Worship Sharing

Worship Sharing (or Worship-Sharing) is a Quaker group process that “provides an opportunity to reflect deeply on a topic, to build community with others, and to feel the movement of the Spirit within the group.” [PacYM Faith & Practice (2001), p. 206]  Based on a format called “Quaker Dialogue” developed by Rachel Davis DuBois, the practice has evolved to become a staple element of PacYM’s Annual Sessions since the 1960’s.  For many, Worship Sharing is a deeply enriching experience and a highlight of Annual Session.

Worship Sharing groups at Annual Session consist of 6 to 9 Friends who meet daily in open worship, speaking to prepared queries as they are led.  These are the guidelines currently in use:

Worship Sharing Guidelines

The queries are to remind us of some common experiences.  It is usually better to pick one to labor with rather than to try to speak to all the queries provided.  If we are moved by the Spirit to speak on something else close to our hearts, we should follow the Spirit.

We come knowing that we will gather in stillness – to listen, to be still, to share.

We speak from our own experiences and feelings.  Experience, like taste, is real and complete; it is not a subject of discussion, but a window into another life.

We speak for ourselves out of the silence.  We do not answer, debate, disagree, or try to solve someone else’s problem.

We speak once on each round; we may pass or delay our turn.

We listen compassionately, striving to understand the feelings of the person speaking, whose experience and reaction may be very similar or very different from ours.

We take time in the stillness between speakers to hold what we have heard in the Light.

We notice the time to be sure everyone has time to share.  The convener will remind us if we lose track of time while speaking or when it is time to close.

We remember that everything said is confidential.

When the sharing seems complete and everyone has had the opportunity to speak once, we may have time to add to our own earlier contribution, some second thoughts or non-judgmental discussion, still maintaining a worshipful spirit.

In Preparation for Annual Session 2020 on Radical Inclusivity: A Letter from PacYM Ministry & Oversight to Friends

February 4, 2020

(Sent on behalf of Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman and the Ministry and Oversight Committee by Sharon Gates, Assistant to the Clerk of PYM. Please circulate widely in your Meeting so all members and attenders have the opportunity to read it.)

“Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness, and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another, but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been a slip or fall, and waiting until the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting.”

Isaac Penington

Dear Friends,

In preparation for Pacific Yearly Meeting (PacYM) Annual Session 2020 and beyond, the PacYM Ministry & Oversight (M&O) Committee and Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman call upon Meeting members and attenders to engage deeply in inquiry and discernment on fostering greater inclusion and love for each other, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, experience with Quakerism, abilities, sexual orientation and the numerous less seen differences that we may have. This is a lifelong concern, commitment, and practice, one with which every Friend must grapple in order to co-create and live into the beloved community.

As a way to deepen our discussions and work towards living into being a beloved community, we request in the next year that Friends in your Monthly Meeting read the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Understanding that Friends have already begun working on this year’s State of the Meeting reports, we ask that you respond to the queries posed below and to please include in your Meeting’s State of the Meeting report⁠—if not this year then in 2021⁠—the work your Meeting is doing to deepen the state of being a beloved community for all people, to see the unseen and acknowledge opportunities for growth.

We believe that in taking these action steps, Friends will have a common language and framework by which to identify and talk about racism, white privilege, settler colonialism, and the inherited culture of white supremacy individually, in relationship with one another, and structurally in our Meetings and the larger society. This work is critical if  Friends are to really be friends to each other and our earth.

We offer these queries for your Spirit-filled consideration:

  • In what ways did White Fragility help you understand the place of race in our lives and in our Meetings with a new or different perspective?
  • How aware and awake is your Meeting to how race, cultural differences, privilege and entitlement impact the quality of your relationships and friendships in your Meeting?
  • What new learning about how to be a more beloved community for all people within the culture of Friends has occurred in your Meeting?
  • In what ways have we been “fragile” to seeing our sometimes unconscious and unintentional role in perpetuating a culture of dominance?
  • What steps could your Meeting take to increase inclusion and the loving telling of truth among Friends in the coming year?

