RICHLAND FRIENDS MEETING
PHILADELPHIA YEARLY MEETING NEWS
Throughout our history Friends have understood that we are not meant to conform to the ways of the world, but to live in obedience to the Light Within and through this witness to transform the world.
PYM Faith & Practice Revision, page 15
Throughout the history of the United States, lives and livelihoods have been threatened based on religion, skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, and ability. Since the election, safety for impacted communities continues to diminish. Incidents of hateful acts have spiked. Our deep commitment to honor that of God in every one of us with the spiritual forces of love and action, of faith and practice, is calling us.
We live in a time when our faith and our faith community are needed.
Throughout Quaker History, some of our ancestors took laudable risks -- fighting slavery, feeding post-World War I Germans, providing safe haven for conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War. Our legacy also includes mistakes. Many abolitionists were "read out" of their meetings -- their memberships were removed. John Woolman traveled in the ministry under the care of his meeting to preach against slavery to Quakers, because Quakers owned slaves. White Friends segregated Friends of color to the back benches of our meetings well past the time we stopped tolerating slavery. Quakers tore indigenous children from their families to enroll them in boarding schools so they could become like white middle-class Americans. Quakers developed solitary confinement as a misguided approach to rehabilitation.
Because we have experience and a spiritual commitment to justice, and because we contribute to injustice, our faith and our community are needed now.
There are notable indications that others are looking to us. I've heard from many meetings that lapsed attenders and new seekers are filling their worship space on Sunday mornings. At a wedding recently, I sat next to two Methodists who asked about the Quaker response to the recent stories and experience of threat. They wanted to know because, they said, they look to Quakers as a bellwether and a guide. Two weeks ago, I sat at dinner with the General Secretary of the national office of a vibrant black church. I asked him what he most wanted from Quakers. He said that Quakers seem present, but he'd like us to be deep in the struggle for justice right alongside his faith community.
Because we are seen as people who act, and because we are asked to accompany those who are leading, our faith and our community are needed now.
Meetings, collaboratives and individual Friends are faithfully active. They are supporting refugee families, holding called meetings for worship, providing supplies and travelling to Standing Rock, andgathering with Muslim neighbors. Friends are also opening their meetinghouses to local organizers free of charge and joining multi-faith coalitions working for change. Much is happening, and much lies ahead for us: collective movement, connecting with groups outside the Religious Society of Friends, following the leadership of impacted communities, and commitment to remain actively engaged.
Our faith and our faith community are needed now.
We have a theology that asks us to sink deep into the heart of God. We have a community with whom each of us listens to guidance of the Spirit beyond what we can understand on our own. We have the conviction to let our lives speak the Truth given to us. Now is the time to come together with one another and with others who seek justice and live our faith out loud.
I look forward to faithful action alongside you and the rest of our community, and to hear your stories and your struggles as we continue this journey together.
PYM General Secretary
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300 YEARS OF QUAKERS IN QUAKERTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA