Friday, December 21, 2012

Bringing the Good News about the Current State of Quakerism

This summer, I preached three times at the church where I was interning. Part of sermon writing is to bring the good news at the end of the sermon that let people know that Christ loves them and to point out the good in our world that sometimes look like anything but good.

Over the past few months, I have read blog posts about how Quakerism is dying, no one is supporting Young Adult Friends' ministry, etc... I think these points do have a point, but I don't see it as that as the only point. I have seen several instances of Young Adult Friends being supported by the wider community and I believe that we are growing.

Here is some of the good news:

  • New York YM Young Adult Friends Field Secretary Gabi just wrote a post about her travels among Young Adults Friends in New York and New Jersey in the past six months. She has been busy attending to the needs of Young Adults there.
  • Christina has been carrying a leading since 2002 about a Quaker yearlong service program. She followed the leading and others joined her along the way. She was supportive by Friends all over and by her home meeting.  In August her leading came into reality when seven Young Adult Friends arrived in Atlanta to begin a yearlong internship with Quaker Voluntary Service. The leading is still growing. Houses will open in Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon next August too. And it will not stop there... People are energized about bringing this explicitly Quaker program to their community and our dream (Currently I serve on the board) is to keep growing a network of houses. 
  • In Portland, two Evangelical Friends churches and an unprogrammed meeting have joined together to support the new QVS house there. That is amazing and exciting to see the branches working together!
  • Another Young Adult Friend, Ana, followed a leading to create a Quaker summer camp in the Intermountain Yearly Meeting region. She worked for several summers at different Quaker summer camps and visited others. She and her partner, Ariel, have shared their vision with Friends across the Southwest. The camp, Mountain Friends Camp, has been going three years now and it keeps growing each summer. 
  • An unprogrammed Young Adult Friend, Zachary, was led into Navy chaplaincy. He is currently serving in the Navy under the care of an Evangelical Friends church, who have taken him in and supported him in his ministry. Next month he will speak at a Convergent Friends gathering in the Northwest, A Nursery of Truth. I wish I could go. Hopefully others can go!
  • Friends General Conference just started the New Meetings Project. The coordinator, Brent, has found that more than 70 Friends worship groups/meetings/church have started in the last ten years. That translates to one new group starting roughly every seven weeks. I have been to several of these new groups and they have a great sense of community.
  • I am a big proponent of online outreach, but two of these new meetings, West Philadelphia Worship Group and Silver River Meeting, do not have an online presence. They grow because of the community they have created. They see each other throughout the week in between meetings for worship and are deeply connected to each other lives. How can we grow to know each other outside of worship? 

Lastly, God loves us for the imperfect human beings we are.

These are just a few examples I know of and why I have not lost all hope in my faith community.

Yes, there is a lot to be sad about with Friends today, but I don't see it as just doom and gloom. I am having conversations with Friends all over about a whole range of topics and I am excited. Yes we have a lot of divisions, but amazing conversations and projects are starting!

Where do you see hope in the world of Friends today?

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