Saturday, October 30, 2010

Care Committee Report

Report to School of the Spirit from Ashley W’s Care Committee
August 14, 2010

The Care Committee met with Ashley on July 9 to do an annual review.  It is our understanding that we were to discern together with her where she and we have been during this first year of her program with the School of the Spirit.

As you know, Ashley has spent the first year of the program in Seattle, as a sojourning member of University Meeting.  She has now moved to Salem, OR and will be at Freedom Friends Church.  Since she knew this would be the case, she put together a Northern Care Committee and a Southern Care Committee.  For this year, the Northern Care Committee has met in person with Ashley.  She has written a report before each meeting, which was shared with both committees.  A member of the Care Committee took notes during the meeting and sent them to Ashley.  Ashley them made additions and/or corrections and then sent them to both committees.  This report is from the Northern Care Committee.

We all acknowledged what a privilege and amazing opportunity it has been to serve on the Care Committee.  The regularity of the meetings (we came pretty close to once a month) and the depth and challenge of our discussions have contributed to the spiritual growth of each of us.  One Friend said it had been the most spiritual place for her for most of the past year.

There is a relationship between ministry and a community – or multiple communities.  Ashley’s ministry is rooted in University Meeting in Seattle and Freedom Friends Church in Salem, OR.  But it clearly extends to the Pacific Northwest (Women’s Theology Conference) and beyond (e.g. being an elder for Wess D and Martin K at Pendle Hill; the whole School of the Spirit experience).  One of her communities is her “K” group, which is very important to Ashley.  We challenged her to think about how she might keep connections with those Friends after the SoS ends.  Ashley mentioned that she might try to visit North Carolina YM (C) Annual Session some year.  This is an example of her expanding sense of community, as well as her sense of continuing to travel in the ministry.

As Ashley reflected on the past year, she noted her relationship with University Meeting and her struggle with “shoulds”.  She felt it was good to look back and see both accomplishments and struggles.  She has a sense of satisfaction about the PNW Quaker Women’s Conference and is glad it is over!  Some of it was hard, but she overcame the difficulties and grew.  She spoke of learning to “find her voice.”  She has grown to respond with more confidence to the call to speak in worship.  She is learning to ask for what she needs, although this is still hard. She admitted she had been hesitant to ask for an elder or traveling companion.  She feels she is getting better at accepting when she or others do not measure up to her self-acknowledged very high standards.  Serving as an elder for Wess and Martin was “good work” (and hard).

She asked for a traveling minute directly from NPYM (to apply to the Susan Bax Fund).  She realized in retrospect, it would have been better to start with the Monthly Meeting and then go to Yearly Meeting.  The Yearly Meeting M&O Committee might also have recognized it was not following its own process.  However, she was in a unique position, since she was a sojourning member of UFM, and Freedom Friends is not part of any larger body.

The committee raised the question about whether there is a new pattern for recognizing and supporting ministry, not rooted in a local Meeting.  Some Young Adult Friends do not feel rooted in a particular Meeting, and/or do not want to be limited to a particular branch of Friends.  Is this an issue to which Ashley is called?  Ashley felt that both University Meeting and Freedom Friends have been spiritual homes for her this past year.

The committee further explored if there had been blocks to feeling part of the UFM community, either within herself or the Meeting. Ashley noted that the meeting with the Worship & Ministry Committee was a really good start, and it is too bad it took so long to do that. Ashley and 2 members of the Care Committee met with W&M April 28, 2010.  She reported on her ministry and her disappointment in University Meeting.  At the end of the meeting, she said she would like to have some open time for everyone to share about ways that the meeting can provide ongoing support for Friends feeling called to ministry.  Members of W&M as well as the Care Committee found the meeting exciting and opened new ways the committee might work.  Ashley still has a sense that a lot of people in UFM did not know what she was doing.  Meeting as a whole should nurture ministry.  It was helpful to her hear about the experience of other Young Adult Friends, who had also felt limited support. The Care Committee has reminded itself to follow up with the UFM Worship & Ministry Committee about responding to the challenge to further explore how they might recognize, nurture and support ministry.

In the July 9 Care Committee meeting, we explored some of the reasons UFM is not good at supporting ministry.  In our discussion we agreed that UFM is not afraid to be a community.  It cares very well for people, e.g. “Care Committees” (for people who are ill or need special assistance).  However, it is a stunted community, because it is afraid to be a faith community.  We do not talk about our faith.  It would be good to have some conversations about words we can and cannot hear. We need to hear people and be gentle when they use their own words when speaking about faith experiences.

Ashley sees her ministry, now, as “turning people to God, in whatever language they use to describe God.”  We identified that a part of that ministry is bridge building.  Ashley noted that her vocal ministry is both in worship and also in presentations.  When she and Sarah were at Bellingham and Sandpoint Meetings, they gave workshops and got people talking about God.  She felt that one reason people don’t talk about God is their fear that everyone “gets it”, and they don’t.

We asked Ashley where her ministry is going and what areas she wants to work on.  One area is a paper and panel for SoS on being the “other” – standing outside of groups and offering a perspective. (This relates to the Care Committee June 30, 2010 discussion about being a prophet.)  She will continue to travel in the ministry, but is less clear how that will work.  She needs to be careful with her time, since she will be moving to full-time paid work AND, probably starting in February, to clerking Freedom Friends Church.  The SoS residencies and work will be a lot, even though her boss is supportive.  She may have to limit other activities.  Living alone may be a good idea, as she will have a steep learning curve with her job, new people and new systems.

The committee asked her about support resources, both practical and for discernment. Ashley expects her Care Committee to be a resource. She also has talked with Wess D about starting a meeting of ministers and elders.  The  “Northern Care Committee” noted it is really important for Ashley to ask someone to clerk the “Southern Care Committee” and to set a date for a meeting.

Ashley again thanked the committee and committee members responded, thanking her for the opportunity.  This has been a place where we can be our real selves and feel known – what we all seek in community. And it has been a place where we have all grown spiritually.  We thank the School of the Spirit for providing this structure.  We look forward to hearing about Ashley’s next year through reports and notes from the Southern Care Committee, and each expects to maintain contact with Ashley.

Care Committee: Ann S, Clerk; Lucy F, Sarah H, Jana O

1 comment:

  1. Ashley, How fortunate you are to be so well cared for by your Care Committee. What an honest and supportive report! Thank you for sharing it. Love, Janis


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