I’m hoping that a more organic, flexible functioning of Meeting work might lead to other openings as well. Among them:
- That each working group or “mini” might begin to function as a Monthly Meeting along the lines of the separate men’s and women’s business meetings of Quaker history. (For too long, the Monthly Meeting falls into becoming another committee second-guessing the one charged with a task. Shouldn’t we be able to trust others functioning on our behalf?)
- That one of the working group/mini’s functions would simply be to get its participants to know each other more fully in the life of the Spirit. What are our hidden talents and skills? What are our needs and desires? Where are our passions and dreams?
- That within each working group or mini there would be “vacation time” for members and resource people.
- That all of the working groups or minis meet at the same time and place, perhaps as a monthly community day and potluck that includes extended child care.
- That we might even move our Monthly Meeting itself to a time before worship on Sunday – and maybe even meet as a united body just three times a year: once to accept the nominating slate; another, the State of the Meeting Report; and finally, the annual budget.
- That our new slates of officers and working group/mini participants go into effect in January, rather than September, thus avoiding the over-the-summer slow start into the new year.
As much as I love Quaker tradition, there’s no reason we need to do something in a way simply because we’ve always done it that way. We are, after all, a people also known for innovation and progress.
My only additional advice? Keep it simple.
This originally appeared in Dover Friends Meeting’s newsletter as we consider new ways of addressing the needs of our faith community. Unlike many denominations, we Quakers are closely involved in the business of our congregations, or “meetings,” given that name by our recognition of church as the believers or people rather than any organization or building. (And so, the church meets.) The “monthly meeting,” or local congregation, is so named because we gather together to review our common business once a month even though we worship together at least once a week.
In sharing this dialogue, I’m hoping Friends and non-Quakers will perceive ways the discussion might benefit their own circles, religious or otherwise. I certainly welcome insights and suggestions. After all, we’re all in a time of upheaval and the challenges are many. Once again, the world’s being turned upside down.