Intervisitation Working Group Interchange Reports
The Joys of Travel Ministry
Intervisitation Working Group
In thinking about having a leading, having fun is not the first thing that usually comes to mind, although it does suggest that we are on the right path. That is the experience that many Friends who travel in the ministry have, with some claiming that it is “wonderful” as well as challenging, centering, fulfilling, validating, and transforming. It helps to be relaxed with some of the unpredictability of traveling–which is easier when companioned by an elder who can share holding the adventure and the purpose in the Light with us.
Traveling in the ministry is a Quaker tradition that goes back to the beginning, when the spread of Quaker practice was wholly dependent on preachers who carried God’s word to other communities and countries. Today, more and more Friends feel a divine leading to share in this ministry, though most are less evangelical. FUM, FWCC, and BYM all have intervisitation programs. Our working group has 15 active participants who gather for spirited meetings 4 times a year. In 2018, our group traveled to at least 13 different Meetings, 18 Yearly Meetings, and 4 other countries. We also hosted Friends from 8 Yearly Meetings at Annual Session.
Listen to the comments we shared at our last meeting: “There was an ongoing Divine Love expressed.” “As the ministry bubbled up, we recognized it in ourselves and others, with a willingness to embrace it.” “Sharing ministry about saying ‘I love you’ rippled throughout the week and broke down unspoken walls that had divided us for years.” “We found many ways to connect, in spite of differences. The Ministry of Presence was the center of all our connections.” “I felt the power of being called to this, similar to the way Fox wrote about the power of God coming over him.”
Friends, does getting to know more of our wider Quaker family speak to you? Please email us firstname.lastname@example.org to explore if this is for you. We can support travelers even if you don’t come to meetings. We also welcome invitations to visit within BYM. We hope to hear from you!
We want to lift up our traveling ministers who will be overseas this Spring with requests to hold them in the Light: Meg Boyd Meyer and Arthur Meyer now at Ramallah Friends School; Georgia Fuller returning to Kenya; Adrian Bishop and Rosalie Dance going back to Belize; Karie Firoozmand traveling to Costa Rica; and Patti Nesbitt and Michael Conklin returning to New Zealand and Australia.
IWG now has 13 Friends engaged in our work of reaching out to the wider Quaker family to strengthen the bonds and honor the similarities that connect us all. While at first the IWG began focusing on Meetings within the Friends United Meeting family, we have expanded to reach beyond FUM Meetings to include other worshiping communities in the broader Quaker fellowship worldwide. Our focus has shifted to reconstructing the center of Quakerism and help reduce splintering, to offer a ministry of presence, and to reintroduce the historical practice of traveling ministers. Our mode is to show up and listen actively, to be ready to be used by Spirit as needed where we are led, and to go with open hearts and no agenda. Our hope is to reduce the separation and isolation between Friends where there are theological and/or political differences, by honoring diversity, validating differing persuasions, and speaking truth lovingly.
This calendar year, our members have already traveled to Kenya, Belize, and Durham, NC. We anticipate travel to upwards of 10 other Yearly Meetings this year. We have again invited several Yearly Meetings to send visitors to our Annual Session. Additionally, some Friends have expressed a preference to travel more locally and to reach out to some smaller or more distant Meetings among BYM.
We have encouraged use of clearness committees to clarify Friends’ leadings and Travel Minutes that document their Meeting’s support of their ministry. Three such Travel Minutes were endorsed by Interim Meeting in March.
IWG is sponsoring 3 workshops during BYM Annual Session. We plan to offer one of those workshops at least two other times this year within our Yearly Meeting, once somewhere in SW Virginia in Fall 2018 and later up north in Pennsylvania next spring.
Our next meeting date is planned for May12 at 10:00 to 1:30 in Sandy Spring. All are welcome. We welcome the opportunity to use the new Zoom technology to include others who are not able to join us in person. Inquiries to email@example.com.
Hello Friends, The Intervisitation Committee invites You to join us. Our goal is to facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation among Yearly Meetings (and some local Meetings.) Come join us in practicing being a friendly ambassador under the care of BYM. We hope by sharing worship and fellowship with other Yearly Meetings a greater perspective and respect can be achieved. If you have interest in learning about how other Friends worship and how they embrace Quakerism this committee could be a good fit for you. Please look for an announcement of our next meeting in February. If you are interested; but can’t travel you are still very welcome.
As the Intervisitation Working Group broadens its mission, we encourage all who are traveling, have traveled, or might want to travel among Friends to join us for this year’s Travelers’ Retreat. Everyone is welcome, including those visiting within BYM, those traveling with Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), as well as within Friends United Meeting (FUM). This is an opportunity to share our leadings and experiences, provide mutual support, and share fellowship. Clearness and support committees for travelers are also encouraged to attend. It will be on the afternoon of 3/16/2014, the day after March Interim Meeting. In February, check intervisitation.bym-rsf.net for more details or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-QUAKERS (626-782-5377).
