Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

FAQs about the New Meetings Project

How can I get help to start a new worship group?

Please contact newmeetings@fgcquaker.org.  You will be placed in our database and we’ll contact you again when the program has reached a deeper state of development.

How will yearly meetings be involved?

We will know in much greater detail after the proposed yearly meeting consultation on this project.  At this junction, we imagine the program will function in a similar fashion to Quaker Quest, where we coordinate with yearly meetings on the presentation of workshops at their annual sessions.  We also expect that we will work out processes around the sponsoring of worship groups by local existing meetings when possible.  We will also consult concerning how best to help facilitate the affiliation of new meetings with yearly meetings.

I’ve heard there will be a travel team that supports new worship groups and meetings.  What will that be like and how can I join it?

The travel team will be tasked with periodically visiting new worship groups and meetings to nurture them as they take root.  Travel team members will be selected by invitation and by application after careful discernment. To express an interest, please contact us at newmeetings@fgcquaker.org.

I’ve heard there may be Friends in Residence (FIRs) who will go to new worship groups and meetings to provide a long-term grounding presence.  How can I volunteer?

Whether we will utilize FIRs to anchor some new worship groups will be decided in the near future.  If you have a potential interest, please contact newmeetings@fgcquaker.org .  If we move forward with a FIR program there will be an application and discernment process.  Due to available resources and the special needs of some worship groups, we may only be able to utilize the gifts of a few Friends for this part of the program.

Why do you think developing a system and a program for new meetings will help people have a better Quaker experience?

We’ve learned over time that many Friends have independently explored and carried out this work in a variety of ways.  Some of these efforts have been very successful and some less so.  People from other religious traditions have also left a record of rich experience on how to nurture new worship, study, and meditation groups.  It makes sense that we document and share these experiences so that people anchoring new worship groups don’t have to spend time trying to envision and replicate what’s already been learned.  Through the assistance of this program energy can be spent on creating a rich community experience rather than on independently developing programs, activities, and logistics that may or may not be effective.

Who has the authority to form a local meeting or worship group?

The first Quaker faith and practice communities were formed by church dissidents who broke away from the traditional established church.  Quakers have a long tradition of being local, decentralized faith communities that are self-governing.  The decision to form, just like the decision to affiliate with larger regional and national Quaker servant organizations, is a local decision.  With that said, Quakers have long encouraged new worship groups to form under the care of existing meetings and yearly meetings so there is access to experienced Friends who can provide affirmation and accountability for the new community.  FGC will work with yearly meetings to continue this tradition of providing care to new local communities of faith and practice.  While forming a meeting is a local decision, FGC will encourage newly forming worship groups to adhere to certain standards in order to participate in this program and receive the many benefits that come with participation.

Is FGC proposing to teach one way of practicing Quakerism?  Will your materials try to replace yearly meeting books of faith and practice?

Our purpose is to help make best practices readily available for newly forming worship communities.  We fully expect that each forming community will rely on the published faith and practice that is appropriate to their region or to the type of Quaker practice around which they are forming.

How will you learn what works and what doesn’t work?

First, we will learn as much as possible from Friends who have already carried out this work.  This will include learning from present Friends who have recently established worship groups as well as from the past efforts of AFSC, FGC, and FWCC who carried out similar work in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.  There is also much to learn from other religions and denominations.  Lastly, we plan to set up opportunities for newly forming communities to be in consultation with each other and FGC so we can continue to learn what works.

When will the “New Meetings” project begin?

The launch date will be determined soon.

Will there be dedicated staff for this effort?

Yes, we plan to hire one full-time staff member to support this project for at least the next two years.

Will FGC nurture the formation of pastoral churches in addition to unprogrammed and semi-programmed meetings through this program?

We have a number of pastoral meetings and churches affiliated or in relationship with FGC and we have worked with pastored meetings for Quaker Quest.  We will explore this possibility as the program develops.

How will working with new meetings help existing meetings?

We know from the 2012 FGC futures survey that individuals in existing meetings want more resources to help with outreach and the integration of newcomers—including in some instances how to form worship groups or satellite meetings.  We also know that assembling resources to nurture new worship groups will assist existing meetings by allowing them to apply these resources and new learnings in their own communities.

Why does FGC believe there is a need for supporting new meetings?

For some time, individuals associated with FGC have discussed the fact that monthly meetings, yearly meetings, and FGC are being approached with some frequency to nurture the formation of new worship groups and meetings.  Yet, beyond the quality work of the Committee for Nurturing Ministries (CNM) to produce a document about supporting new worship groups, FGC lacked the resources to provide systematic assistance.  We also knew from research, from statistics on our website, and from the results of the Beliefnet.com questionnaire that there is a tremendous interest by seekers in the Quaker way.  Given all of this, we have come to believe that well supported new meetings would likely flourish and be of service to people on their spiritual journeys.

Why is FGC putting resources into assisting with new meetings and worship groups when there is so much to be done with existing meetings and worship groups?

FGC, through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and the support of many, many donors, is already deeply committed to assisting existing meetings through numerous programs and projects such as the Traveling Ministries program, the Ministry on Racism program, Youth Ministries work,  publications, QuakerBooks of FGC, workshops at the Gathering, numerous consultations on a variety of topics, etc.  While there is more to be done with existing meetings, it became clear that helping Friends nurture new meetings is an important task that could potentially help thousands of Friends and seekers, including existing meetings for reasons named above.