Faith and Practice
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The Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church is a Christ-centered, discerning, inter-generational community of Friends, committed to discipleship and outreach to impact society locally and globally.
This vision statement was approved by Northwest Yearly Meeting in 2005.
Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (NWYM) is a growing family of Christ-centered, evangelical Friends churches reaching out to the greater Northwest and beyond in creative mission that reflects the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. We seek to know Christ intimately, worship and follow Him faithfully. Joined in the bond of fellowship, we have a sense of shared identity and common vision for ministry that focuses on:
Since Jesus Christ is head of the church and present among us as our Teacher and Guide, we commit ourselves to listening to and obeying Him. In our manner of worship and decision making and in the way we order ourselves as a church, we continue to learn how to better listen to and obey Christ together.
We are a community of disciples being transformed into the image of Christ and partnering in His mission to transform the world. In faithfulness to Scripture and the ongoing leadership of the Holy Spirit, we bear witness to the reality of Christ by our changed and changing lives and in our commitment to live out the values of Jesus’ Kingdom in all that we do. Through our joint ministries and shared resources, we equip our local faith communities to educate people of all ages to follow Christ.
We believe God has called us to a unique expression of the Christian life that is an important contribution to the overall mission of God in the world. As the Friends of NWYM, our common life is described by our Faith and Practice. Together, we seek to live in obedience to the same Life and Power that called early Friends to courageous evangelism, compassionate service, community, integrity, simplicity, equality and peacemaking in ways that speak to the present culture.
Leadership Development and Support
All people are called to ministry. Some are called to unique leadership roles that help us be the faithful people God intends. Therefore, we intentionally identify, equip and release all kinds of leaders to serve among us. Men and women called to pastoral service are well trained and adequately supported. Clerks, elders, and representatives find joy and purpose in their ministry because they understand their roles and are trained to serve well. Our young people have opportunity to explore their leadership gifts because we invest in their education and provide opportunities for service.
Our local faith communities take a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from traditional to house churches to new expressions yet to be defined in a changing culture. They may be urban or rural, more homogenous or inter-cultural. We actively cultivate vibrant and healthy churches and families within their care. Our NWYM staff and board structure encourage these local faith communities to be faithful, effective, growing, and outreach-oriented by providing ongoing training and resources.
We are engaged in holistic evangelism, social concern, peacemaking and church planting throughout the greater Northwest. We are developing a culture of service in NWYM in which Friends of all ages understand their call to ministry and find support as they serve Christ in their communities.
Our ministry and church planting extends beyond the Northwest, as we reach out to the rest of the world with the love of Jesus Christ. We send people of all ages across the globe to share in word and deed the gospel that is good news to the lost, the poor and the suffering.
Joined as we are in Christ, we continually work at improving our interconnection and being mutually supportive. Through the NWYM staff and our creative use of media, we communicate with each other and those around us who we are as Friends and how God is active in us for the sake of the world.
This statement of Core Values was created in consultation with local churches, and approved by Northwest Yearly Meeting in 1997.
- Jesus Christ is present. Jesus Christ is actively present with us as Savior, Teacher, Lord, Healer, and Friend. Christ is immediately accessible to all who believe in Him. Those who take time to listen to Christ can hear His voice and follow Him, individually and collectively.
- Scripture calls us to account and helps us know God’s will. The Bible, as interpreted by the Holy Spirit, shows us what God requires of us and provides authoritative and unfailing spiritual guidance for our lives today.
- God is the source of life, and all human life is sacred. All life has its origin in the creative work of God, and human life is to be regarded as a sacred gift from God. Because all persons have equal value and are created in the image of God, we must treat others with respect and dignity, regardless of human measures of merit or value.
- The Holy Spirit transforms and empowers us. The Holy Spirit enlightens our paths and transforms our lives. As we yield our lives to God and become immersed in the life of the Spirit, things change. Despair gives way to hope, and weakness gives way to empowerment. All things indeed become new.
- We are called to be and to make followers of Christ. Christ through His Spirit transforms us to be more like Himself. He enables us to live lives of integrity and righteousness and calls us to bring others into this relationship. We listen to Christ, we obey Him, and we teach others how to do the same.
