Any organization has the task of defining what it is about, its mission, its goals, its reason for existence. Part of what I’m doing as I’m reading through old minutes and history stuff is collecting the actual words that Newberg Friends has used over its 128 years to define itself.
On May 2, 1885, Newberg Friends filed incorporation papers. These obviously are not the sorts of things an organization uses as a marketing tool or a slogan, but it does give an idea of how this meeting defined itself only 7 years after being organized. Here’s how they described their purpose:
The business, object, and pursuit of this Corporation is to improve the mental and moral condition of the members of this Society and mankind generally by teaching, practicing, and disseminating the great religious and moral truths and principles of the Bible, according to the customs and usages of the Society of Friends.
Iâ€™m pretty impressed with this. Their approach was broad; “mental and moral condition”, both thoughts and behavior. Their scope was wide; they didn’t want to exist only for themselves, but for “members of this Society and mankind”.
â€œGreat religious and moral truths and principles of the Bibleâ€ is an interesting phrase. I read it as their attempt to clearly define themselves as Christian. They were â€œorthodoxâ€ Friends theologically. I would prefer to see something about Jesus as opposed to the bible, but that might be forcing my perspective onto something that wasnâ€™t an issue historically.
â€œAccording to the customs and usages of the Society of Friendsâ€ reminds me that our identity as Quakers/Friends has always been important to Newberg Friends.
What do you notice? What stands out, positive, negative, or neutral?