- Becoming a Visitor
- Letters of Travel or Introduction
- Other resources on clearness and traveling among Friends
- Training Workshop
- Being a Companion (under construction)
- Where and When to Visit
- Preparing for the Visit
- Advance Trip Planning for Monthly Meeting Visits
- Financial Support
- Ideas for Sharing with your Hosts
- Background Information on FUM concern
- Reporting on your Visit
- Form for Yearly Meeting Visits
- Form for Monthly Meeting Visits
- Reports on Completed Visits
- Indiana YM 2005
- New England YM 2005
- Winston Salem MM 10/2005
Becoming a Visitor
Letters of Travel or Introduction
We would like everyone to have clearness committees and traveling minutes or letters if they are going to visit under the BYM intervisitation program. We know this can take some time. If it’s possible to have a traveling minute in time for the visit, great! If not, we would like everyone to have at least a letter of introduction from the clerk of their monthly meeting.
Below is some information we have put together to help you with your travel minute. Following that are some additional links about clearness committees and traveling in ministry that you may find helpful in your clearness process and beyond.
Writing Travel Minutes
A Travel Minute is a type of introduction. It is usually the first comprehensive information a body of Friends receives about the stranger who has come into their midst. First impressions set the stage for the visit.
The Ad Hoc Committee has realized that it is advisable for each monthly meeting to introduce the Intervisitation Program as well as the traveling Friend when writing a minute for a member who intends to travel as part of the BYM Intervisitation Program. Below is suggested language to be included either as quotes or as paraphrases (depending on the flow of each individual minute) in every Travel Minute. If your minute has already been approved, we recommend attaching some form of the paragraph below.
For help with Travel Minutes in general, see Appendix C.2 of BYM’s Faith and Practice at http://www.bym-rsf.org/publications/fandp/88appendices.html#IVC .
The Ad Hoc Committee feels that the personal information included in the Travel Minute is a matter for individual discernment. What the Friend wants revealed at the onset of the visit concerning her/his experience with, training in, or personal concerns about issues of sexual and gender diversity are matters best discerned with his/her clearness committee.
Suggested language introducing the Program:
“The Intervisitation Program of Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) seeks to strengthen the Religious Society of Friends and nurture the beloved community of Friends, especially within Friends United Meeting (FUM). While BYM’s concern regarding an FUM personnel policy planted the seed, that concern is not the program’s focus. Rather, as we in BYM faced the pain we felt as a result of that policy, we awoke to the fragility of the relations among the yearly meetings and monthly meetings of FUM. The goal of BYM’s Intervisitation Program is to encourage, prepare, and support Friends to travel among Yearly Meetings with the faith that we can listen deeply, strengthen our relationships, and build our faith community. Our program assumes that intervisitation will be in all directions and those interested will offer and receive hospitality.”
Other resources on clearness and traveling among Friends
Our committee has been compiling a list of helpful resources, which is still under development. None of the resources listed below has been prepared specifically with this intervisitation program in mind. So not all aspects of them apply, but each may contain information and ideas that are helpful. Use what is helpful; this list is not intended to overwhelm you! As it is, this is a partial list. Among others, specific topics include:
We hope all visitors will have an opportunity to attend a training session we have developed. We expect the session to take about 4 hours and would include lunch (or maybe dinner). This training session is mandatory for anyone visiting under the program (please consult with us if attending the training is not possible before a visit). If you are even considering being a visitor, we warmly invite you to attend this training.
Here is some tentative information on what the training will cover, not necessarily in this order. We plan for the workshop to be participatory, not didactic.
- Basic history about FUM & the BYM controversy
- Clearness & Support committee mechanism, including discussion on the purpose of our visits, especially building community and relationships in contrast to traveling ministry and witness on a concern
- Basic Listening Skills
- Sexuality/Gender issues 101: definitions of sex, gender, orientation
We suggest getting in touch in advance with the clerk of the meeting you plan to visit. You may want to
- provide a copy of your travel minute
- explain the purpose of your visit
- describe the extent of your willingness to talk to interested parties at the meeting about any particular topics (visits do not need to include any formal programs or presentations)
- arrange for hospitality
- provide information on your travel plans
- describe any special needs you may have for diet, sleeping arrangements, or mobility concerns.
BYM has provided a budget to support the intervisitation program. For some visits, food and accommodations will be provided by the hosts. So, the only costs may be for travel. Please let us know as early as possible whether you want or need financial assistance to support costs associated with this visit. We also expect to be providing a form you can use to report expenses for which you do not ask reimbursement but which you may want to report as an income tax deduction.
Ideas for Sharing with Your Hosts
- Explain our Intervisitation Program
- Worship Sharing
- Learn about their meeting
- History of their meeting
- Current Concerns and Activities
- Discuss BYM’s concern with the FUM personnel policy (for example, share our epistle.)
The intervisitation committee asks that visitors report back on all their visits. Actually, this is an important part of the discipline of traveling among Friends and helps ensure accountability for our leadings. Your meetings should be expecting a report as well (which can probably be the same report in most or all cases).
- Form for Yearly Meeting Visits (.doc format)
- Reporting Questions for Monthly Meeting Visits (below)
Reporting Questions for Monthly Meeting Visits
Not all questions will be relevant, and you may also think of questions we haven’t. By all means, report whatever you think is useful. Please be candid in your reports to the intervisitation committee. Only summaries of reports will be posted on the website.
* Trip Details
- information on the visitor
- information on the visit – where, when, who coordinated (including contact info), how selected, who were lodging hosts
- what was the program or schedule for your visit?
* The Meeting
- background on meeting visited: pastoral/not, size, affiliations, how diverse, youth programs
- was there an invitation? did they ask for anything in particular, such as a topic to discuss?
- how were you received? was your travel minute read?
- what seemed to be major issues of concern for the meeting?
- what topics did you discuss?
- did the FUM concern come up? how?
- what are their experiences of FUM and its programs?
* Your Reactions
- did you feel welcome? why?
- how would you describe the quality of communication of your visit?
- what did they seem to appreciate about your visit?
- what did you appreciate about your visit?
- what was the best thing that happened?
- is there anything else you’d like to share? feelings, observations, hopes, prayers?
* Follow up
- did you invite them to visit?
- suggestions for re-visiting? will you go back?
- what would have made your visit better?
- is there anything you or we would like to or need to follow up on?
- expenses incurred – travel, food, lodging, who paid
* Thank you notes to your hosts – Don’t Forget Them!
If you would like to join in this program either as a visitor or a host, please contact the Ad Hoc Intervisitation Committee using our contact form.
We welcome any comments.