Faith and Practice received Final Approval in February 2009. You may order
a bound copy, information is on the donations
Freedom Friends Church was formed in 2004 by three Friends in response
to the perceived call of the Present Christ.
Early in the formation process we realized that we needed to be able to
articulate that call in a way that highlighted our deep resonances with
traditional Quakerism and our unique interpretation of how those traditions
could be lived out in a post-modern age. This Faith and Practice is one
of our attempts to articulate our call.
We are a uniting meeting, having received members by transfer from Friends
General Conference, Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends International.
But equally important to our call is the fact that a majority of our members
are new to Quakerism. Teaching the ways of Friends is an important part
of our mission. We set out to be Christ-centered,
Quaker, and inclusive. We are semi-programmed,
lightly pastoral and socially
progressive. We believe in continuing revelation. Our Faith and Practice
reflects all these things.
We believe that this is one Quaker Faith and Practice – a contribution
to a conversation. It speaks for Freedom Friends and no one else. We are
quite aware that there are parts of it that will thrill some and annoy
many, sometimes doing both at the same time. We believe that being inclusive
is about making things accessible, not acceptable.
The first three sections are a clear expression of a progressive Christian
faith. It is a Quaker flavor of Christianity focusing on the leading of
the Spirit of Christ in our lives. We
hope that it reflects what others have called a “generous orthodoxy”.
This document is a call to Gospel Order, not a creed.
The distinction is one of function. Members interpret this faith as they
are led. No one is required to assent to it. We have great theological
diversity in our meeting and this expression of faith is a center for
us – a campfire to sit around, each at their own comfortable place
The fourth part presents our guidelines for our life together. In this
first edition we are attempting to document what we have been doing, set
healthy boundaries for our community, translate and transmit the ways
of Friends, and anticipate the needs of a growing group.
Many Friends assisted with the writing and editing of this document.
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt and Mike Espana-McGeehon, especially put in much
work as members of the Faith and Practice Task Force. But this work really
belongs to the members and attenders of Freedom Friends Church, who considered
it, word by word, month by month, these five years. Their expectant listening
and heartfelt approval is what makes it real.
The glossary was not subject to Monthly Meeting approval and is simply
our gift to Friends and others as an aid to understanding.
We expect this to be a living document. We expect that future incarnations
of Freedom Friends will continue to hear revealed Truth, and will be bold
to speak it, and so will need to revise this document.
It is our hope and prayer that this effort will be useful, fruitful,
and will contribute to the beautiful polyphonous voice that is Quakerism
at the beginning of this 21st century of the Present Christ.
With much gratitude,
Peggy Senger Parsons
Faith and Practice
Freedom Friends Church
Most Christian churches have
some statement of belief. It may be called a creed,
or the doctrine of the church, or a book of discipline. Most groups of
Friends have what is called a Faith and
Practice, this may be a collection of testimonies, advices and queries,
or it may be an explicit declaration of Faith. At Freedom Friends we think
that the distinctive thing about our Faith and Practice is how it is used
and how it is not used. This is not a creed, it is not written in stone,
it can be changed by the discernment
of the meeting for worship
business. It is not used as a test of acceptability. You do not have
to agree with everything in this document in order to participate in the
community. But it is the best articulation of the beliefs of the Friends
who felt called to start this church. We use it to call to people, and
as a starting point for discussion and study. We are orthodox in our Christianity,
but we are not fundamentalist. We are a
peace church. We are socially
progressive. We think the traditional practices of Quakerism
have a lot to say to the 21st century. We believe we are still learning.
We invite you to read this
document; it has four parts. The first part describes our basic ideas
about God - our theology. The second part
describes how we apply these beliefs to the world around us. The third
part lists just a few things that we really don't tolerate. And the fourth
section, which is still under discussion by the meeting,
outlines the functional structures of the church. There is a glossary
for words that may be obscure or used in an unusual sense - they are underlined
in the text - just click on them and you will be sent to the glossary
item. And there is a Biblical reference page
which gives places to go in the Bible for
further reading and study. We are interested in your feedback, you can
send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or e-mail the pastor at email@example.com.
Faith and Practice
Freedom Friends Church
Part 1 - Our Faith
We believe in God, sometimes called Yahweh,
creator of all that is, seen and unseen. God is all powerful, unchanging
and holy. God exists outside of time and
space. God is spirit and does not have physical form; does not have gender,
age, race or other human characteristics. This God loves, and likes, each
and everyone of us beyond measure. God desires to be in direct relationship
We believe in Jesus Christ, the ever present Divine Word,
God’s personal conversation with us. He was, and is, the instrument
of creation. This part of God responded to our sin
and displacement by becoming one of us,
and from this inside position worked towards our healing and
replacement, this process is called redemption.
Our redeemer was born of a virgin, crucified as a freely chosen demonstration
of His love for us. He was resurrected,
conquering sin, death and hell once, and
for everyone. He was, and is, the perfect teacher of Gospel
Order - living as we are intended to live. Through the agency of the
Holy Spirit He is present, now, to the
believer as teacher and guide. We believe that He is both come, and coming
- that His kingdom is among us, and that
we can live as citizens of that kingdom in this life. We also believe
that there will be an end to this age, and that Christ
will come and gather His church when the time is right. We do not believe
that it is possible to predict the time of this gathering. We believe
it to be unethical and morally wrong to use this hopeful promise to promote
fear, and a spirit of coercive evangelism.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the very
presence of our God and Redeemer available to, and in, the believer. Spirit
is the source of counsel and conviction. It is Spirit that calls for,
and empowers holy, or Spirit filled, living.
The transformation and sanctification
of the human soul is the work of the Spirit and cannot be manufactured
by human effort - but this transformation cannot begin without human permission.
All willing persons are being sanctified.
(1-4) The Three
We believe that these three; Creator, Christ
and Spirit are One, and this is a precious mystery.
(1-5) The Bible
We believe that the Bible is inspired
writing. It is a divinely authorized history of God’s relationship
with humanity. It is useful for instruction and illumination; and when
interpreted with the aid of Spirit and an understanding of its historical
context, it is an unfailing source of truth. All individual and group
leadings, if from God, will be harmonious with the principles outlined
in scripture. The canonical scriptures
are our primary spiritual text.
