May 31, 2005

After annual sessions

Shortly after my family's visit, I headed to the annual sessions of Northern Yearly Meeting, held in north-central Wisconsin. While there, I provided a "warm-up workshop" on Quaker identity in preparation for the workshop I'm scheduled to offer at this summer's FGC Gathering.

All in all, the workshop and the annual session went well, meaning that I have gained new insights about the "state of the yearly meeting," about Friends within it, and about myself:

1. At the yearly meeting level, at least for Northern, the discipline of conducting meetings for worship for business has been so diluted or nearly lost among monthly meetings that the clerk spent much time and energy patiently reminding Friends of some basic practices:

  • resist repeating what another Friend has already said;
  • slow down for careful consideration and reflection of items;
  • there is great value in having items discussed, threshed, and seasoned by a committee.

    A visiting Friend pointed out to me that such teaching and modeling is best done at the monthly meeting level, so that at annual sessions, business can be attended to without such interruptions.

    Though I appreciated many of the explanations and much of the modeling carried out by the clerk, I wonder: Are meetings failing to convey our practice of conducting business, based on our faith, to those who who attend meetings for worship for business?

    2. I was sad and disheartened to hear the skilled, caring clerk emphasize that the nature of our meetings for worship for business is one of "creating ever widening circles of love," rather than being one of listening together for the guidance of the Spirit and discerning together how we are led as a body.

    Why do many of the clerks of our meetings and committees diverge from a Spirit-based practice of conducting business? What message is that sending to those new to Friends?

    3. Friends are not just hungry for a rich, meaningful Quakerism. Many also thirst for having their Quaker faith articulated, words put to why we do what we do and how we do it.

    What is the balance to be struck between explaining all that we do as Friends and allowing the short-term and long-term experience among Friends to speak for itself?

    4. More Friends than I expected are wrestling with the (in)ability of their monthly meetings and worship groups to meet their spiritual needs. These Friends feel invisible within their meetings, despite their sometimes rigorous involvement through committee service, &c.

    How do we articulate and lift up these needs within our meetings and worship groups so that these spiritual needs can be addressed in a Quaker context?

    5. Friends have questions and confusion about how they are to know if they are ready to request membership: there are no dues to be paid, no membership forms to be filled out, no explicit guidelines for consideration of their relationship either to the meeting or to the Religious Society of Friends.

    How might we make our infrastructure and "entrance points" into committee service and membership more visible, more accessible to those who are new(er) to Friends?

    6. Friends in my workshop had questions related to how a meeting or worship group grows into and nurtures a Quaker identity as a corporate body.

    What responsibility does the yearly meeting have to its constituent meetings and worship groups around modeling, teaching, and conveying Quaker faith and practice?

    In addition to all this food for thought, I had a brief conversation with a Conservative Friend who still has connections to the yearly meeting. She listened patiently as I told her about my journey with my meeting and my continued concern for the spiritual condition of many individual Friends and their local faith communities. Through that Opportunity, I was given the helpful reframe that perhaps my monthly meeting has the gift of preparing to send Friends into the world who have a ministry that otherwise is "too big" for the meeting itself to hold, weigh, or even appreciate.

    That reframe dovetails nicely with the idea of my meeting being a rest stop along the way and with my personal journey of releasing my meeting from certain expectations I have had.

    Individual Friends affirmed me for the workshop I had created, the friendship I had offered, the care I had expressed, and the faithfulness I had demonstrated. Indeed, I came away from Northern Yearly Meeting with a sense of the Light reaching into me, calling me forward in a new way.


    UPDATE, 3 Sixth Month 2005:   Kiara has also written about her experience at NYM.

  • May 21, 2005

    Offline: Time with family

    I have family visiting me from out of town this week, and as much as I'd like to believe that I'll be able to respond to comments and share my thoughts and understandings that are being "raised up" through you and through the Spirit, I have the sense that it is in better order for me to be present to my family while they are in town.

    Despite my online absence for the upcoming days, please continue sharing your thoughts and responses to The Good Raised Up. I'll check back and play catch-up later, as Way opens.


    May 16, 2005

    The internet, ministry, and witness

    Recent and not-so-recent posts among Quaker bloggers and readers have made me think about the growing online community of Friends and its intersection with Quaker practices, such as engaging in spiritual discernment, providing and receiving eldership, bearing witness to our faith, offering ministry, and testing a leading.

