Meeting for Discerment at Poplar Ridge
by Caroline Lane
Co-clerk, Steering Committee for Meetings of Discernment
Meetings for Discernment came about as a means of Friends gathering for extended worship without the pressure of doing business. It was hoped that during these meetings there would be an opportunity for Friends to share concerns with each other and the wider fellowship as well as the sparks of light that were enlivening local meetings. The Steering Group for Meetings for Discernment makes the arrangements for these meetings, which includes finding volunteers who take notes during the sessions. The identities of individuals making comments are shared only by the steering Committee for reasons of confidentiality. There are times, however, when the steering Committee shares comments that have suggestions or information that could be helpful to certain Yearly Meeting committees with those committees.
In March Poplar Ridge Meeting hosted Meeting for Discernment considering how individuals and meetings nourish the light in themselves and others. Some seventy Friends from across the yearly meeting gathered to worship together, many of them staying in homes of local Friends. It was a time of deep, centered worship which Friends later observed had been profoundly nourishing.
One speaker shared thoughts about how meetings welcome newcomers and those seekers who may become a part of the community. The Friend spoke about how Nominating Committees, instead of looking for someone to fill a slot, might inquire “What energizes you?”
The nurturing of interested attenders is similar to setting out a bird feeder. We know that it is important to place the feeder in a non-threatening space. We as Quakers need to be aware of how we respond to newcomers who are just learning our ways so as to help them to feel safe in exploring their experience of the Light.