the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  My New Year’s resolution this year is discernment for a sustained life of ministry, and I have already found several opportunities to practice discernment!

I am grateful to all of you at Freedom Friends Church for your love, prayers, and support, as well as for the gift of my recording this year.  I am holding you in prayer as you meet for yearly meeting, and I look forward to seeing you next summer.

Love,
Ashley

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prison Mondays

I used to have an office with a desk that overlooked some trees, where I would sit at my computer and do legal work.  This semester, I sometimes think my office is a corner in a prison hallway next to a trash can.  I stand there while an inmate sits on the lid of the trash can, telling me what is on her heart.

Prison is loud and chaotic.  The dorms where I work as an intern are L-shaped, with open shared rooms down one hall and a day room on the other hall.  The rooms each have four sets of bunk beds and the lights never completely turn off.  It is nearly impossible to find a place for private conversation.

Sometimes I sit in the day room, talking with women or waiting for them to come to me.  Other times, I sidle up to a woman as she is sitting on the trash can, one of the quieter places in the dorm.  I ask if she wants to talk or if she would rather be left alone.  The other chaplain interns and I have found that the women are more likely to talk with us if we stand next to them instead of in front of them.

The women tell me about their children and their grandchildren (the majority are mothers).  They worry about sick family members and pray for the day that they will be able to return home.  Once I stood next to a woman whose eyes filled with tears as she told me that she had been driving drunk and the passenger in her car was killed in an accident.  "Will his family ever forgive me?" she asked.  "Will the pain ever go away?"

It's not all hard and heavy.  The women and I laugh together and share stories.  They tell me about the day-to-day frustrations of being in prison, and I agree that it must be hard.  They ask me questions about esoteric Bible verses (Jude 1:9, anyone?) and show me pictures of their families.

The women want to know what I can do for them.  Can I get them a bar of soap, deliver a letter, help them get into a class?  I tell them that I am there to listen.  We can talk about God if they want, or we can pray together, but mostly I am just there to be with them.  Some days, that's enough.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Week

I am halfway through my first semester of seminary, and I feel like I have finally settled into a routine.  Some days I am amazed by how different my life is than when I was working an 8-5 job.  I am enjoying myself very much, though.

Outside Cannon Chapel
Before I came to Candler School of Theology, many people warned me that seminary can be challenging for one's spiritual life, so I have been very intentional about my spiritual practices: setting aside at least 15 minutes in the morning for prayer and worship, reading a chapter of the Bible each night, giving thanks before meals, getting regular exercise, and blessing roadkill that I pass by on my bike.

My typical week looks pretty much like this:

First Day: Worship

On Sunday mornings, I have been worshiping with Atlanta Friends Meeting, a large, unprogrammed meeting in Decatur.  My friends Sadie and Chris live just a mile up the road from my apartment, so they usually give me a ride to meeting, which also gives us a chance to catch up.  Worship begins at 10am and lasts for an hour of silence and messages, with a few minutes at the end for holding people or other prayer requests in the Light.  After getting home from meeting, I often nap and then do any schoolwork I have left for the coming week.

Second Day: Prison

One of the unusual things about Candler is that the program includes two years of contextual education.  In our first year, all of the first-year M.Div. students spend four hours a week in social ministry or clinical settings.  On Mondays, I spend the day with eight of my classmates at Lee Arrendale State Prison, the largest women's prison in Georgia.
Chaplain Bishop (left) and the Candler chaplain interns

We meet up around 8am to take a van up to the prison, located about 66 miles northeast of Atlanta.  I have
been assigned to two dorms in the general population.  Two other chaplain interns and I spend about an hour and a half in each dorm, and we meet up with our other classmates for lunch and a 90-minute reflection class in the middle.

Working in the prison is one of the highlights of my week.  When I walk in the dorm, I never know what will happen.  Sometimes a woman will approach me immediately and I will spend most of my time with her.  Other days, I wait in the break room for women to come talk with me.  Most of the time I listen as they share their experiences and concerns, and we pray and talk together.

Third Day: Classes

Other than the reflection group at the prison, all of my classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The day begins with History of Early Christian Thought (8-9:20am), a large lecture class where we are learning church history from the time of the early church to the Reformation (we will take a class that covers the Reformation to the current day next semester).

Some of my school books
Next is Pastoral Care (9:30-10:50), a smaller class that is designed to complement our contextual education work.  My prison group is combined with a group that is working in another prison for a class of fewer than 20 people.  We are learning a lot about ministry in the prison setting and pastoral care and counseling for women, and we practice pastoral care with and for each other.

After Pastoral Care, I usually skip chapel so that I can eat some lunch and stop by the on-campus farmers market before choir practice with the Candler Chorale, a one-credit class (12-12:50pm).  Our choir is about seven people, and we usually spend our time on Tuesdays preparing the music we will be singing and leading in the Thursday chapel.