    This growing phenomenon about online communication through blogs, personal websites, and emails begs the question:

    What happens when we cross the electronic world of the internet with the interpersonal, living corporate body of Friends, which has historically depended on seeking the guidance of the Spirit together, face-to-face, and in a covenant community?
    Lots of questions; few answers

    Are there elements from the tradition of epistles as written by early Friends that can be applied to blogs and how to respond to what we read? Might each Quaker blogger (and regular commenter) write an epistle, to be shared with fellow Quaker bloggers and their readers; or perhaps distributed more widely? Might there be a way to share our responses to one another's epistles, as Conservative Friends still practice? Is there Life to such an idea?

    Are there some elements of our collective or individual Quaker witness that are acceptable when borne out online, while other elements of our Quaker practice are not? Are there some elements of our online witness that need to be reigned in? How would we go about discerning such things?

    Should there be explicit norms and boundaries around electronic forms of ministry that parallel the implicit norms and boundaries around vocal ministry? Does it matter to define norms and boundaries, or are we discovering and developing such norms as we go, in a more organic manner?

    Important questions for Friends who are engaged in the Quaker blogosphere and elsewhere online.

    Examples of our musings electronic

    Some time ago, Kwakersaur made this comment over on Of the Best Stuff But Plain:
    ...Last night I spoke with one travelling in the ministry -- she expressed doubts about the internet as a source for spiritual community and Quaker work and witness.
    Beppeblog has a post about this sort of thing as well. On his post, he reminds me of a comment I left somewhere in the Quaker blogosphere:
    But since there is not much infrastructure to Quaker blogs as far as online testing of leadings, corporate discernment, and nurturing of gifts, I am uncertain how to respond. Just how Quaker are Quaker blogs? Do the principles of Quakerism get left in a cubby on our desks when we log onto the internet and start reading one another's blogs?
    Beppe goes on to say:
    There always seems to be these struggles within Quakerism regarding just how much of our lives, how much of the details of our lives, is under the authority of God. Traditionally, at least based on my limited understanding of historic Quakerism, part of this submission was to the community: one's leadings always came under the inspecting light of communal insight as well as Biblical understanding.
    And the question that Robin raises in her remarks is:
    I'm wondering about how to consider eldering on purpose in public. Showing support in public is usually even more welcomed than in private, but how can an online community know what accountability has been asked of or shown by a Friend?
    What happens when a portion of an online faith community that is journeying with one another in listening for the Spirit, and is sharing with one another revelations made clear by the Inner Light-what happens when that virtual community is faced with the need to make a decision or have some input into a certain situation? Can the Spirit be discerned miles apart from one another? Can we know one another in that which is Eternal if we don't share the intimacies of our daily lives with one another? And is such intimate sharing necessary in order to discern the movement of the Spirit?

    I have expressed my own doubts as well, especially as I was discerning starting up a blog. I went even further in another post:
    A local Quaker community helps hold Friends accountable for the right use of their gifts, the right use of their ministry. ...[Knowing one another] "electronically" is not the same as knowing [one another] as part of a Quaker meeting, as knowing [one another] in that which is Eternal...
    Experiences with Quaker practices online

    I do not have the gift that others do when it comes to surfing the 'net, but there have been a few internet sites I have stumbled across that seem to parallel what is experienced in the life of a Quaker Meeting. In addition, I've had a few experiences online myself that mirror my in-person Quaker life.

    Here's the list of online Quaker practices and experiences that I've come up with:

    1. Online books of discipline and faith and practice.

    2. Online worship opportunities.

    3. Online Friendly bible study.

    4. Epistles from yearly meetings that are posted on the internet, such as this example, from Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative.

    5. Quaker listserves and other forms of electronic bulletin boards, which allow anything from open discussion about a topic to a moderated conversation that may be a form of electronic worship sharing.

    6. My own experience with writing and receiving personal epistles, or at least personal letters of spiritual matters, exchanged over email.

    7. My own experience in helping discern the Spirit in preparing an epistle entirely through email for a Quaker organization.

    A personal testimony

    It's this last item on which I want to expand; its outcome perhaps the most surprising.

    In the fall of 2004, I was led to serve on a small ad hoc committee to write an epistle about a sensitive concern that had been brewing for some time. The three of us on the committee, like good Quakers, were extremely busy in our everyday lives. We lived in different parts of the country.

    Since I had already experienced grounded worship and spiritual discernment over the phone with other Friends regarding another matter, I felt certain that we would put aside time to be in touch via phone when it came time to discern the way forward, to craft, revise, and eventually submit a finished epistle.

