100 years before the American Civil War no Quaker held a Slave! Although some historians have argued that the Civil War was fought to keep the "Union" together, it must be clearly understood the reason the "Union" was dissolving was over the issue of slavery. Thus, slavery was indeed the cause of the American Civil War.
What was the driving force behind the abolitionist efforts of the Quakers? The bible! The bible not only clearly convinced the Society of Friends (the official name of the denomination that became known as Quakers) that slavery was an evil abomination, but also that all Christians were to make a difference...to make the lives of people better in every area of life.
How did they accomplish this? How was it that Quakers held no slaves 100 years before the Emancipation Proclamation? Did they protest? Were they violent? Did they vociferously attack slave owners? Perhaps you could find an isolated incident in a history book, but by and large, they accomplished this great movement by engaging in loving conversations with those who held strongly divergent views. It is what the Friends describe as: "reasoning together." The leaders of the Friends Denomination walked up and down the eastern seaboard and lovingly asked all known Quaker slave owners to sit and "reason together." Those sessions led to heartfelt changes in slave owners throughout the country.
I encourage all who will be attending this year's REACHgathering to take such an approach about contemporary issues. Let us come to REACH and "reason together," using the bible as our playbook and the Holy Spirit's inspiration (the Friends call that the Inner LIght) about this year's topics related to the redefinitions in regards to human sexuality and gender...and their relevance to the SR&F Community. These topics will be discussed both in the Theological Track and at "Wrestling at REACH."
In Robert Harris's new book "Conclave," Cardinal Vittorio Scavizzi admonishes the Conclave of Cardinals who are meeting to elect a new Pope with the following words: "We need not a Church that will move with the world, but a Church that moves the world."
Will we move the world...or flow along with it? Come "wrestle" with us at REACH
Dr. Greg Linville is CSRM's Director of Resource Development