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Archive for evangelism – Page 4

Belonging, Behaving, Believing

I recently read Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass, in which she argues that the Church in the United States is losing its hold on the imagination of its people. She offers evidence that mainstream Christianity in America is entering into a period of sharp decline, mirroring the decay of Christendom in Western Europe in the last century. Yet, while she has dire predictions about the future of the established Church, she is optimistic about faith in America.

Bass notes that while increasing numbers of Americans shy away from the word “religion,” many identify themselves as being “spiritual.” “Spirituality,” she argues, has become a code word for experiential religion, based on the direct, practical and transformative experience of God. “Religion,” on the other hand, serves as a label for all of the institutional baggage and heavy-handed dogma that the Christian community has developed over the course of recent centuries.

Bass points out that in recent centuries the Church has operated primarily on the basis of accepting propositional statements (e.g. “Jesus is fully human and fully divine”). That is, to belong to the Christian community, you must first believe certain things aboutJesus. A transformed life was beneficial, of course, but the act of accepting certain theological statements was the most essential element of Christian identity.
Bass is convinced that this emphasis on right belief no longer works in our present cultural context. Instead, she argues that the health of the Church depends on reversing the established dynamic of “believing, behaving, belonging.” While propositional beliefs about God and Jesus are ultimately essential, they are not the first order of business. For this generation, the hierarchy of needs is different.

This was certainly my own experience. When I first committed to nurturing my relationship with God, my top priority was finding a community to belong to. I was beginning to trust in God, but I did not have any specific beliefs about Jesus, and was skeptical of Christianity in general (as many in my generation are). Fortunately, I found a Quaker community that was able to love and accept me as I was. Though I had lots of hang-ups, and my theology was still a jumbled mess, they were patient with me and did not jump in to correct me. Instead, my newfound community encouraged me to study the Quaker tradition, and to dedicate myself to the practices of waiting worship, discernment and personal prayer.

These practices were a gateway for me into discovering the intellectual contours of my faith. As I waited in the silence, studied the tradition, learned to pray and began to read the Scriptures, my life began to change – and so did my ideas about God! I started learning about who Jesus is, allowing him to speak to me through the Scriptures and through his Spirit. No one was forcing me to adopt a party line, yet as I continued to engage in prayer and study, I found myself growing into a deeper appreciation for orthodox Christian faith.

Just as Diana Butler Bass argues, for me the traditional pattern was reversed: Instead of “believing, behaving, belonging,” I first found belonging in a supportive spiritual community. There, I learned practices that taught me how to “behave.” Finally, this supportive community and the spiritual practices they taught me drew me into an authentic set of beliefs, grounded in both my own personal experience and in Scripture.

Ironically, now that I have gone through this process, I often forget how I got here. It is easy for me to get into a mindset that demands belief first, rather than seeing propositional belief as the product of a journey through belonging and practice. This tendency to insist on belief up front is deeply ingrained in the culture of the Christian community, and it will take real effort on our part to learn to reverse the equation.

Here in our context at Capitol Hill Friends, this might look like an emphasis on naming spiritual gifts and nurturing spiritual practices. By acknowledging the spiritual gifts that God has given to our community, we nurture belonging. A person does not have to believe that Jesus is divine before we can recognize that God has given that person a gift of healing, or administration, or knowledge. And by naming these gifts, we can invite each one, no matter where they are at in their journey, to walk deeper on the path of faith. We can provide resources for adopting spiritual practices that help sustain us in our personal lives, and in the work that we do in the world.

At the end of the day, I hope that this combination of unconditional acceptance and the teaching of spiritual practices will lead to deeply rooted faith. In the context of loving community and time-tested spiritual practices, we can open up space in our lives to discover the Truth that we find expressed in Scripture and our tradition as Quakers. On this path of “belonging, behaving, believing,” the acceptance of certain theological concepts will represent the culmination of a long process of engagement and growth, rather than the starting point.

How does this resonate with you? What is your own experience of  belief, behavior (practice) and belonging? How do you think that we can do a better job of inviting seekers into our Christian communities, teaching spiritual practices, and encouraging an ever-deepening engagement with our shared faith?

Does God Need Us?

