Some Things I Learned About Being an Elder
When Doing So for Jan

by Penny Yunuba

This is not to say that everyone has to do these things or that there aren't more. . .  just what I learned. . .

1.  Pre-meeting.

Plowing the ground/ ripening the issues in advance

seasoning the topic. I discussed asking Jan to come with Gifts and Leadings Committee and with Margaret Benefiel. (Might this help BHFM? What would we want? What would be the right time?)

  I asked Jan if she would be willing to do this, describing what we needed from the workshop.

  I asked for a copy of the relevant materials/ handouts.


  I made copies of materials Jan suggested and created a library special focus on this for the previous couple of months, using her bibliography.

  I announced the workshop at meeting or arranged for it to be announced - for over a month.

  I wrote a newsletter article about it in advance.

  I out it out on Beacon Hill's email list and that of Salem Quarter.

Helping Jan prepare

We agreed on some requirements - what dates would work, how long it would be, and I promised that we wouldn't ask her unless we had a minimum of 10 people who had promised to come.

  Jan requested questions in advance and I solicited them as well as keeping a count of expected people and sent the questions on to Jan.

  I listened to her after she had planned it to help her consider some of what might be done.

  I arranged for several other elders, whom Jan selected, to sit in waiting worship before and after the workshop with Jan and me and to sit on the facing bench behind Jan.

  I discussed the introduction she would like to have.

Technical arrangements

  I should have asked more about who was going to do the audio-taping since she had told me someone was. I should have arranged with them to deal with me (and what time they would come, etc).

  I should have asked for Jan's specific food needs.

  I might have arranged to have some water there on the table.

  I should have asked about what she needed in terms of a table. (room set-up needs)

  I asked when she needed to leave so I could be aware. (departure arrangements)

  I made copies and created packets for individuals and meetings in the Quarter.

  I arranged that Gifts and Leadings prepare food and arrange child care.

  I arranged for others to quiet the group in advance.

  I told her where to park and arranged payment of the fee.

2. On the day.

Before the workshop

  I arranged that Jan and elders got soup and bread in advance of others.  (food)

  I sat with Jan and the elders for 20 minutes. (She talked about what she was thinking of doing and we sat in waiting worship.)

During the talk

  I sat behind Jan on the facing bench.

  I did the introduction.

  I held her in the Light (which meant for me that I didn't have the time to think about the implications of what she was assaying for myself or take notes for myself).

  I handled interruptions (seeing that there were enough copies of handouts and that the tape machine was working right).

   closed the meeting's final period of silence.

After the workshop

  I saw that Jan made a phone call she needed to make. (future arrangements)

  I offered to sit in waiting worship with her afterwards and did so.

• I gave her driving directions to her next engagement.

3.  After the workshop.

  I tried to see what I had learned about eldering and to share it with Jan.

  I sent out the packets to meetings.

  I continued to hold her in the Light and appreciate her work.

  I wrote her a hearty-felt "thank you"!

The minister Penny eldered for was Jan Hoffman.  Written 2/13/2000

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Quote that speaks to me

Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies

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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.  
Death cannot kill what never dies.  
Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their friendship.
If absence be not death, neither is theirs.  
Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.  
For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent.
In this Divine Glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.
This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.
 - William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude, 1702.

Note: This passage was quoted by J.K.Rowling as the epigraph of her novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Braithwaite on Outreach

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Men & Women with a Message of Power

It is as a "religion of life" that Quakerism will be presented in the future and is being presented now.

Its distinguishing note will be its resolve to bring all this human life of ours under the transforming power of spiritual life.  It will stand out against all divisions and compartments that separate the sacred from the secular, the sanctuary from the outward world of nature, the sacrament from the days' common work, the clergy from the laity. 

It will tell of a Christian experience that makes all life sacred and all days holy, all nature a sanctuary, all work a sacrament, and gives to every man and woman in the body fit place and service.  Its concern will be to multiply men and women who will have a message of power because they are themselves the children of light.  It will claim the whole of man's life, and the whole of life, individual, social, national international, for the dominion of the will of God.

William C. Braithwaite and Henry T. Hodgkin, The Message and Mission of Quakerism (Philadelphia, Winston, 1912), 25-26.

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