What sort of community do we aspire to be?
What principles shape and sustain the community we aim to be?
What practices are necessary if our community is to thrive?
What practices would prevent it from thriving?
(From Earlham College Principles and Practices)
Within any community, there must be guidelines to help the individual members to live and grow together. Within a Quaker community, corporately discerned guidelines bear a greater importance because of the delicate and precious nature of the group. Our community's goal is to be a vehicle in which each of us will pursue life's most joyful journey, the search for God. Every one of us has come to Friends as seekers, hoping to experience the realm of spirituality and the inner light. To embark on this path we must strive to shed our fears and our coverings, fully open to the light and the journey together, soul naked.
The need for guidelines and boundaries of personal conduct becomes even more important in our spiritual community as we strive to make the community safe for all. Harm can occur unintentionally and, in that case, we hope the two parties involved can resolve the issue. Abuse occurs when one person has cause to know that certain behavior is hurtful, threatening, or offensive to another person and yet engages in that behavior with that person. The behavior must stop. Guidelines are especially important with the intimacy of a close spiritual community. We have the right to be safe in our Meeting. We will not tolerate sexual, physical, verbal, racial, psychological, social, or spiritual abuse by anyone in the Meeting community.
We as a community commit to caring for and tending to both the person who has been harmed and the person who as harmed her/him. It is our hope that the person who feels unsafe or violated in any way will be able to speak up to the person who has crossed his or her boundary of comfort and that his or her wishes will be respected. In the cases where the person who has been harmed cannot speak up or his or her wishes were not honored, we encourage that person to seek help from a trusted other, or ask for help from Ministry and Oversight. The Meeting is responsible to watch and protect those in our community who, for whatever reason, cannot speak for themselves or have not been heard. Whenever informed, the Meeting, or its committees, will take prompt steps to deal with violations and will inform and include all concerned if possible.
We commit ourselves to an ongoing educational process that creates an environment within the community that encourages those who have been hurt to speak up and those who have been abusive to seek help. We also commit to the following action steps:
1. Develop and adopt procedures to address situations when harm occurs (review Portland, Maine, Friends procedures);
2. Include a statement of confidentiality and its limits in the procedures;
3. Develop and implement an on-going community education for all ages.
We express appreciation to the Portland, ME, and Richmond, IN, Friend for their words and work.
When MGOF finds itself called as a body to witness, a Minute of that testimony is recorded and distributed.