When I (Mark) told friends and family that I would be a "Quaker" youth pastor, many folks began asking questions like, "So, does that mean you are going to live without electricity?" or, "isn't that like being...um...Amish?"
I completely understand the confusion. Quakers, Mennonites, and Amish seem to be lumped into the same grouping. So, now that Beth and I have been here for a while, I figured it would be helpful to shed some light (haha) on what it means to be Quaker, especially as a youth pastor at West Hills Friends. Please know that I am fairly new to the Quaker or Friends (without going into a history lesson, the terms Quaker and Friends are used similar) tradition, I have a lot to learn myself.
Firstly, I should say, that I feel at home in the Friends tradition. Why? Probably because I identify myself within some of the core beliefs of Friends. Of course, each of these "beliefs," and my place within them, deserve pages of elaboration. Brevity will prevail here.
How awesome is that? This belief (which some of you may recognize as namaste, which with several meetings, may be translated as "that which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you") opens doors instead of closing them. It is a belief of welcoming, of peace, of respect, and honor.
So, as a Quaker at West Hills Friends, I am proud that it is a place of welcome. It is a place that allows everyone to be heard and respected. Beth and I are comfortable and happy here for these reasons, and more.
As the youth pastor at West Hills Friends I acknowledge that I am not a "super Christian." I am entrusted as a part of the community to listen to God especially as it pertains to the youth who gather there. I have been released from some of the typical responsibilities of secular life to focus more time and energy towards discerning the needs of the young people at West Hills. For this I feel both thankful, and deeply responsible to the community...they have made it financially possible for me to do this.
I realize that some of the language in this post may be confusing...I hope that it is making some sense. Part of the reason this blog exists is to communicate with folks who I cannot see/talk with on a regular basis. I wish we could be having this conversation in person.
I will continue sharing why being a Quaker is unique, and uniquely awesome. As I said above, there are many implications for holding the belief that "there is that of God in everyone." I focused on a few, I hope to elaborate further in future posts.
in other news...Beth and I will be returning to Pennsylvania for Christmas! We will be in town from December 23-January 1st! Yay!