When Gentiles, who do not posess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They should that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness… – Romans 2:14-15
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? – Romans 10:14

As a Quaker, it is my conviction that every person – regardless of their status or circumstance – has access to the inward light of Jesus Christ. I confess with the authors of both Oldand NewTestaments that, “the word is very near to [us]; it is in [our] mouth and in [our hearts] for [us] to observe.” Despite all the hurdles that keep us away from God, the living presence of the Holy Spirit draws near, pressing at our hearts and inviting us into the loving embrace of our Savior.

At the same time, I am also convinced that the good news needs to be preached. Hearing the gospel story – the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus – has the power to transform us, when we receive it in the light of the Spirit. The inspired preaching of modern day prophetshas the power to call us into deeper relationship with God. In my own experience, God has used other people – living and deceased – to shape my walk. I cannot imagine how I ever could have been saved from the death-dealing worldview of the present order without the faithful witness of so many brothers and sisters.

So, which is it? Does God directly inspire and draw us into Christ’s Kingdom without the need of human intermediaries? Or does God work through people who are called to the work of proclamation? As is often the case with the things of the Spirit, the truth seems to be found in the midst of paradox. The above passages, both taken from a letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, demonstrate the tension between two truthful answers. Yes, God’s witness in the human heart is sufficient for Christ’s sovereign work of grace. And yes, God uses human beings as instruments of grace, mercy and salvation to the world.

My take-away from this is two-fold. First, I am convinced that God is in control. In a certain sense, God does not “need” us. Our wrong actions – whether out of willful disobedience or simple ignorance – are never able to foul up God’s long-term purpose for the cosmos. This is deeply reassuring for me. No matter how badly I – or humanity in general – screws up, God will find a way to enact his loving purposes.

On the other hand, I am convinced that God’s intention is to use each of us as agents in the holy work of healing the world. How are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? God wants us to share the good news that we have received! God wants to use our lives to proclaim the riches of his glory, through our words and deeds, through our family life and daily work. Amazingly enough, each of us is truly necessary for the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Though it would seem to us that God does not need us at all, in some mysterious sense we are indispensable!

What is your experience of the way God pours out love and salvation? How have you seen God transforming your life and the lives of those around you? How have you made sense of the paradox of God’s work, which needs no intermediaries but yet is so often accomplished through the faithfulness of particular women and men?

Occupying Wall Street

On our way to Liberty Square, we passed Ground Zero. Hundreds of people were gathered, less than a block from where the Twin Towers fell. They were socializing, reading, delivering impromptu speeches, or huddled together over the makeshift media center composed of perhaps a dozen laptops and other devices and connected to a whirring electrical generator.

The noise was intense, and the whining generator and tumult of voices was the least of it. City traffic on either side of the park blasted sound – the rumble of buses loaded with tourists; the honk of car horns and the squealing of brakes. Above all there was the roar of construction. Where the Twin Towers once stood, workers made haste, filling the gap in the New York skyline. The echoing clatter of metal on metal. It was often a challenge to understand the words of those next to you.

This cacophony lent an air of chaos to the already loosely-organized occupation in Liberty Square. First thing, we checked in with folks at an information desk on the west side of the park. “We’re here to sign up!” one of my companions announced. The young men at the info desk suggested that we could get involved with a committee, but encouraged us to look around and get a feel for things first. So, we moseyed.

It took us hours before we figured out how to participate actively in the occupation. At first, we simply mingled, ate, and watched the spectacle. For some reason, our first hours at the occupation were particularly “spectacular.” While most of the occupiers seemed like pretty ordinary citizens, there were a few hyped-up individuals who were running around giving impassioned, incoherent speeches. There were also a few nay-sayers who came to debate the occupiers.

There were lots of cameras. Mostly independent media, but I saw some local television stations, Russia Today, and even a brief visit from FOX News. Add to that the tourists who stopped to take pictures of the occupation, and there sometimes seemed to be more photographers than subjects. Eventually, a march was announced. We eagerly joined in, happy to finally be able to actively participate in some way. We wound through the streets of lower Manhattan, eventually walking down Wall Street itself.

The aspect of the march that most stood out to me was the luxury that we passed on our way. We passed a tobacconist, where wealthy men puffed on cigars and laughed at us from behind thick glass. We walked by up-scale shops where neckties were on sale next to horse saddles, and wristwatches worth more than my family’s annual income were available to those who could afford them.