    God seemingly had other plans.

    When I asked about setting up a time for an initial phone conference and a tentative follow-up conference call, the two other committee members instead put forward the preference for working via email (or such is how I remember it, anyway). I was reluctant, I was skeptical, I was concerned about just how discerning the Spirit might work with miles of distance between us and not even any verbal cues for guidance, to boot.

    Often one who prefers the "experiment" as a way to test what is possible, I agreed to give email a chance.

    Looking back, I cannot see how doing it any other way could have yielded a better result! As the paragraphs and portions of the developing epistle circulated among us, we each commented to one another, via email, how strongly we experienced the Presence in what we were reading. Each of us, at one time or another, added our own shard of Light as to what worked, what didn't seem to resonate with the Truth, what was the point that we were really called on to put into this epistle. Each of us openly shared via email what we were holding tenderly, what we were wrestling with, where we felt called in terms of continuing the crafting process.

    Even when we had what we felt was a completed epistle, one of us felt the nudge to share the draft with another Friend who had been present at the discussion that led to approving the formation of an epistle committee. The other Friends agreed.

    Again, I feel as though we were well led, despite the cyber-discernment in which we were engaging. The additional Friend's input proved significant. First, she affirmed the right order of what we had crafted up to that point. Second, the suggestion she made ultimately impacted only two words: the removal of one and its substitution with another.

    We made that change and submitted the epistle to the Friends who were responsible for adding signatures, putting it on letterhead, and distributing it.

    From books to blogs

    How can I say that the internet should not be used "as a source for spiritual community and Quaker work and witness," as Kwakersaur's acquaintance had suggested, when my experience tells me otherwise? How can this small but cybernetically bonded group of Quaker bloggers, and our faithful readers, testify otherwise when so many of us have found a deepening, a quickening of the Spirit, as a result of our sharing?

    Should printing presses be dismantled and epistles be shredded, should I stop ordering books from QuakerBooks of FGC because books and epistles cannot be a substitute or source for direct Quaker work and witness? Or am I simply carrying on the experiment of sharing the measure of Light I have been given, through methods of information-sharing that are evolving, from ministers to epistles; epistles to journals; journals to books; books to blogs? One has not replaced the other; they co-exist with one another. Might they all be part of the source—part of the capital-S Source for community, work, and witness?

    Maintaining a weblog can indeed be a solo proposition in which my ego or my own will can leak out in unintended ways. So there remains a question that I revisit, in some shape or form, from time to time. I should check with my blog-elders about this question, too:
    Am I tending to the roots of the Spirit at home so that this electronic ministry is clear of my own ego-trappings and remains in service to the Spirit?
    I hope so.


    UPDATE: Alice from Public Quaker has a related post, Plainer thinking - how does the internet really fit in?

    UPDATE, Oct. 2005: Martin at Quaker Ranter has some reflections on his two years of blogging about Quakers and where he finds himself as a result.

    UPDATE, April 2006: Lorcan at Plain in the City has offered the possibility of creating an online Faith & Practice for Quaker bloggers. Already there are a number of responses to that concept. Additional ideas might be found at a separate site, Blogging Faith & Practice.

    May 12, 2005

    My Quaker book recommendations

    Over on the relatively new Quaker blog Spiritual Journeys [aka Quakerspeak], Claire has asked for book recommendations. I encourage readers to check the comments on Claire's post—and add to them there—rather than split the booklist between our two blogs.

    Instead of retyping these titles that I love so much over and over again, I thought I'd just post them all here. Now: before you click on your bookmark to go to the evil Amazon to order any of these, please consider ordering from and supporting this wonderful online Quaker independent bookseller: Quaker Books of FGC!

    Okay, back to the booklist. I'm including Claire's original questions, since I think they are valuable.

    What books do you think every Friend should read?

    Tough call. I wouldn't want Friends to idolize any single book! wink

    The Journal of George Fox. Whichever edition. I'd say "every Friend should read it" because it gets referred to so often! It's also nice to have some of Fox's most popular quotes in their original context. But I had to be ready myself to read it, lest I be bored and wonder why somebody I had never met recommended it. smile

    any Faith & Practice, for the same reason above. These books are talked about often, and it makes sense to know what folks are referring to. Like Robin said in her comment to Claire's post, having a copy of your yearly meeting's F&P makes a lot of sense.
    What books do you think a young Friend like myself should read?
    anything that speaks to you in the moment. I'm half serious.

