Thursday, October 21, 2010

what do you like about your branch of friends?

I'm working on a project where I'm going to describe Quakers in the United States and around the world in the 20th century, so our various US branches (Evangelical Friends, Friends United Mtg, Friends General Conf, Conservative, and independent YMs) and what being a Friend is like in various contexts worldwide. I've met people from all these branches and been somewhat involved in several, but I thought I'd ask for opinions and thoughts from those who are more part of these than I am, or from a different area than I've experienced. So if you'd take a few minutes and just give me some thoughts and feedback, I'd really appreciate it! I think it will be fun to hear various perspectives, too.

If you're a Friend from somewhere other than the United States, I'd welcome your input as well!

Either write a comment, or if it's too long, write something on your own blog and put a link to it in the comments or send me something on Facebook or QuakerQuaker something.

Here are some questions you could answer for me:

1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?
2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?
3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?
4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?
5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?
6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?
7. What concerns do you think Friends should focus on as we continue through the twenty-first century?

10 comments:

Mr. E-McG said...

1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?

Freedom Friends Church in Salem Oregon, an independent friends meeting (unfortunately, I am not a regular attender right now...).

2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?

Freedom Friends is Christocentric, semi programmed (mostly open worship), and radically inclusive in its leadership and membership practices. And it's small and welcoming.

3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?

The meeting's radical inclusiveness. The belief that all are welcome.

4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?

The rich silent worship, and the simplicity of its structure.

5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?

I think that Freedom Friends does a fantastic job of being a witness of the inclusive nature of historic friends, and its focus on social justice.

6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?

It's very small, and because of our independence from the traditional Yearly Meeting Model there are some financial issues. Also, the meeting is located a fair distance from where we live, so it is difficult to make the jaunt down on a regular basis.

7. What concerns do you think Friends should focus on as we continue through the twenty-first century?

I think that my main concern is that the model of radical inclusiveness that Freedom Friends has is considered such an anomoly in Christocentric Yearly Meetings. Evangelical Friends are starting to run into many of the same problems that other Evangelical groups are running into: putting the evangelicalism ahead of grace, love, and inclusivity (I don't think that's a word, but I'll let it stand).

Anonymous said...

Glenn M Clark
Madison monthly Meeting


1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?

FGC

2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?

I am accountable to God/Jesus without going thru others, but I do have support for my journey. Theolgy isn't forced on me. Silent worship at it's worse is borring at it's best is earth changing.

3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?

I will not attempt to ansewer this question. I don't thing that it is proper for me speak for an entire branch when I've met so few of them. That said I will speak for myself. I think the belief of "That of God in everyone" is important. That God/jesus/The Devine/the Holy Spirit is available to me as a teacher.

4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?


The deep silent worship with God.

5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?

No hireling preachers.

6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?

Lacking faith that the Divine will take care of things. Getting caught up in the business of social problems.

Please forgive me but I havn't sat with these ansewers very long and I'm not sure they carry any depth, but are my first reactions.

Thank you for the oppertunity to consider them.

leftistquaker said...

1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?
FGC

2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?

Universalist, peace-oriented, cooperative decision-making, waiting worship, gender-balanced, and lots of other things.

3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?

I can't speak for everyone, but the list above are many of the things that are important to me.

4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?

Waiting worship fosters the ability to listen well both interiorly and exteriorly. Open ministry means we all have a truth to share.

5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?

We have evolved a long way from historic Quakers. The continuities are complex. Waiting worship is the clearest connection, but we no doubt practice it differently than G. Fox. What unites us to early friends is our unbroken practice of cooperative decision-making. Ever since the first YM was established, groups of friends have gathered to seek the way forward, year in and year out. Sometimes that has meant going in directions unimagined in the wildest dreams of the founders. However, I trust and respect the openness we have had to new light.

6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?

Way too middle-class and caucasian. Subtle class privileges dull FGC friends' ability to understand the struggles of working people in this society. Speaking as a working-class man.

7. What concerns do you think Friends should focus on as we continue through the twenty-first century?

I'd like to see Quakers engage the question of capitalism's deadly contradictions. Yes, we oppose wars for lots of reasons, but often fail to see that capitalism itself has to be transcended and transformed into a new system of egalitarian economics. Wars won't end as long as there are haves and have-nots.

Hay Quaker said...

I'm a UK Quaker and have some problems in addressing your points as in the UK only one kind of Meeting takes place. I guess that we have not undergone the same number of 'splits' as Friends in the States, or our splits were so long ago they have healed over. In a typical UK meeting you might find a conservative Friend, with strong 'traditional' Christian beliefs, sitting next to a Quaker Universalist. This does not seem to cause any problems and each have a mutual respect for one another.

