I was a part of a religious body of churches—something like a regional denomination or collaborative partnership—called the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (NWYM).

A year ago, that organization determined that my congregation and several others were no longer welcome. It determined certain kinds of people were no longer welcome.

We were purged.

Despite feeling frustrated, bewildered, and disappointed in a number of people in light of this purge, I’m fine. But being “fine” is a luxury, reflecting my privilege. Many others affected by the purge are not fine. They may not be fine for a long time.

I would not say I have suffered. Other than whatever relatively minimal suffering comes from being an empathetic listener. Or from watching people bully others or develop ever-tougher litmus tests of who’s in and who’s out (and who seemingly diagnose their “toughness” as a righteous pursuit or protection of truth). Or from witnessing a train-wreck but being unable to help, either because I lack the power to do so or because I lack the courage.

But I do wish to add my voice to the chorus of lamenters, even though what I see is limited. So take it with a grain of salt.

Continue reading “Purged”

On Quakers and the Cost of Gratitude

“You know, you’re just our pastor.” I’ve heard that more than once from members of my congregation, trying to put me in my place. Always spoken with a twinkle in their eyes, of course.

Though really, it’s less about sending me a humbling message and more something they are telling themselves as a form of self-elevation. And rightly so.

When people tell me I’m just their pastor, they’re not saying I’m unimportant. I do matter. But this is taken for granted in Christianity, that a pastor matters to the spiritual experience of a community. A pastor needs to be cared for, of course.

But in my experience, people don’t need to be told that their pastor is a gift to them. People need to know that they are gifts to one another. People who are often overlooked as “gifts” need to be told and treated like they are gifts.

Continue reading “On Quakers and the Cost of Gratitude”