Quakerism: a view from the back benches continued
Copyright 1966 The Back Benches
The Hireling Ministry (Let George Do It)
Friends have from the beginning felt a distrust of a separate ministry. The Light was in all, and children might be (and were) called to preach, women might be moved to travel long distances in journeys of reconciliation, or agitation, and everyone had a responsibility for spiritual and social work.
We have probably been one of the most successful religious groups in history at maintaining this practice. But the writers of this study, looking about at the growth of Quaker agencies of all kinds, not the phenomenon of the ‘professional Quaker” - a person who, because of his gifts, is hired on a virtually permanent basis to perform a ministry of some kind. Corresponding to this is, we sense, a growing willingness for “rank-and-file” Friends to consider their financial contributions to these agencies as an adequate total participation in the concerns of the Society.
We recognize that this is partly in response to the tensing of our society: it is more difficult to have a career as a professional without investing exorbitant amounts of time in it; in business one either “gets ahead” or gets out; the ability to get away for a couple of years in Quaker service is becoming rarer for people of our general social-economic level.
Recognizing the problem may enable us to take some steps towards its amelioration: Friends agencies might hire only those who have not been employed before in Quaker organization; such agencies might establish strict policies against long-time employment of the same person; every Friend might be strongly encouraged to give one or more years of his working career to a Friends organization, either before beginning his professional career or after retiring from it, much as Peace Corps people are doing.
If there were such a genuinely rotating system of opportunity for service, the Quaker agencies might be giving valuable experience which would then be plowed back into Monthly Meeting life.
(to be continued)