Faith and Practice Committee Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
|2011 Report||2012 Report||2013 Report||2014 Report||2015 Report|
We held open committee meetings at the three Interim Meetings, following the first of these at annual session, 2015. With our encouragement, we have received one additional report from a monthly meeting. At present we are in dialogue with 2 others.
Following the instruction given to us by Presiding Clerk, 2013, Betsy Meyer, we continue to work with other portions of FAITH AND PRACTICE, 2013, 2nd reading. (YRBK, 2013-56). As editing proceeds, these portions will come forward for approval.
Finally, we have met with Nominating Committee in order to assist in bringing names forward at annual session, 2016 for 2 additional members to your Committee.
Katherine Smith (Maury River), Clerk
No report received.
No report expected.
Last September the Clerk of Yearly Meeting published a letter to Friends throughout Baltimore Yearly Meeting: “Proposed Faith and Practice: A Guide for Discernment.” In that letter the Clerk noted that “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.” Urging Friends to review the 2012 “First Reading” of the proposed document, the Clerk posed four guiding queries:
• 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?
Armed with copies of the text and these queries, the Faith and Practice Revision Committee asked Meetings for permission to visit and listen to the response of Friends. From Abingdon Friends to Monongalia Friends Meeting, from Floyd to Dunnings Creek, from Maury River and Richmond to Langley Hill and Alexandria, members of the committee visited thirty-eight Quaker Meetings between October 2012 and April of this year.
We listened and we heard the questions and suggestions of our Yearly Meeting. We heard that many Friends were excited about the proposed Faith and Practice, that questions were posed by the revision that Friends had not fully considered before, that some procedures were clarified, that some queries led to deep introspection, and that some statements posed challenges which led Friends on a new journey.
In addition to affirmation and appreciation, we also heard concerns, suggestions, and ideas for improvement. We recorded hundreds of comments from our Friends and in February began a process of reviewing each one, amending, reworking, and revising the proposed Faith and Practice as a result.
From editorial corrections to major enhancements, this document echoes the voices which we heard throughout the Yearly Meeting. Notably we added a discussion of eldering, and a more detailed treatment of aging in our communities. In a new set of Queries, Advices, and Voices, we recognized the importance of diversity in our Society and stressed inclusion of each member and attender in our Meetings. We thoroughly expanded the index so that existing and new features could easily be found. We gave explicit attention to the queries and advices in the 1988 version of Faith and Practice, and reintegrated many of the original queries that where precious to Friends.
As many of us on the Faith and Practice Revision Committee have spent the last nine to eleven years on this project, we are very pleased to present a much improved document. The evolution of any Faith and Practice is, we recognize, a task that will never be completed. With continuing revelation our understanding of the Truth evolves, and we expect that the urge to modify, to revise, to enhance, and to rewrite this document will be ever with us.
Your committee has given this project its diligent attention, and has considered your suggestions for improvement. We deeply appreciate the input not only of our Meetings, but of many Yearly Meeting committees. We are especially grateful for those who gave us hands-on assistance in developing or amending some sections. We have pursued these revisions to our Faith and Practice with worshipful consideration, and have completed our service in good order. We offer this 2013 Draft of the Revised Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting for approval at Annual Session in 2013.
With the help of many Meetings and many individual Friends, we now have a final draft Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. We thank you very much for your help. This year marks the tenth year of working on your Faith & Practice.
Each and every one of the comments and suggestions you have sent to us have been carefully read and worshipfully considered. We have accepted many and incorporated them into this 2012 version. There were some which we felt were not consistent with the other comments and suggestions and so are not incorporated in this. We are sure that you are not surprised by this!
We ask that each and every one in BYM listen carefully as you read this book. As with all major decisions made by those present at Annual Session, this will lay over so that Friends can contemplate what they will be asked to approve. You will notice that the cover says “First Reading” on it. With God’s help, it will be approved at Annual Session in 2013.
As you go through this copy, both as individuals and as a meeting, you may find some wording is really troubling to you. If so, you might ask a group from your Meeting to get together to read it. There are times when individual perceptions in a particular passage may vary. A group discernment is helpful to understanding.
There have been quite a few comments about the alphabetical way the headings of the Queries, Advices, and Voices are listed. We arranged them this way because we feel that each is as important as all others.
Another comment from several sources wonders why there are seventeen Queries, Advices, and Voices. Again, once we started writing, we realized that there were aspects of our lives that needed to be considered in this section. We also realized that not all Meetings have a Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business every month of the year.
As you get familiar with all that is in this new book, you will find that there are many more sections to help individuals and Meetings. Many of the sections carry much more information than the 1988 Faith & Practice. We feel that the Faith part has been enhanced considerably. The Practice has also been enlarged greatly.
While it would be impossible to write about every possible situation that could arise out of all the Meetings within Baltimore Yearly Meeting, we do hope that each Meeting will use what is here as a guideline and mold the information to fit their own particular needs. For instance, the wording for the wedding certificate is the original, and it must be changed to suit each couple.
This is your Faith & Practice. We encourage you to read it well, use it faithfully, and practice what is here. May this new Faith & Practice become part of your spiritual life.
The faithful Faith and Practice Revision Committee keeps writing, rewriting, and searching for just the right word to produce our new Faith and Practice. The 1988 Faith and Practice was written after the Orthodox and Hicksite Yearly Meetings were consolidated. When the new Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting is approved, it is anticipated that we can then call ourselves a united Yearly Meeting.
We have met 13 times between September 2010 and the end of June 2011. Regretfully, all members of the Committee were not able to make all meetings and we missed their participation. We interrupted our regular schedule in May because two of our members were married on our usual second Saturday of each month! In some months we had two meetings.
With all the writing we have been doing, we have not had the time to go through all the comments and suggestions we have received. This will be our main task in the coming months after Annual Session. We encourage every person in every Meeting to read carefully the 2011 Draft version of the Faith & Practice, either alone or in groups. This book will be on sale at Annual Session and from the Baltimore Yearly Meeting office.
Many of the sections describe areas that are common to each Meeting but are not as detailed as some may want. We have tried to make it comprehensive without saying “this is the only way to do this.” Each Meeting has its own way of handling marriages, divorces, and memberships. We tried to provide both flexibility and guidance in these areas, as well as others. Each Meeting has their own unique manner in which they approach these three practices.
Your thoughts, comments, and suggestions on this draft are very important to us as we head towards the final version. As you read through the book by yourself or with others in your Meeting to discuss the contents, we want to hear your thoughts. What questions do you have about each of the sections? We need your input to help us make this be a book that fits our Yearly Meeting.