Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I am a longterm Conservative Friend with an extended history of relationships with Anabaptists (specifically conservative Brethren and Mennonites). My wife was raised as a Conservative Friend, but she is no longer living. I have returned to the Champlain Valley (NY/VT) to live out my final years! I have not found a local Christian fellowship that I feel comfortable with. I accept the authority of the Bible but subscribe to an Anabaptist hermeneutic rather than a fundamentalist one. I do not resonate with a conventional model of the church and how it works; professional paid ministry and the trappings of the typical Protestant church.
I would like to network with others in the Champlain Valley and elsewhere in New York/New England who have similar aspirations. I am wary of linking too closely with Ohio Yearly Meeting, although I identify with most of its traditions and many of its members. I would like to be on good terms with OYM and other Conservative Friends, Anabaptists and, indeed, other sincere Christians!
To access my take on "Conservative Friends," see https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/qrt/vol123/iss1/7/
To learn more about me, see https://www.facebook.com/william.rushby
In the love of Jesus Christ and His church,
This is some advice I gave to Barbara Smith many years ago about starting a new Conservative Friends fellowship in the Finger Lakes area of NYS. I think it is still good advice, for which reason I am quoting it here!
Reply by William F Rushby on
Somewhere on QQ you solicited advice about what to do and what not to do in starting a new Friends' fellowship. I am the only one still a Conservative Friend of the original four who started the Rockingham Friends Fellowship in Virginia. I have also observed many attempts by others to start new meetings over the years. So, here is some advice!
First, put your emphasis on good Christian worship and fellowship. A few written statements about your group's Christian basis and identification with Friends (Conservative, if this is the tradition you choose) are in order. Wait a while before you try to pin down the details: time will sharpen your understanding of what these should be, and it will help to build unity. In short, nurture a fellowship rather than attempting to create an "institution".
Encourage everyone involved to avoid pushing personal agendas. If your meeting is to succeed, God's agenda should be your focus. Don't assume that His agenda just happens to coincide perfectly with your own.
Bear in mind that, after the initial "honeymoon" phase in the life of a new group, the issue of who is going to "be in charge" will inevitably come up. Emphasize above-board decision-making (no backroom stuff), discourage cliques from developing, and bear in mind that leaders in a Christian fellowship should be servants and enablers, not bosses! Put the welfare of others before your own.
In Rick Warren's *The Purpose-Driven Church*, he identifies five different areas in which a healthy church should be active. ." [He] shares a proven five-part strategy that will enable your church to grow- warmer through fellowship- deeper through discipleship- stronger through worship- broader through ministry- larger through evangelism."
Don't just meet for worship! Study together, play together, reach out to others together, help and uphold one another in life's struggles and opportunities. This multi-dimensional focus is harder for a dispersed group to manage, but place a premium on it.
May the Lord bless your new group, and cause it to prosper!
A bit more advice:
Leadership should not be limited to one person or one family. Such limitation of leadership narrows the scope of initiative and responsibility and portends "burnout" for a few and spiritual unemployment for others in the meeting.
Also, meeting regularly on the premises of one family often leads to a sense of "ownership" by a few. The fellowship should be the "possession" of the whole group, not of a single family or clique.