Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Quaker Alphabet Blog Week 43 - V for Visiting
In later years I have taken part in several visits to applying members and have gained several spiritual 'godchildren' myself. Even when the visit has been difficult - and on at least one occasion that was definitely the case - I have still retained a special interest in the future progress of the people I visited. At first the report was compiled by the visitors without reference to the person visited but nowadays it is usually seen and approved by them before being put before the Area Meeting.
At present Britain Yearly Meeting is experiencing a dip in membership which some fear may prove terminal (although I would point out that we have been here several times before over the last four centuries). Is it the prospect of being visited that puts people off? Some people feel that anyone who applies should be accepted without any further enquiry and others are sure that there is really no difference between a long-time attender and a member. For myself I would be sad to lose this way of sharing our spiritual autobiography with others when there are so few other places which give us the opportunity to do it and to deepen our knowledge of one another in 'the things which are eternal'.
An application for membership can be a valuable rite of passage, a commitment to the next stage of our journey and it would be a pity to do away with that, even though it may not be right for everyone and other arrangements can be made by different meetings. Rather than worrying about the age of our membership, or about numbers at all, we should perhaps find more ways in which Friends can listen to one another and speak their own truth in an accepting setting. For me I know that being visited and visiting others in turn has been a really valuable part of my Quaker life.