Cleveland Meeting Nurtures Ministry
by Marty Grundy
Friends in Cleveland Meeting are learning how to nurture ministry by beginning to recognize it when we see it happening among us. In the last few years, some Friends have begun to notice God-given gifts in themselves. With this awareness has come great joy but also the heavy responsibility of using these gifts appropriately. A variety of formal and informal groups have formed within the meeting in which Friends have shared with others how God is dealing with them, the successes and failures of their attempts to live more obedient, faithful lives.
Recently, some of these Friends have gone to Ministry and Oversight Committee asking that the right use of their gifts be taken under its care. This committee has struggled to provide ongoing clearness and support, to listen to how the gifts are being used, to help with temptations, disappointments, and dead ends. Friends who are practicing their ministries have been encouraged to write about their learning for the meeting newsletter.
So far Cleveland Meeting has not formally named any ministers or elders. But these gifts are functioning among us. We have experienced some human responses of fear, envy, competition and anger. We are trying to listen carefully and patiently to God’s instruction. The process continues to unfold.
Some concrete ways in which Cleveland Meeting and/or its Ministry and Oversight Committee has been supportive include:
- Appointing clearness committees that are expected to report back to the meeting on how the work is going.
- Providing financial help to attend training sessions, retreats, School of the Spirit, etc.
- Scheduling opportunities for gifts to be used in structured meeting settings, forums, etc.
- Drafting and approving travelling minutes of introduction and support.
- Encouraging Friends to write for the meeting newsletter about the unfolding process.
- Having Ministry and Oversight itself function as a place to deeply share, wrestle, name, support, and encourage the right use of emerging gifts.