It was eye-opening to be in the presence of the ruling class of this country. I get a lot of exposure to middle class – even wealthy middle class – individuals, but what I saw on Wall Street was of a different order. Some of them mocked us. There were cries of “take a shower!” or “get a job!” They took pictures of us and laughed as we passed.

Not everyone on Wall Street was a member of the elite, of course. It was fascinating to watch the difference in reaction between the ruling class and the working class people who were there to serve them. We got a standing ovation from the workers at Starbucks, and many working class people showed their support. Middle class folks seemed to be split. Some cheered us, others ignored us, and a few insulted us.

Wall Street is an ideal place to call for deep changes in how this country operates. Wall Street is not just a symbol – it is a functioning example of how the abusive power of the corporations and big banks dominate our society and mock our democratic process. More than ever, I am convinced that we – the ninety-nine percent – must hold accountable the elite one percent.

Occupy Wall Street is a movement to restore our democracy, rejecting corporate domination of our political system. This is a movement for economic justice, insisting that one percent of the population should not control eighty percent of our wealth. This is a movement for peace, issuing a call to end the wars that our country is waging around the globe. This movement is only secondarily about policy goals. Above all, it represents an attempt to create a community and culture that questions greed and concentration of power in the hands of the few.

The occupation is spreading. Though it began on Wall Street, there are women and men across North America who are offering our nation an invitation to embrace peace, justice and compassion. The occupation in Washington, DC begins tomorrow – Saturday, October 1st – at McPherson Square. I hope that those in the area will join us.

For those who do not live in DC, I encourage you to consider participating in an occupation in your home town. There are folks mobilizing in cities across the country, and we would all benefit from your participation. This is only the beginning, and we need your voice.

While I resonate with much of what Occupy Wall Street represents, it is important for me to be honest with myself that this movement is not grounded in a commitment to Jesus Christ. The occupation is – at least at this stage – a largely secular movement. Without the deep unity that the Spirit provides, the most we can ever be is a coalition, not a body.

But I believe that there is important work for Christians to do as part of this coalition. The Holy Spirit calls us to point towards the truth, mercy and justice that Jesus offers us, and it is my prayer that this growing movement will provide an opportunity for us to begin a conversation with the wider culture. May we as the Church let our light shine, providing an example of self-emptying love that draws the world into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Asking the Right Questions

If we want to share the gospel message, we have no other option but to leave behind the comforts of a community where everyone is asking questions to which we have established answers. We must come to understand the questions that the wider world is asking, rather than expecting non-Christians to have a Christian worldview.
Some of the central questions of the Christian faith include: “Why is humanity alienated from God?” and “What must we do to be reconciled to our Creator?” These are deeply important questions. They must be asked and answered. Yet, for these questions to be meaningful, we must believe in a personal and transcendent God who created the cosmos and cares about what happens to us.
For many Westerners, this worldview can no longer be assumed. Increasingly, a loving Creator is no longer the foundation of our worldview. Unmoored from this basic belief that has characterized Western thought for almost two thousand years, our society’s basic questions change. Questions rooted in the Christian tradition no longer serve as a useful starting point for communication. If we love our neighbors – if we want to share the gospel with them – we must stop insisting that they answer our questions. We must come to understand how they see the world.
The undergirding worldview of the post-Christian West is a faith in the power of humanity to make sense of the universe without reference to the supernatural. The universe is viewed as entirely material and completely knowable by the human intellect. Complete mastery of the world is simply a matter of time and human effort. Combined with this great faith in the power of science to discover reality, there is a growing assumption that there can be no universal spiritual or moral truth.
Most of us, to the extent that we are engaged in the wider society, are caught up in this worldview that denies the Creator or any moral universals. In this spiritual vacuum, the individual is left to determine what is true. Nothing, of course, can be said to be universally true; but each person is left to develop their own code of values – their personal “truth.”
This radically individualistic way of relating to truth leads to new questions. The questions of our culture are no longer about alienation from God and how to be reconciled. Our new questions are far more fundamental: “Am I alone?”; “What is truth?”; “How can I lead an ‘authentic,’ genuine life?”; “Why is there so much suffering in the world?”;”Why do I feel empty?” These are some of the most pressing questions of the Western world today.