- We are called to live out Christ’s love. Jesus reveals the fullest measure of God’s love by His example in His death on the cross. As we become more Christ-like, we hope to display this same quality of love corporately and individually to those around us.
- We are called to be agents of God’s peace and love to everyone. We are called to work for justice and to be agents of peace in a broken world. Whether situations of conflict and confusion are personal, national, or global—within the church or beyond it—we are called to be agents of the same healing and love we have received from God.
The Early Movement
The Friends Church (Quaker) arose from a movement of Christian renewal that began in England during the seventeenth century. The major leader of this renewal was George Fox, who as a sensitive youth experienced cold formalism and power politics in the church and was repulsed by empty pleasure seeking outside the church. Young Fox studied the Bible and longed for an authentic faith to match its Christian message. This longing remained unfulfilled, even frustrated, by human counselors until he looked beyond them. Then he discovered One who could (as phrased in Fox’s Journal) “speak to thy condition,” and he reported that his heart “did leap for joy”.
George Fox found this experience with the living Christ so compelling that he quickly told others about it. He shared the good news that Christ could free persons from the guilt and power of sin. To this message people responded eagerly. They were seekers, disillusioned by dry and formal religion, and they were attracted to the warm, evangelical message preached by this earnest young messenger. Scores of young men and women were “raised up of the Lord” for a ministry across England and beyond. Known as the “valiant sixty,” they proclaimed that Christ could be experienced in the present, not just read about in the Bible or remembered through ritual observance. This is how George Fox perceived his ministry:
Now I was sent to turn people from darkness to the light that they might receive Christ Jesus, for to as many as should receive him in his light, I saw that he would give power to become the sons of God, which I had obtained by receiving Christ. And I was to direct people to the Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures, by which they might be led into all Truth… I was to turn them to the grace of God, and to the Truth in the heart, which came by Jesus, that by this grace they might be taught, which would bring them into salvation… —Journal, Nickalls edition, Cambridge, 1952, p. 34
George Fox explained grace in terms of the Light of Christ, using the terms found in the Gospel of John. By this inward light, said Fox, people can understand Jesus Christ as “their Saviour and Redeemer, who shed his blood and died for them, who is the way to God, the truth and life.” (Journal, pp. 225-6)
The Quaker Awakening constitutes one of the great revivals within Christianity. Particularly significant was its challenge to official religion. The first Friends believed that religious monopolies, whether Protestant or Catholic, weakened the Christian faith and fostered unspiritual, time-serving ministry. Therefore they urged freedom of religion, trusting the power of the Lord, rather than civil coercion, to advance the Gospel. Friends were a people gathered to Christ, communing with God in vital worship and fellowship, witnessing the good news of Christ’s Kingdom in a world shattered by civil and religious conflict. Their message met resistance. Thousands suffered imprisonment, and hundreds died for religious freedom.
These Christians first referred to themselves as “publishers of Truth,” “children of the Light,” or “the camp of the Lord.” Gradually they came to prefer the term “Friends” in accordance with Jesus’ words: “You are my friends if you do whatever I command” (John 15:12-15). Their critics dubbed these enthusiastic Christians “Quakers,” a nickname that has become a symbol of integrity rather than a term of derision.
Friends used the word “church” to describe the people of God, not the building in which the people met. “Meetinghouse” became their word for the building in which the church gathered to worship. About a century after the movement began, the term “Society of Friends” came into general use. At that time the word “society” conveniently distinguished Friends and other legal but dissenting groups from the established Church of England. In the twentieth century, however, because of confusion about the term “society” and a desire to recover the biblical term for the gathered people of God, “Friends Church” became the preferred term in some yearly meetings, including Northwest Yearly Meeting.
The Quaker Awakening constituted a fast-growing missionary movement during its earliest decades. People in England joined by the thousands. Within a few years Friends became a major force in Colonial North America. People welcomed a Christianity freed from state authority and priestly ritual. They were drawn to an emphasis upon Christ’s inward baptism with the Holy Spirit and the Quaker concern for practical holiness.
The Developing Church
The Friends teaching about the real and sanctifying presence of Christ with His people resulted in strong ethical testimonies. These included support for religious and political freedom, opposition to slavery and civil bondage, just relationships with aboriginal and minority persons, honesty in business, humane and remedial treatment of offenders, compassionate care of the mentally ill, and aid to war victims and others in distress.
