Getting the Family Together Again: Restoring the Midlevel Connections in Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Arthur O. Roberts, Ph.D.
R. Larry Shelton, Th.D.
Historically Friends (Quakers) have had a polity that reflected the denomination's strong sense of community with a structure and traditions that enabled practical caring for one another and accountability to one another. This community extended beyond local congregations to include Friends in other places. In the last half of the 201 h century the American group of Quakers known as Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends made structural changes to their midlevel connections, the Quarterly Meeting, that were intended to help the church operate more efficiently. Unfortunately, a related and unintended consequence was to reduce communication and connection between and among their congregations. These changes, taking place concurrently with broader cultural trends in America of localism and devaluation of denominations, have resulted in a mindset among many evangelical Friends in the Pacific Northwest that can be described as de facto congregationalism. The problem for which this dissertation pursues some resolution is how to restore meaningful connection among the congregations of Northwest Yearly Meeting in order to enable a healthy "extended family," and faithfulness to a Friends understanding of the Church.
The narrative of Chapter 1 establishes the context of the problem both for Friends in Northwest Yearly Meeting and in the broader culture. The chapter also includes a section on vocabulary and acronyms peculiar to Friends in general and this specific group of Friends.
Chapter 2 explores New Testament images of the church and specifically the community and relational aspects of the church, showing that the isolated and individualistic Christianity of some 21st century North Americans is far removed from the New Testament view of the church.
Chapter 3 describes the beginnings of the Friends movement in 1 ih century England with special attention to the concept of the church that George Fox and other early Friends held, showing a pattern of accountability and caring across local group boundaries.
Chapter 4 documents the changes made in NWYM in recent decades that altered the structure and consequently the polity of this group of Friends. Chapter 5 explores Presbyterians in the U.S. as a kind of "control group" to compare polity and practice.
Chapter 6 offers specific proposals, both informal and formal, for restoring meaningful connection between the congregations o fNWYM of Friends.
Sartwell, Richard C., "Getting the Family Together Again: Restoring the Midlevel Connections in Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends" (2004). Doctor of Ministry. 332.