The Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee is concerned with deepening the spiritual life of Baltimore Yearly Meeting by calling forth and nurturing the gifts of the Spirit in the Yearly Meeting and supporting and assisting the Yearly Meeting with programs, retreats, workshops, activities at Annual Session, and other activities as needed; the clerk of Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee serves as a member of the Program Committee.
The Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee sponsored a one-day workshop for concerned Friends and attenders from various Meetings to gather at Frederick Meeting on April 18 of this year for the sharing of concerns and experiences of pastoral care. Topics included caring for the elderly, sick, and dying, nurturing centeredness in Meeting for Worship, and community building and conflict in the Meeting. These topics will be offered again as a series of three workshops at Yearly Meeting sessions 2009. The committee is hoping to offer more workshops in the future in different areas of the Yearly Meeting. Some suggested topics arising from this first workshop are parenting adult children, marriage enrichment, managing ongoing conflict (ex. within a family, within a community), sexual abuse, domestic violence, membership issues, mental health issues. Another suggestion from the workshop was to place policies (child safety, Meetings pastoral care handbook, etc.) and resources on the BYM webpage so that meetings could easily access them.
The Committee is responsible for bringing forward a leader or leaders for the Retreat which opens Annual Session each year. We are delighted that Jean James (Richmond) and Ramona Buck (Patapsco) will lead this year’s retreat on the Yearly Meeting theme, “The Business of Our Lives: The Transformation of Faith into Practice.”
At Annual Session Business Meetings, Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee has encouraged Friends to serve as Greeters and called upon others to sit on the “facing benches” holding Business Meetings in the Light. The Committee also identifies leaders to facilitate the daily morning Worship Sharing groups and Bible study leaders at Annual Session. The Committee also takes responsibility for the conduct of Meeting for Worship during Annual Session.
The Committee has the Working Group on Racism under its care. Our liaison with this group is Jean-Marie Prestwidge- Barch, a member of both groups. We are grateful for the Working Group on Racism and their guidance and furtherance of this concern. For further information about their work this year, please see their advance report.
The M&PC committee also has the Women’s retreat, the Silent Retreats, and the Spiritual Formation Program under its care. The women’s retreat was January 23 -25 with the theme “Let it begin with me: stepping into our own power” facilitated by Betsy Tobin and Helen Tasker (both from Frederick). The silent retreats were in spring ‘08 and October 10 -12, 2008 facilitated by Jean Christianson (Annapolis). The Spiritual Formation Program nurtured deep spiritual growth in its participants this year. Forty-four Friends from eleven Meetings within BYM participated in the September and May weekend retreats held at Priest Field Pastoral Center in West Virginia. In addition to the eleven Meetings represented at the retreats several other BYM Meetings continued their spiritual formation programs during the year. The September opening retreat introduced participants to the program, allowed participants to sample several spiritual practices, and provided guidance for local group organization and sharing. Local groups met throughout the year in a spirit of community hospitality and fellowship, read spiritual books together, and shared their individual spiritual journeys and spiritual practices. The May retreat featured special emphasis on the deepening of personal spirituality through sharing of personal stories, on the process of identifying and following leadings and on the community naming of each individual’s gifts.
The Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee is also concerned with deepening the spiritual life of the constituent Monthly Meetings by encouraging and supporting Monthly Meetings as they recognize, publicly affirm, and practically support those individuals who exercise their gifts in faithful ministry and service. The Committee also supports and assists Monthly Meetings in fostering community and recognizing and addressing the needs of individuals within their Meetings.
The Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee sends suggestions to Monthly Meetings on the preparation of the Annual Report of the Spiritual State of the Monthly Meeting in accordance with the guidelines in Faith and Practice. The Committee receives the approved reports and incorporates them, with concerns and information about events in the Yearly Meeting, into a Spiritual State of the Yearly Meeting Report which is presented at Annual Session.
The Committee considers requests for Yearly Meeting endorsement of minutes of support for members traveling in the ministry outside our Yearly Meeting. Such minutes usually are prepared by the travelers Monthly Meeting. This year, a minute was approved by Yearly Meeting for the travel of Laura Nell Obaugh (Hopewell Centre).
The Committee maintains the Guidelines for Embracing the Ministry of Friends and supports Monthly Meeting Committees of Oversight for these Friends. Currently, these guidelines are being revised by an ad hoc subcommittee.
Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee members hope to visit Monthly Meetings throughout the year. Monthly Meeting committees of ministry and pastoral care are encouraged to invite these visits.
The committee is currently preparing a Manual describing the committee’s responsibilities and procedures. We are also compiling a resource directory of Friends led to lead workshops, retreats, or give talks to Meetings. There is concern about continuing to encourage Meetings to develop guidelines for child safety. The committee was also asked to reflect on various issues as requested by officers of the Yearly Meeting, Meetings, or other committees, and an inquiry by a worship group about joining the Yearly Meeting. We offered a one-day scholarship to annual session to encourage those interested in attending our committee meetings.
The committee met 5 times during the year (at the 3 interim meeting days and twice during Yearly Meeting sessions) with an attendance of committee members of 6-10 and a number of visitors.