New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

“Living Epistles” Travel Across Differences in New England

Aug 17, 2018
Judy Goldberger (Beacon Hill, MA, Friends Meeting), co-clerk, FWCC Committee

What is one of the oldest Quaker practices, now being renewed? Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas has set itself the task of providing visitation — “living epistles” — to travel across differences within the Religious Society of Friends, and help knit us together.  It’s called the Travelling Ministry Corps. Ministers are able to offer a variety of opportunities — vocal ministry, workshops, individual mentoring and opportunities — on a range of topics. FWCC provides financial support for the visits.

In October of 2017, three monthly meetings in New England received visits from a member of the Travelling Ministry Corps. Chuck Schobert, a member of Madison Monthly Meeting, Northern Yearly Meeting, visited with friends at Putney, Framingham, and Monadnock meetings.

Chuck brought Friends in these meetings the story of a leading, which at first was not fully understood either by himself or by his home meeting. Moving forward step by step, he came to understand that he was led to visit among diverse kinds of Quakers, sensing and speaking to the “life between the branches.” This in turn led him to join the Section of the Americas Travelling Ministry Corps, which seeks to broaden dialogue and understanding between Friends of all kinds.

Some of the Friends he visited with were encouraged to further visitation — in one meeting, its First Day School decided to visit a programmed meeting. Other Friends were less convinced of the value of dialogue across such wide differences; this  concern was a major part of the discussion at one meeting.

Friends expressed gratitude for Chuck Schobert’s service among us. Reflecting on the experience, Chuck said “I was very moved and joyful that with God’s guidance and wonderful elders a safe, sacred place was created where Friends shared from deep places.”

For more about the Travelling Ministry Corps, and for introductions to the current class of ministers (including two from New England, Debbie Humphries and  Greg Woods), visit https://fwccamericas.org/visitation/traveling-ministry.shtml.  To request that a member of the Traveling Ministry Corps visit your monthly or quarterly meeting, download a request form at https://fwccamericas.org/docs/traveling-ministry-request.pdf, fill it out, and send the completed form to [email protected].

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]