1970's Convergent Friends? | A Brief History

My good friend Shawna from Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) sent this to a bunch of us the other day intimating at Convergent Friends being much older than we thought.

A conference of Friends in 1970, which represented 24 American YMs and had a 135 in attendance, gathered in Saint Louis to discuss the “Future of Friends.” Consequently, in 1971, the gathering produced an edited book of essays edited by Quaker theologian T. Canby Jones and was called “Quaker Understanding of Christ and Authority.” Later, in 1974, there was another publication which found its roots in this conference, the booklet published by John McCandles called “Quaker Understanding of Christ.”

In the first edited volume by Jones, there is a number of “General
Queries for the Faith and Life Study Conference;” Shawna wrote to show us what Query #5 says:

5. What is the purpose of the Faith and Life movement among American
Friends?
(a) To come into unity through agreeing in a collective statement of our
common faith?
(b) To reconstruct the theology or find again the spirit of early Quakers?
(c) To know the present state of our Society through what might be called
‘comparative Quakerism’: a study of the various theological types and
points
of view to be found in our Yearly Meetings and associations?
(d) To seek through meeting together and dialogue between the various
strands of current Quakerdom new life and light under the leading of the
Holy Spirit–something that might be called ‘convergent’ or ’emergent’
Quakerism?

So Shawna, along with the rest of us wonder what this means, if it means anything. Were they ahead of the times, are we just behind? Is God at work in a way we hadn’t even expected?

Whatever it may be I was excited to see this and plan to investigate the conference further. I may just have my research project for the summer set.

A sidenote about all this:
Speaking of Convergent Friends – the website is up and running now, and are making more of a concentrated effort to invite people into the conversation, develop some of our own theology, and continue to challenge the structures of both the world and our church through the power of God’s love and our daily practices.

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

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