Saturday, November 29, 2008

Suggested Reading

Cathy Whitmire will be joining us for our Second All-Meeting Retreat on January 24th to help us develop our skills in individual and corporate discernment. Pablo S from Worship and Ministry committee compiled the following list of reading material on discernment and decision making. We hope you will prepare for the retreat by reading as much as you can from this list or other sources that you have. We encourage you to share your thoughts from the readings with friends at lunch, over coffee, or in your reading groups.

Be sure to save the January 24th date and join us for the day. Bring a friend who is curious but might not come without your encouragement. Tentatively, we plan to start with lunch, with optional work parties in the morning, and we will have a talent show in the evening.


  • Brown, Thomas. “When Friends Attend to Business.”
  • Barbour, Hugh. “Five Tests for Discerning a True Leading.”
  • Goodwin, Nancy. “A Question of Authority”
  • North Pacific Yearly Meeting. “Meeting for Business”
  • Loring, Patricia. “Spiritual Responsibility in Meeting for Business.”
  • Wilsher, Barry. “Quaker Organisations: a Plain Person’s Guide to Structure and Business Meetings in the Religious Society of Friends.”
  • Hoffman, Jan. “Clearness Committees and Their Use in Personal Discernment.”
  • FCUN [ed] “Reminders for Good Friends Process.”
  • Sheeran, Michael. Beyond Majority Rule.
  • North Pacific Yearly Meeting. Faith & Practice [p. 73]
  • Fendall, Wood and Bishop. Practicing Discernment Together: Finding God’s Way Forward in Decision-Making.
  • Bill, Brent. Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment.
  • Woodrow, Peter. Clearness: Processes for Supporting Individuals and Groups in Decision-Making. [pp 6-10]
  • Selleck, George. The Quaker Meeting for Business.
  • Punshon, John. Encounter with Silence: Reflections from the Quaker Tradition. [pp 98-104]
  • Steere, Douglas. The Quaker Meeting for Business
Pendle Hill Pamphlets
  • Morley, Barry. # 307 “Beyond Consensus: Salvaging Sense of the Meeting.”
  • Lacey, Paul. #264 “On Leading and Being Led.”
  • Lacey, Paul. #365“…The Authority of Our Meetings Is the Power of God.”
  • Loring, Patricia. #305 “Spiritual Discernment and Clearness Committees Among Friends.”
  • Brinton, Howard. #20 “Guide to Quaker Practice.”
  • Grundy, Marty. #347 “Tall Poppies: Spiritual Gifts and Leadership.”
  • #388 “Expectant Listening: Finding God’s Thread of Guidance”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Save the Date


Cathy Whitmire, a member of the Whidbey Island worship group, author of Practicing Peace and Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity, will join us for our second retreat. Cathy has led numerous workshops on discernment and is excited to work with us during our year of discernment.

While we are still in the planning stage for the January retreat, we think it will start in the late morning and go through an early dinner and community talent show in the evening.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not So Silent Worship

Scene: University Friends Meeting

Friends settle into silent worship. The Holy Spirit walks around slowly. Friends leave some silence between speaking.

Friend One: Did I remember to turn my cell phone off? At least my ring tone is set to Simple Gifts!

Friend Two: What does “hold in the light” mean?

Friend Three walks in late.

Friend Three: I really hate being late to meeting. I hope no one noticed!

The Holy Spirit walks toward Friend Four and taps her on the shoulder.

Friend Four: Is this really a message? Do I have to stand up? I don’t see what this has to do with anything―maybe I’m just hungry.

The Holy Spirit taps more insistently, then tries to pull Friend Four out of her seat.

Friend Four: I really don’t want to talk, so I don’t think it’s a message for the group. Maybe next week . . .

Friend Five: I really liked that book I read last week. Maybe I should talk about it and give folks something to think about during meeting.

As the Holy Spirit is still trying to pull Friend Four out of her seat, Friend Five starts to stand. The Holy Spirit is surprised. The Holy Spirit walks over to Friend Five and tries to make Friend Five sit.

Friend Six: Oh no, not another political message!

The Holy Spirit gives up on trying to quiet Friend Five.

Friend One: Not more of that Jesus talk!

Friend Two: I wonder what’s for light lunch?

The Holy Spirit shakes his head and puts a finger to his lips. The Holy Spirit puts his hand on A Friend’s shoulder. A Friend stands to speak, a little uncertainly.

[Friends performed this skit for the First All-Meeting Retreat in the Year of Discernment.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Practicing Discernment Together

Our Year of Discernment retreats will be enriched by several highly recommended books to be found in the “New Book Section” in the University Friends Meeting Library. One title, Practicing Discernment Together, outlines group discernment processes as explored and developed by the experienced co-authors. Readers receive tools for decision making on individual, group and regional levels.

Fendall, Lon, Wood, Jan, and Bishop, Bruce, Practicing Discernment Together: Finding God’s Way Forward In Decision Making, Barclay Press, Newburg, Oregon, 2007, 146 pp.

