On recording gifts in ministry

October 18, 2013 § 12 Comments

Many Friends in the Liberal tradition oppose the practice of “recording ministers”. I support it.

Or rather, I feel that it is extremely important that meetings do something to proactively recognize, name, and nurture the spiritual gifts of our members and attenders. This is one of the things we are here for, to nurture each other’s lives in the Spirit. This is one of the key responsibilities of a Quaker meeting. We don’t have to record people as ministers, but we should be doing something.

I got to thinking about this because of a post by Ashley W (I think the W is for Wilcox) about being a recorded Quaker minister student in a Methodist seminary. I clicked on the label “Recorded” for that post and found that she has blogged quite a lot about her experience as a recorded minister—really good stuff. I highly recommend reading her posts on recording, especially if you don’t understand or agree with the practice.

I published a piece myself on this topic in the online edition of the November 2012 issue of Spark, the newsletter of New York Yearly Meeting. You can click here to read my “On Recording Gifts in Ministry.” The issue’s theme of Recognizing Gifts in Ministry was part of an effort of the Yearly Meeting to reconsider the practice in light of resistance from some in the Yearly Meeting to its continuance. The Yearly Meeting was not able to come to unity on laying the practice down, and so the practice stands. Thankfully, to my mind, as you will see if you read my article.

New York Yearly Meeting has a pamphlet offering guidelines for recording in the Yearly Meeting, available here: “Recording Gifts in Ministry”.

What do you think? What has been your experience?

Funding Quaker Ministry

January 25, 2013 § 8 Comments

A couple of months ago I learned of an idea that I believe is a breakthrough of continuing revelation on a par with the clearness committee. It’s a proposal by Friends Vonn New of Bulls Head-Oswego Meeting in New York Yearly Meeting and Viv Hawkins of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for funding Quaker ministry through a crowd-sourcing platform modeled on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects in which creatives publish what amounts to a grant proposal for their project and visitors to the website then pledge whatever support they want. If the project reaches the funding goal set by its creator, then the donors’ credit cards are charged and the creator is off and running.

Vonn and Viv’s idea (I call it QuakeStarter) is to do the same for Quaker ministers. Someone led by the Spirit into some form of service describes on the website what they want to do, documents the discernment they have received so far, and declares the amount and kind of support they need to be faithful to their leading. Friends (and others) can then go to the website and pledge support for the ministry. If the minister’s request for pledges reaches its goal, then the cards get charged and the service is secured.

When this idea takes off, we will undoubtedly discover unexpected issues and see unintended consequences, as is always the case with Quaker ministry. But won’t that be an adventure!

When I learned about this idea, I was in the process of editing an issue of Spark, New York Yearly Meeting’s newsletter, with the theme of Cultivating Gifts in Ministry. I invited them to write an article for Spark and they did. Click here to read “Ministry & Money: A Proposal” on the NYYM website to get a better idea of their goals and rationale.

They dedicate much of the article to rationale—why such a tool is needed. It boils down to the fact that important ministry is languishing because the ministers can’t afford to pursue it. Most of the ministers they mention are young adults. One hears a lot these days about how important it is to encourage young adult Friends, while many of our institutions are pulling back on the funding that supports this sort of work. Viv and Vonn’s idea is a creative way to do something that we all agree is important independently of the failing resources of our established institutions.

Catch-22: Viv and Vonn need support themselves to get this project off the ground. Vonn is a web developer, so they have what it takes to pull it off. They end their article with this appeal, which I wholeheartedly support:

Vonn New and Viv Hawkins seek others who are interested in this project, whether that be Friends with ministries under the care of a meeting seeking support, individuals or faith communities seeking the services of a ministry, people seeking to provide support to ministries, Friends with expertise in funding and governance, or funders for this particular project. Please contact us at friendviv@gmail.com or vonn.new@gmail.com.

I hope my readers will consider spreading the word about this idea and about offering some support of their own.

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