From Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends
Dear Friends: With memories of the First Annual Session of Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends still fresh in my mind (SCYMF; May 18-20, 2018), I send you greetings. SCYMF is a new yearly meeting in the Pacific Northwest. We are a voluntary association of meetings, churches, and individuals who support worship, ministry, and service through the cultivation of Christian faith in the Quaker tradition. Our members were previously associated with North West Yearly Meeting (NWYM), and our separation from NWYM occurred through a wrenching, several-years-long process.
During that process, a passage of scripture opened to me. That is, I was granted a new understanding of words that I already found familiar. First, this passage from 1 Corinthians came into my mind: “. . . when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11: 18-19) Then I heard the footnote: “Oh, and Julie, it doesn’t mean what you think it means.”
I’d always assumed that this passage means that when divisions arise, sooner or later, one group will always be shown to be right (maybe by more fruit of the Spirit) and the other wrong. However, in the context of our struggles with deep divisions in our NWYM community, I could not hold that understanding with easiness any more. So I waited for God to tell me what was meant.
I waited for many months. The verses kept coming back, probably because the problems in my yearly meeting were so present to me. Then, a couple months ago, the Beatitudes popped into my head, especially “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” And I knew (and am fairly certain, as certain as I ever am) that The Holy Spirit was telling me, “You’re humans, and there will always be divisions and misunderstandings. Those approved by God are the peacemakers who show up, and work to heal the breach.”
So this is the work to which I commit myself: to be a peacemaker, to reach out from “my” side to find peacemakers on the “other” side.
One of the GREAT joys of my Quaker faith is this experience of having the Holy Spirit open my mind to understand the scriptures. There is nothing quite like it.
West Hills Friends Church
Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends