Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I'm looking for support ... and for the first time publicly describing my faith on an open internet forum using my real name. That's pretty frightening in itself... but here goes....
I was brought up as a (liberal) Quaker in Britain Yearly Meeting and stopped attending at the age of 21 - for several reasons, including a sense that in the meeting I attended then much of the ministry was politically rather than spiritually inspired and a personal "run away" from God after I ignored a leading. At 34 (just over a year ago) God told me to return to Quaker Meeting, which I did.
My new meeting (also liberal within BYM) is much more suited to me than the one I went to as a student, and much more spiritual; in many ways I'm very pleased to have returned. But... God has also been drawing me towards Christianity and I've started reading the Bible. As this has happened I've become increasingly unsatisfied by the non-theist direction of British Quakerism, and I don't know where to turn.
In the confusion that this has inspired, I've had two friends - one evangelical Christian and one Muslim - who are actively trying to convert me (for all the right reasons). This has added to my confusion - I sense God in what they are (both...) describing, though the Christian message is easier for me.
What I want is to follow God's lead in all this - but it's not clear to me at present where that lies. I'd like to know how others (especially Christian Quakers) gained confidence that they had found God's lead. I'd like to know whether it's possible to be Christian within a liberal Quaker tradition and what people's experience of this is - especially at times of confusion when the multitude of other interpretations can muddle you further! There are times when I wonder whether to give up the Quakerism side and go to a more 'mainstream' church... but yet that doesn't seem right either.
ps. To add to my confusion, I currently have a 5 week old baby and am seriously sleep deprived. I do have the opportunity of maternity leave to spend a lot of time in prayer and reading, though. I did manage to get to MfW last Sunday, with my baby, but it wasn't easy and his gurgles distracted me (though others were nice about it). I certainly am not up to travelling to one of the few conservative Quaker meetings in the UK.
Thanks Isabel! That's absolutely right.
Actually it's all a bit theoretical at the moment because I have a 7 week old baby, a 4 year-old and a husband who is not Quaker, so won't come with me - so I've only made it to meeting once in the last 3 months. But that will change as my baby grows.
The Meeting I'm at at the moment is fine - there are other Meetings that have an "anything but Christianity" feel to them, but people do draw inspiration from the Christian tradition at my Meeting, and I feel comfortable using that language. So there was no hostility. What I was lacking was a way of growing my Christianity - but perhaps the internet provides the answer to that!
I think you might find the New Foundation Fellowship of some assistance. You can find one of their sites here:
It seems to be primarily a British Group at this time. It is definitely a Christian rooted group of Quakers, strongly identified with the teachings of early Quakerism, particularly George Fox. The online forum I've referenced is friendly, and Friendly, and would offer the kind of support you are looking for.
I belong to a liberal Meeting but I do not find it a hindrance. I suppose if the Meeting were actually hostile to Christianity I might feel differently. I am also comfortable with non-Christian attenders because I have a long history of non-Christian religious affiliation; in my case it was Buddhism. In some ways I look at Liberal Quaker traditions as a conduit whereby non-Christian identified people can be congenially introduced to a Christian view of spirituality. I don't mean that I strategize how to do this. Rather I mean that the Quaker tradition is essentially Christian and sooner or later, even with a minimal amount of reading, this becomes apparent. The presence of Christian identified Quakers in a Liberal Meeting facilitates this awareness just by being present. So, without knowing you or your specific Meeting, I still think there are good reasons to remain in your Meeting.
Again, I hope you will reach out to the New Foundation Fellowship as I think it could provide you with the specific support that you are looking for.
I'm a cnvinced Christian Quaker who was raised Catholic, had a "conversion" experience on a retreat and started a journey of faith through the Catholic Charismatic renewal, pentacostalism, and evangelicalism to a non-programmed meeting on LI. If your meeting is open to allowing you to read the scriptures when led to at a meeting it will probably serve as a good home base for your immediate journey. The main thing is to continue reading the bible and follow the Spirit's leading to join bible studies. No one church is going to have all the answers to your questions. Talk to Jesus constantly about your questions/concerns and expect Him to answer them through thoughts, people, books and songs. Only God knows what you need to get through the next years of your life. Talk to Him about your need to be able to rely on Him and to trust Him because in the end there is no one else who will be there for you through good times and bad. No one else can.
Your Friend in Christ
New Foundation Fellowship might indeed be a good place to go. There are separate UK and US branches, the UK branch has a Ning network (like QuakerQuaker) at nffquaker.org, while the US branch has a static, more traditional website at: http://www.nffellowship.org/
The US branch is co-sponsoring a gathering in Oregon in Sixth Month, which is on the calendar here at QuakerQuaker (or was when last I checked). Full disclosure: I'll be attending as well as presenting a session at this gathering . . .
I believe the U.S. gathering is Seventh Month: 7/7 to 7/9. The link is:
There is also a UK gather in Seventh Month, if I've got it right, from 7/1 to 7/3.