2019 Spiritual State of the Meeting Queries
December 6, 2019
Dear Meeting Clerks and Clerks of Ministry and Pastoral Care Committees,
The time has come once again to prepare your Meeting’s annual Spiritual State of the Meeting Report. The report reflects the experience of your Meeting during the past calendar year. Developing your report can be a time-intensive process, but it can also be an invigorating and animating exercise for your Meeting. Local Meetings each undertake this experience in different ways. We are most interested in learning your Meeting’s process for this exercise and invite you to share it; we may in turn share the ideas with other Meetings in the future.
These reports enrich the life of our Yearly Meeting. Beginning in early Spring, the Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting reads these reports carefully with openness to common themes and insights which help us discern the spiritual state of BYM. In late Spring, we write a report on the Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting to be shared and read at the Annual Session in August.
This year, for the first time, we will hold a worship sharing about the queries we pose below during Annual Session. We hope as many members from all of the Ministry and Pastoral Care Committees will come to Annual Session and participate so we can deepen our understanding of the responses. There are scholarships available for first-time attendees to Annual Session.
This report is also shared with other Yearly Meetings globally through our Yearbook and website, as others’ reports are shared with us in kind.
Your report helps us do our work of pastoral care within the Yearly Meeting. Our committee reads these reports to identify practices and experiences that may be helpful to other Meetings. The reports also help us discern where Meetings are struggling so that we may offer assistance. Additionally, our Presiding Clerk and General Secretary find that these reports contribute to their work of nurturing and caring for our Meetings.
Bearing in mind our requested deadline of 15th Fourth Month (April 15, 2020), please guide your community in taking time to reflect on your experience as a Meeting in 2019 and discern a deeper understanding of its Spiritual State. We are offering only three sets of queries this year to guide your reflection and experience:
- How do we nurture healthy vocal ministry? How do we nurture ministries of other kinds and affirm one another’s gifts? How can we improve the way in which we recognize and speak to one another’s gifts?
- What paralyzes us or prevents us from answering our call? What fears do we experience? Which fears drive us and which fears create obstacles?
- Do we have the courage to create space for our human fallibility and vulnerability? In what do we find that kind of courage?
We are also offering three suggestions for using these queries. First, use them thoughtfully. Bear in mind they are a starting point. If they do not speak to the condition of your Meeting’s experience this year, then reflect on queries of your own or use another process that works for you. Second, use them gently. Discerning the Spiritual State of your Meeting is a generative process. Avoid viewing the queries as a kind of rigid list of test questions that you must answer. Third, use them adaptively and with all members of your meeting. For example, you may wish to write or rewrite Spiritual State of the Meeting queries for use with children.
In this process you may consider how to hear the voices of those that may feel more peripheral or less likely to speak up at your Meeting, be it due to visible or invisible differences. Find ways to engage Young Friends and other peer groups directly in the process.
If your report does not otherwise reflect this, and you feel led to do so, you are welcome to add summaries of your Meeting’s activities as an attachment to your report.
Please return your responses to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting office by the 15th of Fourth Month. Electronic responses are strongly encouraged and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
In the Light,
Rebecca Richards and Greg Robb, Co-Clerks
BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee