Monday, October 19, 2009

Bring On the Wonder:

I can’t see the stars anymore living here/let’s go to the hills where the outlines are clear/. . .bring on the wonder, we got it all wrong/we pushed you down in our souls for far too long -Susan Enan

The question of FUM’s hiring policy is something that has weighed on my heart for years. Yesterday I had a chance to read a Minute regarding one monthly Meetings reaction to that hiring policy. I found it deeply troubling.

For so many years I have watched Friends struggle with this policy. I have watched it tare apart more liberal duel-affiliated Yearly Meetings. I have watched it pit Friends against each other: programmed Friends verse, unprogramed Friends, more liberal Friends against more theologically conservative Friends, Friends in the Spirit of Christ against non-Christian Friends, queer Friends against straight Friends. Every time this happens it breaks my heart. It has also put me in a very painful position because I am a more theologically conservative Friend in the Spirit of Christ. It hurts because although I was raised liberal unprogramed I have happily attended programmed and semi-programmed Meetings and found great spiritual power there, also because I am queer. So often when this topic is brought up it is like I am being forced to choose. I understand and sympathize with the anger of liberal Friends but when they throw accusations or wonder how anyone would want to associate with ‘them’ meaning FUM or more conservative Friends it hurts me deeply.

For these reasons I have never advocated setting ourselves, as more liberal Friends, apart from FUM, however I have always advocated taking the hiring policy very seriously and not just sweeping it under the rug. As I have prayed, written, spoken and read about this topic, I have found that I have become more and more uncomfortable with Minutes that come out against the hiring policy. I have come to believe that no matter how carefully worded or how long they have been prayed about they always come out of a place of anger, a place where ‘we’ set ourselves apart from ‘them.’ However I have been unclear in my own heart about what would be a better option. After reading this latest Minute I prayed again on this subject, and finally received a small amount clarity.

So lets not Minute our rejection of and opposition to the FUM hiring policy. Lets instead Minute our love and acceptance of the GLBTQ community. Let us Minute our willingness to help queer couples form marriage bonds. Let’s start discussing - seriously discussing – sexual morality and ethics, and what makes a healthy, loving, respectful relationship according to the values of Friends.

Lets stop asking what is the social justice way to approach this and start asking what is the Godly way to approach this. Let us build something new, instead of simply pushing away what we don’t like.

Let’s stop saying “I reject what you believe and think that it is wrong” and instead say, “this is what I believe and this is why I believe it.”

It’s going to be hard, but I think we all will be better for it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Role of Reclaiming in the Coming of the Blessed Community and Why Quakers Should Do It: Some Thoughts.

As I have been reading into New Monasticism I have been particularly struck by the idea of reclaiming. To reclaim something means that it belonged to someone else who either marked it as unwanted or gave it away. My first exposure to reclaiming was probably the fact that I grew up wearing almost exclusively hand-me-down clothes. While other people, especially young people, would never think of wearing something that wasn’t new I have never thought twice about wearing second-hand
clothes. Even when I have been able to afford new clothes I prefer to wear second hand.

Another experience I have had with reclaiming is with the reclaiming of words, particularly with the word “queer”. Even a generation a good the word queer was a hurtful, hateful word, much as ‘faggot’ still is. Slowly though ‘queer’ has come to be a positive word both politically and academically. While studying in college I studied a lot of queer theory, academic theory that is based on the idea of finding new ways of seeing things, seeing patterns and understanding certain social realities in ways we have not thought of before. Queer theory is about reclaiming, creating, and opening up new space. The word queer is much the same way. I myself feel most comfortable with affixing myself with the label ‘queer’ more then other labels because it is reclaimed to mean something that creates new space and new understanding.

