“A general sense of welcome, that Friends are glad for the visit, that hospitality can be easily arranged, and that Friends will want to share the news that a special meeting will be held, goes a long way toward easing the burden of the traveler.” Lloyd Lee Wilson, Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
A Valiant Sixteen - Part 6
Providing Hospitality for Traveling Friends
As I have traveled, I have really appreciated the meetings that have prepared to receive me and my ministry. The first part of receiving a minister is to provide a place for the minister to stay, if she is staying overnight. Asking in advance what the minister might need in terms of a place to stay and meals (such as, if the Friend is a vegetarian) is thoughtful. I have been particularly grateful when my hosts have offered to arrange a potluck, opportunities for worship, or other ways for me to share fellowship with Friends. Because traveling and speaking can be draining, it is helpful for hosts to allow the minister time alone as well.
It can be scary to walk into a meeting filled with strangers, or even one where many of the members are friends, but the meeting is unfamiliar. In some meetings and churches I have visited, it was clear that Friends knew in advance that I was coming and were happy to see me. Sarah P, my traveling companion from Spokane Friends Church, stated that she has felt nurtured by the meetings and churches that we visited together.
A minister traveling with a minute is expected to have each meeting he or she visits endorse the traveling minute. Many meetings have not had the opportunity to endorse a minute, so this provides a chance for Friends to learn more about this practice. Micah B, from Heartland Friends Meeting, said that he always reads his minute aloud, to educate Friends about traveling minutes. The clerk of the meeting should endorse the minute with a brief description of the minister’s visit.
Many Friends who travel today do so in response to an invitation from a meeting or church. If your meeting would like to have someone come to visit, it should extend an invitation to that minister. Another way to make traveling ministers feel welcomed and supported is by providing elders to pray for the minister before and during the visit, and to pray that the community will hear any message that God is leading the minister to give.
[From the research paper I wrote for the School of the Spirit on the spiritual nurture of young Friends traveling in the ministry.]