From the beginning Quakers have both experienced and identified themselves as a community that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. This encourages the offer of hospitality to traveling Friends, on the one hand, and the confidence of welcome, on the other. Friendly intervisitation has, for more than three hundred and fifty years, provided an important opening for understanding and cooperation in the affairs of Friends and for mutual ministry and spiritual growth. Friends are encouraged, therefore, as they travel on business or otherwise, to allow time for visits with meetings or with individual Friends and families in the regions they pass through.
Letters of Introduction Friends intending to travel benefit from obtaining a letter of introduction from their home meetings. Such letters usually state the fact of membership, give some account of the individual’s participation and witness in the affairs of our religious society, and express such greetings as are deemed appropriate. Letters are signed by the clerk and duly noted in the minutes of the monthly, quarterly or yearly meeting. Since Friends travel for a wide variety of purposes, letters of introduction do not suggest specific obligations either on the visitor or on those visited and may be issued by the clerk without formal consideration by the meeting. Such letters are often endorsed by those visited and used to send greetings back to the visitor’s home meeting.
Minutes of Travel for Religious Service As in the past, Friends today can find themselves under a sense of divine leading to travel in support of an important public witness or to nurture the religious life of Friends families and meetings. In carrying out such leadings, they find it useful to take with them a formal minute for religious service from their meeting.
A meeting should issue such a minute only after the concern has been laid before its committee on worship and ministry, a clearness committee, or such other group as the meeting may suggest and has been favorably recommended to the monthly meeting for approval. A minute for religious service, signed by the clerk, states clearly the nature, scope and duration of the proposed service and affirms the meeting’s support of the Friend(s) concerned. The meeting issuing such a minute should consider whether it is under an obligation to ensure, insofar as possible, that the proposed service is not hampered by a lack of funds or other support.
A Friend who proposes to travel under religious concern may find, as have Friends in the past, that it is a source of strength and comfort to be joined by another Friend sympathetic to the concern and able to share counsel and encouragement.
A minute of travel for religious service, after being adopted by a monthly meeting, is usually submitted for endorsement by the quarterly and yearly meetings, especially if the Friend expects to travel beyond the bounds of the yearly meeting.
Friends traveling with such minutes are customarily welcomed by those among whom they visit and invited to share their concerns with appropriate gatherings. It is also customary for minutes of travel for religious service to be signed at the conclusion of the gatherings by the person(s) presiding.
Upon the completion of the service proposed, a minute for religious service should be returned promptly with a verbal or written report to the meetings that had earlier reviewed the concern and minuted their support.