Meeting for Sufferings - January 2010
At a Meeting for Sufferings held at High Leigh, Hoddesdon 15-17 January 2010
S/10/01/ 1: Friday evening
We gather aware of the privilege of the opportunity we have this weekend to get to know one another better, in the eternal as well as the temporal. We hope to strengthen the community of Meeting for Sufferings so that our worship, our discernment and our ways of communicating will be of greater service to the Society of Friends.
In our first evening together we heard from Stevie Krayer and Paul Casey about how they seek to feed their spiritual hunger. Then we shared in Home Groups how we can bring what nurtures each of us into Meeting for Sufferings. Are we stumbling blocks or stepping stones?
S/10/01/ 2: Same Sex marriage update
Gillian Ashmore, Recording Clerk has updated us on the opportunities for legislative change. Any members of the meeting who can make a personal approach to a member of the House of Lords to support Lord Alli’s amendment to lift the bar on the use of religious language and premises for civil partnerships are encouraged to do so before it is considered by the House of Lords Committee on 25th January.
Michael Hutchinson, Assistant Recording Clerk has introduced a report and discussion paper on Quaker Marriage and our church government (paper S/10/01/A).
We have considered the issues raised in the discussion paper using the questions provided, in order to offer advice on what might usefully be raised with Yearly Meeting 2010 to give clear direction to the revision of chapter 16 of Quaker faith & practice.
We are clear that marriage is both a religious and a civil matter with great value not only to the couple involved but also as a way of binding society together and that we wish to affirm this as a key principle. We reaffirm the real importance we attach to equal treatment in this respect of both opposite and same sex couples.
However, as the processes of changing the law will take time, we encourage the Church Government Advisory Group and others involved within the Society to continue to work on the detail of a revision of Chapter 16 of Quaker faith and practice. This may contain alternative sections dependent on legislative changes or to point up more clearly issues of principle which need to be decided by Yearly Meeting. They should also provide a progress report to Yearly Meeting 2010.
In the meantime meetings should be responsive to the wishes of same sex couples associated with the meeting wishing to marry there provided that - as Yearly Meeting asked - the law is respected; and that nothing is done which misleads the couple or anyone else about the legal status of their relationship.
S/10/01/ 3: BYM Trustees update report
Jonathan Fox, clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees, has introduced the three new trustees, Geoffrey Rendle, Sheila Gatiss and Christine Cannon and the new clerking team of Beryl Milner and himself. The key issues for trustees this year include budget priorities for 2011 and 2012, Friends House redevelopment and the effectiveness of our management and governance structures. Trustees believe the best way to proceed is not to retrench or cut back on our work, but rather to strengthen our Society and witness so that both Friends and external supporters may feel confident that we are using their money to good effect.
S/10/01/ 4: Minutes & Correspondence
i Area Meeting Minutes
a) Oxford & Swindon AM: Detention
Further to our minute S/09/12/7 a) and b), we receive minute 2009/080 of Oxford & Swindon Area Meeting held 21 November 2009 concerning Detention of asylum seekers and others awaiting deportation (paper S/10/01/mc i a).
We will return to the matter of a public statement on detention at a later meeting.
b) Leicester AM: Prison Ministry
We receive minute 68/09 of Leicester Area Meeting held 22 November 2009 concerning prison ministry (paper S/10/01/ mc i b). We confirm that Britain Yearly Meeting will continue to work for prison reform nationally.
ii Committee Minutes
a) Church Government Advisory Group: Proposed amendments to Quaker faith & practice: Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations
We receive minute 09/33 of the Church Government Advisory Group held 3 December 2009 together with draft text, concerning Proposed amendments to Quaker faith & practice: Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations (paper S/10/01/mc ii a).
We approve the proposed draft text and amendments and forward them to Yearly Meeting 2010.
b) Joint meeting of the Church Government Advisory Group with the Chapters 14 & 15 Working Group: Proposed amendments to Quaker faith & practice: Revision of chapters 14 & 15 of Quaker faith & practice
Further to our minute S/08/09/12 ii b of 6 September 2008, we receive minute 09/31 of the joint meeting of the Church Government Advisory Group with the Chapters 14 & 15 Working Group held 3 December 2009 together with the completed draft text of these chapters (paper S/10/01/mc ii b).
