An Experiment with New Ways to Nurture Ministry and Eldership

For the past several years, Friends serving on behalf of New England Quakers have been prayerfully focused on how the work of the organization of New England Yearly Meeting can bear greater fruit in the lives of Friends and Friends meetings across our region, and how this service can be more inclusive, responsive, meaningful, and effective.

In 2019, Friends gathered for Annual Sessions approved several recommendations to foster more inclusive leadership development. One of these recommendations was the appointment of a group of Friends to explore how Friends’ practices of ministry and eldership could be more fruitfully nurtured, especially in light of the essential role that this spiritual work plays in the thriving of local meetings. This October, after an extensive process of consultation and prayerful reflection, the Permanent Board approved some significant next steps in this exploration, and we want to make sure to share them with anyone who’s interested.

Toward this end, a brief letter is being sent to Friends serving as Clerks and Ministry & Counsel of local meetings, sharing news about an experiment with seasonal gatherings intended to support Friends exercising gifts in ministry and eldership, and to nurture the spiritual life of local meetings. 

Several documents related to this process of learning and discernment, including a background working paper, a graphic detailing current and new work, and a PDF presentation offered to the Permanent Board, are posted here. Friends are also available to answer more specific questions—Leslie Manning, Clerk of the Permanent Board; Jeremiah Dickinson, interim Clerk of Ministry & Counsel; and Sarah Gant, Clerk of the Working Group on Ministry & Spiritual Life, would be happy to answer more detailed requests for information.

In this process of exploration, it will be vital to reflect on what’s being learned as we go. The fruits of this experiment will be reviewed and further recommendations brought as part of Annual Sessions in 2022. More information, including a more detailed invitation to the first gathering for local meetings to consider, will be sent in the coming months.