Faith and Practice Committee Interchange Reports
The text of recent Faith and Practice Revision Committee reports in the Interchange are are below, with the most recent at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the item listed below.
|Fall 2011 Interchange|
|Winter 2012 Interchange||Fall 2012 Interchange|
|Winter 2015 Interchange|
|Fall 2016 Interchange|
At Annual Session, the Faith and Practice Revision Committee (F&PRC) facilitated a Connecting Local Meetings session on Faith and Practice, which turned into a threshing session on how to proceed. Another Friend held a separate interest group to explore a way forward as well. Many good ideas were lifted up in these sessions and other discussions.
Meanwhile, two out of the three committee members have resigned since April. In the process of identifying nominees for F&PRC, the Nominating Committee realized that the F&PRC charge was unclear, having heard some strong opinions about what the committee needed to be doing that were sometimes conflicting. As a result, it did not present any nominees at Annual Session, leaving only one member, and we do not have committees of one. In effect, F&PRC is currently inactive.
In the absence of an active committee, it falls to the Yearly Meeting clerks to facilitate a process for clarifying the committee’s charge and approach. They plan to bring forward a draft plan at October Interim Meeting.
As part of the process for reviewing the proposed revision of Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice, Meetings are being asked to review certain sections of the 2013 draft. The sections we will be considering are:
-The Life of the Spirit (Section I,2)
-Meetings for Worship (Section I,3)
-Monthly Meetings (Section III,1)
The Committee has asked Meetings “to express in writing, the specific portions (citing page and paragraph) that are troubling or concern them,” or for which they wish to give feedback.
Has your Meeting begun work on this project? Do you as an individual or a group within your Meeting have concerns? The channel to air these concerns is through your Meeting. They will then forward feedback to the members of the Faith and Practice Revision Committee. Meetings should contact any of the members of the committee if they have questions about the process. Thank you for your attention to this matter, as the Committee cannot proceed thoroughly without your feedback.
Sheila Bach (Langley Hill)
Have you read your 2011 Draft Faith & Practice? Do you own one–and can you locate it? It has a great deal inside to offer you.
The Faith & Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting is yours, and also ours. It a spiritual document that says to anyone and everyone who we are, what we do, and most importantly, why we do it. It doesn’t tell us exactly what to do, but gives guidance from ages of learning and, significantly, asks us to question ourselves in love and honesty to find the Inner Light. Every member and attender at every Meeting should get to know what is in the Faith & Practice.
The Faith & Practice Revision Committee has been working ten months of each year since 2002–yes, ten years. We are now making corrections and changes that have been sent to us from numerous Meetings and individuals. We are planning on having a final draft at Annual Session this year. Or as final as any Faith & Practice can be! If there are things that are incorrect or need clarification, we need to know about them. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity–the last one was approved in 1988.
Please send changes, additions, corrections electronically to email@example.com or 305 Friends Way, Harpers Ferry WV 25425. Please act soon! We need to have them in hand by the end of February.
Committee members read every suggestion that we receive. However, we cannot use every suggestion, as some are contradictory to others. We are well aware that we cannot please every person in BYM, but we greatly appreciate your thoughtful contributions. Please help us to make this Faith & Practice as inclusive of our faith and our practice as possible.
Elizabeth Meyer, Sandy Spring
Friends do not have a creed, but that does not mean that we do not believe in anything. Instead of signing on to a creed, we seek to articulate our beliefs and our religious practices in our Faith & Practice. Because our beliefs are experienced spiritually, it is difficult to put them into words. Yet, we find it helpful to articulate our beliefs both as an orientation to those new to Friends and as inspiration for long-time members. Much of our faith is experienced in community as we seek to discern the Divine will together. Our faith is experienced as we practice it. Faith & Practice sets forth our Quaker processes to guide practice in our local Meetings and in our Yearly Meeting. It also serves an accountability function, calling us to faithfulness as individuals and as a spiritual community.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting currently operates according to the Faith & Practice we approved in 1988. While this document has been a useful guide for many years, some of it has become out of date. For the past ten years, a revision committee has been working on a new version, circulating drafts and incorporating feedback from Friends and from Meetings. At Annual Session in August, this committee brought a Proposed Faith & Practice for a first reading. Now it is important that as many BYM Friends as possible read the Proposed Faith & Practice so that we, as a spiritual community, can discern whether to approve the document at our next Annual Session. Printed and electronic copies of the Proposed Faith & Practice may be obtained from the Yearly Meeting website. The Revision Committee will be visiting Local Meetings to listen for feedback.
