Camas Friends Church

A Quaker Meeting in Camas, WA

Community Blog: Living the Testimonies


Peace Means We All Have a Voice (3.28.17)

by Kendra Purcell

For me, the peace testimony is one of the more challenging Quaker tenets. I easily arrived at and maintain my conviction of pacifism. Not taking another’s life makes sense to my heart and my head. But I believe peace is more than not killing.

Peace is not pursuing my own agenda above consideration of others. Peace is listening. In my home, there are many moments God uses to remind me that I still need growth. Just the other day, I caught myself yelling, “Kids, stop screaming at each other!” As if my volume is justified but the kids’ is not. It’s highly likely their volume is innocent and mine just wants my way—my quieter yet more selfish way.

I think American culture pushes a kind of passive idea of peace. That peace is somehow a little detached, a little weird and out of the norm. When I consider how I want to create peace in my relationships, it’s a very active pursuit. Peace in the family means we all have a voice and room to share our thoughts. My kids are young so I’m still leading them, but I don’t want my authority to dominate. I don’t want to resort to verbal violence and crush their spirits. Peace with my husband is not simply not arguing, but creating an environment that encourages harmony. It’s taking the time to make sure we each feel loved and valued, not being quiet just to not “ruffle feathers”. We can have the hard conversations because we feel safe in each other’s love.

It’s a challenge to prioritize peace in relationships because it is always easy to be selfish. Peace is making my inner self more focused on others, their needs and their space to express themselves.


A Haiku  (3.27.17)

by Marilyn Miller

Unity transcends

Gather in Community

Embrace Diversity

haiku for you, m


A Haiku  (3.19.17)

by Marilyn Miller

Integrity simply

Take action my friend in faith

True and clear 

haiku for you, m


On the “New Thing” and Possibilities (3.15.17)

by Helen May

For the last several months or so, I have been feeling called to deepen my connections with the broader community of Quakers in our area.  Until recently, I thought that meant that I should start to become more involved with the Northwest Yearly Meeting.  But then “The Decision” was made and I realized that was not going to be an option for me.

So I have instead been becoming involved with meetings regarding this “New Thing” which we are embarking on.  I have met or re-met many wonderful Friends in the last several weeks and I look forward to getting to know them more in the coming weeks and months and years as we all listen to the still small voice and try to discern God’s will for us as individuals, as congregations, and as a group of meetings.

I’m very excited about the possibilities that are opening up for our meeting as we journey on this new path. I would urge us all to keep an open mind about being in community with other meetings and not withdrawing into ourselves in order to protect ourselves from future hurts or rejections. Also, I hope we don’t jump into a new community just so we don’t feel alone. I do hope we can look to the future with a new community of meetings who share a similar desire for all things Quaker, living in love with all of our neighbors, and helping each other along the path of life.

I look forward to our discussions as a meeting about where we hope to go and what we hope to accomplish.

Together.


A Haiku  (3.9.17)

by Marilyn Miller

Peace be unto you  

Let us breathe and meditate

Share as one in love

haiku for you, m


A Haiku  (3.5.17)

by Marilyn Miller

Uncomplicated   

To each shared grace and focus

True simplicity

haiku for you, m


On Reformations and the Northwest Yearly Meeting  (3.2.17)

by Jim Miller

History reveals religious reforms; reformations occur about every 200 years. Martin Luther’s is the most notable. George Fox followed a similar pattern: seeking truth from established religion. Finding that the established church was not willing to listen let alone change, they set out to develop a New Way. Luther was empowered by Scripture which said that salvation was by “faith alone,” not by works or payment (“indulgences”) to the church.

After forming a “new way,” each time the new church writes its own doctrine and structure.  In time this becomes rigid and self-serving.  And a new reforming takes place.

In 1827-28, the Quakers in the United States, led by Elias Hicks, broke from the “Orthodox” meetings over the place and use of Scripture. Now we are in the throes of a “split” in our own Yearly Meeting. I will share my personal views of this another time. For now, here is what I believe has been the pattern of such divisions in the past.

ISSUE ESTABLISHED CHURCH REFORM CHURCH
Bible Literal Interpretation A Source of Truth
Doctrine Concrete Rules In process, evolving
Structure Rigid and Inflexible Flexible to needs
Role of church Self-appointed mediator Seeks relation to God
Wealth Amasses great wealth Survives on tithes
God Distant, church speaks for “Present Teacher”
Conditions Conditional Unconditional
Love Earned Freely given to all
Membership Exclusive Inclusive
God’s Word Scripture, doctrine of church “Still small voice”
Authority Church and its rules God within
Power Gives or withholds heaven Spirit, revealed Truth
Questions Not allowed, discouraged Encouraged, leads to growth
Scripture Dogma Truth, not facts

As we move ahead, we need to grieve. We need to see each “side” as committed to their “truth” and avoid name-calling or unfair labels, which create emotional responses, block our process, and unfairly blame the “other.” As we develop a new yearly meeting, I hope we do not repeat the same pitfalls—rules and regulations which prevent us from discerning. I hope that we remain in process and relationship with God and one another.


Peace and Turning the Other Cheek (3.1.17)

by Matt Boswell

I recall a frightening experience while in Lima, Peru several years ago. A man offered me a flyer for a strip club, to which I responded with a simple “no thanks,” head shake, and courteous smile. He begin to follow me down the street, angrily shouting at me. The shouting turned to threats as he caught up to me.

He got in my face and begin to tell me about all of the bad things he’d done, people he’d killed, people he was on his way to kill. True or not, he was trying to intimidate me. I maintained eye contact, asked him questions, responded with affirming therapist-like tones.

He then asked me what I was doing in Lima. I told him that I was a seminary student researching emerging trends in South American Protestant churches. His demeanor changed slightly as he began treating me like a priest, confessing some more of his “sins” but still with an air of intimidation.

Then he said the most unforgettable, shocking, vulgar thing I’ve ever heard, about what he’d do to the devil when he got to hell. I won’t repeat it here—sorry! I immediately lost it, laughing hysterically. I couldn’t help it! It was so ludicrous, and I think he knew it too, as his tough guy veneer began to crumble. He finally cracked a smile, then started laughing with me.

We talked a bit more. He offered me some drugs and I politely declined. By the time we were ready to part, we’d shaken hands in something like friendship (or at least mutuality). I left that moment not quite sure what had just happened.

I think this man’s irritation with me stemmed first from his fear that I had perceived him as just a flyer-distributor, or a shady businessman, or some other dehumanizing “type.” And maybe I had. The tone of our interaction shifted when we both saw each other as persons. Laughter helped with this—it made us real to each other, not just “types,” him the tough guy and me the insulated, pompous American visitor.

When you turn the other cheek in response to someone overpowering or oppressively confronting you, unless you do some fancy footwork or a three-quarter spin, your eyes will potentially meet the eyes of the other on your way to revealing your other vulnerable cheek. There lies the opportunity to literally see the other. To catch a glimpse of the other’s humanity.

To turn the other cheek is, among others things, to notice and empathize, even if a condemnation of the other’s harmful actions is necessary. It’s an admission that the roles could have been reversed, if each of us had experienced a few different pressures, influences, unmet needs, or any number of others forces in the course of our personal histories

Labels are convenient and natural. Try to see past oversimplifying labels. Look for light and beauty. Look for the face of Christ in the other. If possible, love what you see.

(originally published in the NWYM Peace Month’s Daily Reader)

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10:45-12:15pm Sunday Morning Worship

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