Well, I finished much of "Friends for 300 years". I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. I am now starting to read the Pacific Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice. I also have a copy of Encounter with silence by John Punshon. So far I am enjoying the Faith and Practice so far.

 

I am now interested in what the different traditions of Quakers are.

 

I would be interested in going to a conservative Quaker meeting... just to see how it differs from the ones I have attended... which have been in the San Francisco Bay area. I think they are all from the liberal tradition and belong to the Pacific Yearly Meeting.

 

Next weekend, I travel to Michigan to visit my family. My father is turning 80! I asked my brother in law if he wanted to go with me to the Grand Rapids Quaker Meeting. It's not too far away. He is thinking about it. He, along with my family, attend the United Methodist church. My sister and he are trying to get a contemporary service going in their church. He told me that the church is dying (average age is 65 with few young people). I thought about the church's situation. What must that be like? Then I thought, what do they do about it? Part of me understands why churches like the Methodist are dying.... they have too many things working against them. They are not conservative - authoritarian enough for our Top-down/don't think for yourself culture. And they are not hip enough for the "new age" types (some of what my mom has shared about things she is doing in church surely is cool). What I think the problem is: one, is outreach. It's easy to be a fundamentalist, because you can boil stuff down to piffy sound bites. But being more fluid? how do you capture that in a sound bite? I think it is possible though. second is image or perception. I have not been in a Methodist in 30 years (besides a wedding or two). I went to a non-methodist service once, it reminded me of my methodist upbring... it was dry and lifeless. 

 

As I read about and experience Quakerism, I see this wonderful gem of a community and faith/practice. I wonder... how do Quakers outreach? How could more people be introduced to Quakerism?

 

Hope this finds you well.

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Comment by Pat Pope on 9th mo. 10, 2011 at 7:54am

I attended an evangelical Quaker meeting for 12 years and they did quite a bit of outreach, mainly that which required people to come to the church and then in the last 3 years or so, they've done more beyond the walls.  They actually had more of the evangelical ethos than the Quaker ethos.  You might want to visit one sometime to see a difference between it and your own meeting.  

 

As for Methodist churches, I'm sure you're aware that they differ just about as widely as Quakers or any other denomination.  I've been visiting one in my area that's quite vibrant with lots of young families and is very active.  At their contemporary service, there are probably a good 200+ in attendance.  However, I visited a much smaller Methodist church weeks ago and there were only 12 at their contemporary service and most of the people there were Boomers or older.  To me, it fit the bill more of the church you mention above as dying.  However, they did have community programs, so I think at least the effort is there.  

Comment by Jon on 9th mo. 10, 2011 at 4:20pm

Hi Pat, Thanks for your comments.

If you don't mind me asking, what about an evangelical Quaker Meeting do you like? I'll have to see if there is one nearby. The Meeting I do attend, is within walking distance, which is nice.

 

I am not familiar with "beyond the walls" outreach, how do you do that?

Comment by Pat Pope on 9th mo. 10, 2011 at 6:58pm

What I liked is the mix of Quaker values/practices such as simplicity with evangelicalism which seemed to be a perfect mix to me, particularly since I was raised in an evangelical environment.  

 

When I say "beyond the walls" outreach, I mean actually getting outside the church building and into the community such as going into neighborhoods and performing acts of service or going to homeless shelters or into low-income neighborhoods and giving out clothes and other items.  

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