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Tuesday, April 19th 2005

9:21 PM

On Resigning from Friends Meeting

Friends United Meeting commits itself to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as Teacher and Lord.

This purpose statement of Friends United Meeting (FUM) was adopted while I served on the FUM Board. I have always resonated with it. I have been deeply disappointed that the Friends meetings in my area, although formally affiliated with FUM (as well as Friends General Conference), are not devoted to this purpose. I have sought to work with others in line with this purpose.

How do I live out a commitment "to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as Teacher and Lord" when my Friends meeting and all the others in the area do not share that commitment? I have long wrestled with this question. Is my Quaker identity more important than my commitment to Jesus Christ? Well, it shouldn't be. I should be willing to give up anything for Christ, including my membership in the Society of Friends, as dear as it is to me.

It has finally seemed clear to me that it was time to resign my membership in the local Friends meeting. On April 16, 2005, I submitted my letter of resignation to the Clerk of the Meeting.

This was not the only step I took that day. I also signed an Affirmation to become a member of a fellowship "where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as Teacher and Lord" - Cedar Ridge Community Church. I find Cedar Ridge to be an authentic, dynamic Christian community largely free from both the legalism and judgmentalism that afflict much of the institutional church and the shrinking away from a commitment to Jesus Christ that afflicts other parts of the institutional church. It reflects an openness and welcoming spirit which invites people into the family of God. I think it is where God has led me to be part of the Body of Christ at this time in my life (not exclusive of other venues, like the Bible studies initiated by Friends in Christ).

The leadership at Cedar Ridge has indicated openness to being supportive of some sort of Christian Quaker-type expression. I will join with others in exploring the possibility of a small group which engages in waiting worship, or some other such expression, within the Cedar Ridge community. We will see how way opens. However, my membership and participation in Cedar Ridge is not conditional on this coming to fruition. Such a reservation would not be in the spirit with which one should join in a Christian community.

I have known dozens of people who resonate with the basic understandings which historically have undergirded the Quaker faith who have left Friends meetings, or decided not to join them after exploring them, because of the lack of a center in the person of Jesus Christ. I now become one of these. Even at the Journey Seminar at Cedar Ridge which prospective members are asked to participate in, I met someone who had explored the very Meeting from which I am resigning. I regret that those drawn to Quaker faith understandings often can not find a community which shares them corporately among the Friends meetings in their areas. I will endeavor to continue to be supportive of those seeking to live out such faith understandings, whether within or outside the formal confines of the Society of Friends.


-Bill Samuel, April 19, 2005


20 Comment(s).

Posted by Fiforlif Jakarta:

sometime we need to take a risk better than do nothing :)

This comment has been moderated by the blog owner

Tuesday, September 1st 2015 @ 12:35 AM

Posted by Sara Welsh:

Personally, I don't attend a church, but I do have a faith, and I think that having faith, and believing in something is important. Foundations are built by what we believe in, and that belief can sculpt how we live our lives. I feel it's very monumental to have something to have faith in.

Sara Welsh | http://www.newlifeinames.com/multipage.php?id=6359&

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Tuesday, October 28th 2014 @ 9:27 AM

Posted by SeanValjean:

I really think that people too often shirk their duty to evangelize out of pure laziness. At my Christian Church in Pittsburgh they are emphasizing it a lot but it saddens me that so few respond or do anything to reach out to others.

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Monday, May 20th 2013 @ 10:26 AM

Posted by Gary Cummings:

Dear Bill,
God led you to leave the RSOF, whatever form it takes. My wife and left the Quakers in 1995, after many years in that group. I was a Friend's Church pastor, and a graduate of ESR. I met Faith there and we married in 1981.
I want to worship with fellow believers in Jesus who are clear about His life, His ministry, His death, and His bodily resurrection.
Jesus saves!
Saturday, January 3rd 2009 @ 11:51 AM

Posted by Bill Samuel:

Forrest, yes I still love the people of my former meeting. And some of them I see regularly.

I am not saying what every believer should do in a heterodox meeting. Each person needs to prayerfully seek guidance from the Spirit of Christ. We each need to be obedient, whether that means staying in a meeting or leaving it.

I was interested to note in glancing through the newest Directory of my former meeting that I quickly noticed the names of three people who had become members of Cedar Ridge Community Church within the last two years.
Monday, April 30th 2007 @ 9:28 PM

Posted by forrest curo:

You say, "Without being united in Christ being the head of the meeting..." and of course, if Christ is not the head of the meeting there are other spirits available, alas! Spirits of middle-class smugness, confusion, mutual self-congratulation & perhaps worse.

But in a deeper sense, Christ is the head, even when unrecognized. When the meeting is stuck in the shallows, people feel the same kind of discomfort that led you to leave, except sometimes they're led to stay and follow Christ's guidance as to how the meeting can best be poked back to life.

As for that Jesus person. He can be very unpopular where people are clinging to the shallows. They worry that someone might whack them with a plaster Jesus for their shortcomings.

