Query #9

The Faith and Practice of NCYM-C (which is available online here) includes lists of queries for monthly meetings, ministry and oversight, and individuals. The reading of the monthly meetings' query answers is a very important part of our sessions and so too is the answering of individual queries a significant gauge of my own spiritual life. The queries allow for regular introspection into every facet of our spiritual lives as individuals and as groups. The formality of the monthly structure does not allow allow me to disregard the questions that are uncomfortable.

The following is the 9th Query for Individuals and my answer:

#9 How have I contributed to the spiritual growth of the Society of Friends? What have I done as a member of my meeting for worship and meeting for business to carry out my responsibilities as a member of the Society of Friends?

I have to admit, I haven't been to a business meeting in ages. I keep in contact with my home meeting, something that would be far more difficult if the clerk of my meeting wasn't also one of my parents. I'm able to give input into meeting decisions via long-distance calls and feel that my involvement in the meeting is appropriate for the distance involved.
I do feel that I use my NCYM-C membership as an excuse to be under-involved with the giant liberal meeting that I attend. When the spirit moves me I attend worship and give ministry, but I have avoided getting involved in the life of the meeting I attend. I tried attending the biweekly Bible study, but found that my more traditional interpretations of Scripture weren't always welcome. It is a major flaw of mine to back down from conflict. I feel so uncomfortable in the big NEYM meeting I attend that I didn't turn in the letter of sojourn that was written for me. In order to remedy my lack of contribution to the big yucky meeting, I am seriously considering teaching first day school at the meeting this trimester. The set curriculum for this trimester is Quaker History, an area which ought to be relatively similar throughout the branches of Quakerism and not cause me any conflicts. I'm not committing to teaching the class until I've seen the curriculum and I'm certain that I am clear to teach it.
I do feel that I am contributing to the spiritual health of the Society of Friends by blogging here. It has given me a new medium to discuss spirituality and faith with people that I might never have spoken with in person about such issues.

While I have been using the personal queries as part of my own spiritual practice for some time now, I'm going to try to publish my answers here on occasion. I imagine that I will occasionally feel the need to keep my answers private. I may, for those months, post the query without an answer.

Elizabeth Bathurst


Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Brava, Elizabeth! I suspect I would feel similarly uncomfortable in a giant liberal meeting in New England, and for a similar reason. (I'm a member of Iowa Conservative, and on the conservative end of the spectrum there.)

But. There have got to be things one can do about this. One starting point might be to offer to facilitate a discussion group at your meeting on the Conservative tradition -- a lot of folks will be curious, and some may be actually hungry. You'd have to do it not in a spirit of complaint but in a spirit of sharing interesting & worthy things.

I care deeply about this matter, so I hope you will keep posting about it.

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