from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
The new edition of the Meeting Handbook is nearing completion. As part of that process, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel consulted with appropriate committees in reviewing the Queries, which are printed in the Handbook. Queries are sets of questions we ask ourselves to arrive at a clearer collective vision of the conditions and needs of the Meeting. Each month, Ministry and Counsel asks a Friend to read one of the 12 queries aloud toward the beginning of meeting for worship so that it might be prayerfully considered by our worshiping community. As we thought about the queries in our current Handbook, and how they have stood the test of time, most seem still to be relevant. The following five queries, however, are newly drafted or revised and will require approval at a monthly meeting for business, along with the rest of the Handbook. They will come before the Meeting for approval, probably in September. Please let Ministry and Counsel know if you have comments or improvements to suggest.
New query, based in part on second paragraph of current query on Self Discipline
Do we set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? Do we take time to read and learn about other people's experiences of the Light in the Bible or more recent writings? Are we open to new Light, from whatever source it may come? Do we approach new ideas with discernment? Do we approach old familiar truths with fresh energy?
Revision of query on Oversight of the Membership (renamed, with new first sentence)
Membership and Outreach
Is our meeting a community in which each person is accepted and nurtured, and strangers feel welcome? What are we doing to draw ourselves together into a spirit of fellowship? Does the Meeting keep contact with all those who are associated with it? Are we concerned for the visiting and encouragement of other groups of Friends, especially in neighboring areas?
Are we sensitive to the spiritual and material needs of those around us? Does the Meeting provide assistance for Friends in material need as their circumstances require, and provide counsel for those whose conduct and manner of living give cause for concern?
Revised query (first sentence revised and second paragraph deleted)
Do we in our daily lives endeavor to express the spirit and teachings of Jesus?
Do we seek to attain the highest standards of personal conduct? Do we keep to simplicity and moderation in speech, in manner of living, and in the pursuit of our vocations? Do we refrain from habits and activities likely to cause harm?
Are we scrupulous in telling the truth, in keeping our promises, and in paying our debts? Do we maintain integrity in all our dealings? Do we seek to avoid litigation and use of judicial oaths? Do we arrange our financial affairs so that we or our dependents will not be a burden to others?
Do we seek to answer that of God in every person, revering and loving the Inner Light that dwells in each heart, regardless of differing outward appearance, behavior, or belief?
New query (conflates current queries on Peacemaking and Divine Purpose and on Payment of Military Taxes)
Do we maintain a prophetic witness to the life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars? Do we take our part in the ministry of reconciliation between individuals, groups, and nations?
Have we considered whether the seeds of war may be nourished by the way we treasure our possessions? Have we thought about the structural violence imbedded in our economic, political, and legal systems? Is our manner of participation in these systems consistent with obedience to the living spirit?
Have we considered what portion of our federal taxes and investments is used for military purposes and how these might be used for making peace? Do we live out our testimony against violence and against military training and preparation for war, holding that these are inconsistent with the creative work of the living God?
Revision of Query on the Environment (renamed and second sentence of first paragraph deleted)
How does my relationship to the local and global environment express my appreciation of the essential oneness of all creation?
Am I walking gently on the earth? Do I live simply, mindful of how life affects the earth and earth's resources? Am I willing to consume less? Am I prepared to give up products, services, and conveniences, even those I consider necessities, in order to help preserve life on earth?
Am I careful to avoid spending and investing money in ways that result in others doing to the world what I myself would not do? What am I doing to teach others, including children and members of my community, to cherish each strand of the intricate web of life?