How well do you feel your work is supported by your Meeting?

Barry Crossno, Friends General Conference

Part of the reason I selected Arch Street Meeting is they really don’t care that I’m General Secretary of Friends General Conference. That suits me well, because my need of my worshipping community is an opportunity to decompress, to plug in and hear Spirit and hear God, not necessarily to be a vehicle of their concerns around my daily position. From that standpoint it works out really well.

For more of Barry’s story, click here

Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation:

I should have asked for a support committee from my meeting before I left, and I didn’t do that when I got here. I feel very appreciated, and I feel like there’s a certain level of understanding, and then there’s a level where…I don’t really know how to talk about it broadly. But I think there are some people who kind of understand and are just like, “It’s great that you’re doing this and we’re so glad,” but I’m not sure that they truly understand the work or my role in it. I don’t feel that I have a meeting community that says, “We have a responsibility for this work,” and I think that’s significantly because I haven’t asked for it. So I’m not suggesting that people haven’t taken it up. My own personnel committee often acts in terms of trying to provide support, and they recently have said to me, “We are going to create a support committee for you.” I think that’s great, and I’m really appreciative, so I think that’ll happen soon.

For more of Diane’s story, click here

Jen Karsten, Pendle Hill:

I’m a member of a large meeting, Central Philadelphia, and membership in that meeting for a long time has included people who are working in various Quaker organizations, and leaders of those. So I feel like there’s a culture of understanding for that, and forgiveness for my low attendance that can be partly attributed to my involvement in this work. I would say that if there’s been any disjointedness between myself and the meeting, it’s on me for not drawing on its many support resources or participating as much as I might like. My meeting’s pretty incredible.

For more of Jen’s story, click here

Gretchen Castle, Friends World Committee for Consultation:

Doylestown Meeting has asked me to speak about FWCC; they are very supportive of what I’m doing, to the extent they can in my absence. I recently got a note which the meeting sends to far flung members, and I just cried. It was so sweet, so supportive. I feel their support. The meeting in London-I’ve spoken there about FWCC.

I feel there’s so much that Friends at large don’t understand about FWCC. The farther we get away from our meetings the more challenging it is to describe the value of a Quaker organization. How do we help people understand that when you join the meeting, you join this larger organizational world?

For more of Gretchen’s story, click here

Gabe Ehri, Friends Journal:

I think it’s very well understood, and really appreciated. I have people tell me all the time, “I’m so glad for what you’re doing.” There’s another member who is on the board of trustees, and so there’s a number of us who have had long connections with Friends Journal. When I was joining and going through the clearness process, I was very forthright in saying that I have a demanding job, and I may not be able to serve on as many committees as another person, is that ok? And they said, “Yes, it’s important what you do-how can we be supportive of that? We want you as a member of this community.” Nominating committee has invited me to undertake work that is spiritually nourishing rather than strict application of what it seems like I might do, because of the job I have.

Some people in my meeting have asked for support committees to help them be supported in the work they do. I haven’t asked for that, but if I did I would get it. I’ve been okay, and I think my meeting has been terrific at supporting the work of people who worship there. It’s a great meeting.

For more of Gabe’s story, click here

Christina Repoley, Quaker Voluntary Service:

I’m in a bit of a unique position because QVS began in Atlanta, and Atlanta Friends Meeting was the first meeting to formally take a QVS program under their care. So in some ways I would say it’s very well understood, because the meeting made a commitment to us in the very beginning. Part of that was because they knew me, trusted me, and wanted to support me. Over time that has changed a little bit, because we’re no longer new – we’re in the 4th year in Atlanta. There’s probably a bit less of an understanding of what all of QVS is. I think the meeting understands more or less what the Atlanta program means. I travel a lot, so I’m not always in Atlanta, not physically there making the connections and talking about QVS as much as I used to.

For more of Christina’s story, click here

Drew Smith, Friends Council on Education:

Part of why I’m sort of itinerant right now is, I’m trying to answer, in my current role, what I think is a serious and important question for Quakers generally: that, in my opinion, the front door to Quakerism is, in many ways, Quaker schools. The Education Committee commissioned a poll of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting members about 10 or 15 years ago, and it turns out that about 60% of the adult members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting found their way through a school to a Quaker meeting. And yet, I do sense amongst Quakers more broadly at the meetings that I attend that there isn’t good general support for Quaker schools, that they’re perceived–and again, I share some of their perceptions, although I think about it differently than they do–that they’re elitist, that they’re exclusive, that they’re privileged. So to answer your question in a straightforward way, I do not think in a broad sense that Quakers, generally, fully support the work of a person like me out in the world, or people who teach in Friends Schools or who work at Friends Schools who are Quakers. I feel like right now, partly why I’m moving around is I think it’s important for schools to learn the answer to this question. Does the Religious Society of Friends support its own schools? And I’m trying to decide whether or not I think it’s important for schools, and me, to start a little bit of a conflict or a fight about this. I feel like I’m going to live the rest of my life in this very complicated spiritual territory with my own faith community because of the work that I do, which is in fact inspired by that same faith.

For more of Drew’s story, click here

Doug Bennett, Earlham College (Emeritus):

For most of the time I was at Earlham I kept my membership at 15th Street. I talked to 15th Street early, and I said “I want this to go on for a while, I don’t know how long but it’s unclear to me which of the meetings in Richmond I should join.” It also allowed me to spend a lot of time at College Meeting for Worship, especially with a very young son-first one and then another. It was hard to go to two different worship services without putting a lot of torque on my family and my own ability to relax on a Sunday. But I want to go to College Meeting as many Sundays as I could. 15th Street, I think had no understanding and was of no support to me but I had never settled very well under that meeting. Towards the end after Robbie was born, Ellen and I began to think it would be good to start going regularly to a family centered meeting and I joined First Friends. I don’t know that it understood a lot of what I did, but there were a lot of people there who were warmly supportive of Earlham’s “Quaker-ness,” and very sympathetic to the ongoing struggles we had with the two Yearly Meetings in Indiana.

For more of Doug’s story, click here

Colin Saxton, Friends United Meeting:

That’s a really great question, and I have no idea. When I was superintendent of Northwest Yearly Meeting, I had pastored the church that we were attending, and they really wanted us to stay there, and we did. So the people knew me, and they kind of knew what I was doing. On that level they did but I felt disconnected from them. It felt like it was, “That’s his ministry.” I feel that same way here, that whether it’s the meeting that we attend some, or my home meeting, it’s like, “Well, that’s his thing.”

For more of Colin’s story, click here


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