The Quaker meeting is meant to be a blessed community –a living testimony to a social order that embodies God’s peace, justice, love, compassion, and joy, and is an example and invitation to a better way of life. Like our other testimonies, community can be a prophetic call to the rest of society.
Southeastern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
4th Edition, 2013
Community is the fourth of the Quaker Testimonies following the acronym of SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship of the Earth).
People have always lived in community. Nomadic tribes, clans, little villages, townships, cities, and nations are the basic foundation of all civilizations everywhere on the planet. There are specialized communities, such as clubs, fraternities, organizations and governments. No man is an island; everyone has relatives, family. But just being an individual that belongs to one or more communities is different from “Living in Community,” from being a member of a “Blessed Community.”
There have been blessed communities from ancient times – the communities of priests and shamans, or religious orders of monks and nuns, in every variety of religion. Some have exhibited more positive, spiritual traits than others – but I am not here to judge.
Quakers were quick to develop Community. The first and early Friends were “bucking the system.” They withdrew from the established churches and dogmatic rituals of their time and place. They gathered in someone’s home or barn or field, sitting in silence, “waiting upon Spirit” to speak and guide. Their very first actions created Blessed Community, and they needed to rely on, and help one another for their survival, as many were persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs.
There are many components to living in Community for Quakers. One of the most basic is that of service to others. How can I serve? How can I help? What do you need from me? It is not uncommon for Friends to think and speak such words.
Living in a Blessed Community means exhibiting kindness and compassion. It entails becoming a good listener. Being understanding and nonjudgmental. Being helpful. Working together. Compromising. Asking, “What is for the good of the whole?”
For Quakers, Community is not just the members and attenders who gather for Worship and share Potluck Lunch afterward, it encompasses the larger community where they live, and the variety of people who live in it. Friends make the effort to reach out – to volunteer, to donate time, money, food, clothing to those in need. To help teach the children, care for the sick and the grieving.
There are many Quaker organizations around the word that provide service based on our testimony of Community. The American Friends Service Committee, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Earthcare Witness, and Right Sharing of World Resources are just a few of the multitude of organizations supported by Quakers worldwide that strive to be of service to the local, national and international communities of our planet. Our basic belief of “There is that of God in everyone” leads us to be concerned about, and of service to, the Blessed Community that is humanity.
presented by John Palozzi
The Palm Beach Quaker Meeting invites you to share Silent The Silence with us in a Spirit-filled space that has welcomed worshippers since 1958, regardless of race, gender identity, or nationality.
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