16 July 2005

More FUM Triennial notes (and new photos)

Des Moines, Iowa, USA: Earlier, I posted the note about Retha's resignation. After pushing the "publish post" button, I listened to several of the Friends who spoke out of the silence about Retha's service, and then got up to say something along these lines:

"My emotions are so mixed and strong that I don't trust myself to say much. But I want to put on the record a quality that Retha has that hasn't been mentioned directly. She has the ability to be humbly confrontational when that is needed. There aren't anecdotes for this quality that would be appropriate to give here, but sometimes her ability to cut through ideological deodorant and say 'something here smells bad' has literally rescued some Quaker institutions. There will be other good Quaker leaders to follow—I think some of them are in this room—but I hope that the characteristics we look for in a leader will include this quality."

Meanwhile, back on Thursday evening, Oliver Kisaka gave the Triennial's Johnson Lecture, "The Lamb's War." Departing from his prepared text, Kisaka referred to some of the conflicts around FUM. Using the story of Balaam's ass from Numbers 22, he addressed FUM's critics (at least that's my interpretation!): "Stop flogging the mule! Stop flogging FUM! If you think you're right, speak directly with the Father." I remember that when I was in the FUM loop, I often challenged its critics to stop fighting proxy wars on FUM when the real issue was lack of unity on the constituency level, but I never made my argument as vividly as Oliver made his.

Kisaka's Johnson lecture was distributed in print at the end of the lecture. I believe it will also be made available through the FUM Web site, although it isn't there as of this posting.

On Friday evening, our speaker was T. Canby Jones. In speaking on the Lamb's war ("The Lamb Shall Overcome"), he was returning to a theme he has been associated with for many years. Referring to the Triennial scripture, Revelation 17:14, he remarked on the paradox of the conquering lamb. He then surveyed the role of the lamb in the whole Bible. As a sacrificial animal, he noted, the lamb was not even at the top of the hierarchy ... rather, nearer the bottom. In Isaiah, there is a foreshadowing of New Testament themes as the lamb appears in the picture of the peaceable kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9) and the messianic atonement (Isaiah 53:5-11). After walking us through the other NT references to the lamb, Canby squarely faced the paradox of the Lamb's triumph in Revelation, with its theme of the triumph of faith in the time of persecution and in the face of death.

In ending, Canby noted that, for a change, he hadn't mentioned "dear George" Fox at all. Referring to a quotation by Fox that had been handed out before the talk (Epistle 9, see below), he closed with a prayer: "Dear Lamb, we so long for that victory and we pledge our lives to your peaceable conquest."

Friends, that which is set up by the sword, is held up by the sword; and that which is set up by spiritual weapons, is held up by spiritual weapons, and not by carnal weapons. The peacemaker hath the kingdom, and is in it; and hath dominion over the peace-breaker, to calm him in the power of God.

And friends, let the waves break over your heads. There is rising a new and living way out of the north, which makes the nations like waters. Hurt not the vines, nor the oil, nor such as know that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."

The days of virtue, love, and peace, are come and coming, and the Lamb hath and had the kings of the earth to war withal, who will overcome with the sword of the spirit, the word in his mouth; for the Lamb shall have the victory.

Not included in the printed version of Canby's talk is the opening portion of his talk, which included his reminiscences of his time in the circle of Haverford College students gathered by Thomas Kelly. The FUM office is making audio CDs available of the Triennial; I hope they include Canby's evening.

Monday PS: A few words about the incredible closing worship yesterday (Sunday). It reminded me of the old phrase "a feast of fat things," an important part of which was Jan Hoffman's sermon/meditation on the book of Revelation. It had many insights, but I will limit myself to one sample from my imperfect transcription:
In Revelation, we're working with Jesus. Rev 1:5-6 ... He hath made us kings and priests unto God the Father. The words 'King of kings and Lord of lords' do not relate to worldly power. Jesus is prince over the kings of the earth, but he made us kings and priests. He is first among equals. We are kings and lords and priests as he is. Salvation is not just a 'first step': with salvation you work with Christ, and with Christ in you.

A few photos from the Triennial. Clicking on the small photo should give you a larger version. From top left: The clerks' table in business sessions: Wanda Coffin Baker, Susan Kirkpatrick, Retha McCutchen, Brent McKinney, with FUM finance officer Paul Smith at podium; Colin South (director of FUM Global Ministries) and Eden Grace (FUM Africa Ministries Office, Kisumu, Kenya); David Lugaria (chief executive officer and chief medical officer, Friends Lugulu Hospital, Webuye, Kenya); Isaiah Bikokwa (Samburu Friends Mission, Kenya) and Ann Kendall (Western YM); John Bell (Western YM) asking a finance question from the floor; Mike Martin (Iowa YM) and Judy Maurer (Northwest YM); John Moru (Turkana Friends Mission, Kenya) and Mary Kay Rehard (Friends Theological College, Kaimosi); Iola and Eves Cadwallader (Iowa YM) and Peggy Hollingsworth (Western YM); Ben Richmond, receiving a Fritz Eichenberg "Peaceable Kingdom" during the acknowledgment of his twenty years of service to FUM, which end tomorrow; Colin South and Joyce Ajlouni (director of Ramallah Friends Schools); T. Canby Jones.

FUM business session; clerk's table with FUM finance officer Paul Smith at podiumCanby speaking

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