Clerk’s Minute of Exercise – 7th Month 2007

Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship – a living silence, where we meet each other and our God. We came to a new campus location trusting in our Annual Sessions Planning Committee’s selection and their discernment for a full agenda that would take our Yearly Meeting to a new place. Your Clerk believes that that trust was not misplaced. We give thanks for the care that went into these sessions from many of our Friends. Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship.

During our short time at Rowan we Friends accomplished learning the paths and routes to the various buildings we needed to find, we learned where particular foods were in the cafeteria, where the bath rooms were, we connected with new Friends, and we found “fertile soil” for new spiritual roots that also allowed our tap root to go deeper. We might not recognize these simple accomplishments but they are plain analogies in the life of our Yearly Meeting. We are at a new beginning of the life that we share as Philadelphia Friends. We have been profoundly called to change by the three keynote speakers to be revolutionary in our faith, to go beyond our fear, and to build bridges to somewhere. If we can learn new patterns on a new campus, we certainly can find new resources for the spiritual work that lies immediately before us.

Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship. Many of us realized that change is necessary for us to grow as a community and to revitalize our religious lives. These sessions provided the next steps to financially supporting our witness in the world, helping us discern what we are called to do. This moves us out of necessity to work with each other and to build trust between each and every one of us so we can really love and be loved as the friends we are for one another. A wonderful image is in my mind in seeing how our children quickly made connections with one another and how they delighted in each other’s playing. We too can learn how to play with each other at deep levels. We can make safe spaces for each other. Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship. It is necessary that we build this community of love because of the hunger for the Divine to be an active participant in our lives. In one of the morning worship times we were queried about what it is that we want as Quakers. Many of the answers expressed a longing for a real presence of God in our lives. We have the power to help one another to be open to the power of God working and directing our lives. It is an imperative before us to do this for each other. Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship.

We can do this because I have felt and seen this love among us in this place here at Rowan. It was strong and sustaining. A friend even pointed it out to us near the end of our discussion around the Budget Process Group’s proposals: “This was God working in us.” We know that the things that we build are not “perfect.” However, when we build in and with this love, eternity is served. We made several helpful decisions for ourselves this weekend. They are not permanent but at the right time they can be revisited for updating. Like my Shaker friends remind me: “No gift of order is any more binding on us as is necessary….”

As a personal expression of my experience, I felt an overwhelming sense of love. I am moved into loving so many of you and I am grateful to give my dedicated service to you in knowing that it nurtures God’s presence among us. Our Meeting assembled and entered into expectant worship.

Friends, we are poised to be something wonderful in the geographical domains of our Monthly Meetings. We have the leadership in many of our committees, in our Monthly Meetings and in our staff that are competent and faithful Quakers who are trusted for the love that they generate among us. We have all that we need. We can find the courage to ask forgiveness of one another for our failings and to seek God’s love to change ourselves before we set off to change others. It is in my heart to change myself. It is in our hearts to change the world.

Thomas Swain, Clerk,
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting