Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Our meeting had a worship group in another town where one of our members lived. I believe it met during the week at his home. It was approved by our M&O committee and business meeting. We advertised it in the paper with meeting funds. The member was on M&O which made it easy for M&O to get reports. Some of us actually attended a few times in order to support the group. Ultimately it was laid down for lack of local attenders. In summary, I suppose you would say that it was something we cared about and for which we felt responsible.
My experience in two meetings is that midweek meeting is an integral part of the life (along with care and responsibility) of the meetings, albeit sparsely attended. At our M&O meetings at my previous meeting we always considered how worship was going both on first day and midweek. Other activities, such as a weekly meeting for healing, have also been under the meeting's care.
Thanks, Adria and David. Those examples fit my impression. I think there have been times when we said we were taking something under our care, but in truth we cared about the Friend bringing the issue more than the issue itself and never really felt responsible. Other times, there was that sense of corporate ownership and responsibility.
Hi, Eileen --
Having worship groups or other groups for specific purposes is a part of how I learned to be a Friend -- in the West, and also in Canadian Yearly Meeting, where worship groups are often under the care of a larger meeting. Part of the Quaker culture in Canada is to offer support for members who live at some distance from the nearest meeting, or who wish to keep their connections. One of the worship groups under the care of Toronto Meeting (and a few under the care of either Vancouver or Victoria Meetings) have since become monthly meetings... Others have disappeared when Friends moved.
Midweek worship is but one example. During the troubles in El Salvador, for instance, Toronto Meeting began to have a committee that cared for refugees. I think it's still active.
The other thing that Toronto (and Vancouver) offered was committees of care for members who were having difficulties at work or in school ... The key is caring about members and attenders both in the temporal things, and in those "things that are eternal". One of the bits of culture shock I found here was that it isn't as common an understanding in the Philadelphia area as in other Yearly Meetings.
Let me know if you wish to talk about this before your workshop.
I have been on care committees and I have been the focus care committees.
The experience was different each time, due to circumstances and the particular meetings involved. I think that Christine has a point - "The key is caring about members and attenders both in the temporal things, and in those "things that are eternal"." One member of meeting likened a care committee to a mother hen gathering the chicks beneath her.
I'm currently on a care committee that evolved out of one couple's clearness for marriage. It became an ongoing care committee for the marriage that has been meeting for almost 2 decades under various forms. We gather at least once a year for a "state of the union". Struggles as well as rejoices are shared.
Another couple in our meeting had a similar committee that met until death of the husband.
I know this is the exception rather than the norm, but I think it's a good example of going beyond the standard.
In my opinion, oversight of worship groups has been less successful with the spiritual aspect of care. It's seems more like a foster care system that functions minimally until the kid's 18 and out the door.
I agree that it's important for meetings to consider.
I'd asked for a committee of care in a couple of instances, and nearly left Friends because two meetings in this area said "no". In one instance, the meeting was fairly young and unused to the concept. Since I was sojourning there, my home meeting (Toronto) provided what was necessary -- some Friends took the opportunity to visit when I most needed care.
The second meeting (to which I transferred membership) was one in which my late husband felt spiritually more comfortable. Although he never was a member, pastoral care was what these Friends did well at that time.
After his death, when I asked for committees for discernment and/or care, this same meeting was reluctant -- and was of the corporate opinion that my spiritual life was "none of their business". This meant that although I could serve on some yearly meeting committees, when the going got tough, I was out on a limb. Other committees and efforts were closed to me (FGC traveling ministries program, School of the Spirit, and others.) That may have been G-d's way of saying "Not just yet."
18 years later, I transferred membership again, and feel much more a part of my current meeting than I have for 30 years of "toughing it out". The care and questioning that Friends have provided in my current meeting is what I need. Granted, I found spiritual sustenance elsewhere (8-day retreats, spiritual formation, other meetings -- including Toronto meeting, etc.) Now, I just need to travel a somewhat greater distance, but feel spiritually very much at home. This meeting has questioned (for some time) what having anything "under the care of the meeting" means... Marriage, membership, care of Friends and attenders, and so on. (I note that both other meetings are geographically closer, but spiritually do not address various needs in their meetings.)
The other thing we do not do well here is to consider the "state of the meeting."
I find it disturbing that a meeting would consider a person's spiritual well being "none of their business". Sadly, I don't find it surprising. At a recent regional spiritual retreat, number of Friends said, "my meeting just doesn't get it."
What happened to the the Quakers who greeted each other with "how dwells the Spirit within thee, Friend?"