Do you have a support committee, elder, or other structure for support and accountability in your meeting?

Barry Crossno, Friends General Conference

My accountability is lodged in two places. One is with my spiritual peer group, and the other is with my anchor committee. Neither of them is actually grounded in my local Meeting because they formed ahead of me transferring to my current meeting. My anchor committee is not designed to be solely about this job, since it pre-existed my becoming General Secretary. My whole life is accountable to them, so while the job is a piece, they’re concerned with the whole person and for the larger ministry. They’re clear that being General Secretary of FGC is a role that I’m currently fulfilling, and it is the vehicle through which I am currently fulfilling my ministry, but my ministry pre-exists and has a mission that is more than this job. My spiritual peer group also pre-existed this job, but is much more about the job than the anchor committee, because our running question is always, “Are you faithful?” Often when I’m thinking in terms of faithfulness, I’m thinking about this work and whether I’m fulfilling my responsibilities.

For more of Barry’s story, click here

Jen Karsten, Pendle Hill:

I don’t have a formal one. I’m currently participating in an anchor committee for a dear Friend, and I’m finding that even as we seek to support her, it’s as affirming and nourishing for me to be part of it. I understand the value of those, because so many people have recommended that for me since I took this position. The truth is that, due to the nature of the position, my time is limited, and what I find nourishing is time with my family, time with my daughter and husband, and frankly, as an introvert, to be alone. When I need support, I call a particular individual or two–often outside the Quaker world, sometimes in. I also know that if I needed something more, it would be a short turnaround to create that for myself. That’s one thing I love about our community-knowing that there are so many different ways you can seek out deep listening and supportive engagement from others.

For more of Jen’s story, click here

Gretchen Castle, Friends World Committee for Consultation:

As soon as I moved to Britain, the then-clerk of FWCC said, “My last task is to get you a support committee, to be sure you have them.” I really appreciate that I chose the people. There are three people: we meet three times a year, and I have called them when I’ve been struggling. They were so responsive, they were fantastic. We have worship together. I find it very grounding. They are the type of people that send me a card on occasion, or they’ll text or email to ask, “How are you doing? How are things?” It’s more of a personal supportive group. In relation to the job I hold, for accountability, the Central Executive Committee is great.

For more of Gretchen’s story, click here

Christina Repoley, Quaker Voluntary Service:

It was originally formed before QVS, when I was in seminary. I asked for it because I was doing an internship at the meeting as part of my seminary requirements. Normally in seminary structure, the pastor of the church would be a mentor or supervisor for that person, but since Quakers there wasn’t a pastor I asked for a Care Committee to play the role for me in that context. It has morphed over the years, and a struggle for me with my Care Committee is: is this committee for me, or is it a committee for QVS? Sometimes even I don’t see the distinction between the two, which is kind of a problem. Yes, it’s about my ministry, which right now is QVS, but that might not always be true. Also, knowing that my ministry is more than just the functioning of the organization-so that has shifted and become better.

It is officially under the care of the Worship and Care Committee of our meeting. That committee checks in to see how things are going, and our community has a number of committees like that. I’m definitely not the only one; there are a number of Care Committees for folks that are meeting. That’s generally something our meeting does pretty well.

For more of Christina’s story, click here

Drew Smith, Friends Council on Education:

I do, with this board. At some point it would be good if there were a group of Quakers nationally who were formerly in the role of helping to support and evaluate me, but I don’t think we’re there yet. You planted an interesting seed in my head, that that might be something to aspire to. The members of the board–I’d say about half of them on that support group are Quakers and they know what I’m talking about and feel it themselves. The others are people–I call them fellow travelers; without these folks, we wouldn’t have Friends schools, and they actually are perplexed that this is the state of Quakers in their schools. They’re good because they help focus us Quakers on ways that we might talk about this with Quakers, that we hadn’t thought of because we’re sitting in the middle of it. I have a good support system among some Quakers who share my profession.

For more of Drew’s story, click here

Doug Bennett, Earlham College (Emeritus):

I didn’t, and I think it would have been awkward to form one. There’s a lot you know as president that either takes too much time to explain sufficiently to other people to be comfortable hearing their advice and guidance, or that you can’t tell them. Paul and Margie Lacey let me know early on it in my time at Earlham that anytime the Bennetts needed a night when they could say anything they damn well please and not have it repeated, the Laceys were up for having dinner. I used to get killingly funny notes from Margie when something really egregious happened in the faculty meeting-in a couple of sentences she would just skewer whatever was going on and let me know “I’m paying attention, I know your job is hard.”

For more of Doug’s story, click here

Colin Saxton, Friends United Meeting:

I have had them in the past. I don’t currently. It’s something that I need to do. I think I need something a little bit more intimate than that. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve not done it, because this was a move across the country for us-I’m gone so much, and we just haven’t built the kind of depth of relationship, that would make it more obvious who that group should be. But it would be really, really healthy.

For more of Colin’s story, click here


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