Quakers, in contrast to other Christian denominations, do not have what is known as a “two kingdom theology.” We do not believe that there is a Kingdom of God and a Kingdom of (Hu)Man. We do not believe that we should “live in this world, but not of it.” Quakers, by and large, believe that we are commissioned or called to create the Kingdom of God here on earth, which means to transform the world we know into the world that God longs for us. This is the basis of many Friends’ activism and ministry.
Historically Friend have been mixed about engaging with and collaborating with other communities of faith. Even today, there are only small groups of Friends across the Friends traditions who are involved in representing Friends in ecumenical and inter-religious communities. In addition, with the gradual death of the process of recording--a formal recognition of gifts of ministry and commission of individual Friends to speak on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends to non-Quaker communities--there is much confusion and many opinions concerning who has the right to speak for Friends in these arenas.
That being true, Friends do have a long legacy of serving as representatives to other Friends communities, regionally in the Yearly Meeting structure, nationally in organizations such as Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting, and internationally with groups such as Friends World Committee for Consultation. Friends are usually appointed and approved by local and regional communities to serve in these ways and therefore their gifts in representational ministry affirmed. One of the gifts of ministry that Friends in these roles often have is the ability to “listen in tongues” or translate theologically, culturally, and politically the messages and opinions of Friends across the theological and cultural spectrum. To speak with love, to listen patiently, and to disagree with compassion are also gifts that are useful in this ministry.
I have been serving in roles of representational ministry since I was young. Below are some of the roles I have served and some of the roles I am currently serving:
Representing Quakers among Friends: FUM, NEYM, FWCC (currently serving)
Representing Quakers among Christian Denominations: CPT, NCCC, WCC
Representing Quakers among Inter-religious communities: CIRC, Interfaith Chaplaincy