Friends opposed war and practiced peacemaking. They took their standards from the New Testament and from the example of Christian pacifism during the early Christian centuries. Quakers urged Christians to use the weapons of the Holy Spirit rather than the weapons of violence, believing such a choice to be both right and practical. They emphasized a single standard for truth, rejecting legal oaths out of faithfulness to the express command of Christ (Matt. 5:33-36).
These ethical testimonies produced significant results. Religious freedom is now widely acknowledged as basic to the social good. Oppression by courts has diminished. The right to conscientious objection to war has been widely supported by religious bodies and honored in many nations. Over the years the Quakers have often served as the conscience of the Church. Such moral leadership has sometimes been a heavy burden. Friends have not always lived up to their reputation. Sometimes they became preoccupied with ethical concerns to the neglect of evangelistic proclamation. At other times, in reaction to this burden, or to their own legalism, they became preoccupied with evangelism to the neglect of social testimonies.
It is sometimes forgotten that early Friends had a vision to evangelize the world at a time when most Protestants had not awakened to missionary responsibility. The first Quaker efforts may have lacked organization, but they did display a global vision. This missionary vision waned during the decades of colonizing in the New World, although there was some outreach to Native Americans. In the late nineteenth century the missionary expansion resumed, and Friends missionary endeavors have been the most significant factor in the growth of the Quaker movement over the last century.
Quakers first organized their local gatherings for worship into regional clusters called “yearly meetings.” In Europe the first yearly meetings were in England (London) and Ireland (Dublin). In the colonies, the yearly meetings of New England, North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York (1695), and Baltimore came into being. With the westward migrations of the nineteenth century, new groups became established across North America.
William Penn’s colony in the New World is the most widely known example of colonial Christian outreach. For seventy years the Quakers sought to make Pennsylvania a society embodying Christian values. The colony became a haven for oppressed persons and an example of respectful relationships with the Indian nations. But the French and Indian War brought such pressures to compromise their convictions that in 1755 the Quakers relinquished control of the colony.
A retreat from worldly affairs followed. This era in Friends history was marked by plain dress, silent worship, moral scrupulosity, and rigorous church discipline. Although their evangelistic outreach diminished, their social concerns did not. In their persistent and Spirit-led opposition to slavery, John Woolman of America and William Allen of England illustrate the quietist period at its best.
In the westward migrations the colonizing tendency persisted until twentieth century urbanization changed the pattern. Quaker centers were reinforced by the establishment of schools, the preservation of a distinctive lifestyle, and a strong sense of community. These communities sustained ethical standards but tended to isolate members from spiritual renewals around them.
During the nineteenth century two major separations took place. The first caused serious divisions. The orthodox party emphasized biblical authority and the historical aspects of salvation, and the liberal party (Hicksite Friends) emphasized individual conscience and the inward aspects of religion. Later in the century differences arose within the orthodox party concerning the appropriateness of planned worship and ministry. The Wilburites (Conservative Friends) wanted to preserve the quietist tradition of immediate spiritual guidance; the Gurneyites (Orthodox Friends) wanted to acknowledge biblical and rational preparation for ministry under the Spirit’s guidance. The latter position proved to be more successful in accommodating Quakerism to a westward moving, pioneering North America.
After the Civil War, touched by revivals that swept North America, Friends rekindled their banked fires of evangelism and joined other Christians in new evangelistic forms. Revival meetings with singing and altar calls characterized the new mode of outreach. Traveling ministers became settled ministers; and thus arose the pastoral system, which would become prevalent among American Quakers. Rapid growth occurred during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. To coordinate growth and to articulate Quaker faith and practice, several uniting conferences were held. Widely representative, these conferences led to programs of missionary outreach to Mexico, Africa, Alaska, the Caribbean, India, China, and Japan. Twelve North American yearly meetings established a delegate organization, the Five Years Meeting, in 1902, each affirming their bonds of spiritual unity by approving a significant document, the 1887 Richmond Declaration of Faith.
