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).
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?
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.
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.