Sessions will consider a Faith & Practice chapter on marriage

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Eden Grace for Faith & Practice Revision Committee

Next month, the Faith & Practice Revision Committee will ask the Yearly Meeting for preliminary approval of the chapter on marriage. All Friends are urged to prepare for this important discernment!

How can I access the chapter?

The full text of the chapter is posted here. An audio recording is available in our podcast, Then I Heard a Voice, and is linked below.

How should I prepare for sessions?

Faith and Practice chapters are long and complex documents, with carefully discerned nuance and a rich interweaving with material appearing in other chapters. Friends are strongly urged to read and reflect on the marriage chapter in advance of arriving at Sessions. Our experience in past years has shown that the discussion in business meeting can be less than fruitful when Friends attempt to speak to a text they haven’t actually read in full.

What significant changes have been made since we discussed a draft chapter on marriage at sessions 2020?

There have been many small changes to wording. Three significant changes that Friends will notice are:

  1. The committee became clear that Friends in New England would be well served by a more complete discussion of separation and divorce. Rather than include this in the chapter on marriage, it will form part of the forthcoming chapter on Living a Faithful Life.
  2. Friends had asked for more guidance on sexuality within the marriage chapter. After consideration, the committee decided to address sexuality as it pertains to marriage within this chapter, and to offer a fuller discussion of sexuality in the chapter on Living a Faithful Life.
  3. The committee was asked to address other forms of marriage, beyond those that fall within the scope of Faith and Practice. Instead of speaking to specific situations, the committee was led to offer guidance to monthly meetings in their discernment of such requests for marriage.

When will the chapter be considered on the agenda?

The current agenda calls for an initial presentation and discussion of the marriage chapter on Sunday, followed by a listening session on Monday. The committee will discern whether it is led to make changes to the chapter in light of what it has heard, and will bring a final text on Wednesday for preliminary approval. Of course, this is subject to the discernment of the clerks, so pay attention to the announcements.

How will this work in the hybrid format?

All sessions of meeting for business and the listening session will be accessible both to Friends in person and Friends on Zoom. Our amazing tech team is working hard to make our experience of hybrid discernment as integrated as possible, so that we will be gathered as one body in seeking unity in the will of God. There will inevitably be some bumps on the road, but we’re confident that the patience, good humor and willing spirit of Friends, along with a big dose of God’s grace, will see us through.

What does it mean to give preliminary approval to a chapter?

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.