The Role of Ministry and Counsel
In the life of Old Chatham Quaker Meeting, Ministry and Counsel Committee has particular responsibility for nurture of the religious life of the meeting. Its purposes are to care for the meeting for worship, support spiritual ministry, and provide pastoral care of the membership.
1) Care for the spiritual condition of the meeting and its individuals.
2) Encourage Friends’ private worship and meditation, devotional reading and religious study.
3) Develop programs and conferences, study groups and public meetings to assist members and attenders to deepen the life of the spirit.
4) Provide opportunities for members, attenders and seekers to learn more about the Religious Society of Friends.
5) Have concern for the vocal ministry of the meeting for worship.
6) Encourage those who show evidence of true spiritual gifts and concerns. Record gifts in ministry.
7) Arrange for the preparation of the annual report on the spiritual condition of the meeting (State of the Meeting Report), review the draft, and send it to meeting for business for approval.
Counsel/Pastoral Care and Oversight
1) Encourage all members to participate in the work of the meeting.
2) Help new members become acquainted with the organization and function of the meeting.
3) Where appropriate extend invitations of membership to those who may be ready.
4) Consider and make recommendations concerning applications for membership, transfer or termination of membership, and proposals for marriage. Assist families in funeral and burial arrangements, and with memorial services under the care of the meeting. Prepare memorial minutes for deceased members of the meeting. Appoint, as necessary, using Gospel order, two or more members to go in love to speak with a person who is found to be acting in ways not in accordance with our faith and practice.
As a religious community without designated ministers, we are called on to minister to each one another. The role of Ministry and Counsel is to nurture the spiritual life of the Quaker community, to care for meeting for worship, to encourage Friends to live in ways consistent with Quaker values, and to counsel with persons in times of need. If they have needs or concerns, Friends may contact any member of Ministry and Counsel. Members of the committee are periodically introduced after meeting for worship and are listed in the slate on the business page of the meeting’s website.
Ministry and Counsel members are available to answer questions and respond to concerns. New attenders are encouraged to approach them with questions about Quakerism and Quaker process. For deeper concerns, a time to meet quietly may be arranged. For persons facing a major life decision, a clearness committee may be appointed. A care committee may be set up to support a person handling stressful circumstances. In times of difficulty, the meeting may be asked, through Ministry and Counsel, to provide practical assistance to other members of our meeting. Clearness and care committee members may come from the meeting at large and its members may be suggested by the individual requesting them. These committees are set up to listen––rather than give advice––in order to help a member seek direction and clarity. Requests for membership and marriage under the care of the meeting are initiated by attenders by a written request to Ministry and Counsel and are always processed by clearness committees.