This text is from the 2014 Interim edition of Faith & Practice, the book that provides guidance for Friends in New England Yearly Meeting.
Since 2002 our trust that God is guiding us in the work of Faith and Practice revision has been grounded in a three-fold path of faith: faith in our Guide, faith in continuing revelation, and faith that we can be guided together. We have been clear since our beginnings that we wanted not just to revise the 1985 book, but to engage with the Yearly Meeting in re-visioning it by identifying where the Life is among us, and articulating and nurturing it. We intended our work to be a stimulus to discussion and prayerful discernment within the meetings, which would in turn inform our work. It has done both, and we are grateful for the insights of many meetings and individuals. We also affirm that these explorations are as valuable, or more so, than the final book.
During the 2013 NEYM Sessions we heard that Friends felt it would be useful to have the work done so far compiled into a book that could be held in the hand and set on a bedside table. At the same time the Publications and Communications Committee clerk offered to explore supporting our work. We are grateful for the work of many on that committee and beyond who worked to bring this project to fruition.
This Interim Faith and Practice is being made available at this time so that the Yearly Meeting may live with it, use it and continue to be fellow workers with us as we proceed to the remaining chapters on how our faith is lived out in our personal lives, in our meetings, and in the wider world. If the work were only that of the people on the Faith and Practice Revision Committee it would be incomplete. We need to be held closely by the body of the Yearly Meeting and to feel the motion of the Spirit among us. We are grateful for your responsiveness. The first section is Chapters Given Preliminary Approval, which means that they are substantially acceptable to the Yearly Meeting and are not expected to change except perhaps in very minor ways that may become desirable as the book nears completion. The second section, the Appendices Working Paper, has received considerable seasoning and is on its way to being ready, but it needs further seasoning. Please use these Appendices and let us know how well they serve. Are there other elements to add before they are fully useful? We are aware that some of the descriptive parts might more properly belong in the body of the book yet to be written. The third section articulates the vision that has guided us from the beginning and our sense of how this will inform our work as we move forward.
Chapters Given Preliminary Approval
A text given preliminary approval is substantially acceptable to Friends for inclusion in the final book. The time period between preliminary and final approval will likely be more than one year. This will allow both the Committee and the Yearly Meeting to have larger sections in front of them before giving final approval to any, knowing that the precise form of a given section will be influenced by what comes before and after.
Complete references to extracts are listed by their number at the back of the book.
This book is a witness to the lived faith of Quakers in New England from the mid-17th century to the present. It is a devotional resource and a handbook of procedures. When procedural questions arise, this book is designed to be a helpful guide, not a rigid instruction manual. Through corporate discernment, we change our structures and procedures in responsive obedience to God.
This revision of NEYM Faith and Practice reflects a range of spiritual experience among Friends. Each selection retains the original language used by the individual or faith community.
Quotations are identified in the text by author and date. Complete references for each source text will be found on page 191. The book is also available electronically at neym.org/fandp/interim.