I have never thought about reclaiming space though, or goods per say. However New Monasticism advocates doing just that, and I like that idea. To me reclaiming space, and resources, and ways of living we have been taught to think of as useless or not as good is in line with the teachings of Christ more so then many other forms of political and social activism. Because when we reclaim we do not merely point out where someone is wrong but create an alternative way of seeing, understanding, and acting in the world. We also build communities that way, rather then blindly striking out against the Powers That Be out of anger and hate. It's a harder road but one I do believe Christ taught us to follow. I think Christ taught us to be careful of ways of resisting power structures that are hurtful and hateful and do not build communities. I like the idea of not taking ourselves out of the world and creating our own Utopia off in the forest somewhere, but instead being right there. I like the idea of being right in the middle of things, yet also living a life in God’s image, a life that creates a space for something new. The first mark out of the 12 Marks of New Monasticism talk about reclaiming places of Empire. For me Empire in this context is not referring to a political or social historical reality per-say. Instead it means our fall from Gospel Order, all the things, and systems and oppression in the world that keep us blinded to the Blessed Community. Reclaiming places and in general resources means taking something that the Empire has decided is bad, or just not worth the time and making it into part of the Blessed Community. That can be reusing abandoned houses or building, second hand clothes or furniture, spaces that are considered contaminated, and taking in people who have been cast out. I like reclaiming because it is refusing to play by the rules of Empire. My mother will tell you that I dislike following rules I see as pointless or useless. It’s true I don’t, if a rule is good and helpful and there for a reason I’m totally about following it to the letter, if it’s useless and hurtful though I say why bother? So we rock the boat, we are Quakers and more importantly Christians that’s what we do. I think reclaiming is particularly important for Quakers, especially Liberal Friends because as Liberal Friends we have grown very used to throwing things away. We have gotten rid of beliefs, Church structures, theology and traditions. Yet as Christians and as Friends what we should be doing is reclaiming. Not just in our own religious community, but also out in the world. Reclaiming is a part of God’s politics; it’s a form of protest that creates, and builds something new. We talk a lot in the Liberal Quaker community about acting out of love, and then rely, rant and petition against people like conservatives, Fundamentalist Christians and Republicans. A lot of times I agree, some of what these people do is very wrong and goes against all of the things I believe in as well as how I understand the Church. On the other hand we don’t really try to reclaim anything, and that kind of protest doesn’t build, it doesn’t form communities, it doesn’t make anything new. Brian McLaren calls himself Fundamentalist in A Generous Orthodox, in the Quaker community I am considered very conservative and I would even call myself evangelical. Neither Brian nor I mean these terms in the way they are usually used, but then that’s the point of reclaiming.

I love the idea of reclaiming. I love the idea of taking words, rituals, spaces, things and saying to Empire ‘we aren’t going to play by your rules. You’ve meant these things to be useless, and hurtful, but you don’t have that kind of power over us. We are going to use these things and build a new community with them.’ I think that is what God’s politics is all about, and therefore that is what Quaker politics should be about as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Come the New Jerusalem: YAFIR and New Monasticism

It’s been a week since I moved into the house donated to the YAFIR (Young Adult Friends in Residence) program. The house was in bad shape when we got it but half a dozen F(f)riends have worked very hard for the last three weeks and it now feels more like a home. I am the first intern to move into the house and it feels a little strange just banging around the place waiting for things to get started. It’s given me a little down time though, some time to get used to living in a new place, get my stuff moved in and connect with Friends from Perry City Meeting.

I have been thinking and praying a lot about the community aspect of the program. It has been very clear to me, and the YAFIR committee, that the interns were to build and live in an intentional community however how that would happen and what it would look like has totally been left up to the interns. I have very definite feelings about this. I am not comfortable with the idea of us just being a group of random people living together in the same house. Neither am I at all comfortable with the idea of us living in a community based on the usual model of alternative, secular intentional communities.

I am however very strongly drawn to New Monasticism. When I read 12 Marks of New Monasticism I knew that what it outlined was what I wanted, and more importantly what I needed. It spoke to my condition perfectly. It was a deeply moving spiritual moment for me. Every time I pray about this it only becomes clear to me that I am being called to participate more fully in the Emergent Church movement and New Monasticism as part of that.