To support this work, we recommend that you utilize Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility reading guide, which can be accessed here. Friends may wish to approach this request like a book club, completing the whole book and gathering at the end to discuss, or may want to read the chapters together as a group over the course of several months. We hope that Meetings will have begun the book by the time Annual Session 2020 begins.

If led, we encourage your Meeting to further deepen into this concern by exploring the following works:

For additional resources, please see visit our Racial Justice webpage here.

Please reach out to PacYM M&O Committee with any questions or feedback about this request. Please contact: PacYMMO@gmail.com.

In Peace,

Pacific Yearly Meeting Ministry & Oversight Committee and Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman

New Document and Renewed Request for Further Seasoning on FGC Affiliation

To Meeting Representatives and Clerks of Monthly Meetings

Ministry and Oversight Committee renews its request, sent last March, for monthly meetings to further season the matter of FGC affiliation between now and June 30, 2019.

The purpose of this message now is to alert you to a new document, 2019 FGC Talking Points, containing information that may be useful to your monthly meeting as we continue to labor with the question of FGC affiliation.  These talking points were shared with members and observers at the recent FGC Central Committee meeting, and are posted here with permission of FGC. Continue reading “New Document and Renewed Request for Further Seasoning on FGC Affiliation”

Community expectations for PYM Annual Session 2018

Our Annual Session is a gathering of the Beloved Community where Friends labor and rejoice together in discerning the will of Spirit. For us to go deep into worship and community, we must create a safe and healthy container. Please use these reminders to make Annual Session a joyful occasion for all.

We ask that all Friends uphold the following expectations:

Continue reading “Community expectations for PYM Annual Session 2018”

FGC Affiliation Consideration Updates, April 19, 2018

Friends,

In early February, a link to materials about affiliating with Friends General Conference was circulated: FAQ link on FGC Affiliation, February 2018

Monthly meetings were asked by Ministry and Oversight Committee (M&O) to review this information and reflect on the following queries in preparation for continued discernment at the 2018 Annual Session:

Continue reading “FGC Affiliation Consideration Updates, April 19, 2018”

Additional Information about FGC Affiliation and a Request for Monthly Meetings to Season

Update posted 4/19/18 at new link (click here).

Original post below:


2/1/18 – To Meeting Representatives and Clerks of Monthly Meetings,

At Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Session in 2017, Ministry and Oversight Committee (M&O) brought forward for discernment the question of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s affiliation with Friends General Conference.  During the consideration of this question at the 2017 Annual Session, some Friends asked for additional information and time for seasoning at the monthly meeting level.  Ministry and Oversight Committee has prepared materials to aid in our continued discernment at the 2018 Annual Session.

In order to be well prepared for discernment, M&O is now asking monthly meetings to season the matter of affiliating between now and April 30, 2018 by reflecting on these queries:

Continue reading “Additional Information about FGC Affiliation and a Request for Monthly Meetings to Season”

2016 State of the Society Report

Pacific Yearly Meeting

State of the Society Report

June 20/21, 2016

¢   “As we reflect on the state of our meeting in 2016, we ask ourselves, Where’s the enthusiasm?  Where’s the juice?” Strawberry Creek MM

¢   Twenty-one Meetings and three worship groups sent in State of the Meeting reports, trying to distill the “juice” and the challenges of their communities. From these, we find general themes and specific examples which make up this State of the Society Report.

¢   Meeting Community – Chico Friends Meeting speaks of what it is to be a community:

“Tender, generous, and often very human, we are a small but steadfast people wrestling with what it means to be Quaker.  With faith that the power and the mystery of Spirit is in it, we continue to, each in our own way, show up, and when we do, we experience life of the Spirit abundantly.”

