Quaker Life, Community, Summer 2021
Purchase a single copy of the Summer 2021 issue of Quaker Life: A mosaic of Friendly living on the theme of Community.
In this Quaker Life issue on community, our authors all agree that community and Christianity are inextricably intertwined—that community is a foundational Christian practice, and that Christianity without community is not actually Christianity.
Emily Provance points out that the community of church has a practical significance—that as Christians we are exhorted to be loving, and that church is where we practice loving those who are not naturally lovable to us. She adds, encouragingly, that we can learn the understanding and skills that make community possible.
From a slightly different vantage point, Kelly Kellum writes about discovering a community created, in part, through participation in the liturgical sacrament of the Eucharist. He reflects on how the experience of finding communion through the consecrated, broken, and poured-out communion supper restored his feeling for what it means to be the hands, feet, voice, and heart of Christ.
Although from different cultures, Carlos Moran and Gilbert Imbayi both write about the common care of neighbors for one another in their native cultures, and how difficult it can be to find that neighborly love in the United States. Here in the U.S., they find that the church itself, and work for the sake of the church, are the arena of life wherein community can be re-gathered and reclaimed.
Colin Saxton and Dorlan Bales write about communities that have originated in small Christian study groups, and how the commitment to follow Christ together has led from the mind to the heart and out into the world. Saxton writes about an experience of small group koinonia early in his spiritual life which has yet to be replicated. But he’s come to believe that the more typical slog toward fellowship is the opportunity we need to learn forgiveness, repentance, and mutual submission. Bales writes about how the intentional community of which he was a part sought to reach beyond the lives of its members to the world surrounding them. Oscar Lugusa writes similarly about Friends Theological College: a physical location where the academic study of the way of Christ is expressed through the Christian sharing of joys and sorrows.
Manny Garcia reflects that if our roots are not strengthened by intertwining with those in our communities, we won’t have strength to endure the hardships, divisions, and ill will that accrue to us over time—either individually, or as the church. At a memorial service for an old friend, Bill Eagles discovers both the physical and the spiritual grace of a community embodied in three headstones.
Miriam Were and Benedict Majimbo tell a story about how one church’s desire to keep members connected with one another during the pandemic has led to a growth of leadership capacity within the entire church.
Ruthie Tippin notices how ordinary, apparently unremarkable actions on our part can become, with God’s participation, redemptive or transformative miracles in the life of an individual or a community. From the opposite side of the equation, Katie Terrell writes about how the small kindnesses and conversations of her community helped ease her passage through a span of darkness she felt unable to escape on her own.
Because community is created and experienced in so many different ways, it takes humility to write about community, just as it does to live in community. Yet the witness of both the gospels and our authors is that community is essential to the practice of Christianity. Dorotheus of Gaza may have been the first to use the analogy of the hub and spokes of a wheel to describe the role that other persons command in our spiritual life. “Imagine yourself and all your neighbors located, each one, on the spoke of a wheel. Imagine God located in the hub at the center of the wheel. The closer you travel along your spoke toward God, the closer you come to the spokes that are your neighbors. Or, the closer you come to your neighbors, the closer you move toward God.” In Dorotheus’ metaphor, as in Christ’s great commandment, God and our neighbor cannot be disentangled.
— Daniel J. Kasztelan, Quaker Life editor
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