On the other hand I and my other interns have not had an opportunity to get together and talk about it. The other two Young Adult Friends involved in the program do not identify as Friends in the Spirit of Christ and I do not know what their feelings will be about participating in or affiliating ourselves with a movement that is undeniably Christian. I must admit the Christian theology and practices New Monasticism embodies is a large part of what draws me to it though. On the other hand those already involved in New Monastic communities are doing much the same work the YAFIR program was designed to do. I think that the connections with other people doing similar work we could make by connecting in some way with this movement would be helpful and nurturing to the YAFIR program as whole. I also think this is a great opportunity for Young Adult Friends to reach out beyond the Quaker community and make connections with other serious religious people involved in similar work. I think Quakers do have a place in the Emergent Church and New Monasticism and I would love to see the YAFIR program take part in finding that place.

The other two interns and I have tried to communicate via e-mail but it hasn’t really worked out up until this point. I hope and pray we will come to a clearer understand of the direction this community will go once at least two of us have the opportunity to talk face to face. I also hope that the other two interns possible leeriness of Christianity will not stop us from building a strong, meaningful community under the guidance of the Spirit.

I will continue to pray for strength and faithfulness for all of us.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friends In The Spirit of Christ Epistle


Eighth Month 30, 2009

To Friends everywhere, and to all who seek love, joy, hope, and meaning in life:

We, a group of Friends gathering at Powell House in Old Chatham, NY for a weekend entitled “Following Jesus in Community,” send our loving greetings to you. We’ve come from places ranging from Maine to Virginia and Ohio and from a variety of Quaker traditions. We have shared our personal experiences of the love of the living Jesus Christ and have been buoyed and stirred by Christ’s healing and forgiving presence among us this weekend. We want to invite you into the joy, hope and love we have known here.

We experienced a divine covering that helped to reconcile us all, dissolving many anxieties some of us felt in gathering with strangers whose theological tendencies we did not know. Knowing that language and doctrinal notions have caused unnecessary divisions among people of faith, we have no desire to add to these, but simply to stand with Jesus Christ at an open door, where He offers His light and love. We have found that these are available to everyone. We are eager to share the experiences that have liberated us from so many burdens and sorrows in hopes that you and others may know the same joy.

We intend to meet again within the year, and invite inquiries to: Friends in the Spirit of Christ, c/o Anna Obermayer, 599 Trumbulls Corners Road, Newfield, NY 14867 (

In love,

Ann Armstrong (NEYM)
Doug Armstrong (NEYM)
Jim Atwell (NYYM)
Susan Bailey (OYM)
Connie Bair-Thompson (NEYM)
Arthur Berk (NYYM, OYM)
Peter Blood-Patterson (NEYM)
Steve Chase (NEYM)
Shayla Cody
Jim Contois (NEYM, NYYM)
Ann Dodd-Collins (NEYM)
Ann Davidson (NYYM)
Roger Dreisbach-Williams (NYYM)
Elizabeth Edminster (NYYM)
John Edminster (NYYM)
Ellen Flanders (NYYM)
Dorothy Garner (NYYM)
David Herendeen (NYYM)
Seth Hinshaw (OYM)
Raye Hodgson (OYM)
Ruth Kinsey (NYYM)
Herb Lape (NYYM)
Rene Lape (Attender, NYYM)
Reb MacKenzie (NEYM, NYYM)
Barbara Meli (NYYM)
Salvatore Meli (NYYM)
Kate Moss (NYYM)
Anna Obermayer (NYYM)
Christopher Sammond (NYYM)
James Schultz (NYYM)
Stella Schultz (NYYM)
Susan Smith (OYM)
Thomas Swain (PYM)
Lillie Wilson (NEYM)

Key to Yearly Meeting Affiliation:
NEYM = New England Yearly Meeting
NYYM = New York Yearly Meeting
OYM = Ohio Yearly Meeting
PYM = Philadelphia Yearly Meeting

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In the Hands of the Lord: Becoming A Released Young Adult Friend

