"Similarly to David, I was a not-necessarily-Christian seeker when I came to Friends and later came to (re)embrace Christianity through the lens of Friends' testimonies and theology. The story of how this happened is, I think, vital to…"
I'm a student in the Master of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School and a Quaker by convincement. Currently, I'm the leader of the Friends at HDS student group. I attend Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, MA.
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Thanks for taking time to share your thinking Matt. I appreciate it,nand your comments have sparked some thinking for me on the concept of leadership and how we might understand that term as Quakers. I posted my thoughts on the discussion space as it was too long to put here. I'd be interested in your reflections as I know that sometimes, the meeting will look tot the clerk to "take the lead", in meeting for business and i requires a huge amount of discipline to maintain the role of clerk when individuals try so hard to fit you to their needs/agendas. I say this from my personal experience /observations as a member of the meeting rather than as a clerk. I'm not sure thats a role I could manage at all well.
I am interested in your use of the term "less precise" to describe the use of the word "leader" when explaining/describing your role in the quaker meeting. Because, I think you would agree, theword leader is in fact a very precise term and people gain a very precise and particular meaning when they hear that word used to describe yourself. In a CV, it might encourage the reader/prospective employer to think of you as a leader of others, which might help you to get a job as a leader of others, But in your Quaker meeting, I imagine you experience yourself and others experience you as an equal? In what sense does your use of the word "leader" reflect your witness to the testimony to equality?
In Friendship and spirit of seeking, CQ
Thanks for explaining Matt. Thats useful. I did know that there are paid ministers among some Friends. In fact when I was visiting North Carolina a few years back, I attended a programmed Friends meeting for a while. I found it very similar to a Catholic church, particularly as they did the stations of the cross and there was no silence. It was very hard to find anything similar to my own practice in a Liberal Friends meeting. I also attended Liberal meetings in Florida and North Carolina and found a great deal that was similar to my experience in Britain Yearly Meeting. You raise an interesting issue concerning language. The word "leader" has powerful overtones and meaning. It is a Power word isn't it. I am interested in how people function in groups and how leadership can be bestowed by both the group and by those outside the group. You call yourself the leader because thats how the powers that be and those outside Quakers want to seeyou. Its easy for them and easier in some ways to communicate and not have to try to explain oneself all the time. However, I think we Quakers have a fantastic tradition of challenging the "powers that be" by being simply ourselves. The early Quakers refused to doff hats to "elders and betters"acknowledging others as Friends and equals, hence the term, "Friends" to describe our spiritual tradition. Have you considered the use of Quaker terms as a form of witness?
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