Sunday, December 12, 2010

Minute of Service Report

To Freedom Friends Church

Since receiving my minute of service from Freedom Friends Church in August 2008, I have traveled to many meetings and churches in the Pacific Northwest to share about the Eighth Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  The meetings and churches I visited included: Camas Friends Church, Multnomah Monthly Meeting, Anchorage Friends Meeting, Spokane Friends Church, Eugene Friends Church, Eugene Friends Meeting, Bellingham Friends Meeting, Sandpoint Friends Meeting, and North Seattle Friends Church.  I also attended North Pacific Yearly Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting annual sessions in 2009 and received a traveling minute from North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  I traveled to most of these meetings and churches with my co-clerk, Sarah P.  On three of the visits, I had other traveling companions: Inger H accompanied me to Anchorage Friends Meeting, Sarah H accompanied me to North Seattle Friends Church, and Leann W served as elder for me and Sarah when we visited Sandpoint Friends Meeting.

All of the churches and meetings I visited were extremely hospitable.  Although the women’s conference was the official reason for these visits, it often did not feel like the reason I was there.  Sometimes something else seemed important, and sometimes I felt like I did not really know why I was there (though I trust there was a reason).  Sarah and I felt like we were planting seeds for Friends to come to future conferences, consider traveling in the ministry, or interact with different kinds of Friends in other ways.  Many of the clerks of the meetings and churches had never had never seen a traveling minute before our visit, so this provided an opportunity for us to educate Friends about the practice of traveling with minutes and having meetings endorse them.

Something that surprised me about these visits is that I did not feel led to speak in worship in many of the meetings I visited.  This felt like a learning experience for me about when not to speak.  I did speak in each meeting and church outside of meeting for worship, either by giving an announcement or leading a presentation.  Public speaking does not come easily for me and this gave me an opportunity to practice.  I also found that it became easier to talk about the women’s conference the more I did it.

Over the two years the planning committee spent working on the conference, we had six meetings in person and six conference call meetings.  This was a challenging committee to clerk, but I learned a lot about clerking and working with other people.  As I was working on the planning committee, I talked to many women who had done this work in the past.  They all agreed that one of the most difficult things in planning the conference was keeping everyone motivated and on track in the long time between the conferences.  I was especially grateful to have Sarah as a co-clerk of the planning committee.  She and I traded off clerking and recording the meetings and we worked well together in those roles.

On June 16-20, 2010, sixty women gathered in Seabeck, Washington for the Eighth Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.  The theme was Walk with Me: Mentors, Elders, and Friends.  About a quarter of the women there were attending for the first time.  I think this was directly related to the travel that Sarah and I did to share about the women’s conference.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed facilitating the conference; it felt like good and important work.  It was incredible for me to hear how everyone’s language changed during the conference.  Immediately after the plenary on elders, I heard many women using that term.  It was gratifying because the topic of elders has been very important for me over the past few years and I felt like the women who attended the conference had a better shared understanding of what the role of elder is.  I was grateful to Ann S and Alivia B, who served as my elders during the conference, and to all of the women who volunteered their time, talents, and energy for the conference.

It has been a hard transition for me to go from having the minute of service to not having it.  As I have continued to travel in the ministry since my service for the women’s conference ended, I have been surprised by how much I have missed having the tangible support the minute of service represented.  Carrying the minute made me feel connected to and supported by the meeting, and traveling without it, I sometimes feel vulnerable and out of order.  I did not realize how much the minute meant to me until the service was completed and I could no longer carry it.

Overall, planning the women’s conference was challenging and it made me grow.  Traveling among Friends in the Northwest helped me to recognize that I am a minister and that I feel called to public ministry among Friends.  I felt honored to represent Freedom Friends Church in doing this work, and I am grateful for your love and support while I traveled and worked on the Quaker Women’s Theology Conference.


  1. Friend Ashley

    It is SO much fun to read your reflections. I also really appreciated many things about working with you on the Women's Theology Conference planning committee.

    Two questions which I decided to post in public though I do not mind if you decide they or replies should be private:

    --Is there anything preventing you from redefining your ministry in a more open-ended way, promising reports / checkins on some kind of regular interval and asking for a new letter? You speak both of feeling out of order without it and of how others received your travelling minute. Both of these points seem weighty and worth attending to.

    --Have you considered and would your Meeting allow having a support and accountability committee that includes Friends from outside your Meeting? Since your leading is clearly among different flavors of Friends, would having a support committee involving people from Different branches of Friends also help realize that leading?

  2. RantWoman - Thank you for your comment and questions. I am so glad that you were on the planning committee for the women's conference and that we could get to know each other better that way. Here are some answers to your questions:

    --When I gave this report at business meeting yesterday, we talked a little bit about how I feel vulnerable without a minute. At this point, I think the meeting and I will try to be more proactive about having a traveling minute when I travel.

    --I do have Friends from outside my meeting on my support committee! Two of the people on the current committee are from an unprogrammed NPYM meeting. It has been very good for me to stay connected to NPYM in that way, and I value their different perspectives.


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