We believe that the only essential baptism
is an immersion in the presence of God. This baptism is the work of Spirit
and cannot be produced by ritual. This work is a mystery and comes to
various people in various ways, but is always evidenced by the fruits
of the Spirit as listed by the Apostle
Paul in the letter to the Galatian Church. These fruits are:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Rituals that remind us of this baptism are not forbidden and may be
useful in the life of some believers but are never required.
We believe that the only essential communion
is a conversation of faith and intimacy between the believer and the Present
Christ. When this occurs in a group, in
silent worship, we call it ‘communion
after the manner of Friends’ - during
this time the body of Christ is gathered
into His presence and they partake of Him and He of them. Communion may
also be highly personal. This experience is essential to the spiritual
walk, and is available to every person who seeks it, without need of an
intermediary or ritual. Rituals of remembrance
are not forbidden and may be useful to the believer, but they are not
a substitute for this essential communion.
(1-8) The Church
We believe that the church is that body of persons who, throughout time
and place, have availed themselves of the mercies
of Christ. We are inspired by those who have walked this path before
us and we believe that these saints are
not separated from us, but watch and encourage us from their places near
to the heart of God. The Work of the church present, is to preach the
Good News of Freedom, to bind the wounds of the brokenhearted, and to
open the prison doors of the enslaved.
( 1-9) Heaven
We believe in Heaven, the blessed home
that all our souls long for. Christ has
assured His church that He will gather us there and that we need not fear
death. Who else Christ gathers there is Christ’s business alone,
and we make no judgments about this based on our flawed observations of
this life. Christ also prayed for, and promised, that by His presence
and through the transformational work of the Spirit, that His kingdom
could be experienced now. This is why we dedicate ourselves to the life
of Gospel Order and freedom - to build
and enjoy the Kingdom present and to anticipate, and be made fit for,
the kingdom to come.
We believe that any separation from God is possible only by human choice.
No temporary conditions, including sin,
have the power to keep the God we seek from finding us. When a person
chooses to be separate from God they place themselves in Hell;
we sadly acknowledge that in some cases this resistance to grace
becomes entrenched in life and may persist beyond this life. But God’s
love also persists beyond life and no one takes this path without exhaustive
attempts by Christ to retrieve them. We choose to work with Christ
and His angels to seek all those mired in slavery,
despair and darkness; like Him, giving up on no one.
Worship is the natural response of the
human heart to the presence of its creator and redeemer. This adoration
can happen in a group or in solitude. It is not tied to time or place.
It can be noisy or silent. Friends find
that the silence helps us become better listeners. It is during this worship
that God sends messages to God’s people. Idolatry
is the practice of worshipping that which is not God.
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| Part 3 | Part 4 | Biblical
References | Glossary
2 - Our Practice
How we live out our beliefs
We hold dear the expression of faith through ministry.
All God’s children are given gifts for the use of the body
of Christ, and the world, therefore all can be ministers. The church
should encourage the use of these gifts in and out of meeting.
At times, Spirit may call an individual to specific service that requires
their entire attention, but this person’s service is not better
than any one else’s. Obedience to the call - whatever it is - is
the important thing.
We hold dear the goal and possibility of peaceful living. We believe
that war, violence, and hate are totally incompatible with holy
living. Violence harms the aggressor as well as the victim. Non-violent
alternatives are always available to those who seek them. Peace
needs to begin inside the person, then in the home, then the church, the
community, the nation and the world.
(2-3) Equality and Justice
We hold dear the goal and possibility of just
living. We believe that discrimination,
inequality, and prejudice
in all their forms, and against any person, are incompatible with holy
living. Because we are the presence of Christ
in the world, it is our work to seek economic, political and social justice
in ourselves, our community, our nation and the world.
We hold dear the goal and possibility of simple
living. We believe that greed, envy, and security based on wealth
are incompatible with holy living. It
should grieve us to amass wealth while so many go hungry. We believe that
we are accountable to God for our use of resources. Freedom Friends Church
tries to live as a good corporate steward
of resources and a friend of the Earth.
We hold dear the expression of faith through integrity
and truthfulness. We attempt to be honest
in all our dealings, as a group and individually. We attempt to live the
life we profess. We take personal responsibility for our thoughts and
behaviors, believing this to be the path to sobriety, sanity and spirituality.
We work at resolving our own problems before we address the problems we
see in others. This is our witness of Christ;
without integrity, our preaching and practice
We hold dear the gift and sacredness
of human life. This is lived out in a commitment to end hunger and preventable
disease, and to make sure that no one ever has to choose abortion because
of economic or relational coercion. We oppose capital punishment, domestic
violence and child abuse. We have an enduring commitment to mercy and
(2-7) The Body
We hold dear the gift of our physical bodies which play host to God’s
Spirit. It behooves us to consider our health, without worshipping our
bodies. To this end, we fight slavery
to any substance, legal or illegal. We refrain from behaviors that are
clearly harmful to our bodies. We seek to keep both mind and body active.
We reject shallow cultural values that enslave people based on their appearance.
We value every mind and body that holds God’s light regardless of
its apparent ability or value to society.
We hold dear the gift of our sexuality, which is given to all persons
regardless of gender identity, orientation,
or marital status. Because sexuality and
spirituality are closely related, all believers are called to be thoughtful
stewards of their sexuality. We believe
that fully intimate sexual relations are intended to be expressed within
long-term, committed, monogamous relationships, and then always with dignity
and love. Sexuality that is de-humanizing, promiscuous, violent, non-consensual,
manipulative, or predatory in nature is always harmful.
We hold dear the manner in which Friends
conduct business. Business meetings,
whether comprised of the whole community, or committees
dedicated to a specific purpose, conduct business
as an extension of worship. During worship
business we strive to listen first to God, and then to each other.
We come to business with our whole persons: thoughts, feelings, knowledge,
and gifts. We also know that we bring our own agendas and prejudices
and we come with the willingness to lay these down. Decisions are made
when it is the sense of the meeting that
God has been heard - this is a spiritual consensus.
Lobbying, politicking and voting lead to divisions which weaken our witness
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| Part 3 | Part 4 | Biblical
References | Glossary
Part 3 - Renunciation
That which we oppose
While we prefer to express our faith and practice in positive ways, there
are a few things which we renounce in no uncertain terms.
