Sunday, January 24, 2016

11th Annual State of the Church Report

The Eleventh State of the Church Report for the Year 2015
Presented at Annual Meeting on January 24, 2016

“Though we are little, the Lord shall make us mighty.
Though we are weak, the Lord shall make us strong.
Though we are foolish, the Lord shall give us wisdom.
Though we struggle, the Lord, through us, shall gain victory.”
Ministry brought by T. Vail Palmer, December 2012

Greetings to Friends Everywhere:

Blessings of Peace, Joy, Love and Light to you, in Christ Jesus.

We are a small, hopeful group of people—and we reach out to God, each other and the wider world.  In spite of our varied life circumstances, we know that we are incredibly and deeply blessed. We have had a front row seat to miracles, healing, changes and blessed ministry in our community. We witness and walk with those in our community who are deeply hurt, yet dedicate themselves to their own healing, and to the healing of their community. We share our sorrows as well as our joys. We are not in total agreement about political issues or even theological issues.  But we do sense and know the presence of the Holy One in our midst—working on us, in us, for us as individuals and community.

We are a blessed community, and part of the blessing we experience on a regular basis is that we get to witness and welcome guests and visitors who have been harmed by church, families, the bible, or society’s treatment of them because of their differences. If one looks at Freedom Friends Church from the outside—they may not see the diversity that is really here. This community of wounded warriors welcomes all visitors and sojourners as the blessing and light that they are. We celebrate every bit of diversity—that either comes to us or that we meet in our wider community. Daily we try to be grateful, to share our concerns and to listen for the Light, the Spirit that grounds, heals, and tends our souls, minds and bodies. We are not perfect. We are not perfect at being grateful humans; part of our soul’s work, for each of us—is to be grateful, to find things, circumstances and people for which to be thankful. This includes the stranger, the sojourner and the friend of a friend who can’t believe that a community such as this exists.

 When Freedom Friends began, eleven+ years ago, we were seen as going “outside of the fold” ; a perception by many who were not engaged with our community We were blessed and affirmed by our monthly meeting elders (Reedwood, NWYM) even though they were not yet ready to partner with us. We looked for another yearly meeting or larger body of Friends with which to affiliate or partner but they were also not ready for various reasons. Most often we were perceived us as dangerous and as fracturing the Quaker family tree. 

What is true for us is that we do not feel “outside of the fold”.  We simply feel we are doing and being the community we are called to be.  We have many F/friends who stay in contact with us, many who are affiliated with other Quaker organizations, some who are not.  A variety of Quaker groups continue to call on members of FFC to provide spiritual resources. We feel loved , supported and valued.  This is a part of the blessing that we continue to experience; we do not feel alone or “outside of the fold”. We are not outside. We are not alone. We are firmly in the hand of God, though we are small, weak, and foolish—but God continues to bless, strengthen and teach us in this place.

We continue to take every opportunity to educate ourselves and each other about Quakerism and business practice. We have been experimenting with Quakerism 101 class online—partially on Facebook, and partially on an FFC blog.  While the participation has been low, the framework for further online education has been set up, which should decrease future labor demand for Q101 and other classes we may want to share.

We represent 22 households, 33 regular attenders, of which 23 are members, 4 are recorded ministers, and ALL are ministers. We are a small community. We continue to grow—in love, nurture, truth, and we continue to stretch the tiny resources we have.  Our Faith and Practice is now 7+ years old. It continues to be the ground we live on in our community life. We continue to get requests for the Faith & Practice from far and near. We have been in our current location 9 years. This is the literal ground that we gather to worship upon. Both our Faith & Practice and our meeting house have been deep blessings to us and part of the fabric that connects and supports us. We joyously welcomed 2 new members and various attenders this year.

These are some of the ways in which we reach out to and minister in the wider world:

1.      Stamp Out Injustice: we collect used postage stamps and send them to be sold
To collectors and the funds then support many Quaker-friendly causes.
2.      Change the World: we collect our loose change to help change others’ lives. Our
Most recent collection is for a local homeless man named David who lives behind Wal-Mart.
3.      Food Collection for Marion Polk Food Share.
4.      Box Tops for Education.
5.      Allies for Equality: a local community organization working for justice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) persons.
6.      Collecting clothing, blankets, and plastic grocery bags for Salem Sleeping Bag Project.
7.      Tithe your Tampons- collection of personal care items for homeless and low-income students.
8.      Collecting personal care items and clothing for the local Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP).

