Camas Friends Church seeks to love God and love people. Some of the ways we can live this Love have been articulated in the form of Quaker testimonies. These testimonies are not doctrines or values; they are more like lived expressions of our fundamental belief that there is “that of God” in every person. If we are listening and actively responding to our Guide, these testimonies will be visible in our lives, both individually and corporately. They reflect core concerns and historical patterns of the Friends’ tradition and are ways of being in the world that we seek to cultivate in ourselves.
These six testimonies characterize the Quaker way of following Jesus and can be remembered by the acronym “SPICES.” What would you add to these descriptions?
Simplicity. Living simply is a challenge to consumerism, clutter, and busyness. It prevents our possessions from becoming barriers to our relationships. It encourages purposeful restraint and mindfulness of the space we take up (and challenges us to, in some cases, take up less space). It encourages brevity and clarity in speech. It discourages participation in exploitative systems. It helps us be present to one another.
Peace. Peace encourages us to seek Spirit-led corporate unity in decision-making. It promotes trust over fear. It encourages creativity and care in resolving conflict. It helps us stand against all forms of violence. It promotes non-violent confrontation rather than avoidance or complicity. It pushes not only for the decrease of war but the increase of collaborative and respectful partnerships. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict but the presence of individual and communal flourishing.
Integrity. Integrity encourages coherence between what we say we value and what we practice. It encourages kind but clear truth-telling. It encourages open and inclusive communication among a community. It often means confrontation, particularly self-confrontation and openness to critique and guidance. It encourages us to articulate what we believe and why we believe it but to be open to changing our minds or learning something new.
Community. Community reminds us that we need each other and most flourish when we collaborate with and care for each other. Group discernment is an essential part of how we determine what to do next. There is power in gathering together. Dialogue is crucial. Our loving and just action is even more powerful when we are in unity. We all have unique gifts and perspectives that enrich the entire congregation and world. We are in this together and are responsible, to varying degrees, for each other.
Equality. There is “that of God” in every person. Equality reminds us to listen to all voices, particularly people whose voices have been traditionally ignored or muted. The pursuit of equality prompts us to work for social justice. To liberate and empower. To make space for others (or in some cases, collaboratively re-imagine our spaces with others). To reject discrimination and challenge prejudices. To be mindful of our privilege and repent of the harm we deliberately or accidentally cause with that privilege. All who attend CFC are ministers and have a voice worth hearing.
Stewardship. Our lives are gifts from God. Others are gifts from God. The earth is a gift from God. Stewardship encourages gratitude and challenges greed. It invites us to be responsible with what we’ve been given and whom we’ve been given. We seek to be mindful of how our lifestyles impact the earth, our global neighbors, and future generations. The earth is not to be exploited for human need but cared for, for the good of all living things. We are committed to learning a new way of being on this planet that is more sustainable and respectful.