This Epistle is mine alone and does not speak for the rest of the gathering. It was taken into account by the Epistle Committee, but not approved.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.
We have experienced an intensity of energy, enthusiasm, and passion that many of us rarely experience in our own monthly meeting. Worship has been unusually powerful, leaving many in attendance wishing that this same deeply moving experience might be transferred and incorporated into every Sunday’s First Hour in their own monthly meeting. With this renewed spiritual focus has come an strong connection with the Spirit and sense of spiritual community that often seems otherwise elusive. We am humbled by the experience and grateful that we have been in attendance.
In Romans 12, we are taught that the Body of Christ includes many parts. In our gathering, each of these parts at times initially resisted finding a common leaning, yet fortunately they recognized that as fellow Friends even their disagreements could be resolved without protracted conflict. The blessedly few moments of tension were gratefully and graciously pushed aside by a moving experience of deep spiritual connection with each other. Though we all might have wounds, we take care to acknowledge them and seek to heal the divisions both within each other and within ourselves.
A Friend shared that the gathering had been “laboring in love”, recognizing that resolving differences was at times difficult, but that even with that, Friends were still willing to continue to engage in communication with each other, even with whom they might strongly disagree. Some Friends were uncomfortable with Christ-centered or God-centered language. Some Friends were uncomfortable with those who did not willingly incorporate such language into their own spirituality. Yet, all were compelled and motivated to continue the dialogue and in so doing heal the part of Body that was broken. That desire was the salvation of the gathering.
Also present among all in attendance was a strong sense of vulnerability and a willingness to be unguarded and honest. Friends believed this was one of the major strengths of the gathering and all in attendance benefited greatly from this display of trust. Present as well was the willingness of Friends to contribute and participate in worship, which made the gathering even richer. Three different types of worship were held, and with that came a wealth of different experiences. This positive discomfort and tension encouraged and nurtured the presence of the Spirit. Despite this sometimes challenging environment, there was nonetheless a strong sense of unity that characterized the gathering as a whole.
Some Friends mentioned that their initial expectations going in were completely different from that which actually transpired, but participants agreed that the experience was overwhelmingly uplifting. The seeds that have been planted from this gathering have yet to blossom, but we have hope that what we learned and experienced here will bear fruit in our own monthly meetings, and well beyond. We came seeking answers, some of which were realized, and some which we will only be granted in the days, weeks, months, and even years going forward.