If the grit is taken out of your eyes, and you see the people of your abandoned meeting, in all their shallowness, do you still love them? What does Jesus have to say to them, and to you, about all this?
Monday, April 30th 2007 @ 2:57 PM

Posted by Richard:

I understand where you are coming from. My meeting is affiliated with FGC and we are quite a hodge-podge of beliefs. In my meeting we have Christian Quakers and Quakers who are agnostic, Buddhist-leaning or rather pantheistic. They are all very nice people but, as you said, worship is rather unfocused and shallow. I honestly think that I would be much more comfortable at a Conservative Friends meeting but there are none near me. (I live near Harrisburg Pa.) It would be great to be at a meeting where we were all focusing on Christ. But such is life. (I do wish that there were more Conservative Quakers around though. It's a pity that there are so few left.) But I intend to hang in there since I truly believe that silent worship is the best way to get in touch with God.
Tuesday, November 14th 2006 @ 11:55 PM

Posted by Bill Samuel:

Without being united in Christ being the head of meeting, unprogrammed worship tends to be shallow and unfocused. I believe the substance of worship is more important than worship style.

The convergent movement is encouraging. As well as drawing upon different aspects of the Quaker tradition, it draws upon the emerging conversation where I am now. I am trying to help facilitate cross fertilization between Quakerism and the emerging church.
Tuesday, November 14th 2006 @ 9:06 PM

Posted by Richard:

Bill, I was sorry to hear that you left the Quaker faith. I wish you the best on your spiritual journey although I do wish that you had stayed and kept trying to get Quakers to return to their roots. I do see some changes in Quakers with the convergent movement starting to spread.
Just out of curiousity, what was it that was missing in your silent meeting worship? What did you need that you weren't getting?
Tuesday, November 14th 2006 @ 8:37 PM

Posted by Bill Samuel:

There's not really worship at them, just a few minutes of silence. They are not academic studies, but ones where we relate the scripture to our lives. There is a lot of sharing of our journeys.
Tuesday, July 5th 2005 @ 9:11 AM

Posted by anne Stansell:

Two Bible studies sounds good to me. Do you have a time of worship at them? What I miss is the time to really get to hear each others journeys. Anne
Tuesday, July 5th 2005 @ 8:06 AM

Posted by Bill Samuel:

I worked with a couple of others for years to try to start something in our area. Some other things worked, but we weren't able to sustain a worship group. We do have two Bible study groups.
Sunday, July 3rd 2005 @ 8:20 AM

Posted by Anne Stansell:

I feel for you and your struggles. As being somewhat new to Quakerism I have had similar ones. Does Christ centered have to mean a rigid adhearance to one particular denomination,persons, or churchs view on any given subject? I can't believe that. The unprogrammed meeting I have occasionaly attended does not bother me so much, but its the childrens classes I am unsure of. While I have a much broader view of God,Christ, and Bible writings, some of the comments that were made to my six and eight year old were frankly absurd. Have you had any leading to start a group in your area?
Sunday, July 3rd 2005 @ 8:10 AM

Posted by Craig:

Bill, sorry to hear that you have felt that the RSOF in your area does not meet your needs. I am a gay Christ-centered universalist Friend in Greensboro, NC (www.ngfm.org). There are many MANY Friends Meetings in our area where you would feel at home.

Please know that you are in my prayers as you follow your heart in your spiritual journey.

Your posts make me so thankful that we have so much wonderful diversity here in Greensboro.

Tuesday, May 17th 2005 @ 7:57 AM

Posted by Scott King:

Bill you are very supported from me! It's unconditional of course and is not related to your membership with RSOF! Just know you have support. Thanks for all you do for this site! It's a great place for Christ-centered Friends.
Wednesday, May 11th 2005 @ 3:56 PM

Posted by Matthew Stoner:

Do not think that you are alone. As you leave membership I have recently joined after several years of attending. My one concern coming in is the very concern which has turned you away. Luckily my MM is very Christ centered but the wider fellowship appears to me to be in disarray. Respect for the individual beliefs of others is important but when people try to remove the head from our society it's time to take a stand. Perhaps a weighty Friend as yourself resigning will have some effect. I pray that my fate is different from yours and that there will be a day in the future when Friends take a corporal stand for Christ.

Monday, May 2nd 2005 @ 4:37 PM

Posted by Rick:

Hi Bill -- you don't know me, but, through my interest in Quakerism, I've encountered you on numerous spots on the web for the past six or seven years. Without out a doubt, you are the strongest Quaker presence on the internet.

It is sad that you could not find a home in your local meeting.

I didn't join the Quakers (and instead returned to my Catholic roots) for many of the same reasons you could not stay on. The difference is that you have devoted a lifetime of service to Friends, wheras I had not.

Anyway, Blessings to you on your journey.
Monday, April 25th 2005 @ 10:56 PM

Posted by Bill Samuel:

Click on Johan Maurer's name on his comment to read his own reflections following reading about my decision. Entry for April 21. Well worth reading (Johan always is).
Monday, April 25th 2005 @ 7:23 PM

Posted by Johan Maurer:

I've always appreciated how you challege us Friends to live up to the public claims and commitments we make.
Monday, April 25th 2005 @ 4:39 PM

Posted by Kye Parsons:

Hi Bill,
I just read the news and frankly speaking, am none too surprised. I do wish you well in your spiritual journey. Do you still consider yourself a Friend, as I suppose you are still an affiliate member of the OYM. I do hope to see you at the next Christian Friends Conference gathering. I know how it feels to be rather alone. Here in Salisbury the only nearby Friends meeting is one that is similar to the one from which you resigned. Nevertheless, I still try to get to the Caln meeting in Pa. whenever I can and we even have had an OYM meeting at my home here in Salisbury. Anyway, I always enjoy reading about your spiritual journey which you have always been willing to share.
In Christian fellowship,
Kye Parsons
Thursday, April 21st 2005 @ 3:20 PM

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