What do we need right now?

For the last couple of months, mainly on the Internet, Friends have been sharing ideas about what a new yearly meeting or association might look like. A great many exciting and constructive suggestions are making the rounds. Quakers like to think about organization, and many of us have done a lot of careful thinking.

It’s time to start moving this stuff off the Internet and into our local meetings. The buzz so far has mainly been among Friends who have been active in yearly meeting or who care about Quaker relationships. But it’s got to have a broader base. If we don’t get people in our meetings talking and dreaming and making decisions, this project won’t get off the ground.

There are many different ways we can all invest our time, thought and effort, and most of them are pretty worthwhile. Not all of them have to happen right away, though. Here are some things which I would like to see happen soon:

1) We need to get a little more official. It would really help if each monthly meeting which is thinking about being involved in this new group were to appoint at least two representatives who will take part in the discussion and report back officially to their monthly meeting.

2) We need to be more careful with communications. It’s exciting to zip e-mails back and forth and post things on Facebook, but we need to start communicating directly to the clerks of monthly meetings.

3) We need to have some face-to-face meetings. The Internet is great, but we need to have more gatherings which are grounded in worship and prayer, where we listen to each other and laugh and talk over meals and let the important ideas come forward.

4) We need to involve more people in the discussion. I especially hope that we can involve our young Friends and young adults in their 20’s-40’s. Veteran Quakes like me may have some good ideas, but it’s the younger Friends who are going to have to live with this. Their voices need to be heard a lot more.

5) We need to reach out to meetings which are still making up their minds. There will probably be some monthly meetings which choose not to align with either the old Indiana Yearly Meeting or the new group. That’s OK. But let’s build some bridges, assure the unaligned folks that we care about them, and encourage them to sit in on the discussion.

6) We need some kind of a working committee. It should include the representatives appointed by monthly meetings, and might also include some at-large Friends who are interested in the project.

There are some projects which are fun and exciting, and down the road they may be crucially important, but they’re not essential right this very moment:

1) We don’t need to create a new Faith and Practice this week. It’s fun and fascinating, but doing this takes a lot of time and revision. We all agree that we want to follow traditional Quaker procedure in making decisions, and there’s a wealth of great material out there to guide us. This is a long-term project, not an immediate one.

2) We don’t need to re-create ourselves as a traditional yearly meeting. There will probably be a lot of testing and growing and experimenting before we settle down. Let’s leave some room for the Holy Spirit to work with us. And let’s not lock ourselves into a rigid pattern just yet.

3) Let’s not waste time on regrets. I know that people are in all kinds of different places of grieving, anger, confusion and disappointment over the decision to divide the yearly meeting. I could spend a long time myself re-hashing the process and justifying my own point of view. It’s not going to help us move forward. I think we need to take the high ground by looking ahead, and not try to fight the war all over again.

There are lots more things I have to say, and I plan to share them over the coming weeks. (And I really appreciate your comments and feedback!)


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All of the posts on this blog are my own personal opinion. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members and attenders of the meeting where I belong or any organization of Friends. For more information, click on the "About Me" tab above.



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