Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
"Attend to our fire, Friends!" I croaked in quaking tribulation. I was gathered with Friends from across the country in the Casa De Luz at Ben Lomond Quaker Center. We were gathered for a weekend of learning, worship, and reflection on the rising classification of Convergent Friends.
I traveled to this gathering with a concern that developed as I learned about Convergent Friends while living at Pendle Hill. The definition that had emerged in my mind was that the liberal form of open worship was coming together with a more conservative theology with a desire to living more as Jesus and his disciples did: in a beloved community grounded in Jesus' teachings (a hallmark of the emergent church). At Pendle Hill I had met several Friends who felt alienated by the new term, wondering whether they would be excluded as not good enough to be included among the elite Convergents. My personal concern crystalized for me in the final worship of the weekend in the Casa De Luz. I was gazing at the fire in the stove that was warming the room. I spoke with Chris Mohr after the rise of worship about the ministry I offered at the start of this essay and realized that what I was worried about is that by using a term like "convergent" we are placing the fire of God in a box. We allow ourselves to enjoy the warmth without risking the transformative burning of the fire. The image of having what is in us and is not of God burned away by the Light is a powerful one from early Quakerism and it must be respected. I believe that our experience of God can certainly be comforting. But if it never causes us to painfully change, then what are we doing?
To me Robin Mohr's definition of Convergence, "Friends who are seeking a deeper understanding of our Quaker heritage and a more authentic life in the kingdom of God on Earth, radically inclusive of all who seek to live this life," should describe EVERY FRIEND. And those who are striving to seek this life need to be more than "radically inclusive" of each other, but need to continually invite EVERY FRIEND and indeed the World into this more authentic life of the Spirit. One defining feature of early Quakers was that they were radically evangelical and perhaps if Convergence is drawing together threads from all branches of Friends, we need to take a page from the EFCI playbook.
I love Quakerism because I believe that we are all called to be ministers; living and speaking the Truth that draws us and the world ever closer to God's Paradise.