We renounce slavery in all its forms.
Free people must always be vigilant, guarding against creeping bondage.
Physical slavery is still a scourge on
our planet in many places, and many are enslaved in poverty. In our lives
more insidious forms often replace the
old forms of this evil: the slavery of
addictions; to food, drugs, tobacco, sex, alcohol, spending and many more.
Pride can become a slavemaster and so can power. We acknowledge only one
safe master, and that is our God and Redeemer. We see complete surrender
to God as the most effective prevention to slavery.
We have found that the best treatment for active addictions and slaveries
is a spiritually based 12-step group,
such as Alcoholics Anonymous. We find the
precepts of AA to be harmonious with the gospel and with Holy
living. We incorporate these precepts into the life of the church
in every way we can.
We renounce the intolerance of religious
fundamentalism in all its forms. Free Christians
need only to live according to Gospel Order
and hold up Christ, in order
to fulfill The Great Commission. We believe
that God calls human souls in more ways than we can imagine, and that
God abides with anyone who seeks God in spirit and in truth, regardless
of how they name God. We can and will make clear the
truth and power that has been given to us, our Gospel path,
but in no way do we think that we possess the whole, or only, truth. We
prefer to live in relationship to the truth. We believe it to
be blasphemous for a human,
or human group, to claim to hold the whole truth.
In our experience, Fundamentalism, which
we define as asserting the absolute truth and completeness of one’s
own beliefs and practices, to the deliberate exclusion of possible truth
in other beliefs and practices, often leads to pride, judgmentalism, strife,
rancor; and in the extreme, to hatred and violence. We believe that religious
fundamentalism is incompatible with holy
living and grace, and we renounce
it as sin.
And we now, and forever, do renounce our only true enemy, sometimes called
satan, the accuser of the children of
God, the father of lies. We renounce all his acts, temptations and deceits
. We pledge ourselves to the fight against him and against the consequences
of his lies: slavery, hatred, despair,
envy, and greed. This is called ‘The
War of the Lamb’,
in scripture and Quaker tradition. It is
our only acceptable war, and the lamb’s army is the only army that
has our allegiance. It's weapons are truth, peace
and persistence. We pledge ourselves to the rescue of all the good souls
caught under the spell of our enemies’ lies. We offer them hope,
comfort, love, truth, and a way of escape.
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| Part 3 | Part 4 | Biblical
References | Glossary
(4-1) Our Place in the Quaker Continuum
In the mid 1600’s, Englishman George Fox along with some others
started what they hoped would be a revival of authentic Christianity.
When the rest of Christendom did not immediately embrace, in fact, vigorously
opposed what was so obvious to them, they formed The Religious Society
of Friends. Their core beliefs included universal ministry,
a non-creedal faith, and emphasis on inward sacraments
over ritual, a deep and practical commitment to integrity,
honesty, and pacifism. Despite severe persecution they flourished in England
and the New Colonies.
Without creeds and with not much in the
way of hierarchical church structure, the Friends
movement has become exceedingly diverse over the next 350 years. There
are over 300,000 Quakers in the world today;
two thirds of which live in the developing world. Whether they call themselves
The Religious Society of Friends, The Friends Church, Monthly
Meeting or Yearly Meeting – they
are all Quakers from the same stock. Friends
have, by all accounts, had an impact upon the world disproportionate to
their relatively small size. There have been two great separations among
Friends: both in the 1800’s. Because
of this most Friends will fall into on
of these four general groups.
Conservative Friends - a small group, mostly in Ohio, North Carolina
and Iowa. They are unprogrammed in
worship style, Christocentric in theology,
non-pastoral, and pacifist. In some
ways they are most like early Friends.
Unprogrammed Liberal Friends - This
group organizes under Friends General
Conference in North America, but includes Britain Yearly Meeting and
two independent Yearly Meetings in the west. They are usually unprogrammed
in worship, non-pastoral,
usually Universalist in theology,
socially progressive, and pacifist.
Social justice and peace activism are
a major part of their outreach.
Pastoral Friends – This is the
largest group including ~ 150,000 Friends in Kenya. They are organized
under Friends United Meeting, which was once called the Five Years
Meeting. They are usually programmed
or semi-programmed in worship
style, mostly pastoral, Christocentric,
pacifist, and more socially conservative than Liberal Friends. They
support evangelistic mission work, as well as justice
and peace work.
Evangelical Friends -This group organizes under Evangelical Friends
and includes US yearly meetings as well as yearly meetings in South
America and Central Africa. They are pastoral,
Christocentric, sometimes fundamentalist,
usually programmed in worship
style, not always pacifist, usually socially conservative, and strongly
Freedom Friends Church, in Salem, Oregon, is a very unusual, but not
completely unique hybrid in the Quaker
world, falling somewhere between Liberal and Pastoral Friends. We were
founded by Friends from Northwest Yearly
Meeting, Evangelical Friends International, but have come to include Friends
from Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting. We are Christocentric,
socially progressive, and pacifist. Our
outreach is focused on justice, relief,
and peace work.
There are presently no Yearly Meetings within easy geographic reach that
are a good fit for us. Consequently, we are an independent Monthly Meeting.
Because Quakers are by nature communitarian
we hope this is not always the case. We are attempting to maintain good
relations with all Friends in our area.
We support Friends Organizations like Friends World Committee for Consultation,
American Friends Service Committee, Right Sharing of World Resources and
Friends Committee on National Legislation. If Friends history tells us
anything, it is that change is to be expected; we hope to be part of that
history of change.
(4-2) How We Conduct Business
Business needs to happen. Even a very simple organization has decisions
to make. Friends, or Quakers,
are communitarian in their structure -
they make decisions as a community. Our way of doing things is very different
than other organizations. We are not a democracy, although everyone can
be involved. We are not a hierarchy - a top down power structure, although
we may have folks among us who carry considerable spiritual weight. We
do not believe in anarchy - no structure - although our structure is fairly
Our core ideas concerning business:
Business is an extension of listening
Just as we sit in worship and listen
to God and to God in each other, during business
we try and hear what God would have us do. God may speak directly to
our hearts or we may hear God in the voice of our neighbor, the presiding
clerk, or even the visitor among us.
The way decisions are made are as important as the decisions themselves.
