We are faith leaders representing many different traditions and congregations who seek to promote understanding, dialogue, and common purpose in our community. This space offers members of our association an opportunity to share reflections with the broader community. The writings represent our individual views, not the positions of the Association or of our respective congregations. We aim to model dialogue that welcomes a diversity of ideas and perspectives grounded in friendship and respect.
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I am a Friend ...
I am a Friend, a member of the
Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers.I hope you are not surprised to know that Quakers are still around, but
I will not be surprised if you are.
Beginning in England in the 1650s,
Quakerism grew out of the Protestant Christian tradition, and spread to the
American colonies soon after. Known for our testimonies of pacifism, equality,
and simple living, we are sometimes considered to have a contrarian point of
view on matters of foreign policy and social justice issues.When I was growing up, we were sometimes
confused with Amish, Puritans, Shakers, and oatmeal makers and I thought that
we were an odd group far out of the mainstream.
What I have learned as I have gotten
older and more deeply confirmed in my faith is the many ways that we are
similar to other religions, in our beliefs and in what we value.
I think you will find that some Quaker beliefs
will resonate with you, whatever your spiritual language or orientation:
believe that there is in every person a Light (sometimes described as “that of
God”) that can guide and strengthen us to do right and help us to avoid doing wrong.
believe in living our lives in keeping with the testimonies of Simplicity, Peace,
Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.
believe that we are to be open always to God's guidance and to listen always
for God's call into service, and to answer the call faithfully when it comes.
This call may come as something as simple as accepting responsibility for
cutting the grass at the meeting house or as complex as a leading to engage in
civil disobedience as a witness against social injustice.
Some Quaker practices may seem very different:
- We usually
refer to a meeting, rather than to a church or congregation.
of our meetings worship inexpectant silence, turning our full attention toward God without
any outward liturgical forms like Bible readings, collective vocal prayer, hymn
singing, or prepared sermons.
- We address business matters
in “meeting for worship with a concern for business,” following the leadings of
Spirit, and the worshipping body as a whole reaches
decisions by naming the “sense of the meeting”, rather than by voting.
Quakers around the country and the world may
differ from one another.Here are some
meetings have pastors and some do not.(No meetings on Long Island currently have pastors.)
Quakers define themselves as Christian and some do not.
Quakers do not believe in God, but may use other terms and concepts to describe
that which is eternal or unknowable.
Quakers refuse military service and some do not.
may seem unusual that I am a member of the Three Village Interfaith Clergy
Association, as I am not a recognized member of the clergy.However, even though I am among those Quakers
who attend a meeting that does not have a pastor, I am also among the majority
of Quakers who believe that we are all ministers and that we are called to
minister in many different ways.My call
includes involvement in the broader religious community and I welcomed the
invitation to participate in the Association.I look forward to sharing a Quaker perspective in this joint blog. - Elaine Learnard
You may also wish to visit the website of the New York Yearly Meeting, www.nyym.org, from which some of
the language in this post was drawn.
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