For those of you who don't know Wess, for the past more than five years he's been the released minister at Camas Friends Church (in Washington state), has been an adjunct professor, and has a PhD from Fuller Seminary. He also makes a mean sauerkraut and is a connoisseur of coffee. Wess has just been named the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College, succeeding Max Carter, who will retire this summer after 25 years there.
Wess has been one of the foremost articulators of the "convergent Friends" movement and practices what he preaches about Quaker renewal. I've been fortunate enough to have had a number of conversations about the latter topic with him over the past few years. Which is why I looked forward to his book.
When I mentioned my concern to Wess, he replied, "I only write about the Convergent Friends group a little and make more of it as a gesture towards holding onto both tradition and innovation. The hope of the model is that Friends, within whatever context they are in, will find ways to hold that tension, not so much become a part of the group of 'convergent Friends' who get together have pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and worship together. I guess what I am taking from them is that commitment towards both tradition and innovation more than extrapolating insights from what those groups do."
If you're interested in my own thoughts on Quaker renewal, check out the blog posts titled "A Modest Proposal" or download the booklet here.