On Sunday NY Yearly Meeting convened to begin our weeklong session. While sitting in Meeting on Sunday at the opening Meeting for worship this message came to me. I was drawn to give special thanks to those who work for NY Yearly Meeting full time and for every other Quaker organization in the country. I am reminded that for me it is a particularly scary concept to dedicate ones entire life and time to God’s calling. I, who am plagued by doubts and questions about what it is God calls me to do within the Religious Society of Friends, have a hard time imagining a calling so strong that one would give up other options of jobs and life styles to dedicate themselves to the workings of our religious society and community. I personally always wonder and worry if I chose a life focused entirely on my religious community my other gifts and my other callings to work in other communities would be lost. On the other hand I sometimes wonder if I hide behind other things I do, as a way of escaping what God is calling me to do, because it scares me.

I thank God that there are people with the strength, wisdom and courage to make that choice to become “full-time Quakers” as it where. Yet I remind myself that God’s callings are often frightening and not easy. Religion especially Quakerism is not easy and often frightening. Too often I think we let ourselves think of Quakerism as an easy safe thing. We sometimes forget that in its demand that we all open ourselves to God and dedicate every facet of our lives to Her grace and glory, Quakerism is the very antithesis of safe and easy.

My prayer for myself and NY Yearly Meeting would be that we do not loose sight of the fact that ours is a strong, rich, powerful, living, demanding, frightening, enlightening and beautiful faith. We must not be afraid of doing what is hard or spiritually frightening. God often calls us to move out of the space we feel comfortable and walk a hard and sometimes dangerous road. I hope that we all listen for, discern and except our leadings as God gives them to us, no matter what they might be. Even if they scare us. Let us all be open to the Spirit, to move among us. Make us a vessel of Your light and Your will. We must trust that God loves us, watches over us and will not lead us astray. No matter how huge a jump God seems to be requiring of us, She is always there protecting us and making sure we come down where we need to be. We must trust God knows the path, even if we don’t, and that is the most frightening thing of all, and also the most joyful and beautiful.

I am reminded of a passage from Paul. Paul new what it meant to be called by God to do what he thought he could not do. When God called Paul, God called him to go against everything he had previously believed, everything he had been taught, everything he valued, everything he defined himself as, everything his community and his family defined themselves as. God called Paul to do what he had previously believed would be impossible for him to do. Paul knew the power of the Spirit of God, and knew how it can shape, reshape and set afire your life when you surrender to it. Paul writes in Second Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom” and I believe that. I believe that.

I wrote this message two years ago during Summer Sessions of New York Yearly Meeting. I find it particularly interesting and moving today, as I face a commitment I have made to live as a released Friend, a full-time Quaker, in fact. Two years ago I could not have imagined setting aside my other gifts and ambitions to dedicated myself fully to God and my religious community. Today the idea still terrifies me, and seems too big, too complicated and too much like something I might need to be a people-person to do.

I first heard about the Young Adult Friends In Residence program when it was first conceived roughly five years ago. At the time I couldn’t imagine it would be anything I was interested in doing. Mostly because when it was first imagined it was imagined to be a program that focused exclusively on youth work, an area I have never been gifted at. Since then Young Adult Friends In Residence has become much more then a youth program, now it also includes spiritual nurture and spiritual growth work as well as a deeper understand about what it means to live in religious community. I applied to it about two to three years ago when no one really knew when or if it could happen.

Even this spring whether or not the program would happen seemed touch and go, but as of this summer it pulled together. Through divine influence we got a dedicated host meet, a house, support of the Yearly Meeting, funding, and three willing interns.

Now suddenly, I am a full-time Quaker, and if all things go according to plan I will be so for the next two years. I did not, nor do I take this decision lightly. I have been discerning God’s will in this decision for almost six months both by myself and with a clearness committee. Through that time I became clear to me that since I have now graduated from college the time had come to dedicated myself fully to my religious community and my own spiritual growth. I will have an Elder, and an anchor committee to work with me through this. Yet I have done what seemed two years ago to be so unimaginably scary. It’s a huge step for me, and I pray for faithfulness everyday. I pray to be as faithful as the other released Friends I have known.

