A little bit about Friends and Spring Grove

Quaker Beginnings:

In an age of outward formalism and inward shallowness, Friends posed a striking contrast. They believed that God was a God of truth, so they sought to worship Him in truth. This was a stark contrast to the ritualized religion of the state church, where people could easily participate in worship without showing any change in their lives.

Friends and Sacraments:

A Sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an invisible and spiritual reality.” The sacrament is not the spiritual reality, but it points to it. In the seventeenth century People became members of religious institution, but there was little sign of lives being changed. Sacraments were taken with regularity, but there was little evidence that men and women were communing with Christ in a transforming way, To these inconsistencies Friends posed the radical notion that the spiritual reality is the priority, and that it can be experienced even without the outward rites. The outward rites could be confused too easily with a magical formula, but they are never necessary for God’s working. John the Baptist said “I baptize you with water… But after me will come one who…will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Baptism by fire depicts the spiritual change that happens within the life of one who abides in Christ and in whom Christ abides in an ongoing sense. Elton Trueblood says, “if we have The Reality, nothing else is required; if we do not, nothing else will suffice.” Fox said, “Let your lives preach.” The most effective sign is changed and changing lives. As often as we eat and drink, we call to the present the memory of our Lord’s sacrifice for us. Our prayer then becomes, “as this nourishment is to our bodies, Lord, so are you to our souls.”

Friends and Worship:

We believe that the spirit may lead in the planning of a service, and that the order of service should be able to be laid down if the Spirit dictates. At Spring Grove, this is demonstrated by the fact that, even though our bulletin includes an order of services, there is a statement at the bottom of it that states "Services subject to change by the guidance of the Holy Spirit." During the service, the focus is not on the leaders of worship, but on the present Lord. It is totally opposite to an audience appreciating a performance, because all are involved in the act of worshiping God. Worship without participation is a contradiction of terms.

Friends see worship as the end of all we do. When we share our concerns and celebrations with one another, we do so as an act of worship. When we wait in silence together, the silence is not empty, but it is full-because of the One we meet in the silence. We take the time to just sit and listen to God, waiting for Him to speak to us in the silence. Also, when we meet for business, we do so in the context of worship.

Worship is not an agenda of hymns to be sung and things to said any more than the Church of Jesus Christ is a building of brick and stone. Worship is the loving interaction between God and the people of God who are the Church. It may be aided by form but is not to be confused with nor dependent on it. “Worship is the adoring response of the heart and mind to the influence of the Spirit of God. As we respond to your loving initiative within our hearts, Lord, make our lives that precious place where You abide. Amen."

Worship is not limited to the church services. When George Fox said we should let our lives speak, he meant that our everday lives should show the world that there is something different about us. We should live our lives as a constant testimony of God's living presence in our hearts. This is not to be confused with going around beating people over the head with a Bible. Our testimony should be constant because in everything we do, we should be honest, trustworthy, and loving. We must never forget that we are the world's only representation of Jesus to them. If we do not model Christ in all that we do, we are not letting our lives speak.

Friends and Ministry:

When one’s life is touched by the “fire” of Jesus Christ, it cannot be contained. It must be shared with others or it grows cold. If you are a Christian, You are a minister. As followers of Jesus Christ the question is not if we will minister, but how.

God does not restrict the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from anybody. Early Friends did not have "preachers," preferring to wait in silence until somebody in the meeting felt led by the Spirit to speak. Early Friends did not have pastors because of the power and authority associated with them, which detracted from the Friends' message of "universal priesthood." Many Friends churches today, including Spring Grove, have pastors, but their role in the church is more of a shepherd. It is not the preacher who determines the future of a congregation or what actions are taken, it is God speaking through everyone in the meeting.

Friends as Peacemakers:

The peace of Christ can never be accomplished by inward or outward violence. Convinced of the power of the Spirit’s conviction, Fox simply told William Penn, about his sword, “Wear it as long as thou canst.”

When asked by the Pharisees what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-39). If you love God, you will love your neighbor. If you love your neighbors, how could you kill them? If indeed they are lost, then by killing them you remove all hope of their salvation.

Friends and the Kingdom of God:

As we consider the roots and fruits of Quakerism our goal is not to become “just like” past Quakers. This would be the most un-Quaker thing to do. Their genius was not one of conformity to an outward standard; rather it involved the “transformation of one’s total life” by the creative power of the Spirit. As opposed to copying the past's methods, our question as modern Friends is “How can we be touched by the same spiritual power that changed their lives and their worlds?” That is the way we should mimic the early Quakers. We should not become an exclusive club that wears funny hats and meets in the same way every week. That would be losing our testimony regarding outward standards and sacraments.

The content for this page was modified from "A Collection of Friends Quotes" at Willow Creek Friends Church's web page.

This page mostly focuses on what makes the Friends Church different from other Christian denominations. For information about the beliefs of Mid-America Yearly Meeting (of which Spring Grove is a part), visit their Faith and Practice site. It includes the beliefs common to most of the universal Christian church.

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