While sharing my responses about our Quaker queries regarding civic responsibility, an Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Friend explained reasons he felt our queries should be revised. I asked him to provide an example and he said he is working on one. In the meantime, the following is what I have come up with.
When I shared the discussion about improving the queries with the clerk of our Ministry and Counsel Committee, which is responsible for the queries, she reminded us of the following, from the report of that committee in 2016: “We are aware that some of our yearly meeting queries are outdated and no longer seem relevant. We invite others to pay attention to this over the next year as our own meetings consider the queries …”
In working on this I found I was having trouble identifying what is related to civic responsibility, and what might be more related to other topics, such as peace and social concerns. We might need to reorganize the topics, too.
Those of you in Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) meetings are encouraged to suggest new or revised advices and queries. I plan to share these with Bear Creek meeting, but they have not been considered there, yet. Sharing your work with the rest of us, either on the unofficial yearly meeting Facebook page or email, would be very helpful. You should also include any changes your meeting comes up with in the responses you submit to the yearly meeting. I hope you will be excited to take up this work.
Quakers know God is present in the world today, in every person, and continues to guide us. Our purpose is to always be faithful to the leadings of the Spirit. We are distressed by any action or condition that deviates from the path of love, peace and justice. We pray to discern the ways we are called to be instruments of God’s will.
Our communities are organized by social, economic and political structures. These are imperfect, and sometimes result in injustice and oppression. When that happens, we listen carefully, to hear how God calls us to find ways to restore justice and peace for us all, and for Mother Earth.
Quakers have throughout history refused to obey laws or participate in social conventions that contradicted our beliefs, often being imprisoned as a result. There may be times when we are led to use nonviolent practices to restore peace and justice.
Our civic responsibility is living our lives in the Spirit, letting that be an example to others. And finding ways to share what we know of God’s will with the world.
• Do we study how our forbearers have lived in the Spirit in the world?
• How do we obey what God is leading us to do? Do we pay close attention to the Inner Light as we are doing this work, especially in the midst of conflict and confusion?
• Do we spent time in communities experiencing injustice?
• How do we overcome obstacles related to our spiritual practices or social justice work? Do we maintain an awareness of the struggles of others, both in the meeting and the wider community, and support them as they work for peace and justice?
• Are we publishers of the truth, sharing what we know of God’s will with the world?
• Does the meeting discern what it is being called to do as a whole? Do we include all members and attenders, of all ages, in this discernment and work?
• Do we remain well informed about community policies that impact peace and justice, health, education, and our environment?