A New Ministry this year:

Worship through art group. (MAG): a time of gathering to work on projects, arts, crafts, writing, etc. and to visit with one another. This has been a blessing to FFC community as well as the Salem community. We hope to expand this project further in the coming year—by publicly exhibiting some of the work that is done.

We find many opportunities for ministry both inside and outside of our meeting. We also find that we have limited resources for doing the work that is before us.  Because of this, we continue to simplify our business process and use the energy we have to best effect.   

1.      While we do not recommend it, we currently have a clerk/pastor. This coming year we will have a clerk in training—and we are totally jazzed about this!
2.       Instead of the labor intensive process of posting our business meeting minutes online, we have changed to minute-taking (hand-written), corrections and approval on day of business meeting. After which, we immediately enter the handwritten minutes into the public minutes book at the meeting house.
3.      We further simplified by going to an every other month business meeting cycle. This seems to be working quite well for us—giving our officers a bit of time to breathe. In the past year we seem to have been able to do the business needing to be done on this schedule, with only one called and very short business meeting.

Karen Mitchell has been helping to lead worship music. This has been a great help, and has brought refreshment to our worship practice.  Judy M and Peggy Morrison have served us well as co-treasurers. Kimberly Bays has been faithful to her duties as recording clerk. Alivia Biko has served as both Pastor and Presiding Clerk. We are very grateful for their service, as well as for the ministry that each member and attender does on a daily basis.

We continue to support and encourage participation in NW Convergent Friends and the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference (PNWQWTC). Both Freedom Friends and Convergent Friends have been deeply influenced and encouraged by the work of the Quaker Women’s Theology Conference and by Multwood, the group of women that started the theology conference. We continue to be grateful for the challenging work to reach across divides (whether theological, biological, political, etc.) ; Divides between us as humans, as Quakers, and as spiritual beings. We celebrate and support the ongoing work of each of these efforts.  In August, Phil Baisley from Indiana, joined us for worship, and also interviewed some members of FFC and our pastor. His research regards bi-vocational ministry. We were blessed by his visit and we look forward to reading more about his research results.

The AA group that we host in our building has been incredibly loving to us this year. They purchased a new front door rug, cleaned all our carpets, and have taken over cleaning the meeting room, kitchen and bathrooms.  It has blessed us tremendously as we have had limited energy to do these basic and much needed chores. We appreciate their support so very much.

For the first time in 11 years, we ended the year with a small positive bank balance and 100% of the income for the year came from Freedom Friends Members.

“Though we are little, the Lord shall make us mighty.
Though we are weak, the Lord shall make us strong.
Though we are foolish, the Lord shall give us wisdom.
Though we struggle, the Lord, through us, shall gain victory.”
Ministry brought by T. Vail Palmer, December 2012

We are little—and God has multiplied our reach and our strength as a community. We are weak, and daily the Lord strengthens us. We are foolish, and we have been promised that the Lord shall give us wisdom—we hope and pray this is so.  At present we believe that simplifying our community life has helped to extend our fruitfulness. We do struggle, individually, communally; we still struggle to do justice, to love, and show mercy. Though we are little, weak, foolish, struggling, we continue to partner with those who need company on their journeys. We continue to be passionately Quaker, passionately Christ-centered, and passionately inclusive—this is the call we, Freedom Friends, have heard from our beginning.

We value all encouragement and support from the wider world of Quakers, and beyond.  We encourage and welcome your correspondence, visits and prayers. Please pray for us that we will be faithful to the call we have received, and continue to see the promises of God come to fruition.

In the hope and power of the present Christ,

Alivia Bright-Maple Biko, pastor

Approved for publication by Freedom Friends on January 24, 2016

Saturday, November 14, 2015

# 10 Quaker Spirituality > Quaker Life > Quaker Business...

#10   Quaker Spirituality  (from West Hills Friends)

This is a short reading from West Hills Friends from an older blog called
"A Quaker View". It is short, but it pulls together many important core ideas
and values of Quaker spirituality. At the end of the piece there are 3 questions, please tenderly consider these questions, and answer them on the facebook Q 101 page under the lesson 10 thread.  Thanks!