I know that I am doing Christ’s work and Christ’s will in this, and I trust that I will be loved, cared for and that I will not be led astray. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom”(Second Corinthians 3:17) I still believe that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I am the mystic
To whom belief came slowly.
I doubted because I could not see God
And when I prayed I only knew silence.

My sister knows God in the daily chores
In the baking of the bread
But to me God comes as angels
And Light so bright I could not stand
But fell to my knees
In the courtyard of our house
Right by the fig tree.
Martha scolded me for spilling the water.

When I first heard His words
I wept and wept.
Inconsolable for days
As my world died around me.
Then after the tears
when I awoke
I found God had built me another.

They tell me it is blasphemy
This new teaching.
But I who never loved God
Have learned to love so much and so freely
That I see Him in every drop of water
Every fig
Every lizard
Every voice in the street
Every beggar who stops at our door.
Perhaps it is blasphemy.

When He died
I stood and watched the lights go out.
But the angels stood by me, hands on my shoulders
And in His mother’s voice told me
The morning would come.

They say the Spirit came to the twelve
And they spoke as one.
But I have always known God
Burning like tongues of fire.
And I will not be afraid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When the day of Pentecost had come: Questions regarding Friends and Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent winds, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Lately spending time with other Christians has made me wonder why Pentecost doesn’t hold a greater significance for Friends. After all Pentecost is one of the most important events in Christian tradition and as a denomination that focuses so much on revelation by the Spirit, one would think Pentecost should be particularly reveared by Friends.

I don’t see a lot of talk about Pentecost though. Certainly Friends don’t celebrate it the way other Christians do. When talking with a Friend about it, she pointed out to me that we as Friends did not celebrate Pentecost because we traditionally did not celebrate Holy days, expecting every day to be a Holy day.

But modern Friends celebrate Christmas, and my family at least has always celebrated Easter. I know this is mostly because Christmas and Easter have become more secular events than religious holidays. Yet I draw great emotional and spiritual strength and power from celebrating the birth and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. For me celebrating these Holy days even though I am not strictly following Quaker tradition is an important part of my religious life. I think the same can be said for a lot of Friends.

I am now wondering that if we as Friends, and I know not all Friends do this, break our religious traditions enough to celebrate Christmas, why not celebrate Pentecost? Why not celebrate Lent? Might we as a religious community benefit from the rich traditions and spiritual meaning offered by celebrating all Christian Holy days?

It feels weird to for me to be suggesting actually going against a Quaker tradition, but I feel like this one might be one we might actually benefit from leavi

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reflections On Living One’s Faith: Notes from a Contemplative Friend

In about a week and a half I will graduate from Earlham College with major in History and a minor in Religion. Last Saturday evening the Bonner Scholarship Program held a reception dinner for the senior Bonner scholars of which I am one. The Bonner Scholarship Program is a national community service based scholarship for low-income students. The director of the program at Earlham’s, Jana, picked a quote she felt most embodied each of us, as Bonner scholars, and our work in the community. For me she picked this quote by Myles Horton,

“If you believe that people are of worth, you can’t treat anybody inhumanly, and that means you not only have to love and respect people, but you have to think in terms of building a society that people can most profit from, and that kind of society has to work on the principle of equality. Otherwise, Somebody’s going to be left out.”

I don’t think of myself as someone who works in the world a lot. Of all the members of my family I am one of the least activist minded among them. I have a “one social justice issue in my life at a time” policy that confuses and sometime annoys other members of my family. Starting last year I totally embargoed the news because of American politics. I refused to listen to it or read about it because, I felt it was too hate-filled with too much emphasis on “use against them” especially due to the election. It paralyzed me, it kept me from seeing the good in people and only pulled me down into anger over the things I couldn’t change. So I stopped having anything to do with politics.