“This year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary as a monthly meeting.” Grass Valley MM

“Our Meeting has enjoyed a time of spiritual stability in which the attendance at Meeting for Worship has grown… We want to strengthen our spiritual relationships with both long-time attenders and those who have arrived more recently.”  Mexico City MM

“After three quarters of an hour or so, we are joined in silence by the children of the meeting and their teachers.  The shine in their eyes promises a lively sharing at the rise of meeting.” Inland Valley MM

“In January we hosted PYM’s Ministry and Oversight Committee, and our discussions with the committee emphasized the importance of our Quaker ties. We benefit from members of our meeting who are active in PYM and SCQM, experiencing the richness of the larger Quaker community.” Orange County MM

¢   Meeting Space – the space we use or own creates both opportunity and challenge.

“We continue to be struck by the new openness of our Meetinghouse, symbolizing to both us and the broader community the welcome we seek to provide.”  Berkeley Friends Meeting

“We approved a Minute and updated our outdoor sign which now reads: Davis Friends Meeting (Quaker), an open, welcoming, and affirming Meeting.”  Davis MM

“For now, we have suspended the search [for a meetinghouse to purchase]. This has been very painful, especially for those who have worked so hard and for so long…Without a meetinghouse we are not very visible to our local community. Yet we have a welcome stream of visitors who know to look for us.”  Strawberry Creek MM

“Some Friends have voiced concern over the Meeting owning properties as the many issues it brings may be getting in the way of Spirit rather than leading us toward it.”  San Francisco MM

¢   Outreach/Work in the CommunityAs in many years past, the quality, substance and sheer diversity of community outreach and social action is remarkable, including response to the California drought with drought-resistant meeting grounds.

“We are especially happy to continue sponsorship of the student Peace Essay Contest in the Stanislaus County Schools. We are ever heartened by the growth in participation and the depth of commitment and passion of young people. Delta MM

“We continue to express our social concerns through ongoing activities such as providing a meal and music to homeless women once a month, and supporting those who are taking Alternatives to Violence into the community and local prisons.  Live Oak MM

“We help with the monthly Rice Plus Project that packs and distributes rice, beans and other necessities to farm families in the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County.”  Monterrey Peninsula MM

“Our presence is noted in public events, including demonstrations in support of climate action, the Black Lives Matter movement, and immigration concerns. Two of our members attended the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP) 21 in Paris, one as General Secretary for Quaker Earthcare Witness.”  Strawberry Creek MM

“We support the Dougla-Prieta project in Arizona and Mexico, the undocumented student scholarship fund, African student scholarship funds, the East Bay Sanctuary movement, Prisoners packages work, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Interfaith Jewish Voices for Peace.”  Sacramento MM

“In response to immigration and refugee crises, members of our meeting have taken in 3 immigrant families and a new committee was formed to offer financial advocacy and support.”  La Jolla MM

“When one of our long standing members passed away, his estate was bequeathed to us. We set aside part as an Endowment, a portion was used to complete our new meeting home the rest funded Grants totaling $174,000.” San Diego MM

“Acknowledging the many efforts of individual Friends in the world, nominations to our Peace and Social Order Committee were suspended pending clarification of this committee’s relationship to the concerns of Friends. Consideration of this action is ongoing.” La Jolla MM

¢ Good Order requires us to examine not just what we do, but how and why.

“…the Clerk discerned three desirable efforts for the community:   To continue the sharing and examination process that has invigorated Meeting for Business; to structure our community so that we are better able to welcome newcomers; and to be more transparent and efficient.  We feel both the pressure of uncertain plans for the next year, yet also joy in our new direction.”  Palo Alto MM

“Our meeting has grappled with differences of opinions and with individual life challenges, through the vehicle of clearness committees. This is a profound process that helps to center us in love when facing challenges. Santa Barbara MM

“Getting enough money to meet our budget continues to be a challenge, and we are also challenged by the search for members and attenders to take on a position or serve on a committee, or to help carry out a program.  Yet we are committed and care and know there is a way through this if we are willing to be open, patient to wait for this response, and ready to act on it when it comes.”  Grass Valley MM

“Quaker history shows us that it is often through struggle that we receive our spiritual gifts. We struggle with how people react to what others say and with achieving a common understanding of committee work versus meeting work and how to make decisions.”  Chico Friends Meeting

¢ Rhythms Of LifeWhile the familiar problem of aging seems to be consistent throughout, there is a sense of renewal and vibrancy, with a number of meetings and worship groups growing and delighting in newcomers, new members and new families. And it’s clear the work of Bob and Kathy Runyon and Quaker Center has positively impacted and helped nourish many meetings through our Yearly Meeting.

