We welcome your interest! No matter what your personal or faith background, you are most welcome at Friends Meeting at Cambridge (FMC), and we look forward to getting to know you better.
Membership at FMC involves a commitment to a community and to a practice of worship 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 “become” a member; rather, one recognizes that one is already a member in spirit.
For those who are interested in exploring membership at FMC, we suggest the following:
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 experience the presence of the Spirit in this Meeting?
- 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?
Get to Know the Meeting
We encourage you to participate regularly in Meeting for Worship for perhaps a year or more. In addition, you might seek to learn more about Quakerism, and to know and become part of the Meeting community. Some ways of doing this are to:
- Attend Meeting for Worship with attention to Business to learn the decision-making process of Friends.
- Attend forums, retreats, workshops, potlucks, newcomers’ breakfasts, and other events detailed in the monthly Bulletin and weekly announcement sheets. Afterthoughts, a weekly gathering directly after Sunday morning worship, provides an excellent opportunity to ask questions and to reflect on what you and others experienced in worship that day.
- Explore the whole FMC website, including the pages on Meeting for Worship, Witness, and Community.
- Attend, and possibly join, 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. Joining a committee can be a great way to get to know a smaller group of Friends.
- Read Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM): 1985 NEYM Faith and Practice On-line or in the Library and the 2014 Interim Faith and Practice.
- Consider the Queries and Advices that illuminate the Quaker way of life.
- Explore our social testimonies and considering their relevance to your life.
- Browse the Meeting library and read other books on the history and practice of Friends.
- Take the short course on Quakerism offered by this Meeting.
- Attend family worship, and after a time consider helping with our First Day (Sunday) School.
- Contact someone from Membership committee for an informal, exploratory conversation about the membership process and any questions and concerns you might have.
When you are ready to request membership, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write a letter to the Presiding Clerk, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, 5 Longfellow Park, Cambridge MA 02138. Your letter may be as short as a sentence, or as long as several pages. If you wish, you 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”).
The clearness committee is a place of welcoming and mutual exploration. The clearness process is a vehicle for the Meeting to get to know you better and to learn about your thoughts and experiences of Quakerism in general and FCM in particular. It is also a space where you can ask any questions that still concern you. Together, you and the committee will explore ideas about Quaker worship, testimonies and community, and discuss how becoming a member might deepen your spiritual life and your involvement in the meeting. The question that you and the committee are asking together is this: are you clear to join FMC, and is the meeting clear to welcome and support you going forward?
Friends traditionally do not hurry their discernment, and the membership process may take as long as is needed for you and the Meeting to reach clearness. Occasionally the committee counsels further seasoning before an applicant becomes a member. This clearness process carries a deep significance to the Meeting, and we trust it will for you too.
When you and your clearness committee discern that you are “clear” for membership, the clearness committee will make this recommendation to the Membership Committee. If united in support of this recommendation, Membership Committee passes it on to the Monthly Meeting for Business, which will consider and then act on this recommendation. After the Meeting accepts you into membership, one or more Friends will arrange a meeting to welcome you. It is the goal of Friends to offer ongoing support as you take your part in the life of the Meeting, and help you find which committee(s) of the Meeting might interest you as well as benefit from your gifts.
Transferring Your Membership from another Meeting
If you are already a member of the Religious Society of Friends through another Friends Meeting or Friends Church, a Clearness Committee is not needed — though we will gladly appoint one if you would like to explore your experience with Friends or ask questions about life at FMC. To transfer your membership, simply write to the Membership Committee either in hard copy sent to the Meetinghouse or via e-mail (email@example.com ) stating your intention to transfer. Also send a letter to your current Meeting or Church asking them to send a letter of transfer to the FMC Membership Committee.
Membership for Children
Our children are a treasured and vital part of our community. Members, and parents applying for membership, may wish to to request membership for their children. Young people are also welcome to apply for membership on their own, whenever they are able and ready to request the clearness process. Between the ages of 18 and 25, those who are menbers through parental request will be asked by Membership committee whether they are led to apply to be adult members of FMC. Those who do not apply by the age of 25 will no longer be formally considered members of the Society of Friends, but will be welcome to join at any time.
Joining the Larger Religious Society of Friends
Membership at FMC 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.
If you have questions about the process, we would love to speak with you! Please contact us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.