Ministering to Each Other in Middlebury Friends
Discussion held on 3/11/01
Notes taken by Priscilla
General comments and reflections:
- The essential foundation for ministering to one
another is worship; silence is a bond.
- Remember to include ministering to each other at
- Visiting is a powerful way to build connections among
all of us.
- It is important to gather outside of Meeting for
discussion, social communion and
- M & C is more actively addressing how to minister
via their new practice of connecting each Friend to
someone on M & C who will periodically check in with
- Clearness Committees provide one vehicle for
- What is the culture in MFM about ministering to each
other? How does the concept of shared responsibility for
ministering get imbedded within the culture?
- Each one of us has our own special way of ministering
to others and of reaching out, e.g., calling, writing,
providing food, transporting, visiting. There is not
just one way to minister.
- Our ministering is very good and powerful when it
works, but sometimes it doesn't work because something
slips through the cracks.
- Comparison of new people coming into Meeting and new
people coming into a family: it is a long process of
gradually getting to know one another and of deepening
relationships. This doesn't happen overnight.
We made two lists over the course of this discussion.
WHAT IS DONE BY MINISTERS/PRIESTS/RABBIS (religious
leaders who are empowered and hired as messengers of God)?
- visit the people in their congregations.
- are aware of who needs what.
- have their hands on the pulse of the congregation as
- know about passages in peoples' lives: births,
deaths, sicknesses, retirements, marriages, divorces,
- act as spokespeople of their religion to the
- do outreach, on behalf of their group, within the
- organize others to provide for needs within the
- welcome newcomers, visit them and answer
- provide a confidential ear; provide pastoral
counseling when needed.
- organize and oversee religious education.
- run the business of the church or synagogue.
- prepare modes of communication, notably
- shepherd their flocks.
- embody the spiritual values of their religion and
give voice to these values.
Furthermore, there is the expectation that these
religious leaders are role models, possessing sometimes
superhuman characteristics through exemplary behaviors.
This sometimes allows or enables parishioners to be
WHAT CAN FRIENDS IN MFM DO TO IMPROVE MINISTERING AMONG
OURSELVES? We can
- be more welcoming to newcomers; visit them and answer
- seek out and connect with people we don't usually
- inform Friends about Clearness Committees and
encourage people to use this vehicle of support and
- get to know each other outside of Meeting; play
together; do (seemingly) trivial and unrelated-to-Meeting
- keep active our after Meeting hospitality, regular
potlucks, singing after Meeting, and books and flowers at
- continue to minister to each other via food,
visiting, cards, phone calls, transportation.
- continue our Healing Circle at the beginning of
Meetings for Worship.
- continue to use our monthly newsletter as a vehicle
of communication and sharing, especially news of Quakerly
- continue to use our e-mail list and phone-tree as
vehicles for informing everyone in Meeting about
important news of each other.
- continue to improve the children's program which has
become much better organized this year.
- continue the men's group and the women's annual
- support M & C in their charge to oversee the
spiritual life of the Meeting.
- have periodic gatherings/potlucks welcome newcomers
and answer questions about Quakerism - perhaps every 1/2
We ended with the suggestion that we create a set of
queries to help Friends reflect on their own ways of
ministering within the Meeting community. E.g.,
- Do I make time to connect and to minister to others
Am I aware of and responsive to what others may need?
How can I participate in ministering to others within
What are my special ways or gifts of ministering and
helping to care for others in my spiritual
We agreed to invite Friends to share, during
introductions at the end of Meeting for Worship, what has
kept each of us in MFM over the years?