Friends meetings and churches are so comfortable with their own style—small in scale, and wholly volunteer—that they can be ill at ease with the ways of a large organization and the program activities of paid staff. Conversely, trained staff who work full time on issues can slip into being impatient with volunteers.
There are various ways to name this experience: tent-making ministers, released Friends, part-time pastors; but the most common phrase used today is “bivocational ministry.” This term describes the practice of those who both hold a secular job and serve in ministry… Maintaining a healthy family life is often just assumed.
When I first heard Robin share the term, I’ll admit I was skeptical. I’m still not 100% sure it’s the best term, as a job taken solely for the money isn’t a vocation (it’s a job). But bivocational seems to be a preferred term among more mainstream Christian pastors so it’s worth trying it out.
Most of my working career has been a mix of jobs with little money sandwiched in between jobs with no money. Unfunded ministries have a certain heady freedom but need to be balanced out. Like a lot of Friends, most of the burden of maintaining this balance has been on me personally (though it’s helped to get the occasional grants and honorariums and a steady trickle of funds via Paypal).
I sometimes compare and contrast my two time-consuming self-publications. In the mid-1990s I started Nonviolence.org. My initial model didn’t include poverty: I sincerely thought I should be able to get funding to manage a low-income activist lifestyle. Although I had vision, a proven skill set, and a good resume, I only received token funding from a few foundations where I had personal contacts. Looking back now, I was hopelessly naive about the ways of nonprofit fundraising. I managed with part-time jobs and kept the project going for about eight years.
When I saw momentum building toward what would become QuakerQuaker, I started with a different tactic: this time I wouldn’t chase big money. And because I never had an expectation of making anything over costs and incidentals, the project developed in a way that would make it work over the long-haul. If I need to drift away for a few weeks to focus on money-making jobs, it runs itself. It’s continued for nine years through various employment changes.
One key to that longevity has been saying no to all sorts of opportunities. And how to do that: faith. A faith that while the work is good work, it’s only some of what must be done. We shouldn’t try to do more than our share. If way isn’t opening to more time, then we should find ways of being satisfied with what we can do.
Friends are pretty far behind the curve with social media. There just isn’t room or time for the kind of active online life that drives Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and the rest. But we could be experimenting more and asking those who are involved more to share their interest and energy with the meeting.
It is often claimed that Quakers don’t have leaders, and it is true that if a newcomer wants to find out ‘who is in charge’, they may be bewildered to learn that decisions are made by a voteless process of collective discernment by the whole community of Friends.
A multi-ethnic police workforce is vital to ensure that the public recognise the police as a service that exists for everyone. The policing of one demographic group in society by another visibly or linguistically different group has been a factor in triggering violent demonstrations of discontent in Europe, such as the French riots in 2005.
Unlike the Mennonites whose statements are written on paper, Quaker statements and attitudes, particularly on race, are written in their hearts and ways of living. Unfortunately for many of us of color these attitudes and behaviors have left many scars and wounds.
I can only conclude that such cruelty is ok with these folks, as long as it is directed not towards Christians per se but towards persons who are gay. What has gone on in Uganda gives a bit of insight into the perils of theocracy,