Baltimore Emergent Church Quaker experiment

My friend Kevin-Douglas emailed recent­ly about a new wor­ship group he’s helped to start in down­town Bal­ti­more. It sounds like some of the oth­er Christ-center wor­ship groups that have been pop­ping up the shad­ow of estab­lished Quak­er meet­ings. It’s con­scious­ly small and home-based, tak­ing place at a non-traditional time with an implic­it Emer­gent Church fla­vor. Expe­ri­enced Friends are involved (I know KD from FGC’s Cen­tral Com­mit­tee for exam­ple) and while it’s formed next to and out of large, active meet­ings, it’s not schis­mat­ic.

I asked KD if I could put his descrip­tion up as a “guest post.’ I’m hop­ing a post here can let more seek­ers and Friends in Bal­ti­more know about it. But beyond that, there’s a def­i­nite small move­ment afoot and I thought Ranter read­ers might be inter­est­ed in the exam­ple (here are a few oth­ers: Laugh­ing Waters and Chat­ta­hoochee (thanks to Bill Samuel for the last link, some of these are indexed in his help­ful Friends Chris­t­ian Renew­al list­ing).

From KD:

Before R. got sick and even­tu­al­ly died, we had been think­ing of
host­ing an infor­mal meet­ing for wor­ship in the man­ner of Friends at our
house that would be explic­it­ly Christ-centered. We aren’t talk­ing
Chris­t­ian Ortho­doxy here, but rather with the under­stand­ing of all
involved that we come togeth­er to explore our faith through the
teach­ings of Jesus and those who came before and after him.  It would
be Quak­er in that we’d fol­low in the tra­di­tion of Quak­er Chris­tians,
gain­ing from their wis­dom and expe­ri­ence.

Now, the Spir­it is lead­ing me back to this. 

So, what is going on? 

I
very much appre­ci­ate uni­ver­sal­ism as a world view. I in no way believe
that Chris­tian­i­ty is the only way. I do believe, how­ev­er, that Jesus is
the Way, Truth and the Life.  The Way being one of love and com­pas­sion,
of jus­tice and sin­cere seek­ing of that mys­tery that I call God. I
don’t think Jesus was the only one who brought that way, but I do see
his way as lead­ing to God, and that by his Way, we can get to God. It
doesn’t mat­ter to me whether he was or is God; I do see him as a
sacra­ment, a way to God.  For me he is the way to God.  He is liv­ing. I know this expe­ri­en­tial­ly.

So
I want to share in this with oth­ers. I want to sit in silence, or sing
in praise, or con­sid­er a query, scrip­ture or word of advice from
Friends past with oth­ers who also want to know God through Christ.  I’m
not con­cerned about the­ol­o­gy.  IT’s about expe­ri­ence for me.  I don’t
mind if those who don’t “know Jesus” come, as I know God can speak
through all.   If those who come and don’t con­sid­er them­selves
Chris­t­ian are will­ing to wres­tle with the teach­ings of Jesus and his
ances­tors and his fol­low­ers, then I say WELCOME!  I’m not set on form
either.  I do pre­fer unpro­grammed wor­ship, but I mean that lit­er­al­ly: 
that we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly set a pro­gram, but that there indeed may be
silence or a query, scrip­ture or advice read at the begin­ning of
wor­ship. Per­haps can­dles are lit, maybe even *gasp* incense!  I don’t
feel the need to be bound to our puri­tan roots and yet I feel the
wis­dom of allow­ing the Spir­it to direct the wor­ship is a wis­dom we
should con­tin­ue to fol­low.  I believe in expe­ri­en­tial and exper­i­men­tal
wor­ship. Per­haps we have the Friends hym­nal avail­able and one may feel
led to sing from it and oth­ers can join if they too feel led.  As for
now, it’s been com­plete­ly unpro­grammed wor­ship as one would find in
most Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends meet­ings.   As for com­mu­ni­ty, I hope God will
gath­er togeth­er a com­mu­ni­ty where we do rec­og­nize min­istries and gifts
per­haps in the way that Friends have done so tra­di­tion­al­ly but maybe in
rad­i­cal­ly new ways!   I’m so tired of Evangelical/Liberal/Conservative labels.  Can we just be Friends?

I do so love being Quak­er.  I do so love Jesus.  I hope to find a com­mu­ni­ty where these are wed with­out qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

We meet third Sun­days of every month at a home (Mine right now) from 5 – 6pm and are list­ed in Quak­er Find­er:

Down­town Bal­ti­more Wor­ship Group
Christ-centered, unpro­grammed wor­ship is gen­er­al­ly held on the 3rd Sun­day of the month at 5:00 PM in a home. Fol­low link for cur­rent details. 

  • Thanks for post­ing this mar­tin, this is help­ful for my own stud­ies and it’s also excit­ing to see this stuff hap­pen­ing.

  • Nice to read about the new Bal­ti­more wor­ship group. FYI, Laugh­ing Waters Friends Wor­ship Group now has a web­site, where seek­ers and Friends can find much more detail about who we are and how we came to be.
    Bless­ings,
    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  • Craig

    Mar­tin,
    You might want to include two oth­er Meet­ings on this list. One is Prism (http://​www​.get​dunne​.com/​p​r​i​sm/) and Hil­lel Friends in Greens­boro (http://​www​.hil​lel​friends​.org/).
    Love and peace,
    Craig

  • Mar­tin Kel­ley

    Thanks Craig!, and sure we can use these com­ments as a place to try to come up with a direc­to­ry of these exper­i­ments.

  • Hey Friends
    Work­ing on a web site. We now have to meet at the local Met­ro­pol­i­tan Com­mu­ni­ty church because my liv­ing room can’t hold a dozen peo­ple. We’re begin­ning a month­ly book or Bible study as well.
    please keep us in your prayers!
    KD

  • Rachel Sta­cy talked about the Bal­ti­more group in her keynote address to the FWCC meet­ing. It was received with much plea­sure and excite­ment.
    I’d add the extend­ed meet­ing for wor­ship at San Fran­cis­co Friends Meet­ing in Cal­i­for­nia on fifth Sun­days from 9:30am-12:00noon.
    And then Brent Bill and I were just talk­ing about the pos­si­bil­i­ties for a direc­to­ry of wor­ship groups like this.
    Yes, some­thing good (and God­ly) is going on.

  • KD

    Hi Friends,
    Just an update on the site for the wor­ship group. Our first meet­ing at the new site is this Sun­day. Please hold us in the Light! We’re also going to start meet­ing once a month in a café in the Gay­bor­hood for a book study. We thought about doing it in a home until one atten­der remind­ed us that per­haps we should be tak­ing the church to the com­mu­ni­ty instead. So, we shall see what doors open.
    Atten­dance ranges from half a dozen to a dozen. I wish it was a week­ly group!