By Micah Bales – Interim Communications and Web Specialist
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. — Isaiah 43:19
This July, I began work as Interim Communications and Web Specialist for Friends United Meeting. It is a privilege for me to serve Friends in this way, and I believe that Friends United Meeting represents the beautiful diversity that is possible when we are gathered together in Jesus Christ. Yet, like many established Christian organizations today, FUM faces huge challenges. As a diverse and multicultural association of Friends, we are stretched almost to the breaking point around questions of authority, understandings of scripture, different levels of access to wealth and mobility, and our vision for what the Body of Christ looks like when we are faithful.
Despite these challenges, I hold out hope for us as a Christian Quaker body. At its best, FUM symbolizes what a broad, diverse, flexible and generously orthodox association of Friends can look like. As we are gathered together in the living power of God’s Spirit — spanning nations, cultures, races and languages — we can play a vital role in building up the body of Christ. As a member of FUM’s staff, I will be looking for ways to empower yearly meetings, local churches and individual members to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
What will my specific role be as Interim Communications and Web Specialist? To begin with, the “interim” part of my title indicates that the position will last from July until December; at the end of that time, we will evaluate whether the position should continue in its present form. This job is experimental in many ways, which excites me! I am a self-starter, an entrepreneur and an innovator. I am looking forward to pioneering a new chapter in FUM’s role of empowering Friends to spread the Good News.
The “communications” piece of this position means that I will be focusing on FUM’s strategic outreach, especially online and social media communications. I will be working in collaboration with Annie Glen, incoming Interim Communications Manager/Editor. One of her responsibilities is the editing of Quaker Life. At present, this magazine is probably our most important tool for communicating across the entire association, and it has a particularly crucial role to play in those areas — such as East Africa — where internet access is limited. Over time, we will be looking for ways to connect and coordinate our different forms of communications — print, video, static web and social media — so that all of our ways of sharing the Good News work together for good.
The “web” part of my job will be especially prominent in this interim period, as we prepare to roll out an entirely new and re-designed website. Our current site was originally launched in 1997, and although it has had an amazing 15-year run, it is clearly time for an upgrade! I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this work.
In the months ahead, I hope to hear from you about how FUM can be more vital and relevant, particularly among Friends in North America. For generations, the primary focus of Friends United Meeting has been on foreign mission fields, and we can see today the rich fruits of these efforts among Friends in East Africa, Palestine and the Caribbean. Yet there is a growing sense that North America itself needs to be the recipient of a new missionary effort. What might that look like?
How might the growing strength of Friends in the developing world contribute to a spiritual rebirth in North America? What role do we have to play in this time of great transition for the North American church? How might Friends United Meeting be an instrument of Christ’s work of renewal and transformation?