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Sun Jul 26 09:54:09 EDT 2009


focus to the pluralism of contemporary unprogrammed Quakerism. We explored
the issue of the presence in the Society of explicitly nontheist Friends,
seeing this as a sign of our greater inclusiveness but also recognising it
as a source of tension in some of our meetings. This led us to explore our
Quaker language, where we noted that key terms such as "God" and "the
Spirit" may be used with integrity by all Friends, understanding them either
literally or metaphorically, and with appropriate translation strategies.
Similarly, we explored our Quaker worship, recalling the Old English origin
of the word "worship" as meaning "things of great worth". For some of us,
worship is an encounter with the living God; for some, reflection on and
commitment to those values we accord ultimate worth; and for some, an
opening up to that which we understand to be greater than ourselves.

In small groups contributing to the writing of this Minute we affirmed the
following: We met and deliberated in a spirit of love. We learned that there
is diversity in nontheism as well as in theism. We sought to reach beyond
words and to listen to where words came from. We found more pointers to
Quaker identity in Quaker action than in Quaker belief. We affirmed as a
central conviction the concept of that of God, Light, Spirit, the Good, in
everyone, as the basis for our core processes of unprogrammed worship and
corporate discernment. We heard again the call to let our lives speak.

We discussed and worshipped, sometimes all together, sometimes in small
groups. We helped each other think through our own positions as we exchanged
experiences, examined vocabulary, searched for similarities and acknowledged
differences. We did not seek a verbal formulation defining Quaker identity,
but as we talked, listened and fell silent together before each contributing
to the writing of this Minute, our common identity as Friends was known
experimentally, overriding our different theologies and life journeys. We
know who we are. We are Friends together.

Although some Friends indicated a preference for a different wording in some
places, all 28 of us united with the spirit of this Minute.

Signed on behalf of the participants by David Boulton, workshop facilitator,
July 3 2009

 

 


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<div>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'>Dear Friends,<o:p></o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'>Here is a minute from the workshop on &quot;Quaker =
Identity and
the Heart of our Faith&quot; held at FGC Gathering in Blacksburg VA, =
July 2009.&nbsp;&nbsp;
I did not attend FGC Gathering but have F/friends who do.&nbsp; One of =
them
forwarded this to me and I recommend it to you. =
<o:p></o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'>Free Polazzo<o:p></o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'>Douglasville, GA<o:p></o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal>&nbsp;<span =
style=3D'color:#1F497D'>=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D</span><o:p></o:p></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><span =
style=3D'font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
color:#1F497D'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p>

</div>

<div>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><b><u><span =
lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-size:16.0pt;font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>MINUTE of =
the
workshop on &#8220;Quaker Identity and the Heart of our Faith&#8221; at =
the FGC
Gathering, </span></u></b><b><span lang=3DEN-GB =
style=3D'font-size:16.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'><ns0:place><ns0:City><u>Blacksburg</u=
></ns0:City><u>
 </u><ns0:State><u>VA</u></ns0:State></ns0:place><u>, July =
2009<o:p></o:p></u></span></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><b><u><span =
lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-size:16.0pt'><o:p><span =
style=3D'text-decoration:none'>&nbsp;</span></o:p></span></u></b></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>28 Friends (26 from =
<ns0:country-region>USA</ns0:country-region>
and one each from <ns0:country-region>Britain</ns0:country-region> and =
<ns0:country-region><ns0:place>Canada</ns0:place></ns0:country-region>)
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?<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>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.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>We examined our history and =
noted
that unprogrammed Quakerism has always been changing, from Fox&#8217;s =
day to
Penn&#8217;s, from activism to quietism, from evangelicalism to =
liberalism, and
from liberalism to today&#8217;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.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>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 =
truth.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>From seeking a common =
thread of
identity in our history we switched our focus to the pluralism of =
contemporary
unprogrammed Quakerism. We explored the issue of the presence in the =
Society of
explicitly nontheist Friends, seeing this as a sign of our greater
inclusiveness but also recognising it as a source of tension in some of =
our
meetings. This led us to explore our Quaker language, where we noted =
that key
terms such as &#8220;God&#8221; and &#8220;the Spirit&#8221; may be used =
with
integrity by all Friends, understanding them either literally or
metaphorically, and with appropriate translation strategies. Similarly, =
we
explored our Quaker worship, recalling the Old English origin of the =
word
&#8220;worship&#8221; as meaning &#8220;things of great worth&#8221;. =
For some
of us, worship is an encounter with the living God; for some, reflection =
on and
commitment to those values we accord ultimate worth; and for some, an =
opening
up to that which we understand to be greater than =
ourselves.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>In small groups =
contributing to the
writing of this Minute we affirmed the following: We met and deliberated =
in a
spirit of love. We learned that there is diversity in nontheism as well =
as in
theism. We sought to reach beyond words and to listen to where words =
came from.
We found more pointers to Quaker identity in Quaker action than in =
Quaker
belief. We affirmed as a central conviction the concept of that of God, =
Light,
Spirit, the Good, in everyone, as the basis for our core processes of
unprogrammed worship and corporate discernment. We heard again the call =
to let
our lives speak.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>We discussed and =
worshipped,
sometimes all together, sometimes in small groups. We helped each other =
think
through our own positions as we exchanged experiences, examined =
vocabulary,
searched for similarities and acknowledged differences. We did not seek =
a
verbal formulation defining Quaker identity, but as we talked, listened =
and
fell silent together before each contributing to the writing of this =
Minute,
our common identity as Friends was known experimentally, overriding our
different theologies and life journeys. We know who we are. We are =
Friends
together.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><span lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>Although some Friends =
indicated a
preference for a different wording in some places, all 28 of us united =
with the
spirit of this Minute.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:10.0pt'><i><span =
lang=3DEN-GB
style=3D'font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"'>Signed on behalf of the =
participants
by David Boulton, workshop facilitator, July 3 =
2009<o:p></o:p></span></i></p>

</div>

<p class=3DMsoNormal =
style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p>

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