Friends and Faith

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Friends and Faith

Calvert County - 8/15/2010

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By Andrea Hein

With members from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties, the Patuxent Friends have worshiped together since their formation in 1980.The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Friends or Quakers, have been a part of the Southern Maryland community since the seventeenth century. They support many outreach programs throughout the community, such as the Project Echo homeless shelter and various soup kitchens. Members of Patuxent Friends established the Community Mediation Centers of St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties. Patuxent Friends are also active in the Calvert Interfaith Council and the Southern Maryland Action Coalition, which joins members of different faiths in order to address social concerns and values.
The Quaker faith is based on an Inner Light; the belief that a part of God’s spirit lives in everyone’s soul. Recognized for their beliefs in the testimony of peace. The Religious Society of Friends founder George Fox is credited with introducing the Quaker religion to Southern Maryland upon his visit to America. In 1655, Quakers were forced to leave Virginia and some took up residence in Southern Maryland, establishing the Quaker religion in the region.
Historically, Quakers have often taken stands on social issues: “Quakers have been influential beyond what their numbers would suggest in many areas: promotion of world peace, abolition of slavery, fair treatment of Native Americans, universal suffrage, prison reform, improvement in mental hospitals, etc.,” says Patuxent Friends member Vicki Rhoades. “Friends were deeply engaged in the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves reach freedom during the Civil War timeframe.”
The Patuxent Friends meet at 10 am every Sunday, which they refer to as “First Day.” The gather to worship is referred to as a meeting rather than a church service, and has a format that is unique to Friends:  “Meeting begins as Friends gather in a circle and settle into silence. Meeting ends when Friends sense that it is time, usually after about an hour. We come together in silence to create a space where God can speak to us. Our experience is that shared worship (and) is different and deeper than meditation, in that we join in the Spirit at a deeper level of consciousness that supports our spiritual leadings. We support each other on our journeys and share messages that come to us out of the silence at our Meeting for Worship. These messages are brief and come from the heart,” says Rhoades.
All are welcome to join Patuxent Friends for meetings, which are held at the Patuxent Friends Meetinghouse in Lusby. For more information, please visit: www.patuxentfriends.org
Pictures by Hugh Conway


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