Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Colonial-era Quakers weren’t all saints when it came to opposing slavery but there are some moments we afford to look back to with a smidge of pride. In 1783, a delegation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting walked into the Continental Congress to make good on all that “created equal” language. > Princeton villagers and members of the Continental Congress beheld the arrival of an unusual delegation of somberly dressed men astride horses. They had come from Philadelphia to raise an issue that the Continental Congress did not wish to address: the plight of half a million American residents — one-fifth of the people — who had been listening to memorable words about inalienable rights and how America would usher in a new age of freedom and justice, but who were condemned along with their children to lifelong slavery. The four men carried a parchment titled “The Address of the People Called Quakers.” The author, Gary Nash, has a book out about Walter Mifflin, one of the four, which [Friends Journal reviewed this April](https://www.friendsjournal.org/warner-mifflin-unflinching-quaker-abolitionist/). As I recall, the transatlantic slave trade went into overdrive in the newly independent United States. If the Continental Congress has listened, the complexion and character and history of the U.S. would be far different.
Quaker Universalist Fellowship has reprinted a 1984 Friends Journal article by Lillith Quinlan that sounds way too contemporary despite the three and a half decades: > While school children in New England are selling candy to rebuild the Statue of Liberty, we have a large and quite different project going on here in Louisiana: the “alien detention center” in Oakdale. This $17.1 million facility with a projected budget of $6-$7 million per year will be able to imprison 1,000 “aliens” initially, then 2,000. > It has been described by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials as a longterm holding facility and is the first such prison administered jointly by the unholy alliance of the Bureau of Prisons and the INS. A new center is also being built in Alexandria to train 1,000 people for the border patrol, doubling the present capacity.
Gregg Koskela, the lead pastor of Newberg (Ore.) Friends Church until last year, has a heart-felt piece about learning how to listen to abuse stories: > For us who’ve walked this road (ourselves or with others), it all fits with the world we now live in, the one where our eyes have been opened and our hearts are filled at times with despair. This is the world where abuse happens, where perpetrators so often get away with it, where it’s so hard to risk revealing it, where we see with crystal clarity that if you do disclose, the questions and doubts and the character assassination will overwhelm.
On our relationship with Christianity: > In this vein, for early Friends, ‘being a Christian‘, was more than simply assenting to theological abstracts. To live as a ‘Friend of the Truth’ was to experience directly the claim that God loves the universe perpetually in Christ. In this respect, ‘Quaker’ Christianity is more than a theory or philosophy of things, but a practical relationship with a living person. To walk with Jesus of Nazareth meant to live with the same mantle upon one’s shoulders, to teach, to heal, and to restore.
Where does new ministry come from? > It is through prophecy, through continuing revelation, that the Religious Society of Friends moves forward into God’s next work for us. And we very often get our first inkling of that new truth from someone’s vocal ministry, in a meeting for worship, or a meeting for worship with attention to the life of the meeting, or in a consultation or Triennial or world gathering or FGC Gathering
A look at the Vineyard Movement’s Quaker roots: > When it comes to Spirit-attentive worship and ministry, the Vineyard manifests Quaker spirituality in a way that is faithful to the Evangelical tradition, but truly mystical, and of course deeply Quaker. They live out a Quakerism many of today’s American Quakers, both Liberal and Orthodox, would find laughable, backwards. George Fox, on the other hand, may get it.
Study turns to something more spontaneous after a failed computer save: > Since that Sunday worship, I have found myself more inclined and responsive to leadings to share vocal ministry out of Silence. While I still prepare diligently when occasions to plan to preach arise, melding scholarship, daily life, and spirit over time, I am more sensitive and responsive to those inner leadings and the Spirit, from which ALL vocal and non-verbal ministry are born and enlivened.
From QuakerSpeak and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, a look at what attracts newcomers to Friends: > I very much like for example the determination that says somebody believes in peace and has the guts to say in a time of war, “No, I can’t fight. I can’t do that.” I think that takes a lot. > I think it had a lot to do with the people. There wasn’t really that hierarchy, where there was someone talking down to us, but we could really share ideas and we could all learn from each other, and I really appreciated those ideals.
Here’s a piece we’ve published in the current *Friends Journal,* written by a seventh-grader from the Friends School in Newtown, Pa. We regularly publish middle- and high-schoolers in our annual Student Voices Project but this is a general feature we published because it’s interesting and fresh and intriguing. Here’s what I wrote about it in my [opening column](https://www.friendsjournal.org/keeping-it-real-quaker-style/) in the magazine: > In Making Sense of the Starbucks Incident, Newtown Friends School seventh-grader Ankita Achanta shows how the Quaker values she’s been taught in classes could have defused a nationally publicized racial incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks. It’s sometimes easy to be skeptical of the Quaker identity of Friends schools, but Achanta reflects back the powerful impact of our collective witness in these institutions. In Ankita Achanta’s reckoning, Quaker values like integrity are basic universal values of decency. By claiming them, Friends could (and often do) easily fall into the trap of Quaker exceptionalism, but in Achanta’s piece, I see them as something we put special emphasis into. Early Friends didn’t expect to found a denomination; Fox went across the land assuming everyone could be a Friend of the Truth, of Christ, of the Light. The leading influence of the Inward Light is available to all and we can expect to see inspiring incidents of it in action everywhere—even in viral Twitter videos. Achanta also gave a new-to-me neologism: > s a seventh-grade student attending a Friends school, I have been taught Quaker values. Although I am a Hindu and not formally a Quaker, Quaker values are well aligned with my own religious principles. I am committed to living by them and consider myself a “Quindu.”
Famously overlooked for a Nobel, the Quaker scientist has won an award that she will put toward diversifying future researchers: > She’s being given the award for her "fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community,“ according to a statement from the prize board. Bell Burnell told the BBC she plans to give all of her prize money to women, ethnic minorities and refugee students aiming to become physics researchers. You can read more about Bell Burnell on her [Quakers in the World](http://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/366/Jocelyn-Bell-Burnell) page.
Friends, This 1987 Friends Journal article has been republished with permission on the Quaker Universalist Fellowship blog at…Continue
Many Quakers mistakenly assume that the modern liberal Quaker movement is not akin to the movement first began by the very earliest Quakers from the 1640’s into the 1670’s. Yet, three characteristics of these very earliest Quakers remain…Continue
In 1673 a letter from an anonymous Quaker was published. This letter expressed the writer’s concern that those who were establishing outward structure to guide and inform the gathering were usurping the prerogative of the inshining Spirit itself…Continue