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do not think I am alone in my certainty that it’s in my relationships with people that the deepest religious truths are most vividly disclosed.
george gorman, religion and life, 1982
britain yearly meeting,
quaker faith & practice, 1995, §10.20
Religious Society of Friends arose as a community of the Spirit,
centered in regular, shared worship. Ostracized and attacked by
mainstream English society, Quakers developed a loving social
community which, while not immune to struggle and conflict,
supported their personal growth, their care for one another, and
their work in the larger world.
Now as then, community is essential to Friends’ life
growth. A strong Meeting community offers companionship,
resources to care lovingly for those in need, and a place to test
support leadings and concerns. Community is expressed in many
ways: by cheerfully joining together to accomplish the work of the
Meeting, refraining from gossip and disparaging others, taking part
in clearness committees, providing pastoral care, and reflecting
Friends values in the larger society. Community is also expressed
commemorative, sociable and playful activities of the Monthly
who belong to a Meeting community receive its loving care. Each one
in turn should attend to the spiritual condition of others.
While respecting others’ privacy, Friends must be sensitive
another’s needs and willing to ask for assistance in
times of trouble.
Conflict and difference are a part of life, a necessary result of
varying needs, aims, and perspectives of individuals and
communities. Bringing them into the open is a necessary step
towards empathy, understanding, and healing. Individuals and
Meetings need to address conflict promptly in a spirit of goodwill
and a desire to maintain loving relationship.When resolution is not
immediate, the Meeting waits for way to open,while persisting in
earnest search for unity.
the universal human needs for embrace, intimacy and sharing, as well
as solitude, Friends support each other as
individuals, couples, and families, however constructed or defined.
The Meeting strives to be present for all its members throughout
different stages of their lives and their specific needs — as
people, coupled, or in broader communities — recognizing
Divine in each. The Meeting can be an instrument of “divine
assistance,” not only in supporting the marriages under
its care, but
also in supporting single people and all forms of partnership.We
have need for solitude as well as companionship, though these
needs differ and are not always arrived at by choice. The Meeting
Community plays a vital role in being sensitive to the needs and
changing circumstances of its members.
are built on faith and love, not simply legal definitions. Friends
experience the joys and struggles of being loving and
faithful within families of choice and families of origin. Sharing
with those who matter most to us is a deeply spiritual journey when
we struggle to live lives of openness and integrity. To be
companions to each other on this common journey is central to the
meaning of community.
bring special blessings to the Meeting community. Meetings must learn
to cultivate the spiritual gifts of their youngest
members, to listen to them and learn from them.
said: Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for such belongs to the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
Meetings open themselves to the lessons children offer, they
must also be attentive to families experiencing the joys and stresses
of child rearing. Parents provide for the healthy development of
their children’s minds, bodies, and spirits. Time and attention
needed for this central task should be shielded from less important
tasks.Meetings should share these responsibilities with parents and
extended families so that children grow in the knowledge that they
occupy a valuable place in the Meeting community. All adults in the
Meeting should find ways to be involved in the children’s
At the same
time Friends cherish older people in the Meeting, offering support
as they face changing circumstances in their lives,
valuing the wisdom, serenity and detachment that advancing age
may bring.With gratitude for the memories and blessings of those
lives, Friends value older people in new ways as they pass on theirresponsibilities,
assuring them of their continuing role in the Meeting community.
Aging members can be bearers of wisdom, a
tranquil enlightenment that recognizes the divine presence in the
ordinary, as well as prophecy, which calls us out of the ordinary
a new vision of the world.
Meeting must find ways to consult its experienced members as it makes
decisions. It may ease its expectations of members who
no longer find it easy to bring a pot luck dish, or volunteer to
clean up, but whose company it cherishes.
the same time the Meeting must accompany all members as they experience
transitions, change, diminishments of all kinds.
These changes present constant challenges: physical, financial and
spiritual. The life of the community can deepen and grow in the
process of confronting change.
Quaker community extends beyond our home Meetings. Historically,
Friends have maintained contact with the wider world
of Quakers through traveling ministry, intervisitation, home
hospitality, and participation in the wider gatherings of Friends.
Such participation often results in a deepening of individual
commitments and a livelier sense of community at the home
to embrace all people — all God’s children — in
community. This witness for, and practice of, community informs
social concerns for peace and justice in the world.
Friends are led to actions in the wider world, the Meeting may
be called upon not only to help discern the merits of such a
leading but also to offer material and spiritual support. (See
Clearness and Clearness Committees, p. 91). Early Meetings were
both a religious body and an economic unit, coming to the aid
of persecuted members who risked imprisonment and loss of jobs
property for acting on their beliefs. Meetings that have united
course of action, such as providing sanctuary to families fleeing
oppression, have often found their faith deepened and their
community life enhanced. Such actions require full participation,
which is the essence of community.