A Quaker Meeting
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Aspects of the Quaker Vision
The Power of the Quaker Movement
The power of the Quaker Movement throughout its history is rooted in the vitality of the corporate worship experience. Worship involves the reception of and the human response to divine inspiration and leading. Quaker Worship centers in the belief in and the experience of the Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as the Light Within. The discovery of early Friends was that as they gathered and waited in holy dependence upon that Spirit, without any human direction or supervision, the Spirit of God would lead them and guide them in remarkable ways.
Like the Early Church, Friends begin with the experience of the presence and power of the living Christ, the Christ who make his will known. Christians are those who have passed from darkness to light. "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). Friends seek to be "Children of Light" in both personal and social morality. This means that as Christ's followers Friends seek to be obedient first to Christ's ways, even when this means resistance to opposition to the values and practices of the culture or society.
Friends hold that the call to follow Christ is a call to ministry. Each person is a minister utilizing gifts in the service of Christ's cause and the Kingdom of God. Friends abolished the idea of the laity and became a fellowship of ministers.
At the same time Friends have always recognized that some of their number have special gifts. These are persons, both men and women, whose speaking, visitation and uplifting counsel under the leading of the Spirit stirs up and encourages others in their ministry. Over the years, Friends recorded the gifts of such persons. In addition to ministering helpfully in their local meetings, recorded Friends ministers have often traveled in the ministry among Friends. For the first two hundred years the traveling ministers were the lifeblood of the Quaker Movement.
In the latter half of the 19th century a number of Friends meetings in North America began to employ recorded ministers to carry out duties comparable to those of Protestant pastors, as thousands upon thousands of new converts came into the Quaker family as a result of evangelistic efforts during the revival movement. The task of the minister serving as pastor was to orient the new converts to the Quaker approach. Today pastors serve a large number of Friends meetings in the United States. Since all are ministers, the pastor's task includes stirring up and equipping others for their ministry (Eph. 4:12). The role of the Friends pastor is that of servant and not one of authority in the sense of conferred power. In "Unprogrammed" meetings, formal leadership and coordination is exercised by the Presiding Clerk (Chairperson) or employed secretary.
Quaker Worship, whether programmed or unprogrammed, is a group experience of Communion with God, Who is present in the midst of His gathered people. The Church is that company of people in whom Christ dwells. The outward sacraments are unnecessary since Christians follow Him who baptizes "with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 3:16), and who is Himself "the bread of life" (John 6:35). The primary authority for Friends is the Holy Spirit who gave forth the Scriptures. The Inspirer is greater than the inspired, but all leadings of the Spirit are to be tested with the Scriptures, with the community of faith and with religious tradition.
In its planned worship Whittier First Friends includes a brief period of open worship: communion after the manner of Friends. To utilize this time most helpfully each worshipper is encouraged to wait quietly upon the Lord in Holy Obedience. As the group centers down in silence, any person who feels moved and led by the Spirit may provide a rich ministry to the gathered worshippers, by sharing vocally the inspired leading. Such freedom is a great responsibility and such a gathering is always a high venture. It is to this high venture we invite you.
The following statements, though unofficial, provide a general sense of the Quaker vision:
Tell me about First Friends
First Friends Church, also known as Whittier Monthly Meeting of Friends, conducts a programmed Meeting for Worship. We have a choir that sings for the Sunday morning meeting. We are also a pastoral meeting with a recorded pastor who gives a message each Sunday morning. In addition, we offer First Day School for all ages. We encourage each member to strive to follow Christ's leading and to seek that of God in each person. We strive to be a beacon of hope and light in the multi-cultural and economically diverse community of Whittier, and to be a loving fellowship in which members and inquirers are loved and accepted.
For Further Information Read
A Quaker View of Ministry by Keith Esch
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