“Many of us are using our Meeting’s Ben Lomond Quaker Center [annual] pass which helps our Meeting grow spiritually.” Sacramento MM

“Marloma Long Beach Meeting consists of six senior citizens of increasing age and diminishing energy. Once a very active meeting, we no longer do social service projects as a Meeting, although individuals take part in a variety of activities. What of our spiritual development? One member described our Meeting as “a place where we go to regenerate our spiritual batteries once a week.” Marloma Long Beach MM

[We held] a meeting-wide retreat, “From Strength to Strength: Visions for the Future of the Claremont Monthly Meeting.” Out of the retreat emerged a sense that we might do well to embrace, rather than lament, our smallness: genuinely prophetic communities are perhaps likely to be small.”  Claremont MM

“…because there are fewer of us, many standing Meeting committees are small and we rely on individuals to do work that was once done by committee. The answer may lie in simplifying our process and letting go of traditions which no longer serve us.” Orange Grove MM

“Though our spirit remains strong, we are less able to summon physical ability to accomplish all we wish to do.  At the same time, Friends are learning to accept the limits of aging, and are searching for new and creative ways to be of service.”  Delta MM

“The Query “How is truth served in our Meeting?” also applies to recognizing our own limitations. Some in our Meeting have learned this through disabilities or illnesses. For others it is a matter of following new leadings and finding new ways to be of service. Davis MM

” …older, more seasoned Friends, and Friends ways, [are] giving over to inspired, service-oriented outreach. Meeting community inreach is giving way to larger engagement in service to others in the greater community outside our doors.” San Francisco MM

“We have felt a flowing energy from the Divine to welcome new visitors, attenders and members of our community, floating in and out, a life of constant change. We happily welcome four new members this year. We are thankful for the vitality and energy felt by many in our community.” Santa Monica MM

“The Worship Group at Soledad State Prison (CTF) remains under our care.  Currently there are 7 to 8 Live Oak Friends who’ve worshipped and participated in worship sharing discussions, with 7 to 10 inmates, twice monthly.  Live Oak MM

“We are continuing to grow as a spiritual community in faith and in numbers.” Conejo Valley WG

“The small size of our worship group continues to be a challenge and a blessing. We don’t have the problems, nor do we have the possibilities.” Ojai WG

“We are a small group, but we have shown concern on peace and social justice issues at a time when the world if full of violence and grave injustices. We are thankful for our time together.” Whitleaf WG

¢ Summary – Many meetings speak of their challenges, but also their sense of joy and renewal together.

“Of the little miracles in life, one of those is how we have come together to form a larger community. We have made a family together, a safe place to grow our relationships. An adult who grew up within our Meeting said he remembered Meeting fondly as “a place where he was loved.” Orange County MM

“Chico Friends Meeting life is not smooth, but it is full of joy and of meaningful relationships with each other, the wider world, and the Spirit of God.  Chico Friends Meeting

“When Spirit moves in Meeting, it is amazing and glorious, a gift from God. It is in those moments we feel how easy it is to become as God wishes us to be. We trust that Spirit will guide us forward.” Orange Grove MM

“Reflecting on this year, we find strength in the richness of our memories, strength in the power of our hopes. Above all, we seek strength in our togetherness.” Claremont MM

“We…seek to remain open to the will of the spirit and affirm that all creation has worth and dignity.” La Jolla MM

“We recognize the need to remember that we are a living tradition. The world and the Meeting are always changing. We seek the guidance of Spirit in knowing our truth and moving ahead in response to change. We strive to treat each other tenderly and, as we seek the truth and act upon it, we work to touch that of God in each of us.”  Strawberry Creek MM

¢ We close our State of the Society Report with a quote from Grass Valley MM:

“ …our practice is gathering together in silence, to be available, to be open, to be willing to share when the spirit prods or encourages us, to be patient, to be open and inclusive of others’ viewpoints, and to experience this process as our act of worship, our way of being in the world.”

