New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

5-year Experiment Continues for Northwest Quarter

Jun 3, 2019
Constance Kincaid-Brown, Hanover (NH) Friends Meeting

My goal is to share with you some of the joy, laughter,and love that those of us serving on the Interim Committee of Northwest Quarter experience each time we gather. While it is a commitment and there is travel involved, Interim Committee is a meeting I am loath to miss. It is an opportunity to hear and learn of the joys and concerns beyond my own meeting, to give and receive spiritual support for this work of service, to forgive and laugh at our foibles as we figure out together how to serve the Quarter better, and to discern how to balance what can sometimes feel like competing needs within the Quarter.

The Interim Committee was formed about five years ago when the Quarter made the leap to restructure and streamline. All standing committees were dissolved and replaced with just two Committees: the Interim Committee and the Planning Committee. The Interim Committee was originally called the Ministry and Oversight Committee in a failed attempt to reclaim the positive Quaker meaning of the word “oversight” from association with slavery, much like some are working to reclaim the word "Christian" from the Christian Fundamentalists. When it was clear the attempt was failing and continuing unintended racial wounding, the name was changed this last year to the Interim Committee. 

The Interim Committee meets between quarterly meetings and serves most of the functions of the Quarter. It is the Nominating Committee, the Finance Committee, Ministry and Counsel, and Peace and Social Concerns all rolled into one. It functions as a support committee for all the ex-officio members of the committee, fondly known as the "Gang of Five”: the presiding clerk and recording clerk, the treasurer, the newsletter editor, and the communications coordinator. 

Even when we are engaged in hard and sometimes painful discernment, we are able to hold each other and the Quarter in loving, joyful care. Our meetings are generally from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so it involves a potluck. Of course, there is always good food—the pleasure of catching up with each others' lives over lunch is another bonus. We feel blessed to be in this service to the Quarter. Personally I almost always come away energized and ready to take on my to-do list.

Members of the Interim Committee (in addition to those serving in the “Gang of Five”) feel a leading to service and test that leading with a Clearness Committee in their home meeting. When the Friend is found clear to serve, the meeting writes a letter introducing the person to the Interim Committee and they begin to serve. The process of joining is that simple! Meetings are not asked to appoint someone to serve. The call to service is left to the Spirit.

Those currently serving are Carol Dawes, clerk of the Interim Committee and the Quarter’s Treasurer (Plainfield); Carl Williams, Presiding Clerk (Plainfield); Debbe Regan (Plainfield); Penny Wright (Hanover), Connie Kincaid-Brown, Communications Coordinator (Hanover); Louis Cox, Newsletter Editor (Middlebury); Tom Dickenson (Middlebury); and Rebecca McKenzie (Quaker City). We would like to have more representation from throughout the Quarter, and to begin to do some intervisitation. We have need of those with a desire to visit other meetings, and those with recording gifts.

If you’d like to explore forming an Interim Committee in your quarter, please contact the author.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]