Sunday, January 31, 2010

right ordering

It's report time around here, no not school reports but Quaker ones. Our Yearly Meeting produces a Documents in Advance book of reports as part of the lead up to our annual face to face Meeting for Worship for business in July (subsequently followed by White and Gold Papers). All committees, representatives and Monthly Meetings are expected to send a report in.

I've spent the last couple of days working on the Friends World Committee for Consultation one (I'm one of 2 YM reps on this) and chipping in on the content of our Monthly Meeting one.

I've come to the conclusion that what our YM needs to produce are some guidelines on how to write these! The 'problem' with Quakers organisationally is that we're not very good at telling people how to do things in advance, but there are plenty who will gently (or not so...) 'elder' you afterwards if you get it wrong! Some people don't like it if you tell them that what they have written is not in 'right ordering' (Quakerspeak for the right way to do it!) whereas others are grateful for the guidance.

I've found myself both in the guiding and being guided roles over the last couple of days - I'd followed someone else's previous report as a basis for my own but when I sent it to her for checking discovered that she had been eldered about that one and had amended mine accordingly! A couple of emails and a phonecall later and we both had something we were happy with, I felt too that by the end of this process we'd grown a lot closer than we have been in the past.

Getting our MM report into shape however is proving to be harder work! In fact getting our MM into shape is proving hard work in itself. There are times when being at least half the age of certain 'weighty Friends' and relatively new to the country and MM really does not count in my favour despite having been steeped in Quakerism and Quaker process for the best part of 30yrs! Whilst my original MM had a tendency to produce 'he said... then she said...' type Minutes in those early years of my involvement they did introduce me to a lot of the Quakerspeak language and due process.

It is sad when the quip about it needing a good few Quaker funerals to solve the issue gets trotted out but sadly it may prove to be true. Whilst I was in the end very glad to walk away from such intransigence and unwillingness to being open and learning from each other at work that isn't an option here. Thankfully there are others willing to speak up too even if it does take encouragement from me to do so. Hopefully we'll find more unity within our MM this year but it has to be said it hasn't exactly got off to the most promising of starts! However the dialogue is ongoing and that has to be a good thing even if it does feel about as productive as stiring treacle with a feather... definitely a testing of our faith and our community.

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