Fasten your seatbelts, the Faith and Practice Revision Committee is back!
Last year, with the pandemic-induced pivot to an online-only Yearly Meeting session, the business agenda was simplified in order to facilitate the building of beloved community on new platforms. For the first time in 20 years, you didn’t hear from the Faith and Practice Revision Committee during meeting for business. A year later, the platforms are achingly familiar, and we’re all a bit weary of endless Zoom community-building sessions. The clerks table have therefore discerned an agenda that includes some “meaty” work for us to do together.
How fitting it is, therefore, that the Faith and Practice Revision Committee is bringing a chapter on Personal Spiritual Practices for preliminary approval. This short yet profound chapter focuses Friends attention on the breadth of opportunity for spiritual depth that lies before us in our everyday lives, intentionally moving beyond traditional models of what a “spiritual discipline” is supposed to look like. Can you pray on Zoom? Of course! Can crochet bring you into the sweetness of God’s presence? Why not! Is walking in the woods (or on the beach, or around your city block) a spiritual practice? You betcha!
In preparation for consideration of the chapter of Personal Spiritual Practices, please read the text or listen to it read aloud as a podcast. During sessions next month, the Revision Committee will introduce the document and hold a Listening Session to receive feedback. We will then discern whether changes are needed in light of what we’ve heard, and bring a text back to the business meeting for preliminary approval. This plan will only work if you’ve read the text before sessions!
What does Preliminary Approval mean? I’m glad you asked! Each chapter of the new Faith and Practice is given preliminary approval when it is ready for use, even as we await the final compilation of the new book. A chapter that has received preliminary approval is substantially acceptable to the Yearly Meeting and is not expected to change except perhaps in very minor ways that may become desirable as the book nears completion. Meetings should consider it to be part of the official Faith and Practice of the Yearly Meeting, and should give it appropriate authority in their life together.
But wait, there’s more!
Your faithful and productive Faith and Practice Revision Committee has also completed a draft chapter on Ministry and Counsel. In contrast to the short-and-sweet chapter on Personal Spiritual Practices, the Ministry and Counsel chapter is long and complex. Monthly meetings have asked us to address a great many topics in this chapter, and now is the time to find out whether we’ve produced something that will be useful to Friends.
The text is available here and will be mailed to every meeting in September. In sharing this draft text, the committee is inviting you to send us your feedback as you road-test it. In what ways do you find it helpful? What’s confusing or contradictory? Are there topics that we forgot to include? What would make it even more useful to your meeting’s ministry and counsel committee? We’re hoping that every meeting in New England will engage with this draft text over the next year, and we pray that these discussions will provide you with an opportunity to consider more deeply the guiding and nurturing work of ministry and counsel.
Thank you for journeying with the Faith and Practice Revision Committee as we seek to articulate in words the ineffable sweetness of our shared life of faith in New England Yearly Meeting.