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Carrying a Minute in Ministry

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India called me again for six months in 2009.

I answered, "Yes," and returned to learn from Gandhians, to travel among Friends, and to be among the people. My Indian sister, Archana Gour, translated into Hindi my minute of religious service. As we traveled together in rural Bhimkothi village, Archana asked if anyone could read. One young woman raised her hand. Archana invited her to read aloud. Haltingly, the woman read, introducing the ministry I carry to her people. To endorse the minute, the chief of Bhimkothi village “made his mark.” Click here to see the people of Bhimkothi. Many other people have endorsed the minute before and since then, sharing their impression of the gift of ministry among them. 

At times, the minute helps when I am far from home or face fear of what the Holy asks of me.  The minute, approved by the monthly meeting of which I am a member and endorsed by the quarterly and yearly meetings, sometimes feels like life support used by astronauts when walking in space. It connects me to Life: “that of God” in me, my call from Spirit, and the faith communities who nurture that call.

In Tall Poppies, Friend Marty Grundy writes, “Seasoned Friends, not the individual acting alone, name and nurture the emerging gifts, and concentric circles of larger bodies discern and record them as part of an ongoing process of mutual accountability.” (p. 12) Approving a minute affirms the faith community’s role in supporting and challenging the Friend in faithfulness. Beyond that, carrying a minute for endorsement:

    • shares the ministry,
    • introduces the minister and the communities who send the ministry, and
    • informs people of the practice and benefits of carrying a minute.

Moving a minute of religious service through the mill of approvals can seem cumbersome; sometimes, it is! Still, I have found the process to be a blessing in expected and revelatory ways. So I share my experience of carrying a minute, hoping to encourage others to engage this practice, also.

The formal reason I uphold this practice is that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice recommends Friends carry a minute approved by the yearly meeting when traveling beyond the bounds of the yearly meeting.  But, informally, I have come to know the fuller value of carrying a minute.

For both reasons, a report was brought to monthly meeting for business by the spiritual accountability group. That group was appointed by Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for care of the ministry I carry, Lifecalls: A Ministry to Foster Faithfulness. Their report included a request to reapprove the minute of religious service for two years.  The meeting approved. Tonight, the quarterly meeting considers its endorsement. And, God willing, I will carry it to the yearly meeting for further endorsement. And into the world as I seek to promote faithfulness, justice, and mercy.

Only the Sacred knows where it will go from there. I simply say, “Here I am. Send me.” What do you say?


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