If we truly care about our neighbors, we as followers of Jesus are called to engage with these questions. We will never be able to communciate the gospel to our friends, family and co-workers if we continue to insist on starting from our own worldview rather than theirs. We must engage in the pressing questions of the world, trusting that all genuine searching for truth will lead to the Lord Jesus.

A Burning Fire

In the first generation of the Quaker movement, news of the gospel spread across Britain from house to house, city to city. Quickly, the message was taken abroad to the continent of Europe and to the British colonies in the Americas. These early years of Quakerism were characterized by an untamed passion for sharing the good news, inviting others into spiritual communion with Christ and with each other.

This good news spread largely outside of official channels. While Margaret Fell provided practical aid and a communications hub at Swarthmoor Hall, there were not initially formal structures for organizing the wave of evangelism that proceeded from the north of England. The Religious Society of Friends began as an organic movement of the apostolic faith. The Lord called women and men to ministry, and they responded with obedience. Christ used these 17th-century apostles to preach the word and gather his people Friends Meetinghouse and Graveyardtogether. Everywhere the traveling evangelists went, the Holy Spirit raised up local leaders and established new communities.

Within decades, this burst of pentecostal fervor had established an organic network of Meetings across Britain and the American colonies. Yet, just as this movement reached the peak of its intensity in the early 1660s, severe persecution came. Friends organized themselves in increasingly centralized bodies – Yearly Meetings – as a way to coordinate their response to nationwide persecution, especially in England.

The persecution eventually passed, but Friends’ new emphasis on centralized structures remained. Over time, passionate, evangelical faith diminished and institutional centralization increased, accompanied by an increasing reliance on procedure as a source of authority. Eventually, many Friends would come to believe that it was procedure that defined them. Orthopraxy and institutional authority increasingly usurped the unpredictable guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Today, Friends are steeped in the institutional apparatus of former generations. We appoint members to committees and boards. We govern non-profit organizations. We manage historical sites. WeQuaker Graveyard are generally nice, respectable, civic-minded people. But where is the spiritual power?

What happened to the fire that drove early Friends to cross oceans? What became of the radical faith that led women and men to face death, torture and imprisonment? How often are we imprisoned for the gospel today? How many of our Meetings actively support the spread of the good news that Jesus Christ is here to teach us himself? We are often so busy maintaining the institutional legacy of our ancestors that we spend more time keeping up buildings than we do sharing the good news of Jesus with our neighbors.

But that does not have to be the end of the story. Just like the early Friends, we have an opportunity to challenge the status quo and live into the fantastic life and love that Jesus reveals in our hearts and in our life as a community. It is important to remember that those early Quakers we admire so much got into a lot of trouble. They upset people and caused division in their communities. They were not popular among respectable people.

Are we today ready to take the same kinds of risks for Truth that our spiritual ancestors did? How can we support one another in breaking out of business as usual and re-discover the mission that Jesus has for us? What does radical discipleship look like in 21st-century America?

Counting the Cost of a New Valiant Sixty

I was pleased to read the latest post on Earlham School of Religion‘s blog, Learning and Leading, which featured an essay by a newly-convinced Friend in Spain. Luís Pizarro describes his convincement into the Conservative Quaker tradition, and the challenges he faces as he attempts to foster a new Friends Meeting in his home city of Seville. Luís shares his experience of being an isolated Friend in a country largely lacking Quaker Christian witness, and how he faces a western European culture that is intensely secular, and often hostile to Christianity.

Luís touches me with his willingness to let his life preach, becoming a visible witness to the presence of the Risen Lord in Spain. HeChurch building courageously holds out the possibility of intimate relationship with Jesus, inviting his fellow countrymen and countrywomen into the intimacy with Jesus that he has experienced. So far, Luís is probably the only Quaker in Seville, but through God’s sustaining and empowering Spirit, it is my prayer that there will one day be a thriving Conservative Quaker Meeting there. Indeed, I pray that Luís’ courage and faithfulness to the Holy Spirit’s work in his life might open the door for the development of a new Yearly Meeting in Spain. One day, there may be a Spain Yearly Meeting that can look back to these days, in the second decade of the twenty-first century and say: “This is how it all began, with one man’s courage and faithful witness.”