If you would like to travel outside of BYM, especially to other Yearly Meetings this summer, now is the time to start working with your clearness committees and get your travel minutes in process. We can help. Let us know what visits you are considering. See our website for guidance and information. Special opportunities this year include FWCC consultations, including one in North Carolina in April, and the FUM Triennial in Indiana in June. You do not need to be an appointed representative to attend these events.
Would your Meeting like to have visitors? Someone to lead a workshop? Someone from a BYM committee to learn about and discuss its work? Or are you someone who would like to visit other Meetings, whether as a committee member or as an individual, whether inside or outside of BYM? Could you lead a workshop for a Meeting? Please let us know.
The Intervisitation Working Group wants to help facilitate visits of all kinds among Friends. We are working on a new mission statement and exploring whether and how to expand our work to intervisitation within BYM and/or to intervisitation outside of BYM beyond Friends United Meeting (FUM). We seek input from you, and we especially seek new members for the working group with a concern for visiting within BYM or Friends with experience with Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC). Please let us know at the contact information above.
Would your Meeting like to have visitors? Perhaps someone to lead a workshop? Perhaps someone from a BYM committee to learn about and discuss its work? Or are you someone who would like to visit other Meetings, whether as a committee member or as an individual, whether inside or outside of BYM? Could you lead a workshop for a Meeting?
In 2004, BYM established an ad hoc Intervisitation Committee to focus on building community within FUM. In June 2013, Interim Meeting laid down the ad hoc committee and created in its place an intervisitation working group under the care of Ministry and Pastoral Care in order to help integrate intervisitation into the routine practice of the Yearly Meeting. See intervisitation.bym-rsf.net for more information.
The newly re-formed Intervisitation Working Group wants to help facilitate visits of all kinds among Friends. Contact us at email@example.com or 626-QUAKERS (626-782-5377). But first! The Working Group needs to develop a new mission statement and explore whether and how to expand its work to intervisitation within BYM and/or to intervisitation outside of BYM beyond Friends United Meeting (FUM). We seek input from you, and we especially seek new members for the working group with a concern for visiting within BYM or Friends with experience with Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC). Please let us know at the contact information above.
The ad hoc Intervisitation Committee’s charge expires as of Third Month Interim Meeting. The Committee has spent some time in a discernment process considering how to integrate intervisitation into the routine practice of the Yearly Meeting. At Interim Meeting, the Committee will present its final report, with a recommendation that the committee be laid down, and a working group under the care of Ministry and Pastoral Care be established. Several members of the current committee have expressed willingness to serve on the working group. The report and proposal will be available before Interim Meeting intervisitation.bym-rsf.net.
Letters of invitation to other Yearly Meetings are going out in January. We hope to have good representation at Annual Session this year. Those from BYM who wish to travel should be preparing now. Steps to take include notifying your Meeting of your interest, requesting a clearness committee, and asking the Meeting to support your travel financially. Also, please notify Jolee Robinson of your interest in traveling and which Yearly Meeting you would like to visit. A calendar of Yearly Meetings and information on clearness committees is also on our site.
There is a special opportunity for visiting this year. United Society of Friends Women International is holding its Triennial in Indianapolis July 3-7. Those women who attended the Triennial in Mombasa, Kenya are aware of the power of these meetings. Visit the USFWI website for registration materials. Clearness committees and travel minutes would be appropriate for USFWI also.
In the past, we have scheduled training for outgoing visitors in conjunction with Interim Meeting. This year, it is anticipated that there will be a gathering of prospective and past travelers in the Spring or in conjunction with the June Interim Meeting.
The Intervisitation Committee is looking forward to another season of visits to and from other Yearly Meetings. We continue to struggle with the budget limitations, but our discernment process thus far has clarified that the program is not done yet, and it’s clear that spiritual hospitality is an important ministry. At the Interim Meeting in March, the committee’s charge was extended for one year. Yearly Meetings have received invitations to send visitors to the BYM Annual Session. BYM has previously made funds available to help with the costs of registration, room and board for one or two visitors from other Yearly Meetings, but this may be difficult this year. BYM visitors to other Yearly Meetings are pursuing clearness committees and schedules for visits. We are asking that local Meetings help visitors find financial support for their visits.
The most immediate task facing the committee is hosting “A Ministry of Presence: Equipping Friends called to Intervisitation,” which will be held April 14 from 12:30 to 6:30 at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. Attendees will include several people from other FUM Yearly Meetings interested in establishing similar intervisitation programs. All are welcome to attend, if only to learn more about our program and help our ongoing discernment. Anyone who is considering visiting other Yearly Meetings and those who have already visited are especially encouraged to attend, as are their clearness or support committees. See http://intervisitation.bym-rsf.net for a schedule of Yearly Meetings and other information.
