Those churches that have formal confession understand its value, but confession does not have to be formal to bring benefits. Speaking the unspeakable, admitting the shameful, to someone who can be trusted and who will accept you in love as you are, is enormously helpful.The other night during a workshop discussion at the monthly meeting, the conversation turned to confession among Quakers. The question was raised, "Do Friends have confession?"
- 12.01, Britain Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice
Internally, intuitively, the answer that arose within me was "Yes," though I had never come across a Friend who spoke or wrote directly about confession in the way I have come across Friends' views on baptism or communion.
As I sat with the inward possibility that the practice of confession exists among Friends, my mind was turned to consider what is meant by "covenant community," a concept I had come across in the writings of Lloyd Lee Wilson:
The covenant relationship says that we are given in relationship to each other precisely in order to help one another through these painful times, into a fuller relationship with God and one another... Our individual sins and failures become opportunities for the community to practice true loving forgiveness, to offer spiritual counsel and guidance, and to offer spiritual and emotional healing.Unlike "baptism" and "communion," the word "confession" is not explicit in these and other writings; why is that?
- p. 69, Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order
Yet I have experienced a sort of inward confession, when the Light has broken through my defenses and has shown me how I have wronged others or have spoken out of turn. And so I have opened myself to be made known by the Spirit even in my weakness... and mustn't I do something similiar, make known my private failings, to those in the covenant community in which I worship?
UPDATE, 10 Fourth Month 2006: I have lifted up Ken's comment that he makes below and posted it separately, since I feel he advances the conversation around the topic of Quakers and confession.