Attachment 3: Faith and Practice Revision Committee Report
Proposed Revision to Faith and Practice, August 2009′
“As many candles, lighted and put in one place, do greatly augment the light, and make it more to shine forth, so when many are gathered together in the same life there is more of the glory of God.” Robert Barclay (1678)
“When we focus on our oneness and unity in the Love that is God, it’s tempting to believe that we will all live happily ever after together, with never an unkind word or misunderstanding, much less legitimate complaints, anger or real nastiness. The challenge of course is to hold up and live out the vision while acknowledging and accepting the reality of our own flawed humanity and that of those we live with.”
Community is one of the important foundations of Quakerism. This testimony arises from our experience that a group worshiping together encounters God. Since the first generation, Friends have had a practice of discernment where unity is the focus, looking not only to individual inspirations but also to the movement of the Spirit in their midst. Friends followed this practice in meetings for worship with a concern for business. It was not the person with the most money, age, or length of history with Friends who made the decisions; it was the group as a whole that discerned the will of God. That sense of the meeting, that Spirit which the worshippers recognized in unity, was the authority.All Friends are bound together in community by our shared seeking of the Light. Our life together is grounded in the practice of listening deeply to each other and looking truthfully at how we live in the world. It is the task of the meeting community to affirm, inspire, and hold each of us accountable in our faithfulness to God’s leadings.
Ministering to each other’s spiritual and material needs builds and nurtures community. Both requesting and giving assistance are essential aspects of Friends’ life together; taking a warm, personal interest in one another’s welfare strengthens the meeting and the individuals alike. Such assistance may take the form of a clearness committee, financial or other material aid, or other appropriate help. Friends also provide spiritual and emotional support by holding in the Light those experiencing special hardship or joy. When we join in service and support, whether in our home communities, in the wider community or in the world, we express our love for God and one another as well as recognizing and experiencing God’s gifts to us.
1 Approved by SAYMA Faith and Practice Revision Committee, August 2009 for circulation to monthly meetings for comment. Comments on this section due to committee by December 2009.