Faith and Practice Committee
Letter from the Faith and Practice Committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Re: Update on Process to Review Faith & Practice (May 2023)
We are pleased to share with you two revised sections of Faith and Practice for review by Interim Meeting.
As you read these revisions, we want you to have a clear understanding of our history and our charge from the Yearly Meeting. In 2018, the BYM Faith and Practice Process Clarification Committee gave our BYM Faith and Practice Committee clear advice. First, we were tasked with revising the 1988 (now 2021) BYM Faith and Practice. The 2013 Resource for Faith and Practice was to be used as a resource as we made revisions. It was also strongly advised that we bring material to the yearly meeting in small pieces so that the BYM community can have an opportunity to react to manageable sections and provide input. We have followed that advice; for instance, at Annual Session in 2021, a revised, seasoned, and more inclusive “Quaker Marriage” section was approved.
In December 2022, we sent out two sections of Faith and Practice for review: "The Quaker Experience" and "Meeting for Worship." These two new sections are designed to replace three sections of the current F&P: "Cultivation of Life of the Spirit," "Meeting for Worship," and "Vocal Ministry" (pages 9-11). While preparing these two draft sections, we sought to prayerfully discern the current experiences of BYM Friends. We also drew from the 2021 (previously 1988) Faith and Practice, the 2013 Resource for Faith and Practice, and other Quaker sources.
We received a wide range of comments on the draft sections from 31 groups (BYM committees/working groups and monthly meetings), which included contributions from newer Friends. We were thrilled that so many groups within BYM reflected on this essential material about our faith and practice. Thank you!
Each comment was carefully reviewed, and we responded to each submitter thanking them for their contributions. Inevitably, some comments were contradictory. Our work was done worshipfully and we tried to represent the essence of each comment as we incorporated suggested enhancements into the document. It is our hope that responding meetings and working groups feel like they are co-creators of the document, though all their input may not be directly reflected.
Our committee spent a lot of time considering current and future readers of the BYM Faith and Practice. We concluded that the sections on The Quaker Experience and Meeting for Worship should provide newer Friends with a comprehensive introduction to the fundamentals. We received conflicting comments regarding the lengths of the draft sections, some finding them too long and others just right. With newcomers in mind, we believe that the length of the proposed sections is appropriate.
Beloved Friends, we present you with these two revised sections for review by Interim Meeting with the hope that this can come before us at Annual Sessions in August for a second reading. We engaged in deep spiritual discernment to produce these revised sections of Faith and Practice and trust you will also as you review them.
Yours in Peace,
The BYM Faith and Practice Committee