Find a letter below from the new PYM Ministry & Care Committee of Quaker Life Council. The letter went to our community on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, describing the value of Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports as the capstone to the spiritual self assessment process, and requesting engagement from all of the communities in our yearly meeting.
As one of its very first tasks, the new Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council has turned attention to the Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports. Friends may wonder why. We believe that the annual custom of conducting a spiritual self-assessment deepens and enriches our spiritual community.
These reports support monthly, quarterly and ultimately the yearly meeting in moving toward shared understanding of and greater obedience to Truth. Gifts and needs can be identified and shared through this process, both internally for each meeting and throughout the yearly meeting as a whole. Concerns expressed in the spiritual state of the meeting report can evoke support from and provide guidance to other meetings. With wider awareness of needs, more appropriate allocation of resources becomes possible at all levels.
Crafting a Spiritual State of the Meeting Report is a transformative opportunity for the meeting, and can serve to draw the community together more closely. Meeting members and attenders can profit from sharing their spiritual condition and relationship with the Divine and looking together at experiences that have enriched them throughout the year. Communication of felt needs allows meeting members and attenders to express their yearnings and learnings within the meeting community and to share them with the broader fellowship of the yearly meeting.
Issuing a Spiritual State of the Meeting Report detailing the process a meeting community undertook and the insights that resulted helps the wider Quaker community. When we see what others are celebrating, mourning, and witnessing across our yearly meeting, we can be inspired and moved in our spiritual development. We benefit when we learn we are not alone in our spiritual journey.
We continue to support the process outlined in 2018 by the Quaker Life Council for developing and sharing Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports:
• All monthly meetings are encouraged to craft a Spiritual State of the Meeting Report and forward it to their respective Quarterly Meetings.
• Quarterly Meetings are encouraged to craft their own Spiritual State of the Meeting Report and to forward it along with the reports of their monthly meetings to the Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council.
• Worship groups and any other communities that are part of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting may also submit a Spiritual State of the Meeting Report, forwarding it directly to the Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council.
• If desired, monthly and quarterly meetings can use this online form to submit their state of the meeting report, either by responding to the questions, or by inserting or appending your report to the form. Friends can also email their reports directly to the PYM office, or mail hardcopies to: Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council, c/o Zachary T. Dutton, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1515 Cherry St, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
• The Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council will read every State of the Meeting Report that it receives and use the reports as a basis for its assessment of the state of the spiritual and religious life of our whole yearly meeting community.
• Based on these communications, The Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council will submit its own State of the Meeting report to QLC to be presented at the July 2020 Annual Sessions and then shared widely with Friends thereafter.
Friends may desire some direction in developing a Spiritual State of the Meeting Report. It may be helpful to consider the meeting’s journey in worship, religious education, witness in the world, preparation for worship and work, pastoral care, ministry, vocal ministry and also those operational processes which have been supports or stumbling blocks throughout the year. Meeting communities may also refer to the queries in our new Faith & Practice as a guide for conducting a spiritual self-assessment and for writing the state of the meeting report.
The Ministry and Care Committee of QLC is interested in the spiritual life of your meeting. In addition to the elements outlined above, we would be interested to learn of specific issues of concern your meeting has experienced in the past year. 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?
The Ministry and Care Committee of QLC plans to review state of the meeting reports in late May 2020; in order that the committee may provide a summary report to QLC in time for their June meeting, please submit your report by May 15, 2020. Meetings who have not responded to this invitation by that date may also receive direct inquiries from the Ministry and Care Committee of QLC in order that the experience of as many meetings as possible can be reflected in the Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting Report. We acknowledge that every monthly and quarterly meeting has their own way of writing and managing their State of the Meeting Reports, and ask to receive whatever commentary best reflects the current spiritual state of your meeting at this time using the suggestions in this email as guidance where you find them useful.
Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch, Clerk
on behalf of the PYM Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council