    I once came across a book by British young adult Friends, Who Do We Think We Are? It spoke to me at the time.

    Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith & Practice, but more for the ability to just open to any page or segment; not so much for reading from front to back.
    What books blew (blow) you away and took (take) part in your own (or anyone's) spiritual transformation?
    Members One of Another, which I see Robin recommends also. The author's description of the four areas of responsibility of a meeting really helped me understand what it is I personally seek and yearn for from my faith community. This book also has helped me frame many of my ideas for the Gathering workshop on Quaker identity I am scheduled to lead this summer.

    Paul Lacey's Pendle Hill pamphlets, Leading and Being Led, #264, and The Authority of Our Meetings Is the Power of God, #365. Clear specifics about one Friend's understanding of what leadings are and how to test them [in both pamphlets], plus the sources of authority [in #365].

    Walking Humbly with God: Selected writings of John Woolman. Very small book, so it even looks manageable! Gave me a great flavor of Woolman's writing as well as his life as a Friend.

    Resistance and Obedience to God: Memoirs of David Ferris 1707-1779. A more "accessible" journal than Fox's, in my opinion. It was easy for me to relate to some of his spiritual struggles in being obedient to the call of the Spirit. Plus, great study notes in the back (relates Ferris' spiritual journey to that of our own), and a good historical summary of Friends in the introduction. (Gotta love Marty Grundy! smile)

    A Testament of Devotion, by Thomas Kelly. I also had to be spiritually ready to read this book. Ditto for some of his other writings. Spiritually rich imagery. Clearly moved by the Spirit when he wrote. Wish I had known the guy...

    Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order, Lloyd Lee Wilson. I see Robin lifts this book up, too, but I'm guessing you maybe have seen enough of/heard enough from Lloyd Lee in your experience among NCYM(C). Still, this book changed how I look at Friends and their practices.

    Listening Spirituality, Patricia Loring. Personally, I liked Volume II much better than Volume I, from what I can recall. Volume II is subtitled "Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends"; volume I is "Personal Spiritual Practices Among Friends."
    Things I forgot to include in my original comment to Claire's post:
    Gospel Order, by Sandra Cronk. In the same vein as Lloyd Lee Wilson's book (above), but focused on the topic of gospel order.

    If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Very accessible, easy reading. Since the authors are pastors in Quaker meetings, this book helps soften my heart toward programmed Friends.
    And remember: You can get any book you want at Quaker Books of FGC!


    May 9, 2005

    Releasing Friends from my expectations

    Over on Beppeblog, Beppe has created a series of posts about what's troublesome to him about contemporary liberal Friends these days. Related to one such post, as I was typing a comment, I began to understand why I carry a sense of grief about the spiritual diversity of the monthly meeting that holds my membership. Not only why I carry grief, but also how I have been expressing that grief in an unintentional manner.

    Sadly, in my humanness, I have often failed to base my testimony of Quakerism on my own direct experience of the faith. Instead, I have extended, extrapolated, and projected my experience—or more precisely, my hopes of that experience—onto other Friends.

    It is only now beginning to dawn on me that such extrapolation and projection has been the result of my concern for the diminishment of a set of Quaker practices that holds much life for me. In my frustration and my grief over unmet expectations I have had, I had been wishing that these same practices still held life for others in the meeting.

    For months, I have been fending off the realization that the practices that are precious to me aren't counted as treasures for others. I haven't wanted to face my anger, sadness, disenchantment, disillusionment. Yet I know that the only way to cope, to get through this period, is to surrender myself to the process, to the Holy Spirit, and acknowledge my powerlessness.

    I feel the deep grief well up in me as I recognize these truths at a new level. It is like letting go of a friendship that has been dear to me for many years...

    . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Now, at Beppe's blog, as a result of an exchange of comments between the two of us, my thinking and understanding has again been exercised: I know that I can feel my feelings when it comes to the meeting and its circumstance, but I am concerned about how these raw feelings seep out in subtle, unhealthy ways, like projecting my grief and anger onto other Friends and ultimately wanting them to change—to be "better Quakers" according to my own definition—as a result.

    I found myself wondering, as Beppe prompted, Is there anything wrong with wanting Quakers to be more faithful to our principles and practices? Did not John Woolman, George Fox, Margaret Fell, and others since them, each in their own way, lift up the human shortcomings of their fellow worshippers, striving to hold Friends accountable, to act out of greater integrity...?

    So why am I so conflicted?

