INVITATION TO MEMBERSHIP
WELCOME TO FRIENDS MEETING AT CAMBRIDGE (FMC)
Central to our faith is the belief that divine truth continues to be revealed among us and that there is that of God/Spirit in everyone. We are united by a deep commitment to non-violence and social justice. Our worship together is primarily silent but includes spoken ministry when the worshipper is so moved. Friends believe that God can speak to and through every person.
We have no prescribed creed. While some of us identify ourselves as Christians, some do not. Some have a strong sense that they are accompanied by the living God, others may understand God as metaphor.
When we share our religious experience, we rely on deep listening to seek below the words for the Spirit that unites us. Our decision-making process has been described as radical democracy. We believe God cherishes every one of us in equal measure, and we therefore strive to have no hierarchy. At FMC we have no clergy: some say we have abolished the laity, that we are all ministers.
We cherish our Christian and Jewish heritages, as well as many other spiritual traditions. At FMC membership is an affirmation that we share a commitment to each other, to our community, to humankind, and to the natural environment. In the world, we actively strive for social justice, non-violence, peace and reconciliation. We try to live in harmony with the natural world, following our testimony of simplicity.
As Quakers we seek to help create a spirit of love, truth, and beauty in the universe. We do this by practicing an awareness of the Spirit in our lives, and we share it by meeting together for worship as well as acting together in society.
The Religious Society of Friends arose from a 17th century movement in England to create ideals of truth, simplicity and community in religious and daily life. Soon afterwards, Quakers committed themselves to the Peace Testimony, a rejection of participation in any form of war or violence.
Today, Friends are a diverse world-wide community, all striving to live lives consistent with these principles. Membership joins us with the larger Religious Society of Friends through various Friends organizations. Thus, in joining FMC, you also become a member of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM), which. includes both unprogrammed meetings, like ours, and meetings which have pastors and where worship is more similar to other churches.
We welcome your interest. An overview of our membership procedure follows:
Membership is the recognition of fellowship in faith and practice with the community of FMC. When considering membership, the following queries may be helpful:
- Do I find in this Meeting the presence of the Spirit?
- Do I feel the Meeting can help me to affirm and enrich my own spiritual experience, and to help the Meeting work for a more just and peaceful world?
- Do I wish to try to make my outer life an example of the truth and love I experience inwardly and in the life of the Meeting?
- Will I attempt to move out into the world to apply these principles to the needs of humanity and the natural world?
- Do I wish to share responsibility for the care of the Meeting with my energy, time, and finances? Will I serve on its committees and participate in business meetings?
HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER
Membership at FMC involves a commitment to a community and to a way of life rather than to a creed or dogma. The decision to request membership comes from an inner leading rather than from outward persuasion. In one sense, one does not apply to the Meeting for membership; rather, one becomes aware that one belongs.
For those who are interested, we suggest the following:
- Get to Know the Meeting
We hope you will have participated regularly in Meeting for Worship for perhaps a year or more. In addition, you might get to learn more about Quakerism, and to know and become part of the Meeting community. Some ways of doing this are by:
- Attending Meeting for Worship with attention to Business to learn the decision-making process of Friends.
- Attending forums, retreats, workshops, potlucks, newcomers’ breakfasts, and other events detailed in the monthly Bulletin and weekly announcement sheets.
- Attending, and possibly later joining, one of our committees (after talking with the clerk of a committee). Most committees are open to non-members as well as members. These committees do the work necessary to maintain the Meeting and guide our participation in the larger world.
- Reading Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM).
- Considering the Queries and Advices that illuminate the Quaker way of life.
- Exploring our social testimonies and considering their relevance to your life.
- Reading other books on the history and practice of Friends.
- Taking the short course on Quakerism offered by this Meeting.
- Attending family worship, and after a time considering helping with our First Day (Sunday) School.
- Request Membership
When you are ready to request membership, write a letter or e-mail to the Presiding Clerk, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, 5 Longfellow Park, Cambridge MA 02138. Your letter may be short or long, and if you wish, could include background that might help to introduce you, such as your past religious experience, your association with Quakers, or the ways in which you feel FMC might be an enriching spiritual “home.”
- Participate in the Clearness Process
On receiving your letter, the Membership Committee will inform the Monthly Meeting, and will ask two or three Friends to visit with you (your “clearness committee”). Friends traditionally do not hurry their discernment, and the membership process may take as long as is needed to reach clearness on your and its part. Occasionally the committee counsels further seasoning before an applicant becomes a member. This clearness process carries a deep responsibility to you, as well as to the Meeting.
Usually, members ask to be released from membership in other religious congregations. If this presents a problem for you, please do discuss it as a part of your clearness process. The clearness committee will make a recommendation to the Membership Committee, which considers it and, when united, passes it on to the Monthly Meeting for Business. Monthly Meeting for Business will consider and then act on the Membership Committee’s recommendation. After you are accepted, one or more Friends will arrange a meeting to welcome you. Then and always Friends will offer support as you take your part in the life of the Meeting, and help you find which committee(s) of the Meeting might benefit from your gifts, as well as interest you.
MEMBERSHIP FOR CHILDREN
Young people may apply for membership whenever they are able and ready to request the clearness process. However, members may also request Junior Membership for their children. Junior membership ends at age 25, before which the Junior Member is encouraged to make a decision whether to seek full membership.
If you have any questions please email Membership@fmcquaker.org