from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
BUILDING THE BLESSED COMMUNITY
Along with other faiths, we are interested in building toward an ever deeper sense of community among those who are part of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. What we aim for is often called “the blessed community.” Here is what I think we mean by that term:
· A community in which we seek the Divine separately but in harmony with one
· A community which enriches and supports our individual spiritual lives
· A community to which we can turn for spiritual, emotional, and physical
Any group has challenges in reaching what it aspires to be. In the Ann Arbor Meeting our challenges in reaching “blessed community” might be named differently by others, but I see them as 1) a large and ever-changing group of people attending Meeting for Worship, 2) people whose lives are so busy that they often intersect only on Sunday mornings, and 3) a wide range of approaches to God and the Divine, both in language and in practice. And the odd thing is that these very same items might also be listed among the strengths of our community.
A few thoughts on what we might do to achieve the community we aspire to:
· Spend some time in Meeting for Worship considering how you can best support
the spiritual journeys of those around you.
· Experiment with listening to the unspoken message (“the words behind the
words”) during oral ministry; hold those giving oral ministry in the Light as they
· Try to meet one or two new people at Meeting every week; this works well if you
are able to stay for the social hour or attend work parties, committee meetings,
· Wear a nametag! It saves everyone the embarrassment of not coming up with
the right name, and provides visual reinforcement between name and face.
Thomas Kelly, in his essay “The Blessed Community,” describes the joy that can be found in genuine relationships based on faith:
Two people, three people, ten people may be in living touch with one another through Him who underlies their separate lives. … We know that these souls are with us, lifting their lives and ours continuously to God and opening themselves, with us, in steady and humble obedience to Him. … Their strength, given to them by God, becomes our strength, and our joy, given to us by God, becomes their joy. In confidence and love we live together in Him. (pp. 86-87)