If we have a testimony to peace,
but do not make decisions peacefully, we will not have much impact.
If we testify that truth telling and doing things in the light of day
is essential, but do business secretly
or deceitfully, we will have lost our witness. All the testimonies expressed
in our Faith and Practice are visible in our business
Business done in the manner of Friends
gives us a chance to grow spiritually.
Business sessions should be a safe and
constructive place to learn. We can learn when to speak courageously,
and when to hold our tongue. We get to practice listening and making
ourselves understood. We get to learn the lesson of letting go of our
own preferences and agendas. We get to take small steps outside our
comfort zone. We are given the opportunity to learn to be tolerant,
and how to handle frustration patiently. Business
meeting can be a laboratory of sanctification.
These core ideas are lived out this way at Freedom Friends Church:
Everyone is invited to participate in Business.
The presiding clerk guides the meeting.
The clerk collects and sets the agenda,
opens the meeting, names each item of
business, opens the time of discussion or questions, calls for silence
and prayer when necessary, listens to see if there is a ‘sense
of the meeting’ (a clear direction
that the group is hearing) or if the item needs to be tabled or ‘seasoned’
(held over to the next meeting); if there
is a clear sense, the clerk
articulates, or speaks that sense.
The recording clerk
takes full and accurate minutes and posts them for everyone to read
before the next meeting.
The recording clerk
may help the PC find the right words to articulate the sense
of the meeting. Anyone in the meeting
may ask that a particular minute (piece of business) be read back to
the meeting. Reviewing and approving
the previous month’s minutes are the first order of business at
Members and attenders are given the duty of listening to God and each
praying before and throughout the meeting.
They speak when they are led, and ask questions. They speak in an orderly
fashion, raising their hand, or saying ‘clerk please’ and
waiting for the clerk to recognize them.
They attempt to speak in a focused manner and leave a little silence
between speakings so that Friends may
think. They attempt to take business one piece at a time. When they
approve of the business at hand they make that clear. They accept the
direction of the presiding clerk.
Most often business moves smoothly and
the sense of the meeting is easy to find.
If we are not clear, and there is no sense
of the meeting, there are certain things we will do. We will pray,
hold the piece of business over to the next meeting
and season it, or assign the piece of
business to a committee or task force for
research. If only one person is not in harmony
with the decision they may choose to let go of their concern or ‘stand
aside’ of the decision - this means that they decide to trust that
of God in the others - this is a powerful conflict breaker. In certain
situations the presiding clerk may decide
to ask each full member of the meeting
to state their position and the sense may be drawn from the membership.
There are certain things that just should not happen in meeting
for worship through business. These things
are considered to be outside of ‘Gospel
Order’, or the way Friends do
things: refusing God and denying the meeting
your wisdom by not speaking when you are led, refusing to give up your
opinion or position out of pride or stubbornness, filibustering - speaking
at length, or at volume, or repeatedly, for the purpose of wearing down
the meeting, lobbying for a position outside
of the meeting time, name calling or personal
attacks, voting which causes us to have winners, losers and factions,
and going away mad, holding a grudge, or saying an “I told you so”
after a decision is made.
We do not do this process perfectly, we probably never will, but we are
committed to work at it until we become good at it. Peacefully doing God’s
business is one of the most powerful testimonies.
(4-2.1) The Sense of the Meeting
As Quakers, we believe that the Spirit
leads us in our decision-making, both at a personal and communal level.
We believe that God’s Spirit will be present to us and instruct
us. We believe that the Spirit is available to everyone regardless of
age, experience or membership status.
What we call the sense of the meeting
is not the collected wisdom of our members and attenders, but a collective
discernment of God’s will. Meeting
for worship through business is conducted
in the context of worship, and with the
same expectant waiting upon the Spirit. Therefore in business
we seek the leadings of the Spirit through prayer and active listening.
Freedom Friends Church expects all the participants to share the responsibility
for a decision. The clerk serves as a facilitator,
seeking an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect while guiding the decision
making process. All are expected to listen deeply to the concern presented
and to the discussion. The clerk, sensing
unity among the participants gives voice to that sense and asks for approval.
There is no vote taken, for voting presents the differences of personal
opinion, not the unity of a leading of the Spirit. Finding the sense
of the meeting is not the same as finding consensus. Consensus can
be built by compromise and cooperation. The sense
of the meeting is discovered through prayerful listening. If unity
cannot be reached the matter is seasoned
and held over until the next meeting.
(4-2.2) Calling and Timing of Meetings
Meeting for worship through business will
be held monthly. The Ministry and Oversight Committee
may establish a regular meeting day and time.
A called business meeting for unusual
business may at times be necessary. The presiding clerk
may call such a meeting with the agreement of Ministry and Oversight.
Such a meeting should be published in such a fashion that regular attenders
and members would have sufficient notice. The presiding clerk
opens and closes meetings.
There will be an annual meeting for worship
through business in the first month of each calendar year that receives
summation reports of the previous year, fills committee
positions for the coming year, and extends calls to pastoral
staff. The annual meeting may be held on the same day as that month’s
regular monthly meeting.
(4-2.3) Keeping on Minutes and Reports
Freedom Friends Church attempts to do business responsibly and transparently.
Records will be kept of our business meetings.
The recording clerk
will keep minutes of Ministry and Oversight meetings, and both regular
and called business meetings. These draft
minutes will be made available in a timely manner. They may be posted
electronically and/or read at the next regular monthly meeting. At that
time they will be approved or amended. A copy of the approved minutes
will be added to the Monthly Meeting minute
book, which will be kept at the meetinghouse.
This book is a public document. In the absence of the recording clerk,
the assistant or a person appointed by the presiding clerk
will take minutes. Reports received by the meeting
from the pastor, treasurer or others will
be attached to the minutes of that meeting and added to the minute book.
The minute book will include traveling minutes, minutes of service, and
all other official business done by the meeting.
(4-2.4) The Faith and Practice
Most Christian churches have a statement of belief. It may be called
a creed, or the doctrine of the church,
or a book of discipline. Most groups of Friends
have what is called a Faith and Practice. This may be a collection of
testimonies, advices and queries, or it may be an explicit declaration
of faith. Usually the Faith and practice is written at the Yearly
Meeting level. The Faith and Practice is the collective testimony
of the group and the written document describing how business is done.
