What is the purpose of the reports?
The purpose of the reports is to create an opportunity for Friends in meetings to consider how Spirit has been moving in their worship community during the year just passed. Self-assessment is valuable to the meeting, we believe, and to the yearly meeting. Learning that there are needs and gifts that can be shared among us or that there is a need for greater capacity or support in a particular area is one important outcome from prayerful consideration of the Spiritual State of the Meeting reports.
What happens to the reports?
Each year the Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council collects and reads Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports from quarterly and monthly meetings and uses them as the basis for the Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting Report, available at annual sessions each year. M&C uses the information received to help plan our activities for the coming year – workshops, thread gatherings and also responds directly to meetings asking for assistance.
What’s the difference between a state of the meeting report and a spiritual state of the meeting report?
Many meetings also prepare a separate State of the Meeting Report to submit to the yearly meeting detailing membership statistics (births, deaths, transfers of membership) and other specific events undertaken by the meeting throughout the year. Although both reports are important ways of sharing the experience of the monthly meeting throughout the year, the Spiritual State of the Meeting Report, as its title suggests, focuses on the spiritual life of the meeting.
Who comes up with the queries and how are they chosen?
Ministry and Care Committee of Quaker Life Council spends time early each Fall in prayerful consideration of queries to serve as a foundation for these reports. Queries are selected to provide us a broad picture of what is happening across the yearly meeting, to help us gauge how/whether initiatives of the yearly meeting (e.g., on racism and climate change) are pursued at the level of the monthly meetings, and to identify areas where there is a need for resources and support from the yearly meeting, both broadly and from specific monthly meetings. We also try to select queries that will prompt monthly and quarterly meetings to reflect deeply on the spiritual life of their meeting both in terms of blessings and challenges.
Do we have to answer the specific queries provided?
Some meetings have a practice already in place for writing these reports without reference to the queries. We are happy to accept reports whether or not they are organized around the specific queries for this year; however, when writing your report, please keep in mind that we do have specific areas of interest each year and that having responses to a standard set of queries helps us get a clearer picture of what is happening across the yearly meeting in these specific areas.
Who is responsible for writing the reports?
Different meetings have different practices regarding generating the reports. In some meetings, the clerk of the meeting or the clerk of the worship and ministry committee takes sole responsibility for writing the report. In other meetings, a committee or other group meets to write it. Some meetings have a called meeting to focus on answering the queries. A meeting may or may not have the report presented to the meeting for business for comment and approval.
What is the role of the quarterly meetings in the reports?
Quarterly meetings have different practices regarding the spiritual state of the meeting reports. Some quarters collect reports from the constituent monthly meetings and forward them to the yearly meeting with or without a report on the spiritual state of the quarterly meeting. In other quarters, reporting on the spiritual state of the quarterly meeting is a separate enterprise undertaken by the quarter coordinator or clerk. We urge all meetings belonging to active quarters to forward their reports to their quarter as well as to the yearly meeting. We deeply appreciate learning of the spiritual state of both quarterly and the monthly meetings.