This unity was broken by a modernist-fundamentalist rift in American Protestantism between World Wars I and II. Polarization developed between those who stressed evangelism and doctrinal essentials and those who stressed humanitarian concerns and doctrinal liberty. This rift affected Friends, also. In 1926 Northwest Yearly Meeting (then called Oregon Yearly Meeting) withdrew from the Five Years Meeting (now called Friends United Meeting). In several other yearly meetings withdrawals occurred, or disaffected evangelicals formed association with fragmented Protestants (particularly Wesleyan). Loyalty to Quaker connections and testimonies became weakened as a result of these schisms. During these decades Protestant liberalism dominated the churches of Europe and North America, and Evangelical Friends found themselves at odds with these tendencies along with other conservative Christians. At the same time, Evangelical Friends have opposed the more militaristic and fundamentalist tendencies of conservative Christians, calling for closer adherence to the teachings and example of Jesus.
Friends in the World Today
The evangelical-modernist polarities have continued in various forms, with liberal theology remaining the characteristic stance in Europe, Britain, and some parts of the Americas. But in the latter decades of the twentieth century, the pendulum swung the other way for much of North America and the world. Evangelicalism became more definitive, offering strong leadership in the United States and beyond. Various theological movements following World War II helped Quakers also recover a more historic and traditional theology, with evangelistic fervor and social concern becoming more often paired than polarized. Several movements for spiritual renewal bore fruit in membership gains, in the enrichment of spiritual life, and in doctrinal clarity. Scholarly research and writing reaffirmed for contemporary application the Christ-centered, prophetic character of the early Quaker Awakening. Since 1959 the journal Quaker Religious Thought has provided a useful scholarly forum for such concerns.
The middle 20th century saw a reunion of five yearly meetings divided in the 1820s during the Hicksite-Orthodox separations. As yearly meetings in New England, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Canada reunited, four of the five new yearly meetings came to share joint membership in Friends United Meeting and Friends General Conference. While the reunion of Friends within these yearly meetings was welcomed, it also created a new set of tensions within the larger bodies, as more conservative Friends felt FGC was too liberal, and more liberal Friends felt FUM was too conservative. This led to a realignment effort in the 1990s, causing FUM to reaffirm its commitments to biblical authority and the centrality of Christ, although Southwest Yearly Meeting withdrew from FUM and joined EFI during the process. Most FUM meetings are pastoral, and most FGC meetings are un-programmed.
Over the last century or more, the emergence of Evangelical Friends has been one of the most significant developments within the history of Quakerism since its inception. From the revivalist movement after the Civil War emerged a vital form of pastoral Quakerism. In the sending out of missionaries to the majority world, the size of the movement has more than doubled. In joining together with like-minded Evangelical Friends, new vitality has emerged in terms of identity and outreach. As a result, the Association of Evangelical Friends, meeting triennially from 1947 until 1970, restated the evangelical character of Quaker beginnings. This movement gave rise to the Evangelical Friends Alliance (EFA), formed in 1965 by four independent yearly meetings, including Northwest Yearly Meeting, Evangelical Friends Church—Eastern Region, Mid-America Yearly Meeting, and Rocky Mountain Yearly Meeting. In 1989 EFA was instrumental in the formation of Evangelical Friends International (EFI) within five global regions: Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America. It is now called Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI). EFCI-Southwest and Alaska Yearly Meeting joined EFCI-North America in the 1990s. Regionalism has been reduced for these Friends, as they have cooperated in missions, publications, education, social concerns, youth work, and evangelism.
National pastors’ conferences have brought together American ministers from both Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church International. Various regional and world youth gatherings have strengthened Quaker identity. The All-Friends Conference at St. Louis in 1970 became a catalyst for renewal for a generation. The subsequent Faith and Life movement, with its various conferences and study materials, had similar results, and the 1985 World Gathering of Young Friends held in Greensboro, North Carolina created new sets of dialogues across divisions among the worldwide Friends movement. The publications and visiting ministry of the New Foundation movement have also brought spiritual renewal, especially to non-pastoral Friends. The Friends Educational Council and the Friends Association of Higher Education have facilitated spiritual concern for Friends schools. The Friends World Committee for Consultation, begun in 1937, has been used by the various yearly meetings for exchanging information and effecting dialogue. Its regional and periodic world conferences have enhanced mutual understanding, clarified differences, reduced provincialism, deepened spirituality, and opened the way for a more global Friends witness. Northwest Yearly Meeting became an affiliate member of FWCC in 2002.
