Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends
"Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone." -George Fox

Notes from NFM Threshing/Discernment/Listening Session #2 10/29

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We began with silent worship and then spoken prayers. We had no agenda. (I had been given the leading that we were to wait in the not-so easy silence to see what rose for us.) We then sat in worship together and I invited everyone to share any questions that arose for them. I said we could name the questions and then see which we felt led to examine or reply to. These are the questions:

  • Who are we in our present moment and how do the things that we do flow out of who we are?
  • How do you see the meeting changing? 
  • How much change is because of worry or tiredness and how much is about being faithful?
  • How much is a matter of spiritual weariness or physical weariness?
  • Who is God wanting us to be?
  • What are things that have become burdens to the community?
A few people responded to these questions as they were being posed but I didn't ask anyone to record the responses. (I'm sorry for this oversight.) 
After holding these questions in worship, we broke into groups of 3-4 to explore this question and any others that had been named:
What do I get/need/want from Nashville Friends Meeting/a faith community?
The following notes were taken by the groups.
Group 1: 
Testimonies, structure of meetings
Family support
AVP, etc.
Fosters feeling of peace, home
Community with shared openness about their lives
Community-God speaks through people, etc
Quakerism 101
Spiritual community that helps be faithful, discern, discover, nurture
Group 2:
Having a community/knowing people
Having beliefs challenged/expanded by others
We burn people out-make them do too much
How do we take care of the basics of a meeting/meetinghouse & energy to do important & moving things like care for homeless & facilitate peace
We can tear everything down and start fresh-but we do need to give a new lease somehow
But how do we take the fatigue out of people? Inject the energy?
So that people can make space in their lives. Things that start as a leading end up being a chore.
We need to be accountable for the community-Speak out both when it is not working and when it is.
Come looking for a faith community with a family-evolved into a service opportunity which as become a full plate.
Hope to find new friends to pass some tasks on to-FGC organizing.
Difficulty when only one family member is involved. It would be easier to give more if it were more a part of the entire family's life.
Some meetings put a time limit on serving on a committee: One issue is always finding replacements.
It can feel like recruiting is most of the job, getting people in the door and then getting them to stay.
Seems normal as a baby-boomer to take things on and serve.
Seems difficult to get Millennials and GenX to become involved.
People who are burned out need to feel comfortable with pulling back.
Conflict with what you get out of it. A lot of it has to be spiritual or internal reward.
Would like to see the meeting more involved with the community around the meeting and involved in peacework.
We need to get to know the physical neighbors of the meeting. Feels unquakerly to be stuck within our walls and not get involved.
Becoming a welcoming place-want newcomers to feel a part of the family immediately.
It can be difficult for naturally shy people-of which there are probably many in meeting.
Visit other churches
We bought here to specifically be part of this community-which we haven't followed up on.
Want the meeting to be more involved in the community-especially in service.
Food pantry in not organized or useful.
Warming shelter-very important. People wonder if we have the energy but it is too important to quit.
The warming shelter-[we] come away with new friends-a wonderful fulfilling experience.
Group 3:
Sense of community
Meeting for worship adds to a spiritual path
Want to be known and know others
Want spiritual community
Place to be of service
Quaker concept of proceed as way opens-requires discernment and paying attention
Elders to teach Quaker ways
Our needs are ephemeral as our community changes
Group 4:
Not a group person; tried several groups for a period of time. Not sure what I want. I resonate w/ what "happens" sometimes in meeting so I'm learning and I come back. Not sure whether what I have to give or when to give. Join?
Attending almost 2 decades, clerked, got burned out. Felt I needed distance and space, get energy back into my work. "Mentoring" several at work, need to pay attention. So does dog. 
I'm missing my own spiritual care. People carrying meeting "got stuff done" (slighting process at times). Want to be present more.
Nashville gets more expensive and rarefied over time=shrinking base. Driving distance an obstacle. 
No clear leading about staying in Nashville. Spiritual deepening group is fulfilling.
Theme: Everyone's busy