Quaker-pocalypse—”Making Quakerism Available, Teachable, and Experiential”

March 14, 2015 § 1 Comment

I have just finished reading Simon Best’s fantastic presentation to Friends General Conferences’s consultation on spiritual deepening, and think so highly of it that I want my readers to know about it.

Download the presentation—click this link to download a pdf file of his remarks. You can also visit FGC’s web page on the consultation, but they offer very little more information on the consultation or the presentation. And here is a report of the consultation’s small breakout groups on various topics considered at the consultation.

Right here, I want to include an excerpt that really caught my attention. For one thing, it speaks directly to me as the communications director of New York Yearly Meeting, since his comments below address the very “motto” New York Yearly Meeting uses on its website, albeit slightly altered from the version he refers to used by Minneapolis Friends Meeting. NYYM’s website motto is “A simple faith. A radical witness.” Here’s that excerpt:

Many of you will have seen the slogan that has been used by meetings in both Britain and the US:

Simple. Radical. Contemporary

When I first saw the posters I thought it was brilliant. A week later I was having a Meeting for Worship with four other Friends, all of us aged about 30, in a basement flat in Bristol and realised that it wasn’t brilliant and it wasn’t even true. Before and since I have become increasingly aware that the Religious Society of Friends is not simple, it is not radical, and it is certainly not contemporary.

We are not simple. We have complex organisations, not just at the centre but at all levels. Meetings are struggling with bureaucracy and as a result placing large demands on the personal time, commitment and energy of members, and drawing this away from growing our meetings spiritually.

We are not contemporary, while I believe strongly that Quakers have a message for today the way it is presented does not fit with the society in which we live.

We are not radical, in a time of global crisis we are not overtly counter cultural in our social action and our engagement in the world.

I acknowledge that, of course, there are exceptions but I’m referring to the overall trend of liberal Quakerism. So what can we do to address this and to make the Quaker way highly available, teachable and experiential?

The rest of Simon Best’s presentation goes on to address these questions.

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