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Meetings to Hear God's Call
From the Discernment Working Group of the Sessions Committee
Looking ahead to our plenary sessions this Jubilee year, our presiding clerk asked a small group to help discern what should be on our agenda. Consisting of the Clerks table, YF and YAF clerks, and a few others, we have met a number of times in various configurations, and will meet several more times before sessions.
Amidst concerns about how Friends individually and as a whole would respond to a dramatic change in the character of our time together, we found ourselves in unity in our longing for broad and regular stretches of time in which to wait on the comfort, the nourishment, and the challenge of the Holy Spirit.
On the one hand, we were haunted by questions such as, will friends accept an apparent lack of agenda? Will Friends be upset not to hear committee reports and/or staff reports? Can we really put aside on-going concerns about our relationship with FUM and Moses Brown?
On the other hand we worry that agenda-free sessions will devolve into a series of popcorn meetings such as the one a few years ago, for which Young Friends eldered us. Longing for overt action on the floor, will Friends latch on to the first topic that gets raised in worship? Can friends really sit that long in worship? Will anything at all happen? Should we seed the worship with Queries? Can we as a group sink more deeply than usual into the arms of the Holy Spirit?
We are excited about the prospect of sharing several sessions with Young Friends and Young Adult Friends, groups we have previously noticed, seem to get it about meaningful worship. And we were drawn to the Jubilee image of the farmer walking her fields that lay fallow giving thanks for life and its bounty, and contemplating next years growing season. As a group we find ourselves clear that New England Friends, in turn, are called to pause and consider both our blessings, and how we have fared at living into the spirit. Questions include: How can we deepen our faithfulness to God and to our calling as Friends in the World? What from the depth of our 350 years of experience are we called upon to share with the world? How are we as Friends called to live transformed lives?
Some issues remain to be worked out, but we hope you will share our sense of excitement at the possibilities we create in putting aside usual business.
We ask that you come expecting to encounter the divine, willing to question that first impulse to vocal ministry, prepared to set aside on-going concerns and agenda, in favor of a deep sense of humility and openness to be changed.
Members of the Discernment Working Group include: Beth Bussiere-Nichols (reading clerk), Brian Drayton (recording clerk), Ben Guaraldi (clerk of Young Adult Friends), Cliff Harrison (Ministry & Counsel at-large) Linda Jenkins (presiding clerk), Rebecca Leuchak (recording clerk), Bruce Neumann (clerk of Nominating Committee), Jonathan Vogel-Borne (yearly meeting secretary), Greg Williams (reading clerk), Mike Wood (clerk of Young Friends)