FGC Proposes Supporting Travel in the Ministry
by Bruce Birchard
For years, Friends have been asking FGC to send more visitors who can assist yearly and monthly meetings with various needs. Now, an exciting new FGC program proposal is being developed to support such a travelling ministry. One of a number of proposals emerging from FGC’s Discernment in Long Term Planning process outlines a program that would identify and support a few experienced volunteer Friends who are called to travel among Friends in a “nurture ministry.” Such Friends would need to seek clearness – both within their own monthly and yearly meetings and with FGC – to take part in this travelling ministry. FGC would provide coordination, training, assistance with securing funds to cover travel costs, and opportunities to meet with other travelling ministers and with appropriate FGC staff and committees.
FGC has supported a limited ministry of visitation for many years. FGC sends visitors to the annual sessions of yearly meetings, sponsors workshops and training in such areas as clerking, religious education, and conflict resolution, and provides, or refers meetings to, speakers and resource people. If approved by Central Committee in October, 1997, the new FGC “Nurture Program” would expand these services while also supporting and coordinating the effort of Friends called to travel in a nurture ministry.
This program idea emerged from the work of three FGC committees: Religious Education, Ministry and Nurture, and Advancement and Outreach. During the Discernment in Long Term Planning process all three committees felt a call to provide more services to the growing number of small monthly meetings and worship groups which are heavily populated with new Friends and attenders. Committee members spoke of the positive effect that visits from a seasoned Friend, experienced in Quaker faith and practice, could provide to such a meeting. If FGC could find a way to support more Friends led to undertake such ministry, some of this objective could be met.
As soon as the overlap in objectives and program plans was identified, members from the three committees began to develop a joint proposal which is now being reviewed by each committee. If approved, and if funds can be obtained, the project will be coordinated through a new staff position at FGC and a joint oversight committee.
FGC staff and committee members welcome comments about this proposed program from Friends reading this article. Please direct comments to Bruce Birchard at the FGC office.