THE WORK of the ELDER

Discernment ~ Spiritual Nurturing ~ Encouraging Faithfulness

 

Focus of Concern

Object of Support

Type of Work

Ministers

·   Vocal ministry

·   Travel in ministry

·   Speaking engagements

·   Private individual contact, incl. correspondence

·   Companionship in travel

·   Oversight of arrangements

Individuals

Personal spiritual faithfulness & growth

·   Private individual contact

·   Correspondence

Other elders

Work of elders, individually and as a body

·   Pray and worship together

·   Reflect together on Scripture and other writings

·   Share joys and problems in their eldering

 

Meetings

Gathered faith community

·   Keep open "inward listening space toward God" for the meeting

·   Pray during meeting for its spiritual condition

·   Provide for right order during worship

·   Signal close of meetings for worship

·   Keep principles clear during decision making

·   Organize groups for prayer, healing, discussion, work, etc., as needed

·   Discern and call out gifts for benefit of the community

 

 

   Methods Used

             In Words with Others

                  In Personal Life

Affirming faithfulness

Listening

Questioning to draw out

Questioning to provoke reflection

Cautioning

Rebuking

Encouraging stepping forward when led 

Clarifying distinctions

Prayer

 

Testing and acting on one's own leadings

       (=  Discernment and obedience)

Modeling corporate values and traditions 

Prayer

 

 

Compiled by Susan Smith in Fifth Monh 2001 from various sources, including Fran Smith's "Applying & Adapting the Tradition of Eldering for Today" (Ohio YM, 1996), Kenneth Sutton's 6-11-98 comments in Quaker Life, and works by Jan Hoffman.

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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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