Reading & Discussion (April-May 2021)

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APRIL – MAY 2021

Sundays, 12:45 p.m. (via Zoom).

This ‘Reading & Discussion’ features the following discussions on 2nd and 4th Sundays from Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice.

  • May 9: Conflict resolution skills: 20.71. Discussion facilitated by Susan Hartman and Claire Tinkerhess.

Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice: Living faithfully today: 20.71

“Conflict happens, and will continue to happen, even in the most peaceful of worlds. And that’s good – a world where we all agreed with one another would be incredibly boring. Our differences help us to learn. Through conflict handled creatively we can change and grow; and i am not sure real change – either political or personal – can happen without it. We’ll each handle conflict differently and find healing and reconciliation by different paths. I want nonetheless to offer three keys, three skills or qualities which I’ve found helpful from my own experience.

The first skill is naming: being clear and honest about the problem as i see it, stating what I see and how I feel about it. What is important about these statements is that I own them: ‘I see’, ‘I feel’ (not ‘surely it is obvious that …’, ‘any right thinking person should …’). This ability to name what seems to be going on, is crucial to getting the conflict out into the open, where we can begin to understand and try to deal with it.

Such a skill is dangerous. It can feel – indeed, it can be – confrontational. It feels like stirring up trouble where there wasn’t any problem. It needs to be done carefully, caringly, with love, in language we hope others can hear. We need to seek tactfully the best time to do it. But it needs to be done.

The second skill is the skill of listening: listening not just to the words, but to the feelings and needs behind the words. It takes a great deal of time and energy to listen well. It’s a kind of weaving, reflecting back, asking for clarification, asking for time in turn to be listened to, being truly open to what we’re hearing (even it it hurts), being open to the possibility that we might ourselves be changed by what we hear.

The third skill is the skill of letting go: I don’t meant in the sense of giving up, lying down and inviting people to walk all over us, but acknowledging the possibility that there may be other solutions to this conflict than the ones we’ve thought of yet; letting the imagination in – making room for the Spirit. We need to let go of our own will – not so as to surrender to another’s, but so as to look together for God’s solution. It’s  question of finding ways to let go of our commitment to opposition and separation, of letting ourselves be opened to our connectedness as human beings.

If we are to do any of these things well – naming, listening, letting go – we need to have learned to trust that of God in ourselves and that of God in those trapped on all sides of the conflict with us. And to do that well, I find I need to be centered, rooted, practiced in waiting on God. That rootedness is both a git and a discipline, something we can cultivate and build on by acknowledging it every day.

Mary Lou Leavitt, 1986″

  • April 25: Conflict within the meeting: 10.21 and Living faithfully today: 20.75. Discussion facilitated by Rabindar Subbian and Kate Kelley.

Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice: Conflict within the meeting: 10.21

“There are times of conflict in every meeting when we are required to find and show the love we have for one another and to face our difficulties squarely, for it is only when we work through them, using our meeting for church affairs and other appropriate methods, that we can move forward together. Such conflict may involve a clash of personalities, a difference over the quantity or style of vocal ministry, or issues about the place where meetings for worship are held. Problems may become tangled and one sort of issue may masquerade as another. Care will be required to identify the root cause. Skill, time and great love are needed to overcome these problems, but where they have been openly faced and successfully overcome, meetings have sometimes been much richer for the experience.

The primary responsibility for finding a way to resolve these problems lies with elders and [members of committee on ministry and counsel]. It may be that the use of a meeting for clearness … would offer a way forward.

Deep-seated problems are sometimes more easily resolved when an experienced facilitator from outside the situation is called on. Quaker Home Service or monthly and general meetings may be able to suggest Friends with an understanding of how groups and individuals interact with one another and who are able to spend time with a meeting that has got into seemingly insoluble difficulties.

1994″

Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice: Living faithfully today: 20.75

“I come back again and again in my own mind to this word Truth. ‘Promptings of love and truth’ – these two sometimes seem to be in conflict, but in fact they are inseparable. If we are to know the truth, we must be able to see with unclouded eyes, and then we will love what is real and not what is duty or fancy. Once when I was in the middle of a difficult exercise of Quaker decision-making, I wailed to an older and wiser Friend, ‘How can I speak the truth in love when I feel no love?’ Her reply was, ‘Unless you speak the truth there never will be love’.

Alison Sharman, 1986″

  • April 11: Our peace testimony: 24.57. Discussion facilitated by Kate Kelley and Megan Mueller Johnson. 

Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice: Our peace testimony: 24.57

“The follower of Jesus is to discover and then promote the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom has two tenses: it is already here, in each one of us; and it is still to come, when God’s goodness becomes a universal norm. We are to live now ‘as if ’ the Kingdom of God were already fulfilled.

Peace begins within ourselves. It is to be implemented within the family, in our meetings, in our work and leisure, in our own localities, and internationally. The task will never be done. Peace is a process to engage in, not a goal to be reached.

Sydney Bailey, 1993″

  1. What does it look like to work on peace within our Meeting?
  2. What is an example of the process of peace from your own family or life?

Zoom connection information for the above is URL: https://zoom.us/j/99445532926 | Meeting ID: 994 4553 2926.

Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14fNHSWGfnFbbzHkYZfNn1ApluuF2a1WFc5wEGa4kbpM/edit?usp=sharing


Please see the Meeting’s Reading and Discussion page for more information about the context, practice, and goals of ‘Reading and Discussion’.

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