|2005 Triennial, Des|
Moines, Iowa, USA
This is what intrigued me in the search announcement:
Friends United Meeting has initiated a search for a new General Secretary. Our General Secretary, Sylvia Graves, has announced she will retire in July of 2011. Friends United Meeting is also in the process of identifying a new organizational structure that would better facilitate our mission. We are looking for a new General Secretary who would work closely with the board to implement necessary changes while promoting Friends United Meeting's distinctive Christian Quaker message. The General Secretary would also develop and manage the programs and staff, seeking to connect, equip, and energize constituent Yearly Meetings with the work and mission of Friends United Meeting.It is going to be a daunting task to conduct an executive search and restructure at the same time. What are the candidates to expect? What work and mission will be left for the new person to advocate among the yearly meetings? Will that person help build the vision, or is the vision that he or she must "translate ... into effective programs" expected to emerge simultaneously with the new structure?
When I first saw the announcement, I immediately thought of several people who should consider applying. I didn't think about the details of the announcement; instead, the people who came to my mind were creative, energetic, visionary, expressive. I was still under the impression that being the general secretary of Friends United Meeting is the best job there is among Friends. I still want to believe that FUM is the strategic center of the Quaker world, the best place to catalyze the revival of the Quaker movement, if we can just shed the perennial jockeying over who will be the first to leave if the others don't straighten out.
The very first person I encouraged to consider applying gave me a healthy reality check. Bottom line from this observer I respect highly: this is not an attractive organization to work for.
Well, faithful reader:
- Is this person wrong? Why or why not?
- What would make FUM an attractive organization to work for?
- What would represent the coherence of vision and structure that could put the general secretary in the role of a servant catalyst (if, indeed, such an ideal is right)?
- Is there in fact any organizational location for such a function among Friends these days, or are we in a period of irreversible decline for such structures?
- If so, how will we organize access and accountability, or have we become totally personality-driven?
Long-time readers already know my context and disclosures, but by some miracle it's been almost a year and a half since I last posted anything about FUM (here's the full list) so let me just briefly add:
Friends United Meeting is an international association of Quaker congregations, accounting for something like half of the Friends in the world.
Until 2001, when my membership moved to Reedwood Friends Church in Northwest Yearly Meeting, Evangelical Friends, I'd always been involved with Quaker meetings affiliated with Friends United Meeting--in Canada, and in the US states of Massachusetts, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio. My first contact with FUM was as a committee appointee from Canadian Yearly Meeting. I worked in FUM's bookstore in 1982 and 1983, had several volunteer roles after that, and then returned to the staff in 1993, serving as general secretary for seven years. I attended every triennial gathering from 1987 to 2005. Not surprisingly, I have quite an emotional investment.
I wholeheartedly unite with FUM's purpose statement, adopted in 1993: "Friends United Meeting commits itself to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as Teacher and Lord."
James Fallows writes on Google's plans to save the news industry.
This review of Trent Sheppard's God on Campus has put the book on my wish list.
More Gaza-related links: "Remembering the dead" and "the purpose of breaking the blockade is not breaking the blockade...." Moscow Friends Meeting adopted a minute last Sunday expressing strong concern about the tragic incident caused by the Freedom Flotilla's attempt to reach Gaza, stating that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be resolved through peaceful means, and expressing grief for those who died. (Russian readers: more here.)
"Has Christianity failed you?"
Robin Parry asks, "Is universalism heretical?" Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Watch for a promised fourth part.
Anthony Manousos writes about Quaker theologian Howard Brinton. (Thanks to Noli Irritare Leones for the reference.)
Is corruption ever good??
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: "Treat Me Right."