Clearness for membership goes both ways
As often happens, questions change when we shift from considering something in principle to considering it in person. This new/old Friend is in a different place theologically than me. But he holds an equally important role in the life of the Meeting. Which is more important in considering someone for membership?
What are the criteria for membership in San Francisco Monthly Meeting? We have a list of questions published by our Yearly Meeting, but there isn’t a matching set of correct answers neatly published for study and memorization.
In the end, here are the three questions I plan to address in my report to the Ministry and Oversight Committee:
- Has this person chosen Quakerism as the best/right path for his/her spiritual development?
- Does this person know what he/she is getting him/herself into?
- Am I willing to labor with this person in seeking unity on matters before the Meeting?
I think that if I can answer affirmatively to these three questions, I am willing to recommend this person for membership. You may notice that none of these specifically address doctrinal purity. However, they do reflect a few assumptions. One is that I expect that an applicant for membership is committing to Quakerism as a path to follow, not just one good idea among many. Another is that this person already knows something of Quaker practice, history, conflicts and joys, and about our Meeting in particular, through ongoing and regular participation and study. Third is that while I have a personal say in whether I think this person will labor with us in good faith, I am not expecting that I will always agree with him or her.
I don’t think I could recommend someone for membership in our Meeting who would firmly deny the existence of a Divine Presence, by whatever name, or who was highly allergic to Christian language. I also don’t think I could recommend someone for membership in our Meeting who would deny the possibility of spiritual truth and transformation in other paths than Christianity. I don’t think I could recommend a person for membership who did not make a regular practice of attending meeting for worship or who did not find our form of worship helpful. I don’t think I could recommend someone for membership who had never attended a business meeting or who was clear that they never intended to come to business meetings. Neither would I expect perfect attendance to be a criteria for membership.
How many of these kind of reports have you heard? Have you had to write one of these reports? What questions have you found important to answer?
Labels: meeting work
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