 

Submitted by the Ministry and Oversight Committee of PYM

M&O Request For Input For PYM Annual Session 2014

Dear Monthly Meeting Clerks and PYM Reps:

There is considerable energy and discussion among PYM Friends about what makes wider Quaker gatherings deepening and nourishing as well as the challenges that arise as Friends contemplate distance, schedules, and costs of attendance.  As Friends are brainstorming and generating ideas which might be useful for our Yearly Meeting to consider for our future sessions, we want to hear from our Monthly Meetings.  Please set aside some time at your June or July business meeting to give the following queries some thought.  We are especially interested in hearing from Friends (whether members or attenders) who do NOT tend to go to Quarterly or Yearly Meeting, to find out what would draw them in and what is currently getting in their way from attending.  It will be important to hear from as wide a group as possible, so we urge you to make time for this discussion and to send us your notes in whatever form they take.  We are not expecting your Meeting to come to unity at this stage, rather we are initiating the dialogue.

  1. What do you look forward to (or would you look forward to) when you attend wider Quaker gatherings?
  2. What have you experienced in a wider Quaker gathering that has inspired you or moved you to a deeper sense of Spirit working in your life?
  3. What prevents you from attending wider Quaker gatherings, in particular PYM’s Annual Session?  Could changes in format, schedule, cost, etc. make it possible for you to attend?

Continue reading “M&O Request For Input For PYM Annual Session 2014”

2013 Annual Session Ministry and Oversight Committee

[Download versions]

[Web versions (excluding SotM reports – they are only available as PDF linked to above)]

 Pacific Yearly Meeting

Ministry and Oversight Committee

June, 2013

Ministry and Oversight Committee has labored during this past year with a concern for our Annual Sessions and how they serve our Yearly Meeting as a whole.  Friends have indicated that they attend Annual Session for three primary reasons: to deepen their spiritual lives, to engage in fellowship with a wider body of Friends, and to engage in the spirit-led search for unity.

 Two interrelated issues continue to be raised up—those of privilege and fair representation.  As the cost of attending Annual Session increases, it becomes more difficult for those of lesser financial means to attend and becomes more difficult for monthly meetings to support financial assistance for their members.  Consequently, we are seeing lower overall attendance as well as a less diverse attendance, including reduced attendance from some of our smaller monthly meetings.  This is troubling to us as many of our Yearly Meeting’s major decisions are made during Annual Session.  How do we reconcile our testimony of equality with the fact that our Annual Sessions are becoming more and more privileged?

As we have worked together and with our subcommittees over the past year to support the spiritual life of our Yearly Meeting, our work falls into three main categories:  outreach and support to monthly meetings, support to the Yearly Meeting infrastructure, and preparing for the Annual Session.

Outreach and Support

The outreach to our monthly meetings includes improving communication between the Yearly Meeting and the monthly meetings and reaching out to our more outlying and distant meetings.  The Representative Support Subcommittee continues to hold phone calls with monthly meeting representatives to disseminate PYM news and to encourage monthly meetings to make their concerns known to the Yearly Meeting.  The Support for Distant Meetings Subcommittee has visited Guatemala and Mexico City this past year and is making plans to visit Honolulu and Big Island in 2014.  A Visiting Friend Support Subcommittee has been formed and now has enough members to function effectively.  They hope to bring an announcement to Annual Session informing us when that program will begin, how Friends can apply to be the Visiting Friend, and how monthly meetings can get on the schedule.  The Ministry and Leadings Subcommittee has explored how to assist monthly meetings in identifying, supporting, and providing accountability for Friends’ leadings.