At Freedom Friends Church, we think that the distinctive thing about our
Faith and Practice is both how it is used and how it is not used. This
is a statement of our present belief. It is not a creed;
it is not written in stone. It can be changed by the discernment
of the Monthly Meeting for worship
through business. It is not used as a test of acceptability. You do
not have to agree with everything in the document in order to participate
in the community or be a member. We recognize that parts of it can be
believed in different ways: whether truth is metaphorical or literal,
it is still truth. We recognize that there can be agreement in principle,
but divergence in application. This is the best articulation of the beliefs
and intentions of the Friends who felt
called to start this church. We use it to inspire, and as a starting point
for discussion and study; it is our organizational guideline. It is the
campfire that we sit around.
We are fairly orthodox in our Christianity, but we are not fundamentalist.
We are a peace church. We are socially
progressive – we believe that faith and continuing revelation
can change society for the better. We think the traditional practices
of Quakerism have a lot to say to the 21st
century. We believe we are still learning.
The Faith and Practice of Freedom Friends Church is intended to be a stable
but dynamic document. If the meeting feels
that additions or changes need to be made, the Ministry and Oversight
Committee will appoint a Faith and Practice
Task force to work on the concerns of the meeting.
The Task Force will consist of at least one member of Ministry and Oversight,
one seasoned Friend, and one fresh Friend.
The Task Force will make a recommendation to Ministry and Oversight, who
will bring a recommendation to the business
meeting. This recommendation may be in the form of a proposed addition,
proposed change, or the recommendation that no addition or change be made
at the present time. Each addition or change will stand for at least three
readings, at least one month apart. A public posting, or e-mail transmission
may count as one ‘reading’. After three readings the business
meeting may approved or not approve the additions or changes, or may
send them back to Ministry and Oversight for further work. Minor changes
of spelling, grammar or syntax may be approved at the next regular business
(4-2.5) Church Policies
Some group decisions do not rise to the level of Faith and Practice.
We call these decisions policies. A church policy will come as a suggestion
from a standing committee such and Ministry
and Oversight or from a task force. It will be something that is needful
for clearness and good order in the meeting.
These decisions can be made without multiple readings by one session of
the Monthly Meeting. In addition to being
recorded in the minutes of the Monthly
Meeting, a copy of the policy will be kept separately in the current
minutes book. Examples of policies are: Library Policy, Publicity Policy,
and Music Policy.
(4-3) The Structure of the Church
It is our intention to keep the structure of Freedom Friends Church as
simple and light as possible while maintaining functionality and Gospel
Order. We want the members of our community to spend the bulk of their
ministry time outside of the meeting;
living out, rather than maintaining, Quakerism.
The committees, task forces, and officers
of the church are all accountable to the Monthly
Meeting. They all keep records of their work.
(4-3.1) Monthly Meeting
The Monthly Meeting is both our monthly
gathering for worship through business
and the people who attend.
Though the presiding clerk facilitates
the proceedings, there is no expression of hierarchical power. We believe
that every person, whether a member, attendee, or first-time visitor,
may have a message or an opinion to bring to the group that we need to
hear and we hold each message with respect and openness. We strive to
honor each person and the unique gifts they bring. We do not micromanage
the committees and task forces; we trust
them even as they are accountable to the Monthly
Every piece of business goes through the Monthly
Meeting and it is the final decision making body. We desire to be
transparent and have no closed doors or secrets. Even though this can
sometimes mean waiting until the next monthly
meeting for a piece of business, we believe this is crucial for gospel
order. In meeting, we hold each item for
business before God, trying to sense the movement of the Spirit and the
sense of the meeting.
We believe doing business together as
a church is an essential part of our life as a community.
(4-3.2) Standing Committees
Standing committees do the bulk of the
work in preparation for meeting for worship
through business. They are filled annually by nomination and approval
of the Monthly Meeting. We envision three
(4-3.21) Nominating Committee
Nominating Committee is charged with the
responsibility of finding qualified people to take up the positions and
roles of service to the meeting. This committee
should include the presiding clerk, the
pastor and at least two other individuals
named by Ministry and Oversight. During the early years of our meeting,
Ministry and Oversight may act as the Nominating Committee.
This committee usually meets in November
and December of each year and brings a slate of nominations to the annual
meeting in January for the consideration of the Monthly
Meeting. Members of Nominating Committee
should themselves be members of the church and should be discerning individuals
who are aware of the strengths and limitations of the members and attenders
of the Meeting. Members of this committee
will meet to look at the needs of the Meeting,
consult with the people presently filling the roles to see if they feel
led to continue, and consider who else might be called to the tasks that
are available. Members of Nominating Committee
will contact members and attenders and see if they are willing to fill
the vacant positions. When the slate has been filled, Ministry and Oversight
is notified. If they approve the slate comes before the Monthly
Meeting. It is the Meeting that does
the final discernment.
(4-3.22) Ministry and Oversight
Ministry and Oversight is a standing committee
charged with the physical and spiritual care of the Meeting.
This committee will be made up of the presiding
clerk, the treasurer, the recording
clerk and assistants to those positions,
as well as the pastor, and such members
as the Nominating Committee recommends
and the Monthly Meeting approves. Ministry
and Oversight meets monthly in advance of business
meeting, to address the needs of the meeting,
pray for the meeting and prepare an agenda
for the meeting. The presiding clerk
will be clerk of Ministry and Oversight.
The recording clerk will keep minutes of
Ministry and Oversight meetings. These minutes will be available to the
At a future time it is anticipated that the functions of Ministry and
Oversight may be split into two committees.
Ministry would be charged with the spiritual
care and nurture of the meeting and the
pastor. Oversight would be charged with
the financial and physical needs of the meeting.
In the early stages of development, Ministry and Oversight may also fulfill
the responsibilities of Nominating Committee
and Outreach Committee. These will be constituted
when the membership has grown, the need is apparent, and the Monthly
(4-3.23) Outreach Committee
The Outreach Committee coordinates our
witness to the world, defined as any public outreach or ministry
outside of ourselves as a church. This can include, but is not limited
to, publicity, public witness, and financial donations to other organizations. Though
we do not have a standing Outreach Committee
at this time, this will change as we grow as a community.
