Should We Torch Our Meetinghouses?

Burn­ing down the meet­ing­house is a metaphor for the true free­dom that we find when we renounce all the things that we put before God. What would it look like for younger Friends to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for lead­er­ship with­in our Year­ly Meet­ings, not wait­ing for per­mis­sion or validation?

  • Isabel Pen­raeth

    For those of us with no meet­ing­hous­es, who wan­der from place to place try­ing to find a home for our wor­ship groups, this sort of hyper­bole (metaphor though it may be) is just painful. Is tra­di­tion and her­itage real­ly such an awful weight? Try being a spir­i­tu­al vagabond …

    I also think it is the wrong ques­tion. The only ques­tion real­ly use­ful to ask is what our Inward Guide and ever-present Teacher, Jesus Christ, is ask­ing us to do cor­po­rate­ly and individually …

    • I total­ly agree with you Isabel. Read­ing the var­i­ous respons­es to Micah’s post (on his blog, Face­book, etc.), I think his piece tried to tie in too many issues, most promi­nent­ly the “burn the meet­ing­house” metaphor (which I read as a warn­ing against idol­a­try), the “young adults need to orga­nize” call-to-action (which I think is shift­ing quickly). 

      Here in Quaker-heavy South Jer­sey I approached the meet­ing­house ques­tion semi-literally. With one excep­tion, none of them were found­ed since the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry. Many are locat­ed a few blocks off the “King’s High­way” that’s now just a two-lane road con­nect­ing antique shops up and down the West­ern spine of the state. They’re not doing too well; some will almost sure­ly end their 250 year wit­ness in the next twen­ty years. We could try to pour mon­ey into them, with out­reach pro­grams, expand­ed facil­i­ties, etc, but I’m unclear whether any of that will help. 

      I think we will need to real­ly care­ful­ly poll the ever-present Teacher to dis­cern what we should be doing. We may not be called to be a his­toric preser­va­tion soci­ety dis­guised as a reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion. We don’t need to burn the meet­ing­hous­es, of course. I love them as archi­tec­ture, as space, and as liv­ing trib­utes to the con­ti­nu­ity of our faith. But we shouldn’t con­fuse them for who we are or think that they are the Holy Spirit’s spe­cial temple.

  • bar­bara

    Maybe meet­ing­hous­es need to be repur­posed. Sup­pose we used them to shel­ter the home­less and feed the hungry?