This is a check-in to see how you and your meeting are doing in these unique times. The physical distancing required by the Covid-19 pandemic has created unexpected opportunities for discerning how to feel connected when physical contact is not possible. Some meetings are also struggling with how to complete their Spiritual State of the Meeting Report given the challenges of Covid-19. We offer some guidance here.
We always need one another, and in challenging days, perhaps even more. We must seek new ways of connecting when we cannot work side-by-side on projects, sit together in worship, enjoy fellowship after worship, or visit with one another in our homes. For some meetings, electronic connection (via Zoom, Skype or other computer-based electronic meeting methods) has proved very useful. For example, Pendle Hill has been holding morning worship daily, open to anyone with the capability of joining, by Zoom or phone. Monthly Meetings who are hosting electronic meetings for worship are invited to post that information on the PYM Calendar so others might join. The yearly meeting is hosting another zoom meeting this week for clerks to share; check the PYM Calendar for information.
These methods require electronic capabilities not available to all Friends. We can also call one another on the phone, or we can send post-cards. Some are helped in the knowledge that others in their community are worshiping simultaneously at a particular time without the aid of technology, joining “in spirit” from the safety of their own home. All these are ways of feeling connected.
What else has your meeting found helpful?
Meetings can use all of these methods to build their story for the Spiritual State of the Meeting Report. Although many meetings prefer crafting their report from time spent together in discernment, it is possible to gather responses (via email, letter or phone conversations) to a few queries to use as the basis of the Report. One meeting found the following four queries useful:
- How has God led your meeting to face and address conflict and/or misunderstandings when they have arisen? How is your meeting community thinking about the purpose and importance of membership?
- Has the meeting undertaken any anti-racism work, large or small, that your meeting might be exploring?
- What are those learnings and yearnings particular to your meeting that you would be willing to share?
Our Faith & Practice also has a guide for conducting spiritual self assessments. Creating opportunities to share what Friends see as important in the life of the meeting can be a useful way of coming together in these times and of feeling connection through a collective effort. As you will see in this questionnaire, members of the Ministry and Care Commtitee are available to assist you in your process, should you desire. Just let us know simply by replying to this email, and one of us will contact you.
Please do fill out the questionnaire.
We want to hear and share each of your stories. We have much to learn from one another. Do not worry about meeting the original deadlines, or using a particular form; do find new ways of sharing your caring with one another and your stories with everyone.
It is hard to remember that maintaining distance, good hygiene and self-care are also ways of extending care to one another. So also follow the CDC Guidelines.
And in general:
- Stay home!
- Leave home only for essential trips and maintain at least 6 feet distance from others when you must go out. Plan your trips to maximize efficiency.
- Wear a mask when you go outside.
- Use hand sanitizer and WASH YOUR HANDS for at least 20 seconds (Try singing ‘Tis the Gift to be Simple to mark your time) when you return home.
- Keep your circle of physical connection small and known.
- Exercise and eat healthily.
- Have a plan in place for when a member of your household (or your meeting) becomes ill that allows them to be supported and others to remain safe.
- Ensure that those in your community responsible for pastoral care are finding time for self-care, rest, and rejuvenation.
- Have a plan in place in the event a member of your community passes away; contact George Schaefer at email@example.com for support in this particular matter.
- Check the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Calendar frequently for updates and online events.
Ask questions and share things you have found useful by responding to this email, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or participating in the questionnaire so we can continue to support and learn from one another.
Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch, Clerk
on behalf of the PYM Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council.