#9 Quaker schism

#9 from Cincinnati Friends:   A quick and dirty guide to Quaker schism

Please look at the diagram, and note terms or names you do not know.  Search the web for information on them, and then post in our facebook page under lesson 9. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#8 Quaker Quotes

                                       16 Quakers – Short Quotes

  1. Margaret Fell
We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love, and unity; it is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same, and do deny and bear our testimony against all strife and wars and contentions…. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual…. And so we desire, and also expect to have liberty of our consciences and just rights and outward liberties, as other people of the nation, which we have promise of, from the word of a king…. Treason, treachery and false dealing we do utterly deny; false dealing, surmising or plotting against any creature on the face of the earth; and speak the Truth in plainness and singleness of heart; and all our desire is your good and peace and love and unity. 1660

  1. Mary Dyer
On June 1, 1660, at nine o’clock, Mary Dyer again set out from the jail for the gallows on Boston Common, surrounded by a strong military guard. As she stood upon the fatal ladder, she was told if she would return home, she might come down and save her life. “Nay,” she replied, “I cannot; for in obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in his will I abide faithful to the death.” Captain John Webb, the commander of the military, said to her that she had been there before, and had the sentence of banishment on pain of death, and had broken the law in coming again now, as well as formerly, and therefore she was guilty of her own blood. “Nay,” she replied, “I came to keep blood-guiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord, therefore my blood will be required at your hands who wilfully do it; but for those that do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I do desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to his will I stand even to the death.” Then her old Puritan pastor, the Rev. Mr. Wilson, bade her repent, and be not so deluded and carried away by the deceit of the devil. To which she replied, “Nay, man, lam not now to repent.” .. . And more she spake of the eternal happiness into which she was about to enter; and then, without tremor or trepidation, she was swung off, and the crown of martyrdom descended upon her head. Thus died brave Mary Dyer....

  1. Isaac Pennington
 "We are also to be witnesses for God, and to propagate his life in the world; to be instruments in his hand, to bring others out of death and captivity into true life and liberty.  We are to fight against the powers of darkness everywhere, as the Lord calleth us forth.

"...our only controversy is with that which captives and makes them miserable; for we fight not all with flesh and blood, but with the principality and power which led from God, and rule in it against God, to the poor creature's ruin and destruction.

"...we are not man's enemies, against no righteous law, not against relations, not against governments, not against any thing in the world that is good; but only against that which is evil and corrupt.  And of a truth, the corruption of things God hath shown us, and daily calls us forth after an immediate manner to witness against."
(from "The Way of Life and Death made manifest, and set before men)

  1. James Naylor
There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it is betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; and takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It’s conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal life. (His last recorded words, 1660)

  1. Mary Fischer
 “Now returned into England ... have I borne my testimony for the Lord before the king unto whom I was sent, and he was very noble unto me and so were all that were about him ... they do dread the name of God, many of them... There is a royal seed amongst them which in time God will raise. They are more near Truth than many nations; there is a love begot in me towards them which is endless, but this is my hope concerning them, that he who hath raised me to love them more than many others will also raise his seed in them unto which my love is. Nevertheless, though they be called Turks, the seed of them is near unto God, and their kindness hath in some measure been shown towards his servants.”

  1. George Fox
"And when all my hopes in [preachers and priests] and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, Oh then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.”  (Journal)
"God, who made the world, did not dwell in temples made with hands... the Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in people's hearts."(Journal)
Let all nations hear the sound by word or writing. Spare no place, spare no tongue nor pen, but be obedient to the Lord God; go through the world and be valiant for the truth upon earth; tread and trample all that is contrary under…. Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.  1656

  1. William Penn
That which the people called Quakers lay down as a main fundamental in religion is this, that God through Christ hath placed a principle in every man to inform him of his duty, and to enable him to do it; and that those that live up to this principle are the people of God, and those that live in disobedience to it are not God’s people, whatever name they may bear or profession they may make of religion. This is their ancient, first, and standing testimony. With this they began, and this they bore and do bear to the world.  1693

  1. Robert Barclay
Whoever can reconcile this, 'Resist not evil', with 'Resist violence by force', again, 'Give also thy other cheek', with 'Strike again'; also, 'Love thine enemies', with 'Spoil them, make a prey of them, pursue them with fire and the sword', or, 'Pray for those that persecute you, and those that calumniate you', with 'Persecute them by fines, imprisonments and death itself', whoever, I say, can find a means to reconcile these things may be supposed also to have found a way to reconcile God with the Devil, Christ with Antichrist, Light with Darkness, and good with evil. But if this be impossible, as indeed it is impossible, so will also the other be impossible, and men do but deceive both themselves and others, while they boldly adventure to establish such absurd and impossible things.

