Photo by Miyo Moriuchi
Monthly and quarterly meeting leadership gathered for a third time on Thursday, April 9. We began our meeting at 6:30 PM with online worship. A discussion about pastoral care in our meetings followed.
Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch, as Clerk of PYM’s Ministry & Care Committee, spoke about the desire to frame the spiritual self-assessment practice and the resulting state of the meeting reports as reflecting upon the story of our meetings. She noted that we profit from each other’s stories. Through storytelling, we deepen a sense of our condition and open ourselves to greater spiritual growth. We celebrate with each other, mourn with each other, and also ask for help.
For a time, Friends reflected with Jean-Marie on the role of spiritual self-assessments in our meetings. In requesting these self-assessments, we are not asking for a comprehensive evaluation of how well or badly a meeting has been doing with its spiritual life, but hope to learn about overall engagement.
Jean-Marie said, “We are not just looking at spiritual health, but also seek a report that indicates a snapshot in time. It can be one that shows how engaged people are, what they gain from the meeting, as well as strengths and fractures, and even guidance that you may offer other meetings, or that other meetings would profit from hearing from you.”
Friends discussed the need for continuing religious education, the vulnerability required to be spiritually open, and the profound need to ensure communities are emotionally (and physically) safe. Others shared the processes they used to write state of the meeting reports as well as the value of eldership (mentoring around healthy Quaker practices) and clearness processes.
One Friend spoke to the process at Middletown Meeting of choosing someone involved in the meeting with good writing skills to draft the State of the Meeting report. The designated author then presented the report to the meeting, and a process of spiritual self-assessment occurred in the moment as Friends reflected on the report.
George Schaefer, PYM Care & Aging Coordinator, spoke about resources that are available to communities. Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (CPMM) has a list of resources on its website on supporting calls to ministry. George has convened a sprint group to look at meetings’ preparedness for death & dying during the COVID-19 pandemic. A story about this has been published on the PYM Website.
As we approached the end of the call, Jean-Marie offered closing worship in song.
Our next event will be April 23 – a digital clerking workshop form 6-8 PM hosted by Emily Provance.