Viv Hawkins

Since 2005, I have carried a minute of religious service, from Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Monthly Meeting and endorsed by its quarterly and yearly meetings, to inspire, encourage, and empower people, individually and corporately, to live into our greatest sacredness in harmony with creation. The support I receive from these meetings and my neighborhood worship group is a true blessing to me and through me to others. The ministry has taken the form of teaching, plenaries, organizing, and eldering.

By November 2011, I had been engaged heavily in the ministry for about six years. At that time, I was designing a program to be offered among Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) Friends from January to June 2012.  As an outgrowth of PYM’s Eco-Justice Working Group’s work, I worked with a team of four other facilitators on delivery of Called to Action, a social witness formation program. About 30 participants met one Saturday each month and in small groups between sessions to develop Spirit-led power for social change. Strategy and tactics for nonviolent direct action, activism tools, self-reflection, and practical application all intended to foster a “Great Turning” (a phrase from ecophilosopher Joanna Macy used to explain the shift from the Industrial Growth Society to a life-sustaining civilization) and a Religious Society of Friends that is actively engaged in the development of a peaceful, just, and sustainable society. Many Called to Action graduates continue to be active leaders of community-based groups aimed at social change, such as targeting PNC Bank for its mountaintop removal coal-mining, campaigning against hydrofracturing (fracking), developing neighborhood gardens and community in urban settings, and introducing similar social action training to other populations.

At the same time, I worked with members of the PYM Spiritual Formation Working Group and others to form a Spiritual Formation 2 (SF2) program. More than 20 participants met from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm for four Saturdays and monthly in small groups over the six-month period to cultivate our spiritual gifts in service to the world. Where Spiritual Formation 1 concentrates on individual spiritual practices, SF2 places gifts in the context of a peer spiritual accountability group, in which participants mutually nurture and have nurtured each other’s spiritual gifts and leadings. The benefits of the support and challenge involved have resulted in many of the groups continuing to this day.

Those designing and co-facilitating these programs, including myself, offered these services as volunteers or with nominal honoraria. When I left my previous part-time work among Friends, the job did not offer health insurance, sick or vacation time, or other employee benefits. While I received financial assistance and spiritual support for the ministry from my small neighborhood worship group and from a network including a spiritual accountability group appointed by Central Philadelphia Meeting, of which I am a member, I faced some health issues. I had no health insurance. I waited several anxious months to obtain foundation-funded assistance to obtain needed medical tests.

In November 2011, I took full-time employment with the Shalom Center, a Jewish and multireligious social justice organization. While I remain committed to helping release the active ministry of Friends, since completion of the Called to Action program and SF2 course in June 2011, my own service among Friends has diminished due to competing demands of full-time employment. I regret that these vital programs are not being offered to other populations. I view Releasing Ministry Alliance as a means to help others remain as fully engaged in unprogrammed and programmed Friends ministry as Spirit calls them to be.

My current minute of religious service which has been endorsed by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is available here and a report to Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting is here