Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Quaker Alphabet Blog 2015-2016 - Q for Quaker Faith and Practice

Britain Yearly Meeting is in the process of considering whether the time is right to embark on a full-scale revision of its current book of Faith and Practice, issued in 1994. The 'church government' sections have been continuously updated since then to reflect changes in practice decided by the Yearly Meeting in session but the chapters and extracts have remained the same. As a rule of thumb the book is revised once a generation so perhaps the time is now right but there was no unity when Britain YM considered the matter.

A committee has been set up to consider how a revision might take place and they suggested that as a first step Friends might try to become more familiar with the book they already have. They also suggested a calendar of readings arranged by subject area rather than from start to finish - in fact the Introduction is timetabled last! It was hoped that individuals and groups would follow through the calendar - beginning in October 2015 and going through to April 2017 - so that we could come to a more informed decision when asked to do so.

We are now a year into the process and I have been part of a small group from my local meeting following the calendar and sharing our reactions with each other. Although we have not been asked to do a revision ourselves it is easy to slip into a critical mode sometimes. In general we have found the more formal, didactic sections on what is expected of office-holders and how things should be done more opaque and less easy to understand and relate to. Some of the extracts too seem out of touch with our modern concerns.

For me the best part of the exercise has been reading parts of the book that I have not read before and discovering extracts that speak to me directly. One of the surprises has been that the age of the quotation often bears no relationship to how up to date they feel. Two of my group's favourite authors turn out to be William Penn and Isaac Penington!

I look forward to continuing the reading process and discovering more hidden trasures as well as finding out more about the friends who are reading and discovering with me. If there is one thing I have learned myself it is that if we do not read the book and share it with others no revision will be of any use to Britain Yearly Meeting in the future.


Christine Greenland said...

I'm still using the previous version, given me when I became a member of Toronto Meeting (Ontario, Canada) 37 years ago. I still use it, but enjoy the 1994 version as well.

I particularly value the advices and queries.

Jeffrey Faust said...

Quaker Faith & Practice is an ongoing source of wisdom; I cannot recommend it enough!