Of course, Luís’ courageous witness is not enough. As he himself states in his blog post, he needs our support. He looks in particular to Quaker Christians in the United States to extend him the hand of friendship, encouragement, and teaching. Luís has been convinced of the truth of Friends’ testimony of the Resurrected Jesus, but his only connection to his brothers and sisters in Christ abroad thus far has been through literature and personal contact through email and Skype. Luís, and the Meeting that we pray will begin to grow in Seville, needs ongoing connection with the wider Religious Society of Friends. Friends in Spain need our prayers, correspondence, counsel, visitation, and practical support.

Luís is an outstanding example of the ways in which Jesus Christ is raising up testimony of his continuing life and presence throughout the world. Fortunately, however, Luís is by no means unique. There are men and women across the United States and throughout the world who are discovering Christ’s inward voice and are being drawn to unite with the testimony of the Friends tradition. Jesus is raising up his witnesses in Spain, the UK and Brazil. He is raising up modern-day prophets and apostles in Atlanta, Detroit, DC,New City Friends in Detroit Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere. How are we as Quaker Christians in the United States called to nurture the new signs of life that are emerging in our cities, as well as across seas and mountains, beyond Quakerism’s historical geographical and cultural boundaries?

There are millions of women and men who are discovering the presence of the Spirit of Jesus in their lives and are looking for the next steps in their relationship with him. Their encounter with Christ leads them to seek community with others who are walking in the Way. What is our role as Quaker Christians in providing eldership and oversight for these individuals and new worship groups? How can we be more intentional about releasing the gifts of ministry, eldership, oversight and apostleship that are present within the Religious Society of Friends, commissioning a new Valiant Sixty to carry the good news of Christ’s gospel – his living presence – out into a world that his hungering to hear his word?

Unlike the original Valiant Sixty, this new generation of Quaker apostles cannot be satisfied with preaching the message andTenleytown, DC moving on. The old method of “setting a fire and leaving it burning” never did work, and we must recognize the need for ongoing discipleship, support, and care for new Christians and emerging fellowships. How can we provide the nurture, teaching, practical support, and modeling that new Friends and new Meetings need in order to grow to maturity in Christ? Are we ready to release the the resources – human, financial and spiritual – that will be needed to equip a new Valiant Sixty? Are we ready to outfit and support dozens, even hundreds of gospel laborers to work in the fields for months, years, or decades at a time? Are we ready to invest our lives and resources into the work of proclaiming Christ’s love and building up his Body, the Church?

As we are faithful to the call to go into all the world, proclaiming and embodying the gospel of Christ’s living presence, we can be sureCapitol Hill Friends visit Rockingham that we will not only enrich the lives of those whom we visit – we will also find our own lives changed and faith strengthened by our encounter with Christ in others. Luís and Friends in Spain surely have a great deal to teach those of us in the United States that have taken our relatively religious culture for granted. When we respond faithfully to God’s call, we can be sure that our lives and worldview will be turned upside down.

Jesus warned us to count the cost before setting out on a journey with him.(1) He knew that walking in his way would cost us everything – our very lives! We must be ready to sacrifice in order to support our brothers and sisters who are crying out for the living witness of the Church in our suffering world. The harvest is plentiful, but we will never see it unless we commit ourselves completely to serving Jesus and modeling the tradition in which we experience him as a community. Are you ready? Will you join us?

1. Luke 14:28-33

Preparing for the Harvest

I am encouraged to see a number of signs that unprogrammed Friends are developing a renewed focus on evangelism. LiberalFriends at Rockingham Monthly Meeting Friends in the US and UK are developing the Quaker Quest program as a pathway to numerical and spiritual growth, and Conservative Friends are also increasingly emphasizing outreach. In the last few years, all of the Conservative Yearly Meetings reported the addition of new Monthly Meetings. Ohio Yearly Meeting has been particularly active in outreach, nurturing several worship groups in the United States, Britain, Greece and Spain, as well as maintaining a network of affiliated and sympathetic Friends across the globe. As one of the smaller Yearly Meetings in the United States, Ohio Yearly Meeting has a disproportionate impact on missions.

Among Friends in Ohio Yearly Meeting, there is a palpable enthusiasm for the work of evangelism. Working side by side with other Quaker Christian groups, I believe that we are poised for growth in the twenty-first century. I see no reason why the coming decades should not see the emergence of many new Meetings – even new Yearly Meetings – in the Conservative stream.

