The Individual and the Church
“Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Pet 2:4–5; 9-10 NRSV
As members of the Church Universal, we share its world-wide life: we must learn from its history; the triumphs and failures, the shortcomings and growth in Truth of our fellow Christians in all ages are bound up with our own lives today. Through all and over all there shines the grace of God. Neither difference of dogma, nor of ritual, nor of church government can wholly separate and keep apart the great family to which we belong.
T. Edmund Harvey, 1937
They were changed…themselves before they went about to change others. Their hearts were rent as well as their garments, and they knew the power and work of God upon them…And as they freely received what they had to say from the Lord, so they freely administered it to others. The bent and stress of their ministry was conversion to God, regeneration and holiness, not schemes of doctrines and verbal creeds or new forms of worship, but a leaving off in religion the superfluous and reducing the ceremonious and formal part, and pressing earnestly the substantial, the necessary and profitable part, as all upon a serious reflection must and do acknowledge.
William Penn 1694
From Northwest Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
The Church: We believe the Church is composed of persons who, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, have been born into His Kingdom and baptized with the Holy Spirit into the one Body. These persons agree together to follow Jesus as Lord. This Church is spiritual in nature, universal in scope, holy in character, and redemptive in purpose. Its head is Jesus Christ, who serves immediately as priest and ministers directly as teacher and prophet. The Church exists visibly in local meetings for worship and in groupings of these churches as they are united in common expressions of faith and action.
God’s Kingdom: We believe the Church is called to demonstrate in this life the righteous character of Christ’s present and coming Kingdom. The Kingdom is present now to the extent that the people of God hear His voice and obey it. The coming Kingdom will be initiated by the second appearing of Jesus Christ (as foretold by the prophets) and by the resurrection of the dead. The world will then be judged righteously by Jesus Christ and there will come everlasting punishment for the finally unrepentant wicked and everlasting blessedness for the righteous. At that time the world will be freed from the grip of evil and satanic power, and Christ will reign over a restored universe.
Northwest Yearly Meeting Queries
Query 5: Are meetings for worship and business duly held, and are you regular in attending them? Do you come ready to commune with God and to fellowship with believers, willing to participate in contemplation or in spoken ministry?
Query 6: As followers of Christ do you love and respect each other? Do patience and consideration govern your interactions; and when differences arise, do you resolve them promptly in a spirit of forgiveness and understanding? Are you careful with the reputation of others?
Query 7: Do you give generous financial support to the work of Friends? Do you contribute regularly to the ministry of your church and to the wider outreach of the Yearly Meeting? Are you and your meeting aware of those likely to require material aid, and do you give freely to those in need?
Query 8: Do you uphold the standards of Friends? Are you careful in appointing officers and Sunday school teachers, in calling pastors and special speakers, in sending out missionaries and recording ministers, to see that they are in harmony with the principles of Friends as stated in the Faith and Practice of Northwest Yearly Meeting?
North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
Do I cherish that of God within me, that His power growing in me may rule my life? Do I seek to follow Jesus Christ who shows us the Father and teaches us the way?
Am I striving to develop my physical, mental, and spiritual abilities and to use them to the glory of God? What have I recently undertaken to this end, and what future opportunities are sought?
Do I make a place in my daily life for inward retirement and communion with the Divine Spirit? To what extent has this brought satisfaction spiritually? Are there ways in which I might attain greater satisfaction or inspiration? Does my daily schedule need review and revision at this time?
Queries From Pacific Yearly Meeting
Do I live in thankfulness awareness of God’s constant presence in my life?
Am I sensitive and obedient to the leadings of the Holy Spirit?
When do I take time for contemplation and spiritual refreshment?
What steps am I taking to center my life and to stay open to [God’s] revelation?
Do we share our spiritual lives with others in the Meeting, seeking to know one another in that which is eternal?
Do we give prayerful support for our clerks [and other leaders] that they may be sensitive to the movements of the Spirit among us?