    I am coming to realize—and having difficulty remembering—that it's a fine line between holding one another's feet to the fire (which is what I had hoped I was doing) and holding a person's feet to the fire long after the person has shouted, "Let go of me, I don't like doing this anymore!"

    The former act is one of what Sandra Cronk calls "mutual accountability" (see below); the latter is one which borders on harrassment if not abuse. Once I had a handle on this distinction, I felt a clearness within me. Now I just have to remember to draw on this distinction in order to discern if I am being faithful or if I am letting my grief seep out.

    I am also made tender by these words from Claire, who posted a comment to a guest piece by Jeffrey Hipp. Claire writes in part:

    Sometimes when Friends call for more Christ-centeredness on the grounds that Friends are slipping away from true Quakerism, it makes me feel as if I am “less” of a Quaker, or not a true Friend. [Jeffrey's] post articulated clearly both sides of the story and was comforting for me to read.

    We must wait and listen to the Spirit rather than taking it upon ourselves to “force” any such change either way.
    Claire's words have tendered my heart where other similarly stated concerns have not been able to reach me. Her words remind me of the phrase "intention versus impact."

    In some circles that address oppression in its different forms, this phrase encapsulates the reality that what is said or done with a good intention may not be welcomed or interpreted as such. In my case, if my intention is to encourage Friends to draw on certain practices and principles in order to be faithful to our Quakerism, but the impact of my words is the opposite—Friends interpret my words as meaning that I am saying they are not Quaker enough—then there is some clean-up to do. Attending to the relationship is needed.

    But I cannot know the impact of my words until someone tells me what they are. I seldom hear about any hurtful impact until weeks or months have gone by. Then what? There is no way to recall the specific circumstance, and consequently no opportunity to search for the underlying intention of my words when so much time has passed...

    There is more for me to write, but for now I feel the nudge to stop here and allow the Inward Teacher to continue to instruct me.


    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Quotes from Sandra Cronk's "Gospel Order: A Quaker Understanding of Faithful Church Community" (Pendle Hill pamphlet series, #297; 1991):
    The process of mutual accountability was not a way of checking to see whether Friends lived up to certain petty points of lifestyle, but a way to give each other the strength to be a people who listened to God and lived God's new order... (p. 16)

    Friends saw mutual admonition as... helping each other hear and respond to God's call. The admonitory aspect of mutual accountability involved all sorts of situations, including helping people to recognize and exercise their gifts, to see where the broken and unfaithful places were in their lives, to overcome paralyzing fears, to discern leadings, and to know when they had outrun or lagged behind their Guide. Thus, admonition was not simply telling others when they were wrong, at least in the way we usually interpret that idea. It was admonishing a person to be courageous in adversity or to undertake a much needed ministry or service. It was encouraging one another to take a risk in trusting God's leading or letting go of a behavior that was blocking deeper commitment to God. In short, it was helping each other move toward greater faithfulness in all areas of living. (pp. 24-25)

    May 5, 2005

    Robin Mohr: Where to draw the lines online?

    A Guest Piece by Robin Mohr

    Robin is a frequent commenter here and on other Quaker blogs. She emailed me these thoughts after reading the post about supporting the ministry of Martin Kelley. I feel blessed to be able to help Robin lift up her questions for further consideration and discussion.  — Liz
    I'm wondering about how to consider eldering on purpose in public. Showing support in public is usually even more welcomed than in private, but how can an online community know what accountability has been asked of or shown by a Friend?

    For example, I think it is one thing to ask questions on someone's blog. It is probably another to respectfully disagree as part of contributing to the depth of discussion. It is another to rant in the secular sense of the word on someone else's blog. Where do we draw the lines? I am still quite new to this whole question and I am very interested in your perspective as a blogger and a human Friendly elder on this. [UPDATE: I've now written about related questions here.] I also refer Friends to Brooklyn Quaker for historical advice on admonishing disorderly walkers [and writers?].

    For another example, I didn't hesitate to send money to the Quaker Ranter. I trust that it will be used well. But I thought as I sent it that I wasn't sure (first how many gifts like that I could send to other bloggers? not many) how do we know what is done with the money? Is that just between the recipient and God? Are there fruits of the Spirit that I am looking for in return? If I don't like what they write in the next three months, can I cancel my subscription and ask for my money back? Should we expect an annual report a la the advices # 5 and 6 from the Elders at Balby? (again, see Brooklyn Quaker) or modern non-profit governance models?

