Christianity is meant to be lived, experienced and embodied with the One who walks with us, and one would expect, then, that Friends would readily walk together. Regrettably, I have also discovered over the years that occasionally Friends’ diverge with hurtful animosities. I wonder what would happen if we truly waited until unity transformed the body of Christ; what would happen if we considered that divergent paths need not be rival paths, but rather simply various routes to the same destination. What would it look like if we erected no theological barriers, no competing agendas and simply rejoiced in that of God in each of us? Jesus tells us through his prayer that it can be done.
As you read this issue of Quaker Life, you will find narratives of personal and corporate unity. Each author expresses their personal development as they too, find themselves to be one in Christ. It is the hope of this editor that the articles will begin thoughtful discussion and questions.
I am looking forward to your thoughts and conversation as we continue the dialogue begun in this issue on our website www.fum.org and on our Facebook page.
Annie Glen – Communications Editor, Quaker Life
A Matter of Unity - By Colin Saxton
“Across FUM, local meetings/churches and yearly meetings are discussing [marriage equality], sometimes in healthy ways other times not. Since the yearly meeting is the organizational level in which Friends make statements about their particular Faith and Practice, it is not surprising that across the broad span of 31 yearly meetings there is a wide range of perspectives on
this (and other) topic.”
“Amy Dennis and Michael Sherman speak of their experience as participants in the ongoing reconfiguration process in Indiana Yearly Meeting. Where is unity to be found in the midst of a yearly meeting that is breaking apart under the strain of long-held differences of faith and practice?
“Linda Daniel & Michael Levi address an ongoing source of tension within Friends United Meeting, and many other Christian fellowships throughout the world – our relationship with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians. How do we seek unity with one another when many of us have such clear – and different – senses of divine guidance about the acceptability of same-sex romantic relationships? Just as the Holy Spirit was present to lead the early Church in their most difficult discernment, how can we receive God’s ongoing guidance today?”
“…That All Of Them May Be One.” – By Sylvia Graves
“Unity is about putting our spiritual, mental, physical, intellectual and emotional energy together in love to do the work of the church. George Fox had a vision for a people who, in seeking the will of Christ, we would be in unity. May God help us to patiently seek his Unity, forgive our selfish and untrusting motives, and empower his work through us all together.”
Building Unity Over Time - By Steve Olshewsky
“The lifeblood of our Religious Society is the unity we foster with the next generation of Friends, the future of our faith. Sitting in certainty about the way things are does not nurture the new ideas that keep us moving in the direction we have always enjoyed walking together. When new leadings are expressed, remember that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one’” (C.S. Lewis). Allowing room for new answers makes continuous growth possible and expands the reach of Christ in our world.”
Spiritual Direction From a Friends Perspective - By Manny Garcia
“I believe now is the time for the whole church to engage in coming to the Well, to walk together in the presence of Christ and to respond to His call. Now is the time for the practice of spiritual direction to be the tool that brings all of us to unity. Together we journey, together we model and intuit signs of God’s work. Together we empower each other to experience and discern those signs. Together we endeavor to be spiritually directed.”
Unity In Opportunity and Community - By Becky Memmelaar
“As a nation, we’ve stopped listening. We’ve stopped valuing differences; instead we value only those who emphatically agree with us. It seems to me that the runoff from lack of community falls on our churches and meetings. We let our politics shape our faith, rather than our faith shape our politics. Our divisions become integrated into our body of faith. Each cell is fighting for its own survival, rather than working together for good.”
Other Articles In This Issue:
A Preliminary Report of the 40 Days of Prayer & Day of Discernment
FCPT & AGLI Work Together to Inform Kenyan Voters
Lugulu Friends Mission Celebrates 100 Years of Ministry
Highlights from Colin Saxton and Cliff Loesch’s Trip to Kenya
Field Staff Updates
The Cuban Quaker Institute for Peace – Stephen Angell
The Great Storm Is Not Over – Daphne Clement
Ask Tom: Where Do Clearness Committees Come From? – Tom Hamm
A Unified Front – Megan L. Anderson
Letters to the Editor – Philip Gulley & Noell Krughoff
Book Reviews – Steve Olshewsky
Passages: Quaker Obituaries