As you register for Annual Session this year, we are looking for people interested in hosting our visitors during the Yearly Meeting. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
Linda Coates, Little Britain Monthly Meeting
I’d like to thank the members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting for the opportunity you have given me to participate in the Intervisitation Program. I’d like to let you know that you all travel with me. Often among a Gathered Presence, “I see Friends…” In the turn of a head, movement of hands or a passer by, I have flash backs of dearly loved members of BYM.
I have been able to travel to Great Plains Yearly Meeting three times, New England Yearly Meeting twice, and have sojourned in Monadnock Monthly Meeting in New Hampshire for the last 5 years.
I am constantly amazed by how much feels familiar in a crowd of strangers. The world of Quakers is truly a small and blessed one. Following a leading to “go where I send thee” can be a daunting task. I am constantly thankful to many individuals whose voices and encouragement have been important to my journey and Spiritual growth.
I often hear Lamar Matthew encouraging me to “Let go and let God.” When I traveled with Maria Bradley in the summer of 2008, we took the opportunity to visit several unaffiliated Meetings in Kansas prior to attending Great Plains Yearly Meeting in Nebraska. Arrangements for visits/hospitality were loosely made prior to my arrival at Omaha. God connected the edges to provide gracious hospitality from members of Omaha Conservative Friends Meeting, Oread Meeting, Manhattan Friends Meeting, University Friends and Heartland Friends Meeting. I was reminded of Joe Izzo, who taught me to trust that God would provide.
Maria graciously allowed me to feel useful and helpful during our travels. Many others in and among the Yearly Meeting have taught me skills and lessons that I have felt helped prepare and sustain me. June Confer always encouraged me to let my heart speak. Howard Fullerton emphasized right process. (yes, there are other Howards out there in other meetings!) Discussions with Laurie Wilner about embracing my Quaker roots and upbringing helped me recognize how deeply my perceptions of life have been colored by my home Monthly Meeting. Liz Hofmeister has shown me how to plan ahead to succeed while Lauri Perman has shown me how to seize the moment. Years among the JYM staff and many wonderful Junior Young Friends have taught me to enjoy the moment. There are many other Friends too numerous to list—be confident that all of you have touched me in many ways.
I encourage all of you to take opportunities that arise in your life to visit other Meetings and Friends, let life slow down, let God in. Take advantage of hospitality offered by host Meetings to Interim Meeting, stay overnight, even if it is close to home; when traveling seek out other Meetings or even have coffee with BYM members that may live in the area. Small steps can lead to wondrous spiritual growth.
Note: The Intervisitation Committee is continuing its discernment process and struggling with financial constraints. A training for BYM visitors to other Yearly Meetings and (in response to a request) for members of other FUM Yearly Meetings interested in establishing intervisitation programs is scheduled for April 13-15 at Sandy Spring. See http://tinyurl.com/7jf3yy6. If you are interested in traveling to another Yearly Meeting in 2012, contact Jolee Robinson. (email@example.com or 301-588-1580)
The Intervisitation Program traveled to Wilmington, Ohio this summer for the Friends United Meeting Triennial. The theme of Transforming Lives was based in Paul’s message to the Romans in 12: 2 - “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you discern the will of God ---- what is good and acceptable and perfect.” In that spirit the Intervisitation Program has begun discernment on its future.
During the Triennial sessions and workshop many Friends from around the globe offered gratitude and encouragement for our “ministry of presence” over the last six years. Many Friends asked that we invite them to our annual training on preparing for and traveling with BYM’s Intervisitation Program. They expressed a desire to learn how to carry out a similar visitation among Yearly and Monthly Meetings.
During Annual Session we welcomed and hosted six visitors from FUM Yearly Meetings: Tongaren YM, Kenya; North Carolina YM; Great Plains YM; and New York YM. BYM travelers visited in Iowa YM, Indiana YM, and North Carolina (FUM) YM. Each evening, Baltiomre Yearly Meeting Friends, travelers, and guests gathered in the Intervisitation Lounge for sharing, fellowship, and snacks after the evening program. Our workshop on Spiritual Hospitality as a way of Welcoming the Divine was well attended with about 20 Friends. Throughout these times together we listened deeply to Friends reflections and guidance regarding the future of the Program; attempting to discern the will of God. By the end of the week we were clear that we needed a called meeting for additional prayerful discernment. Please reflect on the summary of thoughts gathered from our times together this summer (http://tinyurl.com/3l6mjl7) and join us on October 1 at Adelphi Friends Meeting!