Thank you for allowing us to be your presiding co-clerks this year. It has been a humbling and enlivening experience for both of us, and we have enjoyed learning how to work together well in the process. As we anticipate our next meeting for worship and business on April 15, we invite you to consider these two aspects associated with Friends.
First, Friends have always been innovative thinkers. We are often counter-cultural souls, evidenced through our almost 300-year history. Friends have been agents of controversy in the church and in the societies where they live: opposing slavery, refusing to swear oaths, wearing plain clothes, fighting for prison reform, and so on. Some early Quaker ministers were women—something almost unheard of in the 17th Century. We have always been a people willing to step into difficult places, recognizing that we may be challenged to question assumptions and think about a thing in a different way. Our diversity and varying perspectives are a great gift, in part because they guide us toward a collective understanding of truth that none of us is likely to grasp on our own.
Second, Friends have always believed there is a Center. For those of us at NEFC, as with the early Quakers and many contemporary ones, the Center is Jesus, our present Teacher. Even in times of confusion and uncertainty the light of Christ illuminates us and guides us forward. This inward Light often calls us to be quiet, to sit still with our uncertainties and questions, to listen and wait for the guidance of the Spirit. In the stillness, we encounter the divine mystery that is so easily missed in the clamor of everyday life. This posture of waiting also places a high value on community, and on our care and respect for one another. We trust that each one has access to the Spirit’s leading, sharing what God has put on their heart, and releasing that message into the hands of the community, leaving space for the full truth to move us toward the Center.
What a privilege it is to be in community together—to think outside the box with you all, and to come back, over and over, to our center in Christ. We look forward to worshipping through business again on April 15.
Peggy Hanson and Mark McMinn are presiding co-clerks at NEFC this year.