This revised edition of Faith and Practice embodies the labor and insight of a revision group appointed for this service by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Throughout the editing process, many individual Friends and monthly meetings have improved the drafts considerably through their close attention to both individual sections and to the whole text. The revision group is also grateful for the time and attention that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in session, on several occasions, has devoted to this work.
The text reflects a commitment to recognize the diversity that exists within our yearly meeting and honor this rich variety of experience. Those who become members of Friends meetings within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting have followed very different paths. We each bring distinct religious vocabularies, images and metaphors to express our spiritual experience. Readers are encouraged to engage the book with an open mind and heart and, where necessary, to ‘translate’ the text into the wording that speaks to them. All Friends can recognize that those sitting next to them on meetinghouse benches may have a different way of expressing their understanding and experience—and that new insights can occur as we speak with and listen to one another.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is also diverse in the size and composition of its constituent monthly meetings. The revision group hopes that the suggestions contained herein can be tailored to meet the needs of all Friends meetings whether they are large or small, and speak both to those who are quite familiar with the procedures outlined and to those who are new to Quakerism and are eager to understand the ways of Friends. Throughout the text, the revision group has attempted to describe current practice and to avoid prescription.
When the Faith and Practice Revision Group was appointed by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 2009, it was charged to describe the structure and organization of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and to bring Faith and Practice up to date. This group substantially reorganized the book for greater clarity and usefulness. It also incorporated commitments made by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting since the 2002 edition of Faith and Practice was published regarding both the integrity of the earth and the need to address racism within and beyond Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
During the drafting process, the yearly meeting undertook a long range planning process which was presented in the publication, “Re-Kindling Our Fire: A 5-Year Plan for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 2015-2020.” The resulting structure of the yearly meeting, approved in 2014, is referenced in this edition of Faith and Practice but not described in detail. Readers are invited to visit the yearly meeting website (pym.org) for up-to-date descriptions of the groups and individuals serving the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting community. The websites of other Friends organizations are included for complementary information and materials. (See Sections V. and VIII.) This edition of Faith and Practice is available online as well as in print.