Given present size of my own Yearly Meeting, such high levels of growth could be overwhelming. Ohio Yearly Meeting probably has anFriends in the woods active membership of fewer than two hundred people. Adding a just a half-dozen new Meetings in the coming decades could bring about revolutionary changes in our small community, as newcomers quickly outnumber those who have been part of the Yearly Meeting for decades and generations. This is particularly true if the emerging Meetings are made up of Friends who are new to the Conservative Quaker tradition.

This would not be without precedent. The revivalist frenzy of the late nineteenth century was characterized by meteoric growth, with Yearly Meetings bringing in tens of thousands of new converts in a matter of years. Immediately, Friends were forced to consider how to integrate so many new Quakers into the fellowship. They found that the tried and true “education by osmosis” no longer worked in a context where most of the community was not raised in a sectarian Quaker community. One result of the search for new ways of transmitting our faith was the pastoral system, which has revolutionized Quakerism and now represents the overwhelming majority of Friends worldwide.

More recently, we have the example of the New Meetings Movement, when Friends were overwhelmed by the growth of new Meetings inFriends at Illinois Yearly Meeting college towns across the United States. Throughout the forties, fifties and sixties, new Meetings flourished across the Mid-west and West, while the traditional centers of American Quakerism (e.g. Philadelphia YM, Indiana YM) imploded. Even as the traditional Hicksite and Gurneyite Yearly Meetings saw their membership plummeting, new unprogrammed Yearly Meetings sprang into existence where there were none before. This resulted in a situation where local Meetings, and even Yearly Meetings, developed where there was virtually no seasoned ministry, eldership or oversight. New Meetings Movement Quakerism emerged as an individualistic faith, and connections with the past were tenuous. In many places, the New Meetings Movement has left a legacy of rootlessness and disconnection from many of the basic beliefs and practices of the Quaker tradition.

In both the revivalism of the late 1800s and the New Meetings Movement of the mid-1900s, we see cases in which growth outran the capacity of seasoned ministry, eldership and oversight to care for newly convinced Friends and Meetings. As a result, the tradition was radically, decisively altered in very short periods of time. This change often came less out of deep reflection and spiritual unity than it did out of an urgency to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Above all, both cases demonstrate a failure on the part of Friends to prepare in advance for growth.

Precisely because I see the potential for such rapid growth in the coming decades, I believe that we must take care to prepareQuaker Youth Pilgrimage at Camas Friends Meeting ourselves not only to fan the flames of a new revival, but to provide the grounded leadership and example that will be needed in order to sustain the movement, connecting us through teaching and example to the tradition of the early Friends and the early Christian Church. Above all, it is critical that we prepare ourselves now for the coming growth. If we wait until explosive growth is upon us, it will be too late to develop our response.

I believe that it is crucial that we begin to operate under the assumption that Christ is already gathering a great people, and that we need to prepare ourselves and our communities to participate in that gathering work. I am convinced that we need everyone in our Meetings and worship groups to take seriously our responsibility to prepare the way of the Lord, throwing ourselves into the work of discipleship and evangelism, and steeping ourselves in the tradition so that we are capable of demonstrating it to those whom the Lord draws into our small order of the Universal Church. It is crucial that we lead lives that model the life of Christ as it is being revealed to us within the Quaker stream of the Christian tradition.

We need all hands on deck. We need to demonstrate with our time, energy and financial resources the priority that we place on sharingFriends at Ohio Yearly Meeting, 2009 the good news of Jesus Christ, inviting others into the tradition and community of Friends. What would it look like if building up the Body of Christ were truly our first priority? How would our lives change if we truly believed that God was about to send thousands of people to us, seeking to be welcomed into a community where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as our present Teacher, Guide and Lord?
I pray that you will join with me in building our house upon the rock, so that when the flood comes, we will be ready to offer refuge to others rather than being swept away ourselves.

*While there are several ways of defining Conservative Quakerism, I use the term to refer to Friends who see the Quaker practices of waiting worship and Spirit-led decision-making as central to their life of faith as a Meeting. Conservative Friends hold that faith in Jesus Christ and fidelity to the Christian tradition are essential for the Meeting community as a whole. Conservative Friends see common Christian faith – not only common worship and decision-making practice – as being the basis for membership in the Meeting.