    In my real life, I see the financial accounts of my monthly Meeting on a regular basis. I see the work that is done in our Meeting community and the wider world by individual Friends. I can visit the homes of Friends and see the cars they drive (or don't). I can hear their voices and see their faces and feel the good raised up in them and me in meeting for worship.

    How do we do this online?

    Robin Mohr
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Reproduced as a feature with permission from its author.

    May 2, 2005

    Quaker Ranter: an electronic ministry

    A few days ago, I received word that the website needs a financial boost in a hurry. The same is true for the visionary individual who maintains that website and the companion Quaker Ranter blog.

    For those who want to stop reading and right away get out your checkbook, an envelope, and a postage stamp, the snail mail address for the (or Martin himself) is:

         Nonviolence Web (or Martin Kelley)
         P.O. Box 38504
         Philadelphia PA 19104

    Martin's presence in the blogosphere

    Martin Kelley does a lot in the Quaker blogosphere:
    • He's a supportive voice among other bloggers who are seeking and playing a part in a sort of Quaker renewal, each in her or his own way.
    • He has posted a number of guest pieces on Quaker Ranter in order to lift up that Friend's message, many times helping knit the community around a rich topic of conversation.
    • He has sent off private emails, no doubt to more than a few of us, to invite us to dig deeper, to labor with us, to encourage us, to minister to us.

    For me personally, Martin has provided a model for how I might share my thoughts and openings in a context that allows readers and fellow bloggers to connect readily with one another; that connection in turn allows readers and fellow seekers to bring their thoughts, yearnings, and openings forward too.

    An Opportunity to support a minister

    But why am I writing about Martin the Quaker Ranter, when he can write for himself?

    It's because he is in a difficult time right now and my keeping silent, simply hoping things work out, without my ever having to lend him more than an encouraging word, is counter to what a Friends' community is about.

    For me, Martin is not a faceless webmaster that maintains a respected blog and peace website simply as a hobby. He is a Friend of conviction who is called to a ministry.

    In today's times, this minister needs our attention and care. Please visit either of his websites, or Quaker Ranter, and consider if you are led to support Martin's ministry, be it his peace witness, his Quaker writings, his support of young adult Friends, or any combination thereof.

    Issues of accountability

    For those Friends who, like me, wrestle with the question of accountability as it relates to Quakerism and coming under the discipline and authority of a meeting, I thought I'd offer my thoughts around this question.

    I understand that the word "ranter" in Quaker history refers to a 17th-century seeker who sought an authentic religion and direct experience with God but came under no discipline of any individual or body. (Martin has an excellent essay about Friends and Ranters that touches on today's spiritual individualism among contemporary liberal Friends.)

    Over the past year, as I have read the posts on Quaker Ranter, I feel as though I have come to understand Martin as a minister rather than a ranter. Granted, Martin alludes to the lack of a home meeting that might provide him with healthy eldership, which in turn may, by Martin's own definition, categorize him as a ranter. In my Conservative-leaning heart, though, I'd at least consider Martin as a minister without a home.

    Though less significant among contemporary liberal Friends, for Conservative and Conservative-leaning Friends, having a local Quaker community helps hold Friends accountable for the right use of their gifts, the right use of their ministry. In the current situation for many of us with Martin, knowing him "electronically" is not the same as knowing him as part of a Quaker meeting, as knowing him in that which is Eternal, so...

    Who am I to declare whether this Friend has a ministry or not?

    I am no one. Without a shared Friends community between Martin and me, I am no one. (I'm not sure the internet counts as a community, but I'm working on a post related to that idea...) That is: I have no authority, within the Quaker discipline, from a monthly, quarterly, or yearly meeting and so there is no Minute of Support which I can approve; no Funds for Sufferings that can be tapped.

    And yet, Friend Martin has ministered to me. Has he ministered to thee as well? Are there others among us who can bear witness to Martin's gifts? Already a number of us have commented to Martin, thanking him and acknowledging his gift and ministry directly.

    Let us continue to consider our individual leadings around supporting this Friend.


    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Related reading

    Robin Mohr shares some additional thinking about accountability in an online community in her guest piece on this blog.

    Also, I have now posted more of my thoughts regarding the internet as a vehicle for Quaker witness and ministry.

    May 1, 2005

    Welcome, QuakerMama blogger!

    There is a very sweet post on the new blog Quaker Mama, about being a Quaker mom. I hope you'll consider stopping by for a visit with my friends Elizabeth (a.k.a "QuakerMama"), David, and Emily...