(4-3.3) Occasional Committees
When an official task with a finite time frame needs to be completed
by more than one member of Freedom Friends Church, an occasional committee
may be formed.
(4-3.31) Clearness Committee
A meeting for clearness
is an application of our belief that the Spirit leads us in our decision
making process. A Clearness Committee
meets with a person who is unclear on how to proceed in a concern or dilemma,
in hope of helping this person move towards clarity through a search for
the will or leading of God.
The purpose of a Clearness Committee
is not to give advice, or to fix a situation. Rather, it is an attempt
to find the will of the Spirit in a decision. This is accomplished through
listening to the concerns of the person who is unclear, without prejudice
or judgment, and to help clarify alternatives, improve communication,
and provide emotional support as an individual seeks the right course
A Clearness Committee
can be requested by anyone for any reason. However, there are moments
that a meeting for clearness
may be encouraged or required by Ministry and Oversight. Such situations
include, but are not limited to, a meeting before marriage, before a ministry
or service, in preparation for recording
or before taking membership in our meeting.Clearness
Committee members will usually be appointed
by Ministry and Oversight. However, input by the person seeking clearness
(4-3.32) Task Forces
Task forces are created to perform a specific task for a specified period
of time. Unlike committees, when the task
at hand is finished, the task force disbands. Examples of tasks might
include planning events, care of an individual in need, or executing other
meeting projects. Members of a task force
are appointed by the Monthly Meeting and
the task force is responsible for reporting back to the Monthly
Meeting when the task is complete.
The officers of Freedom Friends Church are individuals who feel a call
to serve God and the other members of the community by taking an active
role in the business of the church. They represent the church legally
to the State and other organizations. They are accountable to the Monthly
Meeting. With the exception of the pastor,
they will be asked to affirm their call annually, will be nominated to
their posts, and approved by the Monthly Meeting
in the Annual Meeting in January. The pastor
may be called to a longer term at the will of the Monthly
Meeting. There is no specific end limit set on their service, but
they will be attentive to fostering the ministry
of others as appropriate. All officers will be members of the church.
As with all ministry at Freedom Friends
Church, our call to service is inclusive and any member may serve regardless
of age, gender, race, marital status or
(4-3.41) Pastoral Staff
Freedom Friends Church believes that all members and attenders share
the responsibility for the spiritual health of the meeting.
We also acknowledge that there are some who are led by the Spirit to a
sustained and public pastoral role. We
believe that this call may come to anyone, regardless of their race, gender,
or sexual orientation. A pastor
serves at the leading of the Holy Spirit
and the call of the Monthly Meeting, and
is accountable to, and nurtured by, Ministry and Oversight.
Our pastor’s primary concern will
be the spiritual condition of the individual members of the community
- providing or facilitating support, nurture, education, counsel, and
healing. The pastor will be a Quaker
diplomat, reaching out to, and ministering in, the wider Quaker
world. They will be a public voice for the Meeting
in our community. They will lead by example, both in their strengths and
Ministry and Oversight and the pastor
will mutually determine the tasks that the pastor
will perform. The meeting may financially
release the pastor, according to the meeting’s
ability and the pastor’s needs. For
tax purposes our pastor is an independent
contractor, and may be subject to all legal privileges and responsibilities
of an ordained minister.
(4-3.42) Presiding Clerk
The presiding clerk is the chief listener
in a community of listeners. The presiding clerk
is active in the entire life of the Meeting
and observes and articulates the movings of the Spirit among us. The clerk
should be a spiritually mature person, grounded in love, with deep listening
skills, and the ability to work with, and be present to, all people.
The presiding clerk is the legal representative
of the Meeting to the wider world. The
clerk serves at the leading of the Spirit,
and is accountable to the Monthly Meeting.
In meeting for business the clerk
listens to God and the Meeting and has
primary responsibility for articulating the sense
of the Meeting. Gospel Order is explained
and maintained by the clerk. The presiding
clerk also presently clerks Ministry and
Oversight, as we grow, this might change but the presiding clerk
will always serve on Ministry and Oversight.
(4-3.43) Recording Clerk
The recording clerk
is the historian and archivist of the Meeting.
Along with the presiding clerk they are
charged with the responsibility of finding the words to convey the sense
of the Meeting. This important ministry
shapes the past, present and future of the Meeting.
The recording clerk
takes minutes of monthly meetings and Ministry and Oversight sessions.
They collect all minutes, reports, documents and correspondence and keep
them in a minute book, which remains in the Church.
The recording clerk
should have organizational, listening and language skills.
The treasurer takes responsibility for the finances of the Meeting.
They have a concern for the solvency and stability of the Meeting.
They work to make sure that the Meeting
has financial integrity. They will encourage
creative, generous and responsible giving.
The Treasurer collects and deposits donations. They report to the Meeting
and Ministry and Oversight the status of our finances. They keep and maintain
good financial records that are open to the Meeting
and could be reviewed by an outside party for accountability. They supply
tax information to donors.
The treasurer will be a person with good accounting skills, but more
importantly, deep personal integrity and
a history of personal financial responsibility.
Quakers are intentionally communitarian.
We choose to build bridges rather than walls. We recognize that combined
efforts have a multiplied effect and cooperation is an expression of our
Freedom Friends Church will consider two kinds of affiliations: affiliations
of affinity and structural affiliations.
Affiliations of affinity would be joining a group that works in the world
for a cause that is in harmony with our
testimonies. Our affiliation with such a group would be supportive of
the common goal but would not change our structure in any way. The Community
of Welcoming Congregations would be an example of this type of affiliation.
A recommendation for an affiliation of affinity would come from Ministry
and Oversight, and could be approved in one Meeting for Worship
A structural affiliation would be a more significant decision. This type
of affiliation would be a joining of function and structure with a Quaker
organization such as a Yearly Meeting or
a larger Quaker group like the Western
Association of Friends or Friends General Conference. This type of affiliation
might involve coming under another Faith and Practice or engaging functionally
and financially with the larger group. At the time of this writing, Freedom
Friends Church does not have any such affiliation, because there is no
such group that affirms all that we hold in our Faith and Practice. If
at a future time, such an affiliation becomes possible, it would require
a significant season of exploration and
discernment, and would require the final
decision to be considered over at least three meetings for worship
Membership is a mutual commitment made by an individual and the church,
as represented by its people. The member makes a public statement of commitment
to the health of the church, and the church commits itself to the spiritual
support of the individual. The member and the church enter into a form
of mutual care.