How will we discern whether to approve the Proposed Faith & Practice? It is important to remember that no document can perfectly articulate our faith. We celebrate the diversity of ways that the Divine manifests itself in our lives, and we hope our Faith & Practice will leave room for continuing revelation. Nor can we exactly articulate our Quaker practice, which often must be worked out with Divine assistance as we go along. Thus, we seek a document that sufficiently articulates our faith and our practice, leaving room for the work of the Spirit. We should bear in mind also that whatever we approve is not set in stone forever. I suggest the following queries to guide our discernment:
- Understanding that our faith is too deep for words, does the Faith & Practice adequately articulate our Quaker beliefs and testimonies, in order both to inform those new to Friends and to inspire and challenge those with long experience of Friends?
- Does the Faith & Practice provide sufficient resources, such as queries and advices, to assist us in accountability one to another in our Monthly Meetings and as a Yearly Meeting?
- Does the Faith & Practice provide sufficient explanation and guidance for our Quaker process?
- Does Faith & Practice provide guidance and structure while inviting the work of the Spirit and continuing revelation?
I look forward to our next Annual Session when we can engage in this discernment together.
Sheila Bach, Clerk, Faith and Practice Revision Committee
Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice is the document that we all agree speaks for us about our life in the Spirit, our practices and procedures. The first reading of our new Faith and Practice was given at Annual Session this August. Now is your final chance to make adjustments to the book!
For the last five years, this Committee has been distributing regularly updated copies of what we have written. We have had very helpful comments on what needed to be corrected or what was unclear. While we have not incorporated all of the suggestions, we have read and discussed them. Some disagreed with others, so we went with what we felt was the best for the Yearly Meeting as a whole.
Here’s where you come in. During the coming year, between September 2012 and April 2013, members of the Faith and Practice Revision Committee will be asking each Meeting to invite one of us, along with a companion, to visit and discuss how Friends feel about this new Faith and Practice.
We are anticipating that at the second reading at Annual Session 2013 this document will be approved and BYM will have a new Faith and Practice.
The Faith and Practice Revision Committee has remained quite constant in its membership. We asked for this to happen after talking with the committee clerks in three other Yearly Meetings who were going through the same process. Keeping the Committee membership constant enabled us to get to know each other well and to continue working without needing to bring new people up to date each year. While we do have people from both large Meetings and small, our gender ratio has not been as good!
We look forward to visiting with your Meeting during the coming months. The Clerk of each Meeting will receive a letter early in September asking for an invitation to visit with you. We will have copies of the 2012 Faith and Practice with us for Friends to purchase. You can also order some right now from the Yearly Meeting office by calling 301-774-7663 or by ordering at the BYM web page.
The current 2011 draft of our Faith & Practice includes many new and revised sections. The brief history has been rephrased to incorporate a sense of the faith and practice of early Friends. New sections on Quaker Testimonies and Quaker Communities have been drafted. We have, with help, worked diligently on the section on Marriage and Divorce. You will find many other additions and modifications that extend last year’s draft and incorporate many of your comments and suggestions.
We anticipate completing our work on the following schedule:
- We will integrate all comments on the 2011 draft received by February 1, 2012.
- The edition of 2012 will be, in essence, the last full draft for review.
- We will seek approval for the new Faith and Practice in 2013.