Church signboards: What do they tell the visitor?

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Johan Maurer

Feb 17, 2013, 8:46:58 AM2/17/13

A couple of Sundays ago, the adult forum after meeting for worship at Selly Oak Friends Meeting was given over to the second of a series of discussions on "community, identity and boundaries."

At some point, the meetinghouse sign came up. Several of us confessed our dissatisfaction at what it says: "QUAKERS [then in small letters, The Religious Society of Friends] Meet here every Sunday morning 10:30 - 11:30. Everyone Welcome. [Then the following paragraph] QUAKERS are people of differing beliefs, lifestyles and social backgrounds. What we have in common is an acceptance that all people are on a spiritual journey. We hope that we are indeed a real society of Friends, open to the world and welcoming everyone."

One person pointed out that this doesn't say much, and another pointed out that what it does say isn't true.

After some discussion, I said that what I really want on our sign is simply this: "We gather here every Sunday at 10:30 to meet with God. Please join us." [April 28, 2004]

JOHAN: Meanwhile, in Ireland, a more direct message...

May 5 2004, 12:38 PM 

(Sign at Grange Meeting, Northern Ireland)


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Re: Church signboards: What do they tell the visitor?

June 20 2006, 5:43 AM 

See the current discussion of Quaker meetinghouse signage at the Quaker Outreach Forum.

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Licia Kuenning 
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Meeting with God

June 21 2006, 8:42 PM 

Johan writes, as his preferred wording for a meeting sign:

> "We gather here every Sunday at 10:30 to meet with God. Please join us."

If God suggested this I guess He is committed to show up somewhere every Sunday at 10:30. But in my experience God seldom keeps his schedule. He hovered outside my bedroom window yesterday until I wondered whether he was a burglar!--then I remembered that Jesus had suggested something of that kind himself.

How about "I keep on waiting for God here--and if you have nothing else to do you're welcome to hang around. On the other hand, if you do find out where he is, come in and let me know"?

Licia of Farmington

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Re: Meeting with God

June 23 2006, 6:29 AM 

Licia has an important point. I'd guess that a significant part of the fraudulent piety in the institutional church consists of claiming that God is here and blessing whatever we're up to, or at least making us feel good. I've often wondered what would happen if someone said, "Honestly, my theology says that God is omnipresent, but whether God is here in a plenary and available sense to be our rhetorical warm blanket, I just don't know."

My dream wording for a sign is a declaration of intention, not a guarantee of results. So: "To meet with God"—this is the most basic of the reasons we gather. God has promised to be in our midst, never to abandon us, but we cannot manipulate God to be present in a way we can exploit.

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