An interview with Raye Hodgson of Ohio Yearly Meeting Conservative, who serves on their Electronic Outreach Committee.

Raye: Ohio Yearly Meeting holds our yearly meeting in Barnesville Ohio--some people know us as those Barnesville folks. We have an electronic Outreach Committee and that includes the oversight and ministry associated with our website. We spend time thinking about how to open up to people who might be interested in Friends' ways and might want to know more about us whether or not they've ever read the Journal of George Fox. We're trying to expand our witness, if you will.

One of the questions that has come up in this electronic outreach group is: what types of communication or video are useful for someone to get to know us but also respectful of the fact that we do worship and that worship is a spiritually intimate time. We're trying to bridge and deal with respecting the worshippers, the Friends themselves, to not put on a performance and yet to try to communicate what it is that is edifying in practice and worship.

Martin: How do you give newcomers a taste of Quakers without directing it too much? If you just have that silent empty box it's hard for newcomers to know what should be filling that box.

Raye: One of the things Friends have done for hundreds of years is to publish, to keep journals and to share that. But that's not all there is to the Friends experience. There are those quiet times and those moments of ministry that we believe are Spirit-inspired. Many of us wish we could give people a little taste of that because that doesn't show up in a lot of published writings. That spontaneous and timely, and at times prophetic, witness that we see in our Meetings. We have considered digital video as a way to do that.

Martin: I love the video possibilities here. Video can be a way of reaching out to more people.

Raye: It's not just anything that can be written. Certainly the writings that have been published are very helpful in getting some sort of a glimmer of where we have been, or in some cases where we are headed or where we are. But there is nothing like that experience of being with Friends in meeting. It doesn't always happen but there are these moments called a covered meeting or a gathered meeting where everybody seems to be in the same place spiritually and when seems to be messages and gifts coming through people. That's difficult to get across.

We're hoping that with video we can discuss these kinds of things after the fact. We don't want to turn it into a spectator sport or performance.

Martin: Authenticity is a key part of the Quaker message. You're not practicing what you're going to say for First Day or Sunday. You're sitting there and waiting for that immediate spirit to come upon you.

Raye: We don't know when that will happen. There are meetings where everybody is very quiet, where there's a sense of that spirit and unity but it may be an outwardly quiet meeting. I have been in meetings where someone stood up and began to sing their message or a psalm or someone had a wonderful sermon that was perfect for the moment. These things happen but we don't know when they will.

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