Our Committee resonates with the spiritual challenges of peace-making and building community within Friends United Meeting. Since we wrote the above mission statement, our numbers have grown as we have united with other Friends in seeking to build bridges of understanding through a traveling ministry of presence, deep listening, and hospitality. Over the years we have found that we actually become the bridges. Friends who have participated in this ministry include:
- our ministers and elders who travel to other yearly meetings;
- our own committee members ;
- guests who come from FUM offices and other yearly meetings to our Annual Sessions;
- Friends who give hospitality to those traveling to and from BYM; and
- all participants at Annual Session who meet our travelers and guests and attend our many events.
Only by working together can we “strengthen the Religious Society of Friends and nurture the beloved community of Friends.”
Our Friendly outreach is spiritually challenging because we are forming relationships among Friends who are different from us in ways that are surprising and occasionally annoying or even threatening. Each of us — traveler, guest, host, and participant — risks leaving our comfort zone. We serve in faith. We ask God to send us the wisdom to heed the exhortation that George Fox gave Friends from Launceston Prison in 1656: “Be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”
While clearness and support committees from our Monthly Meetings and some financial support are essential, this work requires Yearly Meeting direction, outreach, coordination, and funding. Endorsement by the Yearly Meeting enhances the credibility of our invitations to guests. The hard work of staff and other BYM members ensures Friendly hospitality for our guests at Annual Session. Traveling minutes for our ministers, endorsed by Interim or Yearly Meeting, and letters of introduction for our accompanying elders, breathe new life into these Quaker traditions and highlight the spiritual gifts of our travelers. Yearly Meeting funding of this ministry means that a variety of Friends are able to travel to and from BYM — including retired Friends, Young Friends, and Young Adult Friends who are still paying for their educations.
Knowing more about who we are now, as diverse Friends, enables us to move into the future with greater clarity and to witness to our world with greater unity of purpose.