These queries were developed during a workshop held in Barnesville, Ohio, at the Quakercamp Gathering held in June 2007. The entire gathering also approved these queries for distribution to Friends.
Both confidentiality and openness are important in the life our meetings, yet there is a potential conflict between them. It seems that these topics are not openly discussed in many meetings. Here are some queries that may encourage discussion and discernment.
- How can we create places of safety within the meeting family where tender emotional and spiritual needs can be met?
- In applying the expectation of confidentiality that is needed to protect us and others from gossiping, do we avoid straying into unnecessary secrecy?
- Is each one of us careful of the reputation of others?
- Do we seek the right balance in every situation between protecting people’s vulnerabilities and enabling them to access the love, care and gifts of others that could help them?
- Are we willing to respect other people’s requests for privacy, while being open to inviting them toward greater openness and vulnerability?
- When telling others about meetings or events that we’ve attended, do we focus on our own story rather than repeating information about others?
- Are we aware of the danger of sub-groups meeting in confidentiality and creating pools of secrecy within meetings or other Quaker gatherings?
- While protecting a tender topic in a small group, are we willing to share more generally or anonymously with the larger group, to be of benefit to those who were not there?
- Are we careful in setting up structures or rules of confidentiality in groups to not exclude people unnecessarily?
- Are we careful to explain ground rules involving confidentiality and the reasons for them in the announcement of a session?
- Do we hold in our hearts the spirit of openness and vulnerability within the faith community that is so important to being known to each other as well as to God?
- Do we consider that openness in our meetings and in our lives are both aspects of our testimony of integrity?
- Do we listen to God’s voice for the right balance between confidentiality and openness?
Doug Armstrong, Susan Bailey, Peter Blood-Patterson, Pamela Haines, Paulette Meier, Susan Smith, Eleanor Warnock
Gathered in Barnesville, Ohio, on June 28, 2007
Quakercamp was first of a series of Quaker Spirit-guided gatherings held since 2007 and now known as Quaker Spring. For more information about Quaker Spring go to QuakerSpring.org