The basis and structure of The Religious Society of Friends

My proposal is that the Religious Society of Friends exists to enable its members to be more faithful to God. It exists because God is the Creator and We are Creatures, part of a broader Creation for which we are (in the image of God) stewards. Each of us has the overwhelming task of discerning our place in the creation and our responsibility as stewards.

It's understandable that the most common response to this reality is denial but Friends proclaim the good news that God loves us and wants us/needs us to turn from denial to accepting that love, that Presence, and the fellowship of the blessed community of those who share the Truth of God's Living Presence and eternal Hope.

In the Christ event is God broke through the divide between the divine and the human. God's purpose was to be with us, in the actuality, God discovered what it was like to be us and in that understanding God's compassion exploded. The good news is that God has changed and therefore we can change.

The Religious Society of Friends is the gathering of those who understand the reality of a living God and know that only in turning to one another can we be truly faithful. Only by releasing some to serve all can we become who we are meant to be.

On the other side, if the Religious Society of Friends, is enabling me to be more faithful, what does that require of me? What does faithfulness mean in terms of time and the other resources for which I am responsible as steward?

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Comment by Elizabeth Bullock-Rest on 10th mo. 5, 2010 at 10:28am
Roger, I have found your proposal to be true in my life. Being a member of the Religious Society of Friends has, indeed, enabled me to be more faithful to God. In worship and interaction with Ffriends, I discover more precisely what exactly what that faithfulness entails. Often I am surprised by what I hear. It's not what I expected...not what feels comfortable.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 5, 2010 at 11:55am
I think it's our perception of God that's changed, as we came into closer understanding of what God was like all along...

And I don't think it's only our members we're supposed to bring closer to God; what would GF say?

But what I really need to ask you: "What does it mean when the Society of Friends doesn't seem to be accomplishing that function?"
Comment by Roger Dreisbach-Williams on 10th mo. 5, 2010 at 7:40pm
The question had to do with justifying the structure of the Religious Society of Friends and I took it as an opportunity to consider the functions and purposes which that structure should serve. Forrest, you are right that faithfulness is not limited to those who are already members - it is universal and all encompassing (see Ps. 139). A good query for Friends would be, "Are you sharing the Joy and Peace of being a Friend with others and are you able to readily answer basic questions about Quakerism?"
Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 6, 2010 at 12:02am
This seems to imply that any part of "The Religious Society of Friends" that does not seek "to enable its members to be more faithful to God" has no justification for existing.

I suppose one can be "enabled to be more faithful to God" in a number of ways, including having to stand in contentious opposition to the whole beloved gang... but I really would like to see more actual encouragement and facilitation of deepening our acquaintance with God than I am in fact seeing, and so I really hoped for a useful comment on how best to respond where that isn't happening...
Comment by Roger Dreisbach-Williams on 10th mo. 6, 2010 at 8:33am
Pray. That is between you and God. What do Truth and Love require? I know of times when Friends have stayed in a difficult situation because faithfulness required it, and other times when going somewhere else was the right thing to do. And the outcome is not something that you should expect to see. Too many times I've heard stories of people whose lives were profoundly changed by a Friend's simple witness to Truth and Love, and clearly the Friend who was faithful in that witness never knew. Peace Brothers and Sisters.


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