Members do not have a higher status than attenders. Attenders can participate
fully in the life of the church through worship,
business meetings and other opportunities.
But members have made a commitment of stability that is a strong foundation
for the church. The church needs members.
Members express their commitment in many ways. They try to attend worship
and business on a regular basis. They voluntarily
support the church financially according to their means. They pray for
the church and its ministry and they participate
as the Spirit leads.
Application for membership should not be made lightly, but in a spirit
of responding to a Divine call. Membership is open-ended but it can be
laid down, life situations can make it necessary to let go of the commitment
and this can be done gracefully.
Members will be at least 16 years of age. Membership is an individual
choice, married couples must apply individually. When a person feels a
call to be a member of Freedom Friends Church they will write a letter
to the presiding clerk stating their desire.
The presiding clerk will call a Clearness
Committee for the consideration of membership.
This committee may be made of the members
of Ministry and Oversight or a subset of that committee.
Other members may be asked to serve by Ministry and Oversight.
The Clearness Committee
will meet with the individual one or more times to talk with them about
their desire for membership. This will be a mutual Clearness
Committee where both the committee
and the individual must become clear before
the application can be proceed. The Clearness
Committee will discuss at least these things
although other issues may arise: the individual’s sense of call
to be a member, their personal ability to make a commitment at this time
and their understanding of the Faith and Practice of Freedom Friends Church
and their harmony with it.
The Clearness Committee
will come to one of three conclusions: membership is right at this time,
membership is not right at this time, membership seems possible but needs
seasoning while certain issues are resolved.
The Clearness Committee
may decide that further study is needed and may ask the pastor
to conduct an individual or group membership class.
The clerk of the Clearness
Committee will report their conclusion
to Ministry and Oversight. Ministry and Oversight will review the process
and make a recommendation to the Monthly Meeting
for action. The Meeting will act on the
application at the next business meeting.
The recording clerk
will keep records of membership and a certificate of membership will be
given to the new member upon action by the Monthly
Freedom Friends Church will accept transferred members in good standing
from other Friends Meetings or Churches.
A Clearness Committee
may still be called at the discretion of the presiding clerk.
If an individual desires membership and is a member of another Friends
Church or Meeting and for whatever reason,
after a reasonable request and consultation, that Church or Meeting
does not send a certificate of transfer, the person will be given a Clearness
Committee by the presiding clerk
and if approved for membership, a letter will be sent to the Church or
Meeting informing them of the action of
Freedom Friends Church.
A member who desires to move their membership from Freedom Friends Church
to another Friends Church or Meeting may
request a certificate of transfer from the presiding clerk.
The presiding clerk will consult with Ministry
and Oversight about the request and issue a certificate of transfer if
Occasionally, a member of our community may live at a distance and attend
another Friends Church or Meeting. If they
are an active part of that meeting,
but wish to retain their membership with Freedom Friends Church, they
may write to the presiding clerk and request
a minute of sojourn. If the Meeting
approves, the presiding clerk writes the
minute and sends it to the presiding clerk
of the other meeting. In the same manner,
Freedom Friends Church will receive and accept proper minutes of sojourn.
The member will retain their primary concern for their home Meeting,
but make plain their active participation in their temporary home.
A member may request in writing to be dropped from the membership rolls
of Freedom Friends Church. In this case Ministry and Oversight will attempt
to discover the reason for the withdrawal. By recommendation of Ministry
and Oversight and action of the Monthly Meeting,
a person’s membership may be terminated if it is clear that the
individual is no longer living out their commitment to the Church. This
action will not take place without significant prayer and consultation
and the individual will have ample opportunity to meet with Ministry an
Oversight before such a recommendation is made.
In accordance with Quaker tradition, Freedom
Friends Church recognizes that all are called to minister, in and out
of meeting. However, some ministries require
special attention, nurture and accountability from the Meeting.
These ministries may be brief or prolonged, they may be exercised among
us or in other locations, but they will be in harmony
with the Faith and Practice of Freedom Friends Church and will benefit
the Society of Friends.
(4-5.1) Recording of Ministers
We recognize that God gifts and calls some individuals to sustained and
public service. We recognize that God ordains these individuals. Friends
can only recognize and record their gifts
and calls. The purpose of this recording is to nurture and hold accountable
these individuals and to give them the benefit of community discernment
in the exercise of their gifts for the benefit of Friends
and the world.
The process of recording is observational.
We record ministry which we see exercised
in our midst. Such ministry will be consistent,
persistent, public, and fruitful and to the specific benefit of our Monthly
Meeting and the wider Quaker world.
Individuals who feel led to minister test their leading by doing ministry.
Individuals led to sustained public ministry
are encouraged to talk to Ministry and Oversight about their leading.
Prayer and guidance will be given to them.
When Ministry and Oversight has observed such ministry
over time, and sees the need for nurture and accountability of the minister,
they will start the process of consideration. The Monthly
Meeting will be notified, and if they approve, a meeting for clearness
will be held with the individual to commence a season
of discernment and preparation. Ministry
and Oversight may assign a mentor, or ask the individual to enter into
a spiritual direction process with a Quaker
minister. While no particular degree is required to be a Friends
minister, some education or study may be suggested or required. A series
of meetings for clearness may be appropriate.
Other formational activities may be suggested. When Ministry and Oversight
feels that the observed ministry is solid
and sustained and that the season of discernment
has produced clearness, they will make
a recommendation to the Monthly Meeting
that the minister be recorded. The Monthly
Meeting will do the final discernment.
and recorded ministry
may overlap, but are not identical. Pastoral
ministry is a service to the Monthly
Meeting that could be provided by a person who was not recorded. However,
sustained, fruitful pastoral ministry
in our midst would likely result in consideration for recording. Some
recorded ministers do public ministry among
Friends that is not pastoral
in nature. Some examples of non-pastoral
recordable ministry might be: teaching
at a Friend’s seminary, significant writing to the benefit of the
larger Society of Friends or other sustained public ministry.
Freedom Friends Church will receive recorded
ministers by transfer. Ministry and Oversight will contact the previous
meeting at the time of the transfer of
membership to make sure that the recorded minister was in good standing
at the time of transfer.
