FGC to Launch New “Traveling Ministries Program”
by Bruce Birchard
With a strong sense of God’s leading, FGC’s Central Committee, during its annual sessions in October, approved a proposal to initiate a new “Traveling Ministries Program.” Recognizing the many needs and opportunities within the 600-some meetings and worship groups we serve, this program will rely heavily upon skilled volunteers who can travel to meetings as requested. Objectives of the program include:
- Encourage, support and facilitate travel by a few volunteer Friends who reach clearness with their monthly and yearly meetings and with FGC to travel in a “nurture ministry” among Friends’ meetings.
- Help meetings identify and secure specific kinds of assistance from a broad range of potential resource people who can travel on occasion to lead retreats, workshops, and discussions.
- Help provide programs for meetings which foster spiritual growth and awareness.
This initiative is an important response to the new life and Spirit in many of the meetings and worship groups affiliated with FGC. Many meetings are growing, some bursting out of their physical spaces, due to an influx of new attenders and members. As a result, some meetings have lots of new members and few seasoned Friends. Others — especially new worship groups — are simply small, with only a few members and attenders.
Dozens of these meetings and worship groups, and yearly meetings as well, have turned to FGC for assistance in the past three years. The requests have been varied: for help in understanding specific elements of Quaker faith and practice, for workshop or retreat leaders, for assistance or advice in dealing with conflicts, and for the support that comes from an extended visit by a seasoned Friend. Our committees on Ministry and Nurture, Religious Education, and Advancement and Outreach have been particularly involved in responding to these needs.
We are clear that we cannot respond adequately to these requests with present programs and staffing. To learn more about the needs and opportunities in the yearly meetings we serve, and to identify and coordinate the volunteer travelers, FGC will hire a “Traveling Ministries Coordinator.” She or he will work closely with FGC committees and appropriate yearly meeting leadership to develop and implement the program.
FGC’s Central Committee sees this new program as a way to implement an important part of our new Long Term Plan. (see article).