On Facebook a couple weeks ago I took a Facebook-quiz on “what is your ministry” evidently my ministry is working within the world, living my life according to my values and social justice issues. It’s not that that isn’t important to me it’s just in comparison to other people I know it simply doesn’t seem to be my major emphasis. So I shrugged off the quiz, like you do, and moved on.
Last week during our last senior Bonner meeting we all got our applications back so we could see exactly what had caused the selection committee to accept us into the program in the first place. There was a lot of laughing, a lot of reminiscing. It was fun to see what was important to us then and how much has changed. Yet I couldn’t help noticing the desperation that came through in my application. Over and over again on every page of my application I seem to be saying, “please let me serve, I need to be doing community service, I need to be out in the community.” Sometimes I forget how important service is for me, how much I can’t just sit back and do nothing in my life.
For the last month or so I’ve been easing into politics again as well. Mostly through watching The Daily Show. Everyone laughs when I tell them this, but watching Jon Stewart on an almost daily basis is helping me be a better political person. Politics in this country can by so hateful, we can get so wrapped up in the political arguments, making our point, standing for what we believe, that we forget we’re all people, and compassion is key. I am all too aware that I can fall into this, that I can forget to be compassionate, I need humor, not anger, I need to be smiling when I think about these issues, even the serious ones, even the heart breaking ones, especially those.
In some ways it seems right that I am coming to realize and reflect on this part of my spiritual life now. I tend to work through things in a certain methodical order, and one needs a strong personal spiritual foundation before one can reach out into the world. Like everything about spirituality the way you live your faith through our life has to reflect your own personal understanding of God. The last four years of my life seem to have been in large part about me taking a step back and saying, “ok, this is what I believe in, this is who I am, as a religious person.” Now maybe it’s the time for me to start thinking “and this is what it means for me to live that faith.” Or maybe I’ve already started.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Without Hesitation or Equivocation

For several weeks I have been thinking and praying about what it would mean for me, as a young liberal Friend, to be able to stand up among a group of young Christians and say, “Jesus Christ is my personal Savior.” This is a phrase used by millions of young Christians without embarrassment or hesitation every day all over the country. Yet I was raised and lived for many years with a strong discomfort for this particular phrase. In the world I lived in and among the people I associated with both religious and secular, this particular phrase brought up images of Fundamentalist Christian brainwashing. Even my incredibly religious and Christian mother reacted with discomfort when a more fundamentalist Christian friend of hers asked if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, I was about ten at the time.

Ten was a little young for me to be making deep spiritual decisions, but now I wonder, what keeps me from using this language? What keeps me from proclaiming my faith in this way? I’m not embarrassed about being a Friend and neither am I embarrassed about being a Christian. As I get older and grow more and more into my faith it is my Christian roots, those roots that for me I cannot separate from being a Friend, that mean so much to me. I love reading the Bible, some parts of the Bible I read literally. I love the symbol of the Cross and how it links me across time to a long and rich history of spirituality and faith, but also links me across denominations to other believers in the word and spirit of Christ. I wear crosses a lot. I own five. Connecting with other Christians especially other Christian youth is extremely important for me. I really treasure the time I spend in fellowships with Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Brethrens, Mennonites, Pentecostals. Again and again my fellow Christians teach me about faithfulness, and acting righteously within the world. To say “Jesus Christ is my personal Savior” is a link that connects many Christians together by a common belief and a common articulation of that belief.