Tension points remain within the larger Quaker movement, however, as doctrinal differences range along the full theological spectrum. Some Friends consider themselves fundamentalist Christians of various sorts, while others assert that one need not become a Christian, or even a believer in God, to be a Quaker. Obviously, these differences pose real obstacles to affiliation and cooperation between different groups of Friends. Worldwide, most Friends are Christ-centered and evangelical, but some meetings and yearly meetings seek to embrace divergent beliefs and practices. Differences along lines of political, moral, and social stands also make spiritual unity difficult. In some ways the older churches find renewal from younger Quaker groups in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, which have encountered less polarity between doctrinal beliefs and social witness than do Friends in North America.
As of 2010, more than three quarters of the more than 500,000 Friends in the world are persons of non-European origin. Counting Friends of all persuasions, the largest grouping of Friends is found in Africa (over 350,000 in Kenya and East Africa; over 60,000 in Burundi and Rwanda), followed by North America (over 95,000) and Latin America (over 30,000 in Bolivia and Peru, 30,000 in Guatemala and Honduras, and 10,000 elsewhere) and Asia (about 20,000). Latin American yearly meetings have begun to engage in their own missionary outreach, as have Friends in Burundi, Taiwan, and elsewhere. Kenyan Friends continue to develop new organizational structures to accommodate their growth, now numbering 15 yearly meetings. Friends in Burundi and Rwanda have experienced terrible hardship during recent civil wars, but this and other forms of testing have also strengthened the churches.
Evangelical Friends Mission is a mission agency of EFCI/North America, and some Friends outside North America have developed their own mission agencies. Parallel to early Friends in Christian Britain and America, Friends in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal face challenges as sometimes-persecuted minorities within Muslim, Roman Catholic, Hindu and Buddhist majority populations. In the United States most yearly meetings or associations belong to one of the following organizational structures.
- Friends United Meeting now includes thirteen yearly meetings in the Americas and sixteen Friends groups in Africa. In North America FUM membership numbers around 45,000, encompassing a broadly orthodox range of theology.
- Friends General Conference, generally liberal in theology, represents around 35,000 members, mostly in the United States (five FGC yearly meetings share joint membership with FUM).
- Conservative Friends, represent around 1500 adherents, mostly North American, following a Christ-centered, non-pastoral, and plain tradition.
- Evangelical Friends Church International/North America, pervasively evangelical and biblically based, has around 40,000 members.
- Still other yearly meetings in North America remain unaffiliated, and most of these are un-programmed and liberal.
- The 20,000 Friends in Europe are organized within eleven yearly meetings, the largest of which are Britain and Ireland.
Such statistics and characterizations are always changing and are bound to be somewhat incomplete; they cannot fully measure the life of the Spirit within these groups. They cannot measure obedience to the Light. But they do map some ways Friends perceive themselves and act upon their Christian heritage.
Friends in the Northwest
Among the earliest Quakers to reach Oregon was the Lewelling family, who brought nursery stock to Milwaukie by oxen over the Oregon Trail in 1847. Other families settled in Ashland and the Willamette Valley. Robert and Sarah Lindsay, ministers from London, traveled to the Willamette Valley in 1859 to support the growing but scattered communities of Friends. Organizational direction, however, came in the 1870s through William Hobson, an Iowa Friend of Irish descent. His vision stimulated a major migration to the Chehalem Valley. Most families came from Iowa, which became the parent yearly meeting, although some, such as Jesse Edwards, came from Indiana. In 1893 the Quaker settlements in the Newberg and Salem, Oregon, area formed Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Irrigation projects brought Friends families to Idaho’s Boise Valley during the first decade of the twentieth century, with early settlements at Star, Riverside, and Greenleaf. Oregon Yearly Meeting soon included churches in Washington, as well as Idaho. Puget Sound Quarterly Meeting arose following Quaker migrations from Indiana. An anticipated yearly meeting in Washington never developed, and in 1945 Friends from this area united with Oregon Friends. In 1971 the Yearly Meeting changed its name to Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church.
