[Sayma-Discuss] Minute from the workshop on "Quaker Identity and the Heart of our Faith" held at FGC Gathering in Blacksburg VA, July 2009

Free Polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Wed Jul 29 22:21:02 EDT 2009

Dear Friends,


Here is a minute from the workshop on "Quaker Identity and the Heart of our
Faith" held at FGC Gathering in Blacksburg VA, July 2009.   I did not attend
FGC Gathering but have F/friends who do.  One of them forwarded this to me
and I recommend it to you. 


Free Polazzo

Douglasville, GA




MINUTE of the workshop on "Quaker Identity and the Heart of our Faith" at
the FGC Gathering, Blacksburg VA, July 2009


28 Friends (26 from USA and one each from Britain and Canada) have
participated in this workshop. We have met together on six successive
mornings from June 28 to July 3 2009 to tackle some of the questions facing
unprogrammed Friends today: What unites us in our diversity? Do we have a
common Quaker language? Is our theological diversity a strength or a
weakness? What can we say together?

We began by each describing where we find ourselves within the spectrum of
diversity, revealing ourselves to be a mix of theist and nontheist Friends,
Christocentric and Universalist Friends, and Friends who prefer to avoid
labels. We were able to affirm this diversity as a strength, while
recognising that significant differences in theology and our understanding
of spirituality can create barriers and tensions. We acknowledged a need to
work through these tensions and misunderstandings by mutually supportive
discussion and in shared worship.

We examined our history and noted that unprogrammed Quakerism has always
been changing, from Fox's day to Penn's, from activism to quietism, from
evangelicalism to liberalism, and from liberalism to today's pluralism. But
we sought out characteristics that have remained constant through these
outward changes: rejection of formal hierarchy, corporate discernment and
decision-making, attention to Advices and Queries rather than commandments,
rejection of outward sacraments, refusal to express our faith in credal
formulations, faithfulness to our tradition of unprogrammed worship, and
unmediated access to the sources of truth.

We acknowledged that some characteristics we commonly claim for ourselves
are not a Quaker monopoly. Other traditions also commit to peace-making,
social justice, forms of corporate decision-making, and the quest for both
personal transformation and building a better world. We claim no monopoly of

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