This Sunday, March 3, the Spiritual State of the Meeting for 2018 will be read at Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. The text is posted below. Your continued discernment, thoughts and concerns are most welcome after the reading.
Here are the queries from BYM Ministry & Pastoral Care Committee. These queries were considered at our discernment sessions in January.
- With fierce winds of political discord and violent expressions of hate swirling in the world around us, what does your community do to strengthen our attention to the Spirit in Meeting for Worship?
- What do you do to strengthen the Quaker “roots” of your community?
- There seem to be dueling forces among Friends. We recognize we can be a shining light and healing presence in troubled times, while on the other hand, we value our individual Meeting Community so much we can be unwelcoming to change or discordant voices. What is your meeting’s experience of this? Do you sense a tendency to avoid tension by not discussing differing points of view?
- Is your Meeting a diverse community: racially, philosophically/politically, theologically? How is that expressed? In what ways?
Here is the text for the reading of the YFM Spiritual State of the Meeting:
We gathered on three mornings to discern our Spiritual State for 2018. From this time together arose several insights: a concern for a more present ministry to our members’ and attenders’ needs, a longing for greater inclusion, a call for more attention to conflict transformation, and, above all, a loving recognition of our community’s spiritual assets. Those assets, too many to name, are what confirm our devotion to the Quaker way, a path of integrity, humility and peace.
But no gift arose in our sessions more apparently than the gift of silence. That which unfolds in silence is the very substance of what turns our hearts toward the Spirit. Corporate silence is what strengthens our attention to Spirit in Meeting for Worship. It gives respite, brings renewal, and reveals direction in divided times. We are blessed by this silence.
And we are blessed by how Way has opened for us in 2018, with a special affirmation of the Witness our Meeting has in the city and county of York. We are blessed by continued interest in our historical and spiritual significance from local schools, organizations and faith leaders, and we are blessed to advance that Witness through Spirit-led outreach. We have been sought out as a people of peace and a people of action in moments of tragedy, and our Meetinghouse is known as a refuge for environmental and social justice. And we are so dearly blessed to be a community with many gifts and many kind-hearted, committed Friends who are willing and able to reach out.
We are also aware that a reflective spirit is a gift to a Meeting. There were times when we could have embraced reflection and sought a “third way,” but instead we lingered over our own interpretations. When our Testimonies generously offered us clearness, there may have instead been a tendency to hold on to our own perceptions and ideas. We know that letting go and fostering tenderness are the keys to breaking old relational patterns and transforming into something new, something that Spirit seeks to show us. The Quaker way encourages us to turn in (or search inward), to allow ourselves to be led out of discord and into a harmonious Beloved Community.
We are in Unity that cultivating this beautiful community is worth our work. It is worth growing. It is worth making whole. We feel the charge of a powerful Witness that has historically spoken and is still speaking, and we long to enrich that Witness by creating additional space for children and families. We seek wisdom in how Way will open for this prophetic call to growth. And as in all things, we aspire to do so with love for one another, hope that something better is possible, and faith that continuing revelation will be known in our midst.