Recently Mike asked committee clerks, and me, as treasurer, to submit profiles of ourselves for the West Hills Friends website because he wants the website to reflect the community’s shared leadership.
Mike also asked us to complete a survey, and one of the questions was, “Who is the Quaker you most admire?” My first thought was Wendell Berry, only to discover that he’s not a Quaker! I wanted to answer the question, so I researched a bit.
I love to read but haven’t read many books by Quakers, so I have a limited library of Quakers from which to nominate my “most admired.” I admire Edward R. Murrow’s stance against McCarthyism, but I don’t know much about him otherwise, so I can’t say that he’s the Quaker I most admire.
I eventually realized that the Quaker I most admire is often the one who most recently gave First Word in meeting for worship.
Friends at West Hills Friends who have given First Words or advice that I truly appreciate have been Carol Bosworth, Julie Peyton, Greg Morgan, Wilbur Wood, Allyn Dhynes, and Derek Lamson. Carol actually introduced me to Wendell Berry. Julie talked about an experience reading the bible that changed how she viewed her faith. Julie shared that she’d discovered a historical inaccuracy in the Bible where scripture had not acknowledged a female judge along with several male contemporaries. She said this was initially challenging for her, but the experience ultimately led her toward a renewed and stronger faith in God.
Greg once shared how he feels when asked whether he believes the biblical stories of Christ’s resurrection. Having wrestled with the question, Greg has concluded that the important thing to him, related to his faith in Christ, is that when he has needed God and called out to God, God has answered. From Greg’s story, I received reassurance of God’s presence in my own life – an answer to my own prayers.
I appreciate when Wilbur discusses the history of hymns and also when he shares stories of his experiences in Palestine. I appreciated Allyn’s First Word when he shared from his experience in driving a bus in Portland. Derek sang songs and gave First Word early in my experience at West Hills Friends that helped me realize that West Hills Friends is the place for me, and a place where I want my children to experience Christianity.
Words of encouragement are often given to me through members of our meeting, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some of the experiences. First Words from Friends in the community have profoundly strengthened my own faith, and I’d like to close this story by expressing my sincere gratitude to this community for seeking and acting upon Christ’s leadings.
While I’m not sure that there’s a Quaker I most admire, I am sure that I’ve found a community at West Hills Friends that lifts my spirits, and helps me to grow as a person and a Christian. I enjoy spending time with the community and am looking forward to our next group bike ride.