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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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v: procedures

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pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.


nurturing marriage

In the true marriage relationship the independence of husband and wife is equal, their dependence mutual, and their obligations reciprocal.

lucretia mott

 The spiritual journey of an individual can be enhanced and strengthened in the marital relationship. The covenant of marriage opens the door to free and unreserved love, to forgiveness, to sharing strengths, to trust, and to the nurture of each other’s growth. The relationship thrives in the mutual practice of openness, honesty, and shared responsibility.

 A Meeting’s responsibility for nurturing, supporting and celebrating a marriage under its care does not end with the wedding, but endures throughout the whole of life. The marriage clearness committee may take the lead in establishing an ongoing relationship with the couple. For example, celebrations, workshops and supportive discussion groups as well as Meetings for Worship are important within the life of the marriage. Couples often appreciate the feeling of oversight that the Meeting offers when times are easy, but fail to invite the oversight process during difficult times.

 As with marriages conducted under the care of the Meeting, members’ marriages outside the Meeting require loving support and oversight. If a member is married outside the care of the Meeting, members of the Oversight Committee should visit with the newly married couple, expressing the support of the Meeting for the new relationship. A non-member partner should be made welcome and invited to attend Meeting.

 Friends with a concern about their own or others’ marriages should bring such concern to the Oversight Committee. As witnesses and parties to the marriage, the Meeting has the responsibility to be steadfast and direct in fulfilling its oversight obligation. Overseers may see a need for concern and action before the couple does. Prayerful worship and God’s leading should guide all in these matters, overcoming hesitancies and embarrassment. Meetings may wish to develop guidelines for the support of both healthy and troubled marriages, and thus find it easier to nurture marriage partners in its community. Similar support can be offered to non-member couples who are active in the life of the Meeting.

 Friends should not endure physical or emotional abuse nor should they or their children be exposed to sexual exploitation. If the Oversight Committee becomes aware of such exploitation or abuse, they should approach the offender(s) forthrightly, seeking correction of the unacceptable behavior. While holding both the violator and the violated in the Light, it is incumbent upon Friends to protect the victim(s) and seek help for the violator. This may appropriately involve informing legal authorities and other services. Where abuse or exploitation exists, counseling and/or separation or divorce may be advised.