A Church Reborn


Several years ago God gave me a vision of a "great people to be gathered" in Seattle.
I saw people gathered in groups of all kinds--as numerous and diverse as Starbucks--
excited about the Good News of Jesus as it is lived out among evangelical Quakers in Seattle
While it would spring forth out of North Seattle Friends Church, it would not be contained by the church.

As time passed, the vision didn't dissipate, but it seemed like we were going in the wrong direction.
While many said positive things about the church and our ministries, church attendance was declining.
We began to feel puny and inadequate for the task of being the church--
let alone a great people gathered as Quakers in Seattle.

During a particularly discouraging time I read through Romans in The Message.
Romans 8:18-39 settled in me as truth for us as a church.
I resonated with Abraham and Sarah's bewilderment as they waited 25 years for Isaac's birth
and the beginning of the fulfillment of the vision they were given.
I pondered how it felt to them to wait so long. I realized that all God asked of them
was to simply be faithful. I knew then that as a church we simply had to be faithful.
It was not our task to figure out how to grow the church
or make new gathering places or start new programs or import new worship styles.
If we are faithful to the journey, anything else is up to God.
I also realized I was committed to following God, even if the church never grew
and even if I never had a "successful" pastoral ministry.

So as a church we simply tried to be faithful to what we knew to be true.
We started with the absolutely incredible truth of Jesus' resurrection life among us.
We began to name and notice the wonder already happening.
We trusted we are enough to do everything God asks of us.
We chose to do the things that rose out of the callings and energy of those in the congregation;
we said "no" to the ideas that didn't rest easily.
As we learned to listen and respond to God together, trust and confidence began to flow among us.

Although it was later discontinued, we started a new worship time on Sunday evenings,
gathering for a meal and a contemplative, experiential, interactive, and varied worship.
We completed a listening process with the unanimous conclusion
that we were no longer called to operate the day care the church has owned for the past 34 years.
We accepted Stone Soup Quilting as a ministry of our church.

We rearranged our seating for worship in an elongated U,
which allows us to be truly gathered as a community as we worship.
During worship, we set aside separate times for God stories and open worship.
We simplified our committee structure,
creating an administry council composed of both elders and trustees, which meets together monthly.

We explored our beginnings as a church 98 years ago, honored the heritage that established us,
and asked forgiveness for those places where we had been unfaithful.
We listened together around our name as Friends Memorial Church
and felt clear to accept the new name of North Seattle Friends Church.
We are presently listening around use of our building and resources.

Today, we have an incredible sense that God is birthing new life among us
as we live into what it means to be the people called Friends in North Seattle

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