“As the Quaker faith is inherently allied to the Quaker way of worship, so also the Quaker impulsion to take up and share ‘the burden of the world’s suffering’ springs out of the central faith and intimate fellowship of worship…. One of the most important missions of a society like ours is its prophetic service.” –Rufus Jones, 1937
For the past few months, members from a handful of Friends churches and meetings in the Portland area have gathered together for prayerful discernment about the possibility of a new ministry in Portland called Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS). The idea of QVS began with a young Friend in the unprogrammed tradition named Christina Repoley, and her concern that young adult Friends lack opportunities for deep engagement and growth in our faith tradition. The first QVS house opened in Atlanta in September. Seven young adult volunteers live together in a community house, working full-time in local non-profits with transformative peace and justice missions. The volunteers are immersed in Friends’ worship and intensive spiritual formation under the care of Atlanta Monthly Meeting.
Portland Friends churches and meetings are currently in discernment about whether we might be called to provide spiritual care and oversight of the next QVS house, which, if taken under the care of one or more Portland congregations, will be opening here in the fall of 2013.
Those involved in this process come from two very different yearly meetings. Several of the churches are very small in material resources and membership. But the response has been great. That service is central to who we are—and that faith and practice, worship and prophetic service are integrated—is deeply held by Friends. The ministry of QVS resonates across seemingly great differences—despite limitations of time, money, and membership. In the face of all this, there is a sense among many that this is a real God calling, and that we can trust God’s faithfulness to guide us. Instead of insurmountable problems, we have found our challenging call to be a joyful experience, and what has risen is creative energy, and a somewhat unexpected ease in finding unity. The call of QVS invites us to approach our questions and problems with a curiosity: “How are we being called to serve?”
To learn more about QVS: www.quakervoluntaryservice.org
Contributed by Jade Souza, Reedwood Friends