I should provide everyone with some background concerning my journey along the Friendly path. It's really quite amazing that I bring such a heaping helping of Christocentricity to the FGC potluck. When I first came to the Grand Rapids Friends Meeting, I made it very clear to everyone that I was a non-believer. This was quite acceptable to all of those great folks that I latched onto early on in my experience. As most of you who read this blog can tell, I am not your typical reserved, or "seasoned," Friendly presence. My seminary peers will tell you in no uncertain terms that I am conversationally challenged when engaged in certain subject matter. (But I do try to listen.)
Anyway, It was only due to the great patience shown by GR Friends (especially during Meeting for Business or during committee meetings), that I ever enjoyed the opportunity to mature - not so much as a Quaker - as a person. My spiritual journey, and my relationship with YHWH, would have never left the starting point if not for the nurture of some very open-minded and tolerant folks. I am joyfully indebted to those seasoned "elders" of the GR Friends Meeting who walked with me as I recovered from alcohol abuse and mental illness and received a faith that has brought with it new possibilities.
It is not my suggestion that Friends look to abort such faith experiences such as mine by declaring ourselves so Christ-centered so as to limit faith commitments to Quakerism. Yet, I am suggesting that Friends retain our historical identity as a Christian community, and that we publicly state as much in our faith and practice. I do not see how such a commitment would drive others away, or make experiences like mine an impossibility. I would think that it is easier for people to build stronger spiritual ties with a faith that retains an consistent message, than one who is losing its common language.
In the end, It might be simpler to say that I have some ideas about the future of Quakerism as a whole, because ESR is an international group of students that have an interest, not only in the future of Friends, but in theology and faith in general. These are probably not the discussions that my meeting at home are particularly interested in engaging in. I think they are more vested in peacemaking, community building, and faith exploration between friends. And in the end, that is where I want to be.