This section is one part of the covenant that unites the Friends churches of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This covenantal document is known as our “Faith and Practice,” and includes not only an outline of our governance, but our Doctrines, our Spiritual Queries, and our Witness Through Action as well. A complete version of our Faith and Practice is available as a PDF file with clickable links from the index and for cross-references.
The denomination of Friends consists of yearly meetings with their constituent branches and delegate structures around the world. The bond of union is maintained by annual correspondence between them, by issuing and receiving the credentials of ministers, by granting and receiving certificates of membership, by joint participation in various ministries, and by occasional gatherings. Each yearly meeting is independent from others in the declaration of its doctrinal covenant and the transaction of its business. Cooperation has resulted in groupings of yearly meetings and shared statements of faith, as described in the “Historical Statement.”
Friends recognize and emphasize that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, that He dwells in the midst of His people as well as in their hearts, and that He guides the understanding of believers, thus enabling them individually and corporately to obey His will. Friends believe that Christ confers upon each believer some special gift or gifts to be exercised faithfully according to ability. In the church, members have equal rights and privileges varying only in accordance with the nature of their gifts and their faithfulness in exercising them. There are no distinctions in the rights, privileges, or responsibilities of members because of gender, color, or race. Friends polity is connectional, rather than congregational or episcopal; therefore the yearly meeting represents the highest court of appeal in matters of faith and practice.
The business of the church is transacted in regular, announced sessions, in which every active member has a right to participate. Deliberations are aimed at determining the will of God rather than collecting majority opinions. It is expected, therefore, that worship shall surround business deliberations and that policies and practices shall reflect Christian unity.