Freedom Friends Church may record a minister
by recommendation of Ministry and Oversight if that minister has been
previously recorded by a Friends body,
and voluntarily surrendered that recording in order to join Freedom Friends
Church. If a minister is discontinued solely because of their membership
with Freedom Friends Church, that minister’s recording may also
be taken up. In these cases, Ministry and Oversight will consider the
circumstances and standing of the minister and make a recommendation to
the business meeting.
All ministers recorded or received by
Freedom Friends Church will be given a certificate of recording. At the
minister’s discretion, they may submit their certificate to the
county clerk and according to the laws
of the State of Oregon; they shall have all the rights and responsibilities
granted to ordained ministers of other denominations.
Recordings are open ended. Recorded ministers are accountable to the Monthly Meeting. Ongoing nurture and accountability will be provided through minutes of service and traveling minutes. (4-5.2 and 4-5.3) Recorded ministers can also arrange for nurture and accountability through other means that they desire, such as requesting elders, clearness or care committees, or spiritual direction. Our pastors are cared for and held accountable directly by Ministry and Oversight. (4-3.4) If a minister feels that their call is fulfilled, they may lay down their recording by notifying Ministry and Oversight and the Meeting. By recommendation of Ministry and Oversight and action of the Monthly Meeting, a minister's recording may be terminated if it is clear that the individual is no longer living consistently with their ministerial gift. This action will not take place without significant prayer and consultation and the individual will have ample opportunity to meet with Ministry and Oversight before such a recommendation is made. If they transfer their membership to another Monthly Meeting or Yearly Meeting, their recording shall be transferred with their membership, unless the receiving Meeting discerns that the recording cannot be taken up. The presiding clerk would facilitate the process of transfer.
(4-5.2) Minutes of Service
When a Friend undertakes a ministry at
the leading of the Spirit the meeting may
choose to recognize this ministry with
a minute of service. This ministry may
or may not include travel, but will be a sustained task that benefits
Friends and/or promotes our testimonies.
A recommendation of a minute of service will come from Ministry and Oversight
for the approval of the Monthly Meeting.
When the service is completed the Friend will bring a report back to the
(4-5.3) Traveling Minutes
A traveling minute has been a tradition among Quakers
since our earliest days. Originally it was a kind of “Quaker Identification”
that allowed the individual or traveling minister to receive hospitality,
protection, and opportunities for ministry
from other Quakers. In recent times it
has come to be a written commission and blessing of an individual’s
temporary ministry from their meeting.
To follow the proper Quaker etiquette
concerning a traveling minute, the individual makes their meeting
aware that they have a call to travel under a concern. This means that
they feel God is asking them to carry out some ministry
away from their home meeting. The meeting
takes this concern under advisement, and if it is the sense
of the meeting that the call is according to Gospel
Order, the presiding clerk writes or
asks the recording clerk
to write an official minute concerning the proposed ministry.
A copy of this minute is given to the traveling minister. The minister
carries their minute with them. If they are traveling to another Friends
Church, Meeting or a Quaker
organization, they present their minute to the clerk
of that gathering who will read it into their minutes. Normally the clerk
of that gathering will add written greetings, sign, and return the minute
to the minister who will then bring the minute back to their own meeting
with a verbal or written report. If the minister is traveling among non-Friends
it is up to their discernment to decide
if it is appropriate to ask someone to sign their minute. After the ministry
is completed, the minister will bring a report back to the Monthly
Freedom Friends Church recognizes and supports marriage. We do not believe
that there is more merit in a married life than in unmarried life, but
we recognize the stability and blessing that marriage may bring into our
lives. We are inclusive in our marriage practices, believing that any
two adults can make a spirit-led, long-term commitment based on love before
God and the community. We believe that the two people give themselves
to each other, and that the community, including the pastor,
is witness to, not makers of, this sacred
We believe in equality in marriage, and
that married life is based on mutual respect, love, friendship, and devotion.
We believe that marriage is an equal partnership, and we promote marriages
that are free from violence and abuse of any kind. As with all things,
we seek the will of the Spirit in our marital relations. We wish to support
all marriages in our midst: those that are made in our presence, as well
as those that arrive already made.
The public celebration of the making of a marriage is always a time of
joy in a faith community. Freedom Friends Church wants to give attention
to our members and attenders who are taking this step.
When we become aware that a couple in our midst has made a commitment
to each other and is ready to plan a public celebration of that commitment,
The pastor and/or the clerk
of the meeting will sit down with the couple
and talk to them about marriage among Friends
and ask them how the community may best help them at this time.
We will attempt to educate couple about the Quaker
distinctives of simplicity, equality,
and universal ministry and how these apply
to weddings and marriages.
The couple will be offered the chance to have premarital counseling with
the pastor, or a Clearness
Committee of their own choosing to help
them prepare for marriage.
We encourage sacredness, simplicity,
flexibility and festivity in celebrations.
We encourage the wedding to be an occasion of worship.
Our pastor may facilitate if the couple
chooses, but will not use language that implies that the marriage is made
by anyone other than the couple.
We encourage simplicity in the wedding.
We will make sure that the couple is aware of the simplest of Quaker
wedding traditions and that a wedding may happen at a regular or special
meeting for worship. We discourage the
practice of indebtedness to finance ostentatious ceremonies.
We encourage the couple to make promises to each other that are truthful
and meaningful. We encourage them to have a service that reflects their
testimony. We encourage them to be creative
as they are led in making a ceremony.
We encourage joyfulness and community; meeting, family and friends
becoming a special community for the purpose of blessing.
We will encourage the couple to consider a traditional Quaker
marriage certificate, making all present witnesses. For purposes of fulfilling
the legal requirements, our pastor will
sign the license issued by the state.
(4-6.2) Care of Marriages
We believe marriage needs to be cared for and supported by both the individuals
who make and sustain the commitment, and by the faith community surrounding
them. We hold the marriages among us in love and respect, believing the
couples themselves knows what they need. We will not step in to intervene
in a marriage unless asked by the couple or under dire circumstances such
as abuse or addiction. When care has been requested, Ministry and Oversight
will provide prayer, referrals for counseling, and guidance in a confidential
and honoring manner.
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