Infrastructure

Through the work of the Experimentation and Implementation Subcommittee (and the former Futures Committee) we have recognized that the Yearly Meeting includes both the Annual Session and the workings of the organization year-round.  We are committed to supporting both aspects of our Yearly Meeting.  The Experimentation and Implementation Subcommittee brought us schedule changes in 2012 which were very positively received, but are not possible to maintain at the site where we will meet in 2013.  We hope to bring back these schedule changes in 2014, along with some modifications that we learned as a result of that experiment.  One thing that we are able to maintain is the concept of introducing an item of business early in the week, allowing time for seasoning, and taking up the decision at a later plenary session.

We continue to receive suggestions for ways of scheduling our Annual Sessions and undertaking our business that would involve less expense, less travel, and more opportunity for building community, but none of the ideas brought forward so far seem fully workable.  We expect to keep listening, both at the Annual Session and afterward, and are looking forward to conducting a survey of PYM members and attenders in the fall, including those who do not attend the Annual Session.

The Electronic Communications Subcommittee is a hidden strength of our Yearly Meeting.  Working behind the scenes, they maintain our Yearly Meeting website, giving us access to prior Yearly Meeting and Representative Committee minutes as well as current committee reports so that we can participate in our Yearly Meeting in a more informed manner.  This year, we are putting the State of the Meeting reports on the Pacific Yearly Meeting website, and you will find them in two batches: Southern California Quarterly Meeting and College Park Quarterly Meeting.  In addition the subcommittee has been of assistance to the registrars in supporting the online registration.

The Annual Session

We have been preparing for the Ministry and Oversight Plenary where you will hear excerpts from the State of the Meeting reports, listen to some brief statements from a few Friends describing how they are being “reached by the life”, and where you will have the opportunity to respond out of the silence.  Worship-sharing groups and the Meeting for Memorials are being organized.  Several interest groups are being sponsored by Ministry and Oversight and its subcommittees:

  • Electronic Communication Subcommittee:  PYM in the Cloud—What it is and why we need it.
  • Racial Justice Subcommittee:  When we work together:  Allies across racial lines
  • Ministry and Oversight, Steve Smith: Finding our Center, Changing the World
  • Ministry and Leadings Subcommittee:  What is the Meeting’s role in naming, nurturing, supporting and providing accountability for Ministry and Leadings?

Submitted on behalf of the Ministry and Oversight Committee,

Barbara Babin, clerk

 

Ministry and Oversight Subcommittees 2012-13
 
Electronic Communication Subcommittee
Don Bean, Conejo Valley, convener
Eric Moon, Berkeley
Tom Yamaguchi, Strawberry Creek
Kerwin Flowers, La Jolla
Brylie Oxley, Grass Valley
 
Experimentation and Implementation Subcommittee
Paul Harris, Redwood Forest, convener
Valerie Nuttman, Santa Cruz
Sherri Sisson, Orange County
Marilee Eusebio, Davis
 
Ministry and Leadings Subcommittee
Sue Torrey, Central Coast, convener
Laura Magnani, Berkeley
Judith Favor, Claremont
Elaine Emily, Strawberry Creek
 
Outreach to Wider Circle of Friends* Subcommittee
Rolene Walker, San Francisco
Claire Gorfinkel, Orange Grove
  
Racial Justice Subcommittee
Laura Magnani, Co‐clerk, Berkeley
Diego Navarro, Co‐clerk, Santa Cruz
Charla Robertson, Co‐clerk, Orange Grove
Alvaro Alvarado, Sacramento
John Cantu, Santa Cruz
Cayman Howard, Visalia
Heather Howard, Visalia
Deborah Marks, Strawberry Creek
Carl Magruder, Strawberry Creek
Steve Smith, Claremont
Jim Summers, La Jolla
 
Representative Support Subcommittee
Sandy Kewman, Grass Valley, convener
Don Bean, Conejo Valley
Tom Yamaguchi, Strawberry Creek
 
Visiting Friend Subcommittee
Eric Moon, Berkeley
Eva Miller, Inland Valley/Orange Grove
Pati Constantino, Mexico City
Martha Hunkins, Humboldt