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Brockley’s Rock

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 01/19/2014 - 05:26
I love a good fish and chips meal. And I’m blessed that in Brockley we have a great fish and chips takeaway. The fish is always cooked to order so it’s worth phoning your order in before you set off. As well as fried fish they sell grilled fish, fish cakes and calamari. It took […]
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You really are wasting your own time

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 01/19/2014 - 04:56
Over at Hilly Fields park run, there was a new race director today. Glenn is head of PE at a local school and is involved in the Run Dem Crew running club. First up, the course was changed from the usual. A good decision, as we have one section that has recently been a bog […]
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Every step you take

Jez Smiths blog - Fri, 01/17/2014 - 19:59
I’ve walked 4,905 steps today, according to the moves app. How accurate this is, I don’t know for sure. Thanks to having the app I know now that from office doorstep to station platform is 1,455 steps. And the day I counted every one of my steps to discover this, the app added around 1,100 […]
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Running in pairs

Jez Smiths blog - Thu, 01/16/2014 - 19:44
We ran in two pairs. One colleague needed to go early; I didn’t fancy it. Then another realised she had forgotten her trainers. A deal was done, an arrangement made. Two running pairs, three pairs of trainers. I felt blessed by the quality of conversation. We ran hard for 2 miles, then slowed. We talked […]
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Trainspotting

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 01/15/2014 - 20:37
We went to visit a friend today, the boy and me. Up at Willesden Junction. We took the footbridge to Hythe Road. My friend swears she once saw 23 trainspotters on that bridge all at once. Today, there were just two. Me and the boy. And he was asleep and I was halfway there. Still, […]
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Procrastinate! Procrastinate!

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 01/14/2014 - 20:10
The daleks may have been more successful if they had tried to make everyone procrastinate instead of trying to exterminate. I’ve read the books, I’ve done the courses, I ought to have the sodding T-shirt. Each time I find a new system to get my tasks done, I start well but after a while I […]
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The most precious of gifts

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 01/13/2014 - 20:21
Working in east London, I see a lot of helicopters. If it’s not the police on a mission, it’s likely to be the air ambulance delivering an urgent case to the Royal London hospital or returning to base there. London’s had an air ambulance service since 1989. One day, on my way to work near […]
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Making new memories

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 01/12/2014 - 21:05
We had a lie in – our son woke us at 6:20 this morning. It felt good. Pulling up the blind we saw a beautiful morning glow, pink across the sky. There was a frost. Everything was crisp. It had an edge. Later we went out for a walk. Ostensibly we were trying to get […]
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Recorded Minister Report for 2013

Quest for Adequacy - Sun, 01/12/2014 - 19:40
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:20.Shortly after Freedom Friends Church recorded my gifts of ministry in June 2013, I had a couple opportunities for public ministry.  On June 30 to July 6, I led a five-day workshop on Convergent Friends at the FGC Gathering, and I had the opportunity to preach at Camas Friends Church on July 28.  I also found I had many opportunities, both formal and informal, to use my gifts.  I clerked a conference call clearness committee for a Friend who was discerning how to leave her job, and I was approached by several (mostly young) Friends, online and in person, to talk about topics that have been important for me over the past several years, such as the gift of prophecy, being a woman in ministry, and how it feels to be led to give vocal ministry.  My primary focus during that time, however, was the transition from my life in Salem to beginning seminary in Atlanta.  It was a full, emotional, and surprisingly productive summer!

On August 19, the cats and I flew across the country to our new home in Atlanta.  Orientation at Candler School of Theology began two days later.  The transition was harder than I expected, and my experience at Candler so far has been decidedly mixed.  There are things that I love about studying at Candler: my classes are interesting, the professors are brilliant and entertaining, and my classmates are thoughtful and kind.  I am especially excited about getting to take practical classes such as Nonprofit Leadership and Management and Vocational Discernment for a Sustained Life of Ministry.  As part of my contextual education, I spend Mondays as a chaplain intern at a women’s prison located about an hour north of Atlanta; that is one of the highlights of my week.  I also enjoy singing in a choir for credit.

But in the first few weeks of my time at Candler, the administration decided to give an alumni award to Eddie Fox, a man who has been extremely vocal in the fight to prevent full equality for LGBT people in the United Methodist Church.  I ended up in tears in a meeting with the dean and other students and faculty, saying how hurt I felt by the decision to give this award and questioning whether, as an out bisexual, I was really welcome at Candler.  In response to this controversy, an alum wrote that she feels Candler is “welcoming but not affirming,” and I have to agree.  It was especially disappointing for me because that is not the way Candler presents itself in its promotional materials.  One positive outcome is that I quickly connected with the LGBT group at Candler (Sacred Worth), and I have felt very supported by the Emory Office of LGBT Life and other allies on campus.

Another source of support has been friends at Atlanta Friends Meeting.  It was easy to decide which Quaker meeting to attend in Atlanta because there is only one!  Atlanta Friends reminds me a lot of University Friends Meeting in Seattle, both in size and culture, and Friends there have been very welcoming.  I became a sojourning member in October and I anticipate joining a meeting committee soon.  I have also asked the meeting for a support committee.

