Friday, August 5, 2011
My Dear Beloved Community,
Since I last wrote my journey has of course continued. The spring brought with it a curious unfolding of plans. My studies at the Earlham School of Religion took me to Israel and Palestine; an opportunity to write for Friends Journal brought me to the country of Jordan; and my work with ecumenical dialogue paved way for me to attend the World Council of Churches Peace Convocation in Jamaica. Each of these trips exposed me to new cultures, new ideas and new friends. For these opportunities I’m deeply thankful.
In the midst of all of this travel my plans to participate in a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Iraq was postponed so I returned to Indiana to finish my MA in Religious Studies. At the surprise of myself and my professors, I successfully defended my thesis in the beginning of May after only six weeks of writing. This summer I have returned to Pendle Hill to work as one of the coordinators of the Young Adult Leadership Development Program and way has opened for me to stay here at Pendle Hill for the next year as the coordinator of the Residential Student program.
So as I look to how to describe for you, my beloved community, the threads that bring life to my journey, I discover that there are several spheres within which I now live and work. I describe these spheres as threads because while to share with you their specifics I categorize them as I do, in reality, each sphere intersects, links, and intertwines with the others, making up the beauty and challenges that I embrace.
Quaker Involvement: I have returned to active participation in the Quaker world in several ways: I’m writing for several different Quaker groups; I’m of course working here at Pendle Hill; and I’m volunteering with Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC). Since I have been named a representative of Baltimore Yearly Meeting to the World Conference of Friends in Kenya next April, I have begun helping the FWCC-Sections of the America office organize conversations among Young Adults about the gathering and prepare the younger reps for their travels. I’ve also spoken at several of FWCC’s Salt and Light events which are geared to all-aged friends and aim to spread the message and involvement of the World Conference among friends in the Americas.
My work here at Pendle Hill has many components including programmatic organization of the Resident Student program, pastoral care, small group facilitation and conflict mediation. I am also working with a group of people in the research and visioning of Young Adult programming. I have had the joy of being visited by my position’s counterpart at Woodbrooke and I look forward to some international collaboration on Youth and Young Adult programs.
Ecumenical Involvement: The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica in May was amazing. I have been studying the concept of “Just Peace” with a professor for the past year and a half and at this conference the World Council of Churches (WCC) accepted the document that has been written on “Just Peacemaking,” The WCC hopes to adopt/approve it at their 2013 Assembly in Busan, Korea. I had the privilege of being selected with one other person from the USA to serve on a team of stewards. At about 38 members, the stewards helped the Convocation run smoothly while also representing over twenty countries and six continents.
From this experience I have further developed my fantastic network of international friends; however, the most powerful part of the Convocation was the time I spent with people from my own country. I discussed at considerable lengths the responsibilities that US church communities have in fostering discussions of peacemaking and peace building in our own country. Beautiful ideas have emerged from these conversations; ideas that I hope to help flower and fruit.
I also spend time talking with the international collection of Historical Peace Church members (Mennonites, Brethren, and Quaker). On the Sunday of the convocation, two Friends, one from the Netherlands and one from Brazil, organized a waiting worship. Over twenty people attended, representing the Historical Peace Churches and many others. Conversations among us and among the wider conference community asked the question “Should we lay down our name as the Historical Peace Churches to join with others as Living Peace Churches?” This question continues to work in me as I continue to engage with my Historical Peace Church friends.
Peace-Building Involvement: Some of you, my beloved community, may have been asking at the beginning of this letter… What about Iraq? Well, my friends, plans are set. I have been accepted into the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) Delegation in October (Oct. 13-26) to the northern part of Iraq. Amazing feats of non-violent resistance have been engaged in Kurdistan over the past Spring and Summer. While the US news rarely reports on anything except the deaths that are occurring, CPT’s updates depict a challenging but hopeful situation. If you would like to receive past CPT briefs of the situation in Kurdistan please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will be keeping you all updated during my trip and hope to speak with you and share with you when I return.
I have raised about half of the funds needed to attend this delegation. I am still seeking financial and prayer support for October. Donations may be made through my website: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/rachel-stacy/rachelstacy or checks made out to CPT --noted that they are for my delegation-- can be sent to the CPT offices at:
Delegation Coordinator Christian Peacemaker Teams Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680-6508
Thank you to all who have supported me and will continue to support me. It is very important to me that I have the opportunity to share with you my experiences and my journey. For those of you reading this from monthly meetings within driving distance of Pendle Hill, please let me know if there is a possibility to come speak with your meeting. For those of you at greater distances, my travels are taking me around the country. Let me know about possibilities to share with your meeting/community and we’ll see what ways open. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Personal/Professional Development: So where is all this heading? I have a long journey ahead of me. I feel deeply called to pursue an advanced degree that will assist me in my work. I hope to work in pastoral care for people like CPT members who serve in intense often traumatic situations. I hope to walk with these people in the field and when they return; teaching and supporting communities of faith to embrace and integrate their peace builders back into the community. Right now, the next step is to pull a series of pieces together. Intermixed with my role here at Pendle Hill and my two major trips to Iraq and Kenya, I will be applying to pHD programs in practical theology and trauma healing. My work with CPT is the first step of learning what the people I hope to work with experience and my Ecumenical work constructs a professional network of faith communities whom someday I may serve.
In the end I come around back to my own faith community for support, guidance, and growth. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to work here at Pendle Hill next year while experiencing the encouragement and support to pursue my array of projects. If you are in the Philadelphia area, please let me know and if time allows, I would love to meet up and share what is on our hearts. Blessings to you all and I hope that our paths cross soon.
Love, Rachel Stacy