Saturday, October 15, 2011

QFF Meeting organization

I have accepted the position of Clerk, at least pro tem, of the “Quarterly Meeting” of Quaker Faith and Fellowship, referred to as QFF. The current proposal is that we will have a Meeting for Business, also known as Meeting for Worship for Attention to Business, on Dec. 11.

It has come to me that maybe we need to ask some questions, some of which were addressed in the agenda to the first Meeting on 29th of 9th month, 2011, regarding our undertaking. We spent essentially all of our first meeting looking at the first question: Who should be considered members of the Meeting? There seemed to be no “sense of the Meeting” reached. (There also is a good deal of material in the past postings of QFF. These are extensive and instructive.)
Among the questions to be asked are: Who? When? Where? What? Why? How?

The following quotes from the QFF site spell out some of the intentions of the founders of this site with regard to some of these.

"Vision and mission require committed members. We call everyone 'member' who registers as user of this website."

"We don't require commitment in any particular form, but we do welcome members taking responsibility. And telling us which responsibility they take and how they think it
contributes to our vision and mission. So we can support each other in bearing the responsibilities chosen voluntarily."

Over the last 3 years there has been much discussion regarding QFF organization and "Future." I trust my additions might be helpful.

The earliest Friends apparently did not have an intention of forming a new sect and there were no requirements for being a “Publisher of Truth” as early Friends were called. Their intention was to form a community based on the experiences of a number of leaders who felt that everyone in the group could be a leader.
It is my sense that in many ways our intentions here are somewhat similar in that we are trying to establish an e-community with “open” membership based on the experience of the “Religious Society of Friends.” Thus the terms used are those from this experience. However, the means of communication, speed of “travel,” and commonality of location are “light speed” separated from the 17th and 18th century.
In my understanding, which certainly is not that extensive and is open to correction, early Friends met once or twice a week at a local “site,” often in the beginning a house, for Meeting for Worship. Then over the years, especially as the local groups grew in size, there began to be a need for a Meeting house which raised several business type questions. It was decided fairly early on that there needed to be Meetings for Business. These were to meet once a month, thus Monthly Meetings, and would consist of those Friends in a local area who could spend a day traveling to and from a location while devoting an extensive time in decision making on matters of business.
In addition, to keep “good Gospel order,” the Monthly Meetings in a given area would send representatives to Quarterly Meetings. These individuals were those who were “released” to be able to travel to a location and spend usually 7th and 1st days sharing Worship and Business. This was before 5 day work weeks. It required overnight arrangements, as well as release from home, farm, and work duties, etc. Then once a year, thus Yearly Meetings, representatives would travel to a central location, e.g. London, for generally a week of Meetings for Worship and keeping “good order” among Friends.

Some in QFF are proposing that we establish a Meeting that might serve a new and somewhat different function, although maintaining some of the older functions as well, among an e-community of Friends. I have some proposals of varying ideas as to how this might work and will share those in future posts. I will also suggest ways in which we can ask the Who, What, etc. questions, the most important one might be Why.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Light

Having been requested to describe my understanding of the Light, this was a very "quick" and off the "top of my head" response. There is much more that I could write but felt this was a reasonable place to stop.

The Light
It is difficult for me to use language other than New Testament and Friends language since this is the language of my father who was my spiritual guide and mentor even though he really never acted or talked in any other way than a father to me. He was a pastor and I spent many Sundays listening to his sermons but they didn’t mean a great deal to me until my adult years when I would visit. Mostly I remember the care that he took everyday, all day to express love, not a noticeable evident love. I don’t remember hugs in our family but I do remember smiles and looks that carried a humble “pride” and inward joy. I especially noticed these when my father looked at his grandchildren. For me these smiles and looks carried love in a very powerful way. I learned that “God is Love” was not just a powerful metaphor but somehow carried some of the most powerful human aspirations and realities.
In addition, my father introduced me to the Bible, writings of early and modern Friends, and Christian thinkers. I came to believe that there was truth in the concept of the “Light that was enlightening everyone,” “Inward Light,” etc. I went through a period in which I found it difficult to talk openly about the Light as “Christian” when I struggled with Friends who stated that anyone who did not believe in the Bible and Jesus Christ as they knew him was condemned to Hell and were somehow unworthy of our love. This very exclusive belief emphasizing guilt and fear seemed very foreign to the Light of Faith, Hope, and Love with the greatest of these Love.
My vision of the Light envisions a concept/idea/reality that is accessible to all persons. The manifestation can be seen/heard/felt/believed by persons who have never heard the story of Jesus nor the name Christ. However, as humans we each tend to become self focused and strive to understand Right/Wrong from our own perspective without openness to others. This is for me one of the meanings of the Genesis stories in which Adam and Eve are described as wanting to have the knowledge of Good and Evil for themselves, prompting the question “Where are you?” Similarly, Cain in striving to have his interpretation of the “best” sacrifice being recognized even to the extreme of killing his brother seen as a rival is asked “Where is your brother?” These two stories demonstrate the building of barriers to the Light that we all are susceptible to. These barriers create “oceans of darkness,” but the darkness cannot put out the light, only prevent its experience. As the barriers between each other are broken down we help build down barriers to the Light. As we work at, or probably more accurately, allow the work to occur, breaking the barriers to the Light itself overcomes the ocean of darkness.
For me the Gospels are the heart of my understanding of the Light, but find the illumination in many other writings from different religions and writings, from ancient right up to contemporary writings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In the online forum quakerfaithandfellowship (QFF) there is an attempt to start an organized Meeting, tentatively labelled a Quarterly Meeting, of those  related to QFF. The following is what I just posted on that forum. I am planning on posting about our exploring some of what we do as we attempt to establish a unique virtual eMeeting on a global scale. Some of the "leaders" of this forum are Dutch, Irish, British, New Jerseyan, Marylander, etc.

"Having had a number of econversations since my Oct. 4 original "acceptance" of the clerkship of the next Quarterly Meeting of QFF tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11 (I believe that is the current proposed date) I find that I am "again" led to accept the position of Clerk pro tem. My intent over the next couple of months is to provide some of my understanding of the organization of Friends Meetings and the function of a clerk. As with much of my understanding of Friends procedure, we are ALL in this together. I trust that any of you that have questions, comments, suggestions, etc. will share them and I will attempt to respond to the best of my ability and possibly share some of the historical/traditional Friends views on the subject of "organization."

I trust we can go forward with the Light that is given to each of us.

In Peace and Friendship,

Tom Smith

PS. I think it is very important that we all recognize the newness and fairly unique venture of an eMeeting that we are undertaking. Not only in the Virtual world but also in a truly global setting.