On Saturday, March 22, about 30 Friends and attenders from Concord Quarter and other Quarters were blessed to hear stories, practical tips and spiritual practices that breathed new meaning into the Meeting for Worship with attention to Business. Deborah Fisch, a member of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and associate secretary for Ministries of FGC enveloped us in a loving web of support for a practice which many of us in our Liberal tradition can find burdensome. By the end of our four hours together many of us felt gathered into a spiritual location that we hadn't thought existed.
Deborah spoke with a small fire for her experience as both clerk and participant in her Meeting's and Yearly Meeting’s business sessions. From the mundane (Should we carpet the floor or refinish it?) to the profound (One Friend stood in the way of the Yearly Meeting approving same gender marriage endorsement when the whole body was moving in the other direction) Deborah had a knack for instilling a spiritual significance beneath all the incidents, showing how each prepared Friends to "practice their love for one another " through the Meeting for Worship with attention to Business.
There were the practical tips for making us closer with one another, which is her fundamental source for making the business of Friends stronger. Here's one which she saw practiced in a Monthly Meeting. Once a month have one person bring in a query for all the members of the meeting to respond to. Let each person go off by herself or himself and worship with the query in mind, and in the last few minutes have everyone write down their responses. Then let them share their response with one another in small groups. Do that each month and over time you will find that the questions get deeper and the participants get closer to one another.
Here is a suggestion for members in the body of the meeting to help the clerk during a discussion. "Listen to the wisdom of others and leave space to hear God's leading." Translation: spend more time listening to the other, less time thinking of your response and allow a TIME space to occur before speaking your own leading!
Do you wrestle with your responsibility to speak given that we are not called to speak if we are not led? Here is the process that is actually happening: You are testing God's call to speak with what the spirit in your heart is telling you. When the two are in alignment then the decision to speak is sound.
There was much more we heard during this session than can fit into this article. There were thoughts on committee interaction, on younger friends participation, on standing in the way, and on the joy of the clerk as she sees love percolating through a business session. If you read this and were not able to attend, know that Deborah Fisch is a Friend who will speak Truth to your condition if ever you have the opportunity to settle with her in worship and be blessed by her guidance and ministry. – Rich Ailes