In November, I had the opportunity to attend a School of the Spirit spiritual renewal weekend in Durham, NC.  I also got to spend the night before the retreat with Friends at Wings of Dawn Farm.  It was wonderful to see so many friends from my School of the Spirit class and others.  I found while I was there that the planned theme of the renewal weekend (on loss and failure) was not speaking to me, so I spent most of the weekend on a true retreat, taking time for quiet rest and reflection.  It was good for my soul and reminded me of my need to incorporate more times of retreat into my daily life.

I have continued to do some writing, though writing on my blog ebbs and flows as usual.  I published a piece on working with an elder in the Western Friend book An Inner Strength: Quakers and Leadership, which came out in July.  I have an upcoming article in Friends Journal on the importance of financial support for ministry.  I have also been doing a fair amount of writing for my seminary classes and expect to do more this semester.

I feel that my self-care during this time of transition has been good.  My course load last semester felt manageable and I did not do very much paid legal work.  I have been intentional about my spiritual practices: setting aside time in the morning for prayer, reading a chapter of the Bible each night, taking Saturday as a sabbath from schoolwork, and getting regular exercise.  I have begun meeting monthly with a spiritual director, and Aimee M and I have kept up a spiritual friendship, checking in with each other over the phone every few months.

Looking ahead, the biggest thing on the horizon is that I will be giving a plenary message at the FWCC Consultation in High Point, NC on April 11.  I am preparing the message in advance so it can be translated into Spanish for simultaneous interpretation.  I hope to spend next summer working in Salem, and I have offered to lead a workshop on prayer at the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  My New Year’s resolution this year is discernment for a sustained life of ministry, and I have already found several opportunities to practice discernment!

I am grateful to all of you at Freedom Friends Church for your love, prayers, and support, as well as for the gift of my recording this year.  I am holding you in prayer as you meet for yearly meeting, and I look forward to seeing you next summer.

Love,
Ashley
Categories: Blogs

parkrun conversion

Jez Smiths blog - Sat, 01/11/2014 - 20:53
One of the joys of parkrun is the opportunity to take somewhere old and familiar and see it new. Back home the park I run parkrun in I used to use for the occasional walk, most usually when I was going somewhere else, or because it has a ping pong table and we’re amenable to […]
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Up the gant, down the gant

Jez Smiths blog - Fri, 01/10/2014 - 20:39
For most of my life I’ve never really known what Braintree could be famous for. It’s my home town. About the only thing that ever happened to Braintree was many years ago, when a girl on holiday married a local Turkish lad that she met out there. Fleetingly, Braintree was in the national news. And […]
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Going the extra mile

Jez Smiths blog - Thu, 01/09/2014 - 13:46
When Jesus said that we were to go the extra mile he wasn’t encouraging us to be the best we can. He was teaching us that ordinary people can subvert and undermine imperial power. Best of all, he was teaching us the way of active nonviolence. In Roman times higher ranking soldiers would buy slaves […]
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Bargain Hunt

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 14:18
In Bargain Hunt, the popular daytime TV programme on BBC, two teams of amateur collectors have a limited time to find the best bargain that they can. The rivalry is always fairly light but I imagine that bragging rights must go on for ever.  From time-to-time I turn my lunchbreak into my own little version of […]
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I will be good

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 01/07/2014 - 13:11
“I will be good.” So said an 11-year-old Victoria when told by her governess that one day she would be queen. With that sentiment in mind I knew that I had to get out and do my first lunchtime run of 2014. To help me deliver on my promise I signed up to Janathon (daily […]
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Wet Wet Wet

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 01/06/2014 - 20:21
I feel it right through my jeans I feel it right through my coat Rain is all around me And so the feeling grows It’s written on the wind It’s everywhere I go, oh yes it is… (with apologies to Wet Wet Wet) Today I got rottenly soaked right through on the way home from […]
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2,549 steps to success

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 01/05/2014 - 20:38
Here’s my list of 2,549 steps to success 1. Take a step 2. Take another step 3. Take a third step 4. You get the picture Today, I’ve taken 2,549 steps and counting. I have no idea if this is true, but it’s what my Moves app tells me. I probably took most of these […]
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parkrun breakfast

Jez Smiths blog - Sat, 01/04/2014 - 10:37
For me there’s nothing quite like a helping of cold porridge as a post-parkrun breakfast. And not just cold porridge – it has to be cold porridge eaten out of the pan with the wooden stirring spoon. I even love scrubbing the plasticky layering around the edge of the pan onto the spoon. This morning’s […]
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A cold stroll

Jez Smiths blog - Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:18
We went for a cold stroll today, the boy and I. Up to the park and back again was all it was. The way up was slow. We were with 3 other parents and 3 other kids. One, aged 2 and 4 months, was allowed to walk so we had to go at her pace. […]
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A walk in the park

Jez Smiths blog - Thu, 01/02/2014 - 18:37
Is that a squirrel up your trousers or are you pleased to see me? Um, it’s a squirrel. Thankfully it was on the outside. Today was the first time that I experienced a squirrel running up my leg. It’s not something I’ve sought to experience and it’s not something I’m keen to do again. We […]
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The Deception of Surfaces: Long-form excerpt

Benjamin Lloyd's blog - Sat, 12/21/2013 - 14:36
In 2008 I performed in LEAP, a long-form improvisation  show at the Live Arts Fringe Festival in Philadelphia that year, directed by Bobbi Block. The experience had such a profound effect on me… Read More →
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