A few weeks ago, Britain Yearly Meeting was intending to meet for their Yearly Meeting discernment. A big item of business was their consideration of revising their Faith and Practice (book of Discipline). If they were clear, Friends might be led to start a long revision process. There a long process and invitation leading up to the discernment scheduled to happen at Yearly Meeting.
In the time leading up to the gathering, a number of media outlets picked up the story. Headlines read “Quakers to get rid of God!” and used other attention-grabbing statements. These news articles were written by non-Quakers, and contained the usual amount of disinformation. In brief, they implied that all the Quakers would be getting together to make an immediate decision to remove God from their “important rulebook”. There was even a reference to oatmeal in one tale (you probably expected that)!
Friends seemed to be very clear, and wiling to share in the comments of these posts. Britain Yearly Meeting issues a press release explaining Quaker process, and what might actually happen. A few more blog posts on the BYM website also helped clarify the situation with true facts. It got me thinking though – what if British Friends simply ignored this? What if they refused to be on the internet, and just said “well we don’t talk about that in those places”.
Who tells our story in this time? In today’s world of immediate news, and social media, and everyone having a twitter account and an opinion – there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Some of it might be damaging and outright manipulative. Some of it might just be misinformed people, who are confusing Quakers (for example) with Amish folks, or Shakers.
This Nantucket Nectars beverage lid refers specifically to the time when Quakers left Nantucket. They are back! And we did not die out everywhere.
I am in a number of Quaker geneaology and history groups on Facebook. I’m mostly quiet there – I am interested in reading the history stories shared by others. Every once in awhile though, someone asks a question such as “Does anyone when know when the Quakers officially died out?” Then I chime in. Gently, simply, I say “Quakers are actually still around! I am one, and here’s a link to a website where you can learn more!” This seems like an extreme instance perhaps. But what about a witness in town, or if you are present somewhere and someone asks you about what you do, who you are? Are you ready to share your story? Do you do it in your digital presence, in small ways?
Your digital presence is a great way to share your story of faith with others. It’s a natural outreach tool for newcomers and seekers, but also can be a great way to get to know the faith stories of others in your meeting. You might be surprised at how many people have ideas about what Quakers are already. That’s a natural opening for conversation. I had never heard of Quakers until I took an internet quiz in my mid- thirties. A friend of mine knew of Quakers from the movies. Do Friends in your meeting look like the Friends in the video below? Do you want them to?
Update: Here’s Friend Martin Kelly’s thoughts on this!
Here’s a few links to the articles about Quakers that emerged in Britain a few weeks ago.
The Quakers are right. We don’t need God. – Simon Jenkins
Quakers to rewrite their rulebook – but are not about to “drop God”
Quakers face once in a generation decision to change guidance on sexuality
Quakers may cut out God in faith update