We approve the draft texts for revised chapters 14 and 15 of Quaker faith & practice and forward them to Yearly Meeting 2010. The points which have been raised and any others which arise will be considered by the relevant committees in the meantime and, if necessary, amendments can be prepared before Yearly Meeting.
Richard Summers, General Secretary of Quaker Life, has introduced a briefing paper on Quaker Life work on Equality in our Meetings (paper S/10/01/B) and a paper on Encouraging Equality in our Meetings (paper S/10/01/C) and we have received again minute 6/08 of West Scotland Area Meeting held 19 January 2008 concerning disability equality (paper S 08/04/ mc i a).
We warmly welcome the papers given to us and will take the questions back to our meetings. We have found it helpful to remind ourselves that, while equality is indeed fundamental to Quakers and our practice is often good, we do have room for improvement.
Among the areas we acknowledge we need continuously to grapple with are class and poverty; and the way we exercise authority and use inside knowledge of Quaker processes. We also should consider why we are not attracting a greater diversity of people to our meetings.
S/10/01/6: Plans for the Yearly Meeting 2010
Lis Burch, nominated clerk of Yearly Meeting, has told us of the plans for the agenda for Yearly Meeting 2010. She explained the three themes:
- Celebration of our work
- Ministry of giving
- Engaging with the political process.
There will also be required business much of which has come through Meeting for Sufferings.
S/10/01/7: Membership and Appointments
a) Membership of Meeting for Sufferings
The following changes to the membership of Meeting for Sufferings are proposed.
Ann L Lewis Quaker Life Central Committee
Jane Wilson Pickering & Hull AM
We duly appoint the Friends named.
b) Central Nominations Committee
brings forward the names of the following Friends for service or release as indicated:
Quaker Communications Central Committee
To serve until 31.3.2011
Thomas Penny renomination Gloucestershire AM
(appointed 2004, second renomination)
To serve from 1.4.2010 until 31.3.2013
Rosemary Hartill nomination Northumbria AM
Margaret Doubell nomination Surrey & Hampshire Border AM
Quaker Life Central Committee
To serve from 1.1.2010 until 31.12.2012
Linda Murgatroyd nomination Kingston & Wandsworth AM
Friends Trusts Limited
To serve from 1.6.2010 until 31.5.2011
Donald Robertson renomination Luton & Leighton AM
(appointed 2004, second renomination)
We duly appoint the Friends named.
S/10/01/8: Priority A: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Meetings
We have heard from Toby Gibbons about how Young Friends General Meeting gives him spiritual nurture.
We have heard about what meetings are doing to address this priority and what their needs are. Meetings are finding ways to share amongst themselves and with newcomers. Smaller, rural meetings told us of new initiatives they are taking.
Gerald Hewitson of Quaker Life Central Committee, has given us an introduction to the work of Quaker Life and the Quaker Life Network from his personal experience on the central committee.
Michael Booth of Quaker Life brought the concept of the Network alive and invited Friends to join it.
Richard Summers launched the new publication Quaker Voices for Friends to share their understandings and experience.
Ginny Wall, Project Developer of Becoming Friends, has given us an introduction to the Quaker Life/Woodbrooke Becoming Friends project – a second official launch in one session this afternoon. It gives a flexible learning package for newcomers alongside an experienced companion.
Michael Hennessy of Quaker Quest Network, has given an overview of the development of Quaker Quest and introduced their new DVD for smaller meetings doing Quaker Quest or for use as a discussion aid. In response to requests from meetings and Questers, QQ Network offers a workshop for meetings to explore how they might develop the life of their meeting.
We have taken part in our home groups in workshops provided by the Quaker Quest Network and Becoming Friends, and will provide feedback on these to our meetings.
S/10/01/9: The role of Meeting for Sufferings as communicator
During our opening worship, Section 10.04 of Quaker Faith and Practice has been read.
Susan Seymour, Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings, Rachel Rees, Head of Communications and Fundraising, and Katie Frost from the fundraising team have introduced the role of Meeting for Sufferings as communicator, and we have considered our response to the communications challenge in our home groups. The responses from our Home Groups will be circulated with the minutes and we will provide feedback on this to our meetings.