Conservative Friend

    An Outreach of Stillwater Monthly Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends

An Anabaptist asks questions on faith and practice

(The Anabaptists are a Christian group that originated in what is now Switzerland and Germany.  They are a "believer's church," where church membership is considered to be an adult decision.  They were were persecuted in Europe, and emigrated en masse to William Penn's American colony upon the invitation of the Quakers.  Modern Anabaptists are the Mennonites, Amish, Brethren, and Hutterites.  More conservative groups maintain a plain, non-electric lifestyle.  More liberal groups are similar to the dominant culture.)

Because Quakers believe in an experiential religion (that is, a religion based on one's own personal experience of the Divine), our answers may differ in details.... but the fundamental principle that Christ has come to teach His people Himself is the same.

Q:    Do the conservative Friends rely on the scriptures to guide them in everyday life and in meetings?

A:    Yes and No.  Conservative Friends rely on the Holy Spirit of Christ to guide them.  We are grateful that God has provided the scriptures for us, as an outward test of His inward leadings.  We know that we can rely on the scriptures to provide guidance when we need it, because we know from experience that we can rely on God.  But the first Guide is our Inward Teacher.

Q:    Do conservative Friends baptize, observe love feast or foot washing?

A:    We do not observe the outward ceremonies.  The outward ceremonies are only symbols of inward Truths.  We observe the baptism by the Holy Spirit, when our Lord cleanses us and makes us new creatures.  We observe communion, or love feast, when we gather together as believers to worship as a community of believers.  We observe foot washing when we find ways to serve each other.
Q:    Do women teach in church? Are women allowed to testify during meeting?

A:    Yes.  The Religious Society of Friends has believed in the equality of men and women in the ministry since its beginning over 350 years ago.  We believe that the Holy Spirit can call both men and women to the task of teaching, prophesying, public prayer, and other ministerial duties.  We believe that this is a biblical position.... among other things, Paul very clearly wrote that there was neither male nor female in Christ.  Only those in Christ should speak during meeting, whether male or female.

Q:    Do the members dress plain? Do the women cover their heads and wear dresses only?

A:    Some members of OYM dress plain.  Some women cover their heads and wear dresses only.  This is not a requirement for conservative Friends.  The plain witness is one that God calls some people to, and does not call other people to.  We encourage all individuals to follow their conscience regarding their manner of dress, because we feel that God knows best what is important for an individual's spiritual growth....  we feel that a blanket prescription for a certain type of clothing would not be as useful as individually listening to our Guide.   All members of OYM are encouraged to dress simply and modestly.

Q:    Do members meet at other times during the week in addition to first day meeting?

A:    Yes.  At Stillwater, we have mid-week meeting on Wednesday.  Other OYM meetings have mid-week meetings on other days.  We also meet in small groups on a more informal basis for prayers and such at other times of the week......

Q:    Are meetings ever held in members homes?

A:    We get together for informal meetings in each other's homes at Stillwater.  Other OYM meetings have their regular meetings in members' homes.  A Quaker meeting for worship can be held anywhere that two or three are gathered together.

Q:    Do members vote in government elections?

A:    Some do.  Some don't.  We trust that each person has listened to their Guide, and that each person will be faithful to the call that the Lord has placed on their heart.  Some are called to participate actively in politics, some are called to stay away.
Q:    Do any members choose to live without electricity/cars/worldly entertainment?

A:    All members of OYM are encouraged to live simply.  There are no firm rules about what that means.  Some of us choose to have no television, or not to listen to the radio, for example.  I do not know of any OYM members who have chosen to forgo a car and electricity, but there are conservative Friends who are not members of OYM who have chosen to do without a car and electricity.

I hope that these answers are helpful.  I hope that you think of even more questions as you read my answers, because my answers are in no way comprehensive!  In all things, we try to put ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ....  and we trust that He will tell us what we should do and also provide us with the ability and the means to do it....  correspondingly, we trust that Christ also guides others, and that Christ knows better than we do what their particular spiritual needs are at the moment.  As a result, we encourage each other to follow guidelines and principles for a proper Christian life, but we do not provide detailed rules.

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