  1. John Woolman
There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion, nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation so ever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression. 1774

  1. Elias Hicks
My mind was likewise largely opened to communicate with clear, rational demonstration, how we all might by faithful attention and adherence to the aforesaid divine principle (the Light Within) come to know and believe the certainty of those excellent scripture doctrines of the coming, life, righteous works, sufferings, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our Blessed Pattern and that by this Inward Light only, we are prepared for an admittance into the heavenly kingdom when done with time.

  1. Elizabeth Fry

  1. John Gurney
 As to the doctrine of original sin, according to the acceptation of some professors of Christianity, that we are Under the curse for the transgression of our first parents, I abhor the idea, as it casts a great indignity on the Divine character to think that a gracious and merciful God should condemn us for an act that was wholly out of  Our power to avoid! I consider it very little short, if any, of blasphemy against God. For I have never felt myself under condemnation for any sin but my own.

  1. Lucretia Mott

  1. Levi Coffin
In the winter of 1826-27, fugitives began to come to our house, and as it became more widely known on different routes that the slaves fleeing from bondage would find a welcome and shelter at our house, and be forwarded safely on their journey, the number increased. Friends in the neighborhood, who had formerly stood aloof form the work, fearful of the penalty of the law, were encouraged to engage in it when they saw the fearless manner in which I acted, and the success that attended my efforts....

  1. Susan B Anthony
 Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform.

Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences...

Failure is impossible 1906

  1. Rufus Jones
               The faith and practice of the Quakers, by Rufus M. Jones, 1927, Methuen & Co. London, pp. 169 Nations are not thugs. They are bodies of intelligent people. Their claims and causes and charges are either just or unjust. They would practically never push their claims, causes and charges to extreme issue if they were met with kindness, intelligence and wisdom by the nation with whom they are in dispute. In any case, fighting will not settle whether the claims were just or unjust. It will only settle which nation can mobilize and handle its fighting forces and its economic forces the better. When the war ends, it will be found that there was an equal amount of "thuggery" practiced on both sides that terrible things were done to force the final victory. Multitudes of innocent persons will have suffered. The little children of the two countries will be the main victims. Lands will be made desolate. Social progress will be arrested. The poor will be swamped with taxes for an entire generation. The mutilated men will drag out a broken life to the end of their days. A large part of the "facts" used to arouse patriotism and to stir the fervour and the fierceness of the fighting spirit will be discovered to have been "propaganda". And yet not one single thing will have been done to determine where right or justice or truth lay in the issues involved.
Experience is the Quaker’s starting-point. This light must be my light, this truth must be my truth, this faith must be my very own faith. The key that unlocks the door to the spiritual life belongs not to Peter, or some other person, as an official. It belongs to the individual soul, that finds the light, discovers the truth that sees the revelation of God and goes on living in the demonstration and power of it.  1927

#7 Quaker Names You Should Know


 Quaker Names you should know

1-   Margaret Fell Fox 1614 – 1702, Widow of a judge and a woman of means, she became the “nursing mother” of the Quaker movement.  Convinced by the preaching of Fox and later married him.  Prolific writer, imprisoned twice for her faith. Sentenced to the loss of her property and civil rights, she stated “Although I am out of the King’s protection, yet I am not out of the protection of the Almighty God” (Life of Margaret Fox, Philadelphia, 1859, p36)
2-   Mary Dyer 1615 – 1660 British born American Quaker, felt called to preach in Boston when it was against the law for a Quaker to be in Mass.  Jailed, banned, returned and was hanged with three others in 1660.
3-   Isaac Pennington 1616 – 1679 Son of Puritan Lord Mayor of London. Convinced in 1658, he was imprisoned six times and forfeited much of his property. Gifted speaker, writer and encourager of the Society.
4-   James Nayler (Naylor) 1618 – 1660, Farmer. Fought for the Puritans during the civil war. Met Fox in 1651, became convinced, as was a passionate preacher.  In 1656 he rode into Bristol on a colt imitating Christ’s triumphal entry and was imprisoned and tortured for blasphemy.  Repudiated by Friends including Fox until briefly before his death in 1660.  His dying words were,
”I live in that Spirit that delights to do no evil”.
5-   Mary Fisher 1623 – 1698 she started her adult life as a servant, traveled widely in the ministry and visited the Sultan of Turkey in 1657.  The Sultan received her and her message politely and asked her opinion of the prophet Mohamed. She stated that “they might judge him false or true according to the words and prophecies he spoke” (Brinton, Friends for 300yrs, pg 159). Later she was  jailed in Boston for her faith.
6-   George Fox 1624 – 1691 From the trading class with little education, he became a religious seeker at 19.  He traveled widely exploring the teachings of many.  In 1647, he had a personal reveltation that “there is one, even Christ Jesus that can speak to thy condition” (Journal of GF). He believed that Christ would come and teach His people directly.  In 1652 on Pendle Hill he preached a sermon where he said that a great people would be gathered; which is considered the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends.
7-   William Penn 1644 – 1718 Son of an Admiral in the King’s army, young Penn has puritan sympathies but found the Friends in the 1660’s. Locked in the tower of London for his writings, he continued to write. In 1680 given a land grant in North America to settle a debt to his father he established Pennsylvania as a Holy Experiment in religious liberty and Quakerism.