Sign Up

Sign up on the Year of Discernment retreat registration form outside the Meeting office. Join us in the very first retreat of the year, to strengthen the UFM community, October 25.

We begin at 9 with tea, coffee, worship and introductions; we end at 4 with worship. In between we will get to know each other in intergenerational activities, think and share together about discernment, share a lunch, work together on the buildings and grounds and laugh with each other.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Listening Together in the Light When Leadings Collide

Join the UFM community on October 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a fun, interesting, and thought-provoking first retreat during this Year of Discernment. We need to have a language to express our experience as we practice discernment together. What are we looking or listening for? How do we know that we are discerning instead of hearing what we want to hear? How do other people do it? What if we disagree with someone else's discernment? How does the Divine fit into this? Or does it?

We will meet some people we don't know and deepen our relationships with some we know already. We have planned for a few members of the UFM community to start the discussion with their experiences in discernment. Then the rest of us will have the opportunity to talk and listen with small groups of other attenders.

There will be a children's program, as well as some intergenerational activities, and a lunch facilitated by the Hospitality Committee. After lunch we will work for a couple of hours doing jobs assigned by the Quaker House and Building and Grounds committees, learning how to use the kitchen appliances, or dusting in the library. We will end our day in worship.

We are trying to get a sense of how many people will be attending, so please sign up on the attendance form on the table outside of the office
. You may also be asked to bring a contribution to our meal or tools for the hands-on work. Even if you don't sign up and find at the last minute you can come, please do. We want as many people from the Meeting Community to join in as possible.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Some queries the Steering Committee has been asking committees and individuals:

  • What is essential to the life of the community?
  • What is your current role? How does your work serve the community?
  • What in your current role is fulfilling? What gets in the way of really feeling fulfilled?
  • What resources might help you or your successors carry out this work successfully?
  • What might be set aside for a year to focus on something else that's either in your work or in University Friends Meeting?
  • Could some aspects of your work be performed more efficiently through a different structure?
  • How can University Friends Meeting more fully engage our community?
  • How can we encourage more people to participate in the work of University Friends Meeting, in communities, Monthly Meeting, and Quarterly and Yearly Meeting?
  • What elements should a meeting-wide retreat include?
  • Is there anything else that Year of Discernment Steering Committee should be thinking about?
We would like to hear from you if you have thoughts or ideas related to these queries.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sacred Compass

As part of the Year of Discernment, the Library Committee has purchased two copies of Sacred Compass, by J. Brent Bill.
An internal sacred compass operates in our souls, calling and leading us on a pilgrimage to God. Keeping our eyes on this sacred compass leads us to the discovery that we can move through life with purpose and promise, even in times of uncertainty. Our compass invites us to a life of continuous experiences of God and of spiritual transformation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First All-Meeting Retreat

OCTOBER 25, 9:00 TO 4:00

This Year of Discernment is a time for us to discern how we become a community:
  • that people love and want to serve,
  • that allows all members to feel that their work fits into the big picture of the meeting,
  • that offers members a universal sense of both caring for and being cared for,
  • and that efficiently identifies and recognizes the talents of each member so that we are all left with ample time to deepen our spirituality and community-building.

We hope to be joyful, intentional and corporate in our discernment, to listen to each other and to the Divine, and to listen and share our leadings with one another as we seek a deeper spirituality. From this centered place, we hope that the UFM Community will discern what we are led to be and do.

As we have listened to the committees and individuals over the last few months, it has become obvious that we are not a well-connected, cohesive community. In some cases a committee has little idea of what other committees do or why. We have found that when members of our community have differences or questions of one another, there is often no engagement or the opposite, testy conversations. This may be due to the disconnections in the Meeting, to "Quaker Nice" or to our lack of skills and willingness to test leadings, individually or corporately. It may even be due to a lack of trust in the guidance of the Spirit for ourselves, for others and for our community. We want people to feel good about exploring differences without put downs and, thus, need to balance the tension between tenderness and listening versus speaking one's mind. Individuals will feel irritated from time to time. How should we deal with that?

It is not uncommon to hear someone say they come to Meeting to feel safe. Is it possible to focus so much on safety that we become afraid of feeling uncomfortable? Can we open ourselves to deeper spiritual experiences without being uncomfortable? Can we listen deeply to one another, can we risk having our minds and hearts changed-without being uncomfortable? We think most people want deeply personal and spiritual experiences. In order to do this we need to feel safe enough to be able to tolerate being uncomfortable enough to stretch and grow individually and together.

Our first retreat will focus on getting to know each other better, listening deeply to ourselves and others, and becoming more comfortable with differences. We'll explore how to engage with each other respectfully and we will do it with humor, love and worship. There will be intergenerational activities, discussions in small groups, a little hands-on care of our facilities and worship at the end of the day.

Hospitality Committee will coordinate lunch. Some activities will involve all ages (toddler, school-aged and Jr. Friends, Young Adult Friends and older adults). There will be childcare and a children's program when appropriate. We will gather at 9:00 AM and end at 4:00 PM.

Watch for more information in the next month.