Vocal Ministry

The Vocal Ministry page is a place for ESR to share vocal ministry that takes place at ESR or is offered elsewhere by the ESR community. To read the full posting, click the title of the article. We invite you to comment on the vocal ministry through the link at the bottom of the page. You may comment anonymously, but all comments are queued for approval by the site administrator before they appear.

This message was delivered by Stephanie Crumley-Effinger, Director of Supervised Ministry, ESR, on the occasion of the 2011 Baccalaureate worship.

After having a vision of the Lord on the throne in all His splendor, the prophet Isaiah tells us that he heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ and he said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ This has to be one of the favorite passages in Scripture about leadership. There’s even that awfully cheesy hymn that paraphrases it. After reading the whole of Isaiah 6 over again though, I wonder if it is always a fit for how leadership develops among Friends today.

Starting this past summer, Jon Watts and I have found our paths crossing on a number of occasions: Visiting a Meeting together in San Diego, California; at my wedding in Barnesville, Ohio; at Union Station in Washington, DC. As we have been connected at surprising times and places, Jon and I have discovered an unexpected friendship that we are both convinced is a "God thing." For my part, I have come to know Jon as someone who is doing his best to be faithful to God's guidance in his vocation as a musician.

A while ago, my friend Micah asked me to consider writing an essay on the theme of how my family upbringing influenced my growth as a Friend.

For a religion that spends a lot of time speaking about love, Christianity enjoys a good fight. I marvel at that tendency. Though a member of a tiny group known as “Quakers” or “Friends” whose heritage touts peace as a virtue, if not an integral part of life, my own spiritual kinfolk can duke it out with the best of them. We do that despite the deep conviction that “there is that of God in all persons.” I recognize that love and peace are complicated topics for discussion and confounding practices to implement. However, that doesn’t lessen my dismay at the tension that seems inherent in many religious traditions.

Steve Angell's Message
At Oxford Friends Meeting
January 17, 2010

The Holy Spirit gave me this message during the silence, which I then shared with Oxford Friends.  An after-meeting discussion on thoughts arising during worship helped me to focus and improve this message. This version of the message thus attempts to capture what I shared from the silence, as well as some of my subsequent thoughts on the issue.

When I think about growing up in a pastoral Friends Meeting and where a lot of my religious education and faith development came from, a lot of things come to mind. Being a pastor's kid for instance, and staying through the entire service instead of going into the back with the other younger kids. Being asked by Mom over dinner what was one thing I remembered from Dad's sermon that morning. Or Sunday School before worship, and the teachers that tried to find ways to bring the Scriptures and our lives into a meaningful conversation.

[Audio of message]

What is it you fear most? Is there something that happens in your life that causes you dread to think about? Is there something you think about regularly that grips you with fear?

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that we should remain silent when we do not know something—whereon one does not know, thereon one must not speak, or something like that. Of course, Wittgenstein didn’t follow his own advice and neither do most of us. Occasionally we try, but the pressure to say something is strong, the desire to appear knowledgeable too tempting for us to hold our tongue for very long.

The faith of my parents is my faith. There is no avoiding it. Though I have tried to rebel against it, as we all have, it is so clear to me that my faith is truly defined by my experience of my parent’s faith. I am not saying that we necessarily agree on all matters of faith, in fact, we don’t. But my faith is what it is because of what their faith is and has been. I would venture to guess that your faith is the faith of your parents as well, if not entirely, than clearly linked in some way. I found, that for myself, I couldn’t understand my own faith until I understood the things my parents believe. And so, a bit about my parents.