New York Yearly Meeting's Race and Racism Minute (July 2009)
Who are the Friends?
Friends or Quakers (either name will do). Friends are a distinct group within Christian tradition. We are people from all walks of life who have found that the Spirit of God is the heritage of everyone. We have experienced the love of God, and want to share it with the world. We have found that Christ is alive in us all; in the words of one of our early leaders, George Fox, "Christ has come to teach his people himself."
How do Friends worship?
Our response to God is worship: prayer, thanksgiving, praise and joy. Quakers have found that worship is made deeper and more powerful by including times of silence. At Adirondack Friends Meeting, our hymns, readings prayers, and sermon are punctuated and given room by times of quiet worship. Out of the silence, all who are present—members, children and visitors—are free to speak from the heart. Words which rise out of reverent silence are often more helpful than any prepared message.
How are Friends Different?
Quakers don't have a formal creed or require adherence to specific beliefs as a condition of membership. The truth is always larger than any one attempt to state it. Friends do encourage a life-long search for truth and the sharing of what each has found.
Quakers don't baptize or hold communion services; Friends do insist that all of living is sacramental, and that by living sacramentally God becomes more real to us all. Friends do experience the inwardly cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, and so testify to our inward sense of communion with God and each other.
Quakers don't ordain ministers or elders; Friends do recognize God’s call to all of us to minister in daily life, in the community, at work and in the home as well as in worship. A Quaker pastor is a Friend who has been freed by the Meeting for study, outreach, visitation, and leadership.
Aren’t Quakers Pacifist?
Love and unity are more than ideals; they are something we try to practice, despite the odds, in obedience to God and following the example of Christ. Friends not only hope and pray for peace, we work for it. Friends support a mission at the UN, a lobbying group in Washington, and a broad range of peace, educational and relief activities. Friends encourage a deep and careful search of conscience by each person to see where he or she is led. Some Quakers have served in the armed forces; others have declared their conscientious objection to all war and have done alternative service or gone to prison rather than fight. All are supported by their meetings, if they have shared their search and are sincere in the courage of action.
Friends History in the Area
More than a decade before the American Revolution, Quakers began moving into the Tri-County area. Friends were the earliest pioneer settlers, migrating here from the lower Hudson valley and New England. Everywhere they settled they formed close-knit communities and organized congregations or Meetings. Adirondack Friends meeting was formed in 1974 by the union of two of these pre-Revolutionary Meetings. One originated in Saratoga in 1765 and met in South Glens Falls, and the other gathered in 1767 in the town of Queensbury, with a later meetinghouse built on Ridge Street in Glens Falls. Adirondack Friends are thus the oldest church in continuing existence in the area.
How can I find out more?
Begin by getting to know the people in the Meeting. Join us for worship; take part in our educational programs. Talk with the pastor. Join us for a meal. Sit in on our business sessions, which are one the first Sunday of the month, immediately following worship. Books and literature are available in the Meeting library as well; Friends have a rich history that goes back for over 300 years. We’re glad to take time to talk with you, listen to you, and welcome you!
"I have called you friends..."
Written by Josh Brown,
Updated by Regina Haag
Immediately following the end of the French and Indian Wars, and more than a half decade before the Revolutionary War, members of The Religious Society of Friends—commonly called Quakers—began moving into the Tri-County area, as the earliest pioneer settlers. Close-knit communities of Friends migrated together from New England and the Lower Hudson Valley to settle again in close-knit communities in the area now know as the Town of Saratoga, the Town of Queensbury, and the Town of Easton. In each place they gathered and settled a Meeting (congregation.)
The Adirondack Friends Meeting was formed in name in 1974, by the uniting of two if these old pre-revolutionary congregations—one originating in the Town of Saratoga in 1765, and long associated with the Town of Moreau and the Village of South Glens Falls; the other originating in the Town of Queensbury in 1767, and long associated with the Town of Queensbury and the City of Glens Falls—and represents the oldest organized church in continuing existence in the vicinity.
In the 17th century, William Penn, an early convert to Friends, and eloquent Minister of the Gospel, and distinguished leader in the reforming movement in British Christianity, founded a colony based upon the principals of good-will, justice, and mercy to all—both European immigrant colonists and Native Americans alike! So long as the policies of Penn prevailed in Pennsylvania, the colonists and the Native Americans lived peaceably together. Friends are still concerned, in Christian conviction, to seek good-will, justice and mercy for all humankind as the only lasting basis for peace in the world.
During the Revolutionary War most Friends held firmly to their historic peace principals and testimonies, even though often greatly misunderstood by both English loyalists and Revolutionary Colonists. The Religious Society of Friends continues today to believe that loving-kindness is the true Christian approach to problems and crises, instead of reliance upon violence, retaliation, strife and wars.
Adirondack Friends Meeting is an active and vigorous place, even though it is not a large faith community; and it is continuing and living evidence that Quakers are not extinct in this Tri-County area. The church of the founding pioneers is always glad to welcome visitors to its worship; and still most cordially invites inquirers and spiritual seekers into this gathering of those who continue on their faith journeys guided by the Spirit and surrounded by the supportive presence of one another.
Welcome one and all![Back to Top]
This practice, while new to some of us, has its roots in early Quaker tradition. Even today, many meetinghouses have a bench or several benches that are elevated in the front of the meeting room. This is a persisting remnant of prior times when the monthly meeting elders and recorded ministers would occupy these benches during meeting for worship. This position enabled those gathered to hear more easily if these folks felt led to offer vocal ministry during worship—and these were the folks who habitually had that leading. From this, an important and unique ministry—the ministry of the facing bench—has developed. Those who attend Yearly Meeting general (or representative) sessions will notice a row of chairs placed in front of the clerks’ table. Folks who are led to this ministry will sit in those spaces, holding and grounding the meeting for business in the spirit and presence of the Divine.
Even though we are a programmed meeting, with pastoral leadership for worship, the ministry of the facing bench can enrich our time together. Those who feel called to engage in this practice do not necessarily "have to be" elders, but rather those who feel a concern for the quality and depth of our worship time. Specifically, folks who sit "on the bench" are holding and grounding our worship in the light and love of God, praying for the pastor or whoever is leading worship, and responding to nudges to pray for the faces they see as they look out on those gathered in meeting. There is no particular set of qualifying requirements—not age or gender or position in the meeting. Mainly, you just need to be willing to be used by God to immerse our meeting time in the Spirit.
Several members of Ministry and Counsel have agreed to have the primary responsibility for either sitting up front or inviting another person to do so each Sunday morning. It is up to each and every one of us to pay attention as to whether we are being called to this ministry. Remember, according to Quaker faith and practice, everyone is a minister, equipped with unique and important gifts and talents that are to be shared. Let anyone on Ministry and Counsel know if you would like to participate in the ministry of the facing bench.