8-   Robert Barclay 1648 – 1606 Scottish Friend son of a Colonel under Cromwell.  A very well educated man. Convinced in 1666 after worshipping with Friends where he said he felt “a secret power among them” and found “Evil weakening in me and the good raised up”.  Wrote “The Apology” the first clear and complete exposition of Friends beliefs.
9-   John Woolman 1720 – 1772 Born in New Jersey. Abolitionist, his work on behalf of slaves is considered the driving force of Friends being the first major group to free their slaves.  He also had concerns for Native Americans, anti-war tax resistance and the environment. He was known for a level of personal truthfulness that astounded even Quakers. His journal is one of the best examples of spiritual journals ever written.
10- Elias Hicks 1748 – 1830 surveyor and minister.  Did not become a controversial figure among Quakers until late in life.  He de-emphasized explicit beliefs and biblical literalism, and raised up the ideas of the Inner Light, personal experience, and continuing revelation. Because of these positions the liberal half of the great split of 1827 bore his name, though he never advocated separation, and was grieved by the controversy. 
11- Elizabeth Gurney Fry 1780-1845 British Friend, sister of John Gurney. Her major work was with women in prison. She started in Newgate prison, educating and helping the women there.  Spoke in meeting on a regular basis, and was formally recognized by her meeting as having the gift of vocal ministry in 1811.
12- John Gurney 1788 – 1847 Banker Biblical scholar and minister.  A much traveled minister and worker for social causes, he became controversial by promoting teaching in first day schools, the supreme authority of Scripture and the need for acceptance of atonement through Christ for Salvation. The orthodox side of the great split of 1827 took their name from him.
13- Lucretia Coffin Mott 1793 – 1880 born into a Nantucket Quaker family, Mott became a recorded minister at the age of 28.  She worked tirelessly in the causes of abolition and women’s rights. She along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and three other Quaker women convened the Seneca Falls Convention on Women’s rights in 1848 which produced the world’s first declaration of women’s rights.
14- Levi Coffin 1798 – 1877 Raised in North Carolina and moved to Indiana. Along with his wife Catherine, they made their house a station on the ‘underground railway’. Along with others they withdrew form Indiana Yearly Meeting for 13 years because they were perceived as ‘extremists’. They worked for the rights of freedmen after the civil war. 
15- Susan B. Anthony 1820 – 1906 Raised in a Quaker family, abolitionist and worker for women’s rights. Arrested for voting in 1872. Women’s suffrage came 14 years after her death, her final public words were “Failure is impossible”.
16- Rufus Jones 1863 – 1948 Born to a Quaker family in Maine. Jones became a scholar, mystic and peace worker.  Instrumental in the formation of the Five Years Meeting (FUM) he spent much of his time building bridges between Gurneyite and Hicksite meetings.  He was instrumental in the formation of the Friends World Committee for Consultation and the American Friends Service Committee. His final achievement was the reunification New England Yearly Meeting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#6 George Fox & the beginning of Friends

This lesson, we will be looking at George Fox and the beginning of the Quakers. Please watch these two videos. The first islonger- about 20 minutes. In it the bit between 9 and 12 minutes does not apply for our purposes. The quality is not great, and these are  unedited-- but they are important to our discussion.

What can you learn about George Fox from these presentations? What is the climate in England? As you listen make yourself a timeline that you can add events to as we continue on this journey of exploring Quaker/Friends history and faith.

What questions do you have after watching these videos? Where on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral do you guess that the involved parties sit? In other words, what is their highest form of authority? Please post comments and questions on our Facebook discussion on the thread for lesson #6.  Enjoy!

               George Fox & the Quakers

                              Introducing George Fox

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#5 Authority, Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Here is a wikipedia link to a short reading on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The purpose of looking at this is not to understand Methodist theology but to look at what we consider sources of authority and in what order-- both as individuals and as a community. This will inform us later when we look at church splits , or break-ups and divorces, if you will.