Saturday, July 5, 2008

Quakers & Social Class Interest Group at Gathering

I'm having a hard time finding the words to talk about my experience leading the Quakers and Social Class interest group at Gathering this year. In part, I don't have the words because it felt like when I give ministry during worship--later descriptions of ministry never have the power they had during meeting. So as I try to describe my experience, it doesn't feel as weighty as Wednesday night.

I felt led and covered in grace. I had a nudge to go to the space early and that gave me access to an otherwise locked building. I didn't want anyone to come into the room after we started and no one did. Until I got a nudge to stand up and go into the hall during the small-group discussions, that is. I could turn the late comer away and give her the handouts I brought. I didn't know what queries I would offer up for worship sharing but got a nudge during worship to ask folks what questions they'd have for themselves or that they'd bring back to their Meetings after the step-forward exercise we did.

Here's what we did:

I made some introductory remarks about me, why I was offering the interest group, social class in general (what it is, and what it's not) and what we'd be doing. We did a modified version of the step-forward exercise I posted on my blog in October. We split up in small groups to discuss our reactions to the exercise and came back together for worship sharing.

See? As I write this, it sounds so boring. But I promise you it wasn't. People reported to me that it gave folks a lot to think about and a lot to consider. Several friends told me they heard people they don't know raving about the experience.

I know this sounds like tooting my own horn, but I am so pleased because I felt well-used (in that same way I feel well-used when I am faithful giving ministry). And because I've never done anything like this before. It's easy for me to get hooked and get my buttons pushed during group processes but standing before the interest group felt easier than any group I've experienced. I felt such deep care and love for each person in the room the whole two hours.

The last time I felt that kind of grace for that amount of time or with that many people was when I was in the hospital in 1994 for my bone marrow transplant.

People asked what I'd be doing next and if I'd turn it into a workshop or if I was coming back to the Gathering.

I can honestly say that I don't know. I'll ask God what's next.

In the meantime, I'll continue to blog here and I will go to George Lakey's workshop on Quakers and Social Class. I'll also, hopefully, get to an FGC small conference on diversity in March announced at the summer Gathering.


Anonymous said...

Jeanne accurately reflects my experience of her and her interest group at the FGC Gathering. The black box theater was the perfect space; Jeanne was the perfect facilitator; Spirit was absolutely present; and transformation began or continued that day with the step-forward exercise and the dialogue and worship-sharing that followed it.

I, personally, found the experience very powerful. Beginning to see the impact of my working class childhood and some mish-mosh in adulthood, I was greatly illuminated by the mini-workshop in many ways. I not only learned some things that my 50+ years have left unrevealed to me about my own class experience, I was also blessed by hearing others' sense of their privilege and lack of privilege. I was touched to hear people recognize their sense of entitlement as middle and upper middle class people as well as speak of their emotions surrounding their status.

Thank you, again, Jeanne, for shining light on this important aspect of life. You were favored by Spirit, Friend.
In faith - Viv Hawkins, Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting

Liz Opp said...

Yay for my sweetie!

I'm so glad you walked through the fire over the past year and followed your Guide. And I'm glad to read Viv's personal testimony about the power of the experience.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Hystery said...

You and I have tangled. (Thank you). You have really pissed me off. (Thank you.) Since I began reading your blog, I think about class almost all the time and find that I am asking more questions of myself and others. I see things that I never saw before. You have touched my life and made it richer. You are a blessing and you are doing good work. I imagine that your words will continue to push my buttons and I will continue to read your blog and I will continue to be grateful for all that you do.