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An Open Letter from Quaker Youth, Part 1

At the conclusion of the fall semester, my Quaker Seminar class wrote open letters to the Friends Church writ large. I will use this space to post their letters, one each day, for you to get a sense of how a portion of the youth in the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends are looking towards the future with hope and also concern.

Readers should know the prompt given to each group of students: If you were to write a letter to the members of the NWYM, what would you want them to know?

Here is the first submission:

____________________________

Dear Friends of the Northwest Yearly Meeting,

God is at at work. God is moving and things are stirring. And it is messy and it is beautiful and it is the heart of our Yearly Meeting. It is the recognition of this action of God that has driven Friends forward since the beginning of the Quaker movement. George Fox’s sensitivity to the ways that God was speaking to him was the very foundation of his seeking and ultimate foundation of Quakers.  In the past, this has been seen in ways that Friends have stood up for social justice, accepted and brought forth change, and continue to press forward as a body and accepting our differences all in an effort to do as God leads.

God’s speaking and the “inner light of Christ” in each of us as believers is the central reason that we as Quakers have arrived to where we are today. Our deep value in hearing God speak has shaped our worship practices, grounded our beliefs and theology, and has been why we have moved in the directions that we have felt that God led. A recognition of God’s action in our world and in our individual lives also has been a binding and lasting thread, constantly present and leading us as a body.

For hundreds of years, Friends have listened to and depended on God’s speaking. It is crucial to remember that Friends have always responded to how God leads to arrive at where we are today. We are writing to encourage you to continually strive to be sensitive to how God is working in our individual lives and in our direction as a body of believers.

Trust God as we always have and believe that each one of us has the power to hear God speak. God has a plan for our yearly meeting and we encourage you to listen and depend on his provision as he leads.

Sincerely,

Quaker Youth

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  1. January 26, 2013 at 6:15 PM | #1

    How will a generation so outward facing, so oriented toward the world at large take the time to hear the voice of God? This is a really important question. Are you just going to parrot the teachings you have heard in school? Church? College? What will you as a generation bring to the table? And from where will it come?

    You are following in the shadow of a “nomad” generation according to Strauss and Howe in their 1997 work “The Fourth Turning”. A generation I describe as a “slash and burn” sort of group, out to simplify and get what they can get for themselves. The want it simple and quick. Give me quick food, child care in every situation,and don’t make anything to complex. They are sick of Boomers, they know them all too well.

    In the cycle of life, we now need some heroes to straighten some things out, to return us to some semblance of order. What will we see? Production line medicine. Education by objectives. Rules for a new young society? Indeed, I hear the murder rate is down to the lowest level since about 1960. Some have predicted this would happen, because a new generation of heroes would be self policing, holding each other accountable, holding each other more closely together, but perhaps in a rigid kind of way. What new rules will you write for society?

    And, again, who or how will you listen to the inner voice. In each generation there will be those who’s natural character is opposite to the generational character they are from. They will feel be like foreigners in their own time. I encourage you to hear their voices, and the voice of God within them. Seek them out. Hear the voices of generations gone before you and respect what they have to say that is good and true. And as you age and you acquire some years under your belt, don’t be afraid to take the journey inward. You will enjoy it, but perhaps not for now. You have things to do.

  2. January 28, 2013 at 7:12 AM | #2

    Friends, I’m reminded of facilitating a middle school class in a large Canadian meeting… where the teaching wasn’t my invention. Many of these younger Friends (there were about 20) refused to join adult worship after their class, stating that they could focus worship much better if they stayed in their space. The next hour’s worship was deep and satisfying. Parents joined this deep worship when they came to collect their families. Some of them stayed, too.

    Many years later, I’m still instructed by younger Friends in ways I could listen to the spirit better.

  1. January 23, 2013 at 6:53 AM | #1
  2. January 24, 2013 at 11:11 AM | #2
  3. January 25, 2013 at 4:23 PM | #3
  4. January 29, 2013 at 5:10 PM | #4

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