December 12, 2018, from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
Our past two years it has been rich and challenging to have Sunday messages brought by various people. This has also deepened our connections to one another. Many of us have appreciated when there have been a series of messages around a single theme or topic. Sometimes those messages came when we had a pastor, other times when a member felt called to speak several weeks in a row.
The Meeting’s Committee on Ministry and Counsel has prayerfully considered ways to bring greater continuity to our worship. We would like to encourage having a theme for our worship that would change every three months.
We ask that Durham Friends Meeting use these themes we propose as encouragement and stimulus, not as a straightjacket or as a discouragement of other messages that arise within the Meeting.
Messages that do not fit the theme will continue to be most welcome.
Each few months we plan to propose a theme for worship and circulate it among Meeting members. Members of Ministry and Counsel will use the theme in our care of worship activities: we will use the theme to select a reading or a reflection, for example, to open worship.
We encourage Meeting members to consider whether they have a message to offer that arises from or speaks to this theme.
We also encourage other committees of the Meeting to suggest possible themes for our worship.
Committee on Ministry and Counsel, September 2018
For many decades, Durham Friends Meeting had a paid pastor who, among other responsibilities, took primary responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community. The Meeting made the decision in November 2016 first on a trial basis, and then, in October 2017, to continue “for the time being,” to proceed without a paid pastor.
With this decision, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel took on the lead responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community. Especially over the past year, members of Ministry and Counsel have discussed how we should carry out this responsibility. We would like to give Meeting members a summary of what we have developed as the current approach to pastoral care.
- Members and attenders of the Meeting are encouraged to bring situations calling for pastoral care to the attention of The Meeting clerk, the clerk of Ministry and Counsel or another member of Ministry and Counsel.
- Ministry and Counsel discusses situations calling for pastoral care at least once each month as part of its regular meeting agenda, and more frequently if pressing. The committee maintains a list of such situations to be sure we don’t neglect any of them. We regularly review this list.
- We ask one member of the committee to be the point person for each situation, asking that person to make visits or take other appropriate action and subsequently report back to Ministry and Counsel. In more complex situations, we convene a team to work together on the matter.
- The Committee on Ministry and Counsel takes the need for confidentiality very seriously. We respect the confidentiality of whatever is said to us by those experiencing difficulties, and do not discuss specific pastoral care situations outside of the committee without specific permission from those affected.
We know this approach to pastoral care is a change from the past, particularly for those with long experience in the Meeting of having a paid pastor providing pastoral care.
We ask members of the Meeting community to give us feedback on how this new approach to pastoral care is working. What is going well and what is not going so well?