Agenda for an introduction to Quakerism

Last Sunday at San Francisco Meeting, a member of our Ministry and Oversight Committee and I led a two-hour session, "An Introduction to Quakerism." We decided to take a hint from Quaker Quest and lead with the faith not the history.

Twelve people participated. Not huge, but significant. Three people were at our meeting for the first time that day, and two of them had never been to a Friends meeting before. I thought it was brave of them to stay for the whole two hours.

It seemed to go well. We got a nice email afterwards from a longtime member of our meeting, thanking us for doing the session and saying he learned something from both of us.

Here is the agenda we worked from, though what we actually said was of course different from what we wrote ahead of time:

1. Silent Worship

2. Introductions and Icebreaker:
Say your name, when you first attended a Friends meeting, and share something you remember from that first time (or, if you can’t recall, then say something about a meeting that was special for you in some way)

3. Faith: Blake
  • Foundational points from early Friends, based on Wilmer Cooper’s A Living Faith
  • Encounter with the divine in silence, unmediated, etc.
  • Inner Light/That of God in all humans
4. Practice: Blake
  • The encounter with the divine leads us to work this out in our lives
  • Aspects include various testimonies: how do our lives testify to our experience of truth?
5. History: Chris
  • Religious ferment in 17th Century England; Puritans, revolution, Seekers.
  • Fox: Great people to be gathered. One, Christ Jesus, who can speak to your condition.
  • Fell: ally who provided base of operations in North of England
  • Integrity, truthtelling, no oaths, no tithe, interrupting church services => oppression
  • No tithe = no access to state schools, so they set up their own Friends Schools.
  • Quakers and rise of capitalism: Gwyn, Covenant Crucified
  • Success of Penn’s holy experiment w/religious tolerance.
  • Social witness: abolitionism, penitentiaries and prison reform, peace;
  • Growing awareness of racism among Friends past and present, despite history of abolitionism
  • Environment growing more important for many Friends today
6. Queries
  • How do our Quaker roots guide us today?
  • Where do we find inspiration from our Quaker roots?
  • Where do we want to branch out from those roots?
  • How do we “let our lives speak” as Friends? What are our lives saying?
7. Silent Worship

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