What would it really mean for me to say, “Jesus Christ is my personal Savior”? Firstly the phrase denotes a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is not a problem for me, I am a Christian, and I do believe that Jesus was God made flesh. This phase also denotes Jesus as Savior. For many years as a liberal I struggled with Jesus’ role as Savior. In my mind, and I’m sure many peoples, when you say ‘savior’ the immediate reaction is a God who saves some and damns others. This is not however necessarily true. Grace can, and I believe is, freely given to all. That does not mean however people cannot live in a state of Hell. In my theology hell is a state of being. To live in hell is to live in pain and unhappiness, to hurt others through our actions, to hurt ourselves, to hurt our world. I’ve been there; I’m assuming most of us have. In Hell the world is against you, and everyone in it out to get you, the world shrinks down to you pain and your unhappiness, and you lash out against it. This is what God saves you from. This is what God is there to save everyone from. In my case I think God saves me over and over again, when I was sixteen, when I was twenty. When God saves you not all your problems magically go away, and you don’t stop being in pain. Instead you are able to take a step back and say “yes I did that, that is my fault, but this is what I’m going to do to trying and make it better, to try and change.” To say Jesus Christ as Savoir also brings up images of the crucifixion. For a long time I rejected the crucifixion outright, it wasn’t important to my personal theology I didn’t want to deal with it, so I didn’t. Since then I have read about and explored several kinds of theology in which the crucifixion is extremely important and in which the crucifixion is depicted in what I find compelling ways. I’m still unsure how I feel about the crucifixion or what it’s meaning for me is, but I cannot at this point reject it outright anymore.

The last theological part that goes into the phrase “Jesus Christ is my personal Savoir” is the personal bit, in all sense. For me it is also the easiest part. Jesus Christ is my personal Savoir. God loves me personally, Jesus touched me, saved me, comforted me. I am worth that in God’s eyes, I am a beloved child or God, and when I am happy, living a good life, taking care of myself, taking care of my world and the people in it, living a righteous life, God is happy, and I know God made life possible.

You might be thinking at this point, that’s great Anna you go ahead and say “Jesus Christ is my personal Savoir”. You might be wondering what the point is. There are several points here. First there is connection, being able to truthfully use a common Christian language allows many Christian with different beliefs, different outlooks and different ways of expressing their faith to come together and have a conversation. More over it allows us to have a conversation that starts from a place of similarities rather then a place of division. This is important to me. It is important to me that we as Friends reach out to other Christians. It is important that I be able to say “look despite our differences there are some things we can agree on.” Being able to say, “Jesus Christ is my personal Savoir” allows me to begin to have a conversation with a young evangelical fundamentalist Christian that starts from a place of mutual understanding instead of mistrust. I want to have those conversations; I think all Friends should want to.

Being able to say Jesus Christ is my personal Savoir is also important on a personal spiritual level. It is a declaration of faith. When you say it, you are declaring your love for God, your faithfulness to God, your love and faithfulness to Christianity and the Christian tradition. This is also very important to me. As a liberal Christian I cannot spend me enter life apologizing for believing in Christ as the Son of God, or believing the Quakerism is a Christian faith. For me being a Christian, being a believer in Christ a Friend to Christ is an act of joy, an act of love, not an act of betrayal. I am always searching for ways to express that joy and that love without denying my Quaker tradition of the rejection of outward signs. There is also another meaning to me saying this particular statement of faith and that is acknowledging to all, openly my personal relationship with God. As a young politically and social liberal person, as a Queer identified person, it caries special weight to stand up and say God loves me personally, God has saved me, Go is in a relationship with me, just like God is in a relationship with you.

Jesus Christ is my personal Savior. I accepted Jesus into my heart for the first time when I was sixteen years old, and all the world seemed to be nothing but fear and pain. God saved me from myself, from myself hatred and self-abuse. I try to live my life in the image of Christ. I am like every other twenty-two year old, devout Christian across America. I read the Bible, I pray everyday, I attend my church, and I seek fellowship with other believers. I wonder how I am going to live a good Christian life in a world that too often does not seem to share my beliefs about what makes a good and just life. I struggle conduct my relationships with integrity. I wonder what God has in store for me. I am also member of the Democratic Party, I believe in a woman’s right to choose, I am against the death penalty, against war or violence of any kind, against discrimination for any reason. I believe in global warming, and evolution. I identify queer, I believe we do not choose our sexuality, I believe the sex we were born with does not have to dictate the way we understand out gender. I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends. I know many, many other Christians believe in all of these things too. I also know many, many other do not. That’s ok though, I know the table is big enough for all of us to sit at.