As a result of evangelical resurgence following World War II, the National Association of Evangelicals was formed. Oregon Yearly Meeting joined this organization in 1945. At the present time membership is through the Evangelical Friends Church International. Also in the Northwest is North Pacific Yearly Meeting (Independent), which is un-programmed and more theologically and socially liberal. Just as Northwest Yearly Meeting Friends at times feel the need to clarify that the positions of some evangelicals do not speak for our Christ-centered commitments, we also find ourselves at times needing to clarify that our Quaker convictions on matters of faith and practice are not identical to those of other groups of Friends. Ultimately, our allegiance is to Christ and his Lordship, and we welcome the partnership of all who would aspire to follow his leadership and adhere to his example as revealed in Scripture.
Evangelism and outreach have become major emphases in the Yearly Meeting because of opportunities afforded by a developing region and because of deep spiritual convictions. These concerns were often expressed through various modes, including revival meetings, but they also find new means of expression, ranging from spiritual retreats to service projects. Believing that followers of Jesus are called to reach the lost individually, and also to touch society collectively, we believe that evangelism and social concern go hand in hand. In the year 2010 the membership of Northwest Yearly Meeting numbered approximately 7,000.
Missionary work among the Aymara people of South America began in 1930 and has been strongly sustained since that time. Bolivia Yearly Meeting was established in 1975, and Peru Yearly Meeting was established in 1997. Northwest Yearly Meeting supplies limited assistance, particularly in education and national missionary training. These Friends’ churches are now self-supporting and self-governing. The Yearly Meeting, through Evangelical Friends Mission and the EFCI Council, networks with ministry to Latinos in the United States, and ministries in Mexico, Central America, the Philippines, Rwanda, Taiwan, Burundi, Congo, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bhutan, Croatia, Serbia, Tanzania, Russia, North Africa, Israel, and India. It also maintains interests in the Bolivian Evangelical University in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and the Navajo people of the Southwestern United States.
Northwest Yearly Meeting outreach also includes social programs. In faithfulness to the peace testimony many young persons have engaged in relief work as an alternative to military service. Members often serve with agencies devoted to the alleviation of economic and cultural disparity in America or abroad. Inner-city ministries, peacemaking activities, and economic assistance to the needy receive local and Yearly Meeting direction. Yearly Meeting concern fostered construction of Friendsview Retirement Community.
Interest in education is evidenced by the establishment at Newberg, Oregon, of Pacific Academy in 1885 and Pacific College in 1891 (renamed George Fox College in 1949). In 1996 with the merger of George Fox College and Western Evangelical Seminary, the college became George Fox University. In 2000 the seminary was renamed George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Northwest Yearly Meeting established a Friends Center at the seminary in 2003, and a Friends Leadership Center was established at the University in 2009. Greenleaf Friends Academy in Idaho has been maintained by area Friends since 1908, maintaining an excellent Christian education experience from preschool through the twelfth grade. These schools have contributed significantly to Quaker and Christian leadership in the Northwest and throughout the world. Recently several local churches have included schools and day-care centers in their ministry.
The Yearly Meeting since 1918 has supported programs of camping and now has several conference centers. These presently include Twin Rocks on the Oregon coast, Quaker Hill and Twin Lakes in central and north Idaho, and Quaker Cove on the Puget Sound and, Tilikum, a retreat center and day camp near Newberg. was established in 1970 as the result of a gift of property. It is an agency of George Fox University. These programs are widely used by the churches, and Northwest Yearly Meeting has been a leader in youth work, educational, and camping ministries.
In its various missionary, educational, and outreach ministries, Northwest Yearly Meeting continues dynamically in the Christian tradition of Friends. Its interests and strengths vary from time to time. Despite occasional misplacing of priorities, restoration to wholeness has also occurred, accompanied by unity and joy in the Lord. Currently the Yearly Meeting is engaged in new forms of outreach and evangelism, aimed at gathering into the Church persons whom the Holy Spirit is reaching through Christian proclamation and deeds of love. We invite you to join us in seeking to follow Christ together; in doing so, we not only celebrate what God has done in the past, but we look forward to being a part of what God is doing now and in the future.