The real problem on this side of the Atlantic is the number of Friends attending meeting. In some small towns, like my own, Friends have to come together or worship alone! London, York, Birmingham, Bath and Reading have large meetings, but even in these Friends seem not to bothered by different branches of Quakerism.
I envy American Friends in having sufficient numbers to develop different branches.
With so many American Friends offering such a wide, and rich, number of views on blogs such as this I feel very much part of a Whole Earth Meeting. Friends are very welcome to visit me on 'this side of the pond' at: http://hayquaker1.blogspot.com/

RichardM said...

1. Conservative (NCYMC)
2. The number of genuine weighty Friends and the openness with which spiritual matters are discussed among us.
3. Upholding the belief that Christ has come to lead his people and that this guidance is immediately available to everyone without having to go the indirect route of depending on the Bible. In short a genuinely liberal Christianity that is open to Universalist influences.
4. Keeping to traditional waiting worship that seeks to speak only words directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Avoiding both programmed worship and individuals just sharing personal thoughts.
5.We stick close to Quaker tradition pretty much down the line. I see those original Quakers as universalist minded liberal Christians like us.
6. Our weakness is a lingering quietism that prevents us from anything that smacks of "evangelizing." We are not brave enough to go out and say who we are and what we have experienced. Out light is hidden under a bushelbasket.

Phil B said...

Just wanted to answer the questions. Obviously, I am not technologically savvy enough for this.

nemo said...

I've been a member of two Meetings in Pacific Yearly Meeting. PaYM is notably liberal and unprogrammed. I have felt a great dryness in my current Meeting tho' I'm somewhat active in committee work. I've returned to my first Meeting, experiencing a greater centeredness there.

Even so, I join my wife at Mass or Divine Liturgy to gain more adoration of the Christ. I also fulfill my hunger for singing.
I hope this adds to your fact-finding mission.

cherice said...

Phil, I think people are copying the questions and pasting them into the comment section, or you can just look at the questions and give me the answers--I don't have to know which question you're answering. Just let me know your thoughts regarding your branch of Friends' strengths and weaknesses, in your opinion.

Thanks to everyone who's responded so far! It's really interesting to hear the different perspectives.

Anonymous said...

1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?

Depends on which week. Alternate between liberal, conservative and semi-programmed and occasionally evangelicals.

2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?

I don’t do “organizations” well.

3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?

What’s most important for me – no matter what branch of Friends, is that is One, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to my condition – whether I want to hear or not.

4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?

I value both deep silences of waiting worship and thoughtful homilies from pastoral ministers.

5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?

I tend not to identify with any one branch… but value all.

6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?

I find that both the “liberal” and evangelical both get hung up on structure – to the detriment of discipleship.

7. What concerns do you think Friends should focus on as we continue through the twenty-first century?

This depends on discernment, and constant testing. Loving the Lord our God with all that we are and have, and loving all our neighbors as ourselves simply takes as much discipline as I can manage. What about thee, Friend?

R. Guy Pharris said...

1. Which branch of Friends do you worship with?
Northwest YM, EFI
2. What are some of your favorite things about being part of that organization of Friends?
Favorite things...I love our YM each summer in Newberg, except when it's really hot.
3. What is most important theologically for your branch of Friends?
My impression is that we're in the process of figuring that out. A generation or two ago, we left behind the old Wesleyan/Holiness influence; but what has taken its place? Do we blend in with the Evangelical mainstream, even with it ending in post-modernism? Or do we dust-off and revive or Quaker roots? I see too much of a hodge-podge from church to church for there to be an easily discerned central theological point.
4. What is most important to you about the manner of worship in your branch of Friends?
Silence, but I often feel like I'm the only one who does.
5. In what ways do you see your branch's beliefs and practices reflecting historic values of Friends?
Our Faith & Practice offers some very good direction on our historic values & testimonies. However, for the sake "freedom of conscience", or as Paul Anderson says, the "freedom of ignorance", many seem to want to skirt around our values & testimonies. I suppose the purpose of this is to diminish our distinctives.
6. What are some weaknesses of your branch of Friends?
In trying to be both "Evangelical" and "Friends", our divided attention has meant that we've done neither very well.
7. What concerns do you think Friends should focus on as we continue through the twenty-first century?
We match up so well with post-modernism that we should just be who we are within the Body of Christ and not try to be anything else!