My last class of the day is Old Testament (1-2:20pm), another large lecture class.  This is also a year-long class, and we are currently working our way through the Pentateuch.  We started talking about Leviticus last week and will be moving on to Numbers tomorrow.  I think this is the class that many of my classmates have found most theologically challenging, but I am really enjoying learning about the sources of the Old Testament and reading the text more closely than I ever have before.
Pitts Theology Library

Fourth Day: Reading

Thursday is usually my busiest day of classes, so I spend most of Wednesday in the library, reading and preparing for that.  I also try to fit in a lunchtime swim at the Emory pool, and in the afternoon, I meet with a therapist in the Emory counseling center.  Counseling sessions are free for students (or, rather, included in our tuition and fees), and it has been really great to have someone to meet with each week to help me through all of the transitions.

Fifth Day: Classes

My schedule on Thursday is pretty much the same as Tuesday, with a few exceptions.  Instead of choir practice, my choir often leads the singing in chapel (11am-12pm).  After chapel, I sometimes have another one-credit class called First Year Advising (12-12:50pm).  As the name suggests, this is a class that is supposed to help all of us transition into seminary.  We meet regularly (though not every week) with our faculty advisor to talk about things like financial literacy and what we need to do to satisfy the M.Div. program requirements.
Inside Cannon Chapel

Sixth Day: Schoolwork

Friday is another day without classes and it is tempting to take the day off, but I have been trying to get most of my schoolwork done before the weekend.  It is also a day when we sometimes have special programs at school (for example, next week I will be taking an afternoon workshop on the Enneagram).  Again, I try to fit a run or swimming into the day.  In the evening, I might go out to dinner or do something else to unwind after the week.

Seventh Day: Sabbath

One of the reasons I try to do so much schoolwork on Friday is because I have set Saturday aside as a no-schoolwork day, a sabbath of sorts.  It is amazing to me how tempted I have been to do schoolwork on Saturdays, especially when midterms are looming, but I have managed to stick with it so far.

On Saturday mornings, I have been going to a yoga class at a local ashram, then I usually spend the rest of the day hanging out with friends, reading (fiction!), or catching up with things around the house.  So, it's not a complete sabbath, but at least one day a week when I am not completely focused on school.

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Thoughts on Recording

The night before I went to preach at Camas Friends Church, I had a dream.  I dreamed that I was sitting in the Camas Friends meeting room, waiting to give the message.  In my dream, the announcements and introductions went on and on, and I began to get anxious that there would not be space for me to speak.  To my horror, I saw people standing to leave.  One by one, they quietly walked out of the room.  But when I looked to my right, I saw a small girl sitting on the bench next to me.  She looked up at me, her eyes wide, and said, "Are you going to be the preacher today?"  Then I woke up.

I have been in Atlanta for a month now, and it has been a bit of a bumpy landing.  There are things that I love about studying at Candler School of Theology: my classes are interesting, the professors are brilliant and entertaining, and my classmates are caring and thoughtful.  But I have also experienced a fair amount of culture shock.  I am adjusting to living in the South and being a full-time student again after several years of working as a lawyer.  I am also the only Quaker in a Methodist seminary, which has its own challenges.

One thing I did not anticipate was how big of a deal my recording would be here.

Because it is the beginning of the year, I often find myself in classrooms where we go around the room and introduce ourselves.  For many of my classmates, the introduction goes like this:  "My name is Jessie and I am United Methodist, on the ordination track in the North Georgia Conference."

When it's my turn to introduce myself, I usually say, "My name is Ashley and I am a Quaker (a member of the Religious Society of Friends).  I am a recorded Quaker minister (the Quaker version of ordination)."  

When I say that, people's eyebrows go up.  They shift in their chairs.  Last week, a professor said to me, "So, you're just here for the education."

It's true.  For many of my classmates, they need to go to seminary in order to be ordained in their denominations.  As a Friend, I do not need the degree to be a minister (in fact, several Friends tried to talk me out of it before I came here).

I am grateful for my recording, and it is still new enough that I am trying to figure out what it means to me and for my ministry.  I sometimes think it means more to non-Friends than it does to Friends.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend who should be recorded. She has a clear call to ministry and has been deeply involved in public ministry among Friends, which is bearing fruit. But her yearly meeting does not record ministers. 

She said that, in a conversation with another minister, she blurted out, "I wish they would just record me!" The other (recorded) minister reminded her that recording is not something to take lightly. 

While I agree on one level, I also think that, when someone is doing public ministry, eventually the lack of recording can become a burden, and it is a burden that the meeting should take up. It is the responsibility of the meeting to provide support and accountability for public ministers, and recording is the way that Friends traditionally have shown their intention to provide that support and accountability. 

I also think this weighs heavier on women than men. It is true that yearly meetings that do not record ministers do not discriminate between women and men (neither are recorded). However, that does not take into account all of the voices that women hear telling them that they cannot do ministry. There are entire denominations that will not allow women to preach or even teach men. It is still unusual for a little girl to hear a woman preach. And when Friends say that they will not record ministers, that is one more voice telling women that they cannot be ministers.

Recording is important, Friends. Especially the recording of women. We need to take a look around and recognize the gifts that God has given to our meetings and find ways to support the Friends who are sharing those gifts with us.