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.