Quaker Pastor Gregg Koskela came to Friends as a young adult, from various Evangelical Christian denominations. Here are the top 10 things that attracted him to Quakerism.
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- Gregg Koskela comes at his list from an Evangelical Quaker perspective. Were there any things that surprised you about his list? What resonated with you?
- What would your own top 10 list look like?
I came to Quakers, I came to Friends growing up in a lot of Evangelical Christian denominations and when I showed up at George Fox then College, now University, I began to be exposed to Quakers, and there was a lot of life there that I hadn’t experienced before in other Christian traditions. We all come from our own perspective, so I came from an Evangelical Christian perspective and was introduced to Quakerism and loved it, so my top ten list reflects the things that I loved coming from that environment.
The Top Ten Reasons I Am a Quaker
I’m Gregg Koskela, I’m a Quaker here in Newburg Oregon, and these are my top ten reasons for why I am a Quaker:
Number 10: I’m put off by hierarchy and I’m energized by community. I think what that means is that I really want to be a part of a group of Christ-followers who are taking responsibility themselves to listen to God and to obey God. I want to be part of a community that challenges each other, that engages with each other. I want to be a part of a group because that’s how we do life better. I think that’s the Quaker vision of community.
Number 9: I believe nobody has it all and I believe nobody is a lost cause. What Quakerism has really brought out of me is this recognition there’s nobody who has their stuff all together. It reminds me of my own struggles, my own weaknesses, my own sinfulness. But it always holds on as well that none of that overwhelms us, none of us is a lost cause. God can work in any of us, even pastors.
Number 8: I believe God can and does show up in every human experience, and worshiping with Quakers reminds me that in this moment I can look and expect for God to show up. And not only in this moment, but in the moment I’m gonna have washing my dishes or driving in my car or going about my regular life. I can pay attention to God present. And that’s one of the big reasons I’m drawn to Quakers.
Number 7: Most influential people in my life are Quakers. When I think about the people who’ve affected me, who have changed me for the better, a huge percentage of them are people who are in the Quaker tradition, and that’s one of the reasons it draws me in.
Number 6: Silence speaks to me. I used to be one of those people who thought prayer was about getting your words right before God, and Quakers have helped me understand to listen for that Still Small Voice of God. And I don’t think silence is the only way to hear God, but I cannot imagine or fathom hearing from God without taking regular time to be in silence.
Number 5: I believe every person on the planet can hear God’s voice and can be a part of God’s plan. And this means that I look to work for justice and equality in every human relationship because there are no fundamental differences between us as people, and it means that I am challenged to not have nationalistic blinders on when I look at the world. It means that there is something inside of me that screams against capital punishment or war because all people have value; all people can play a part.
Number 4: I don’t want to be called ‘reverend,’ and as a pastor, I don’t want to be separated from the people with whom I live life, who I live community with. I think that only God should be revered, and I love that that testimony is part of Quakers.
Number 3: I want to be challenged to a life of simplicity and integrity. I want to be challenged to a single-minded focus on obedience to God. And I want to be removed, released, from the endless distractions of stuff. I want my focus to be on Christ.
Number 2: I believe the passionate power of God unleashes faithful, joyful, vibrant followers of Christ. I really want to be a part of being called to radical obedience. Out-of-the-box risk taking, ’cause that’s not part of my personality. I want to be challenged to live out vibrant life with God in ways that I haven’t otherwise done, and I’ve found that worshipping with Quakers helps me do that.
And the number one reason that I choose to be a Quaker is that I want to join Christ in transforming this world, and as Quakers, we believe God is alive and vibrant in every part of this world. Transforming people, working to reconcile creation, restore creation. God is at work breaking systems of injustice. I want God to enliven me. That’s one of the reasons, the best reason, I think, why I choose to name Quakers as my own.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.