What follows is a hand out and notes for the starting of a class on the Queries of Indiana Yearly Meeting. Some of the potential class members wanted to know what people in other groups use — so, I have included some samples of not only other Friends, but of the Examine.
I envision this class as a discussion group that is meditating on a specific query every week — if nothing else, it is a useful exercise for lent.
General historical overview:
The history of Friends use of the Queries can be summarized as follows: They were first used in the late 17th century in order to collect statistical information. (Similar queries are still sent out and answered by mail.) Over time, questions about whether or not Friends complied with their testimonies were added to help evaluate the state of the Society. These Queries became one of the main tools to maintain discipline – as they were answered both by individuals and the meetings themselves.
For most of the 20th century, the Queries were basically the same as they were in the 19th century – but meetings no longer asked members to answer them, nor did the meetings answer them themselves. The purpose became a tool for personal reflection – with the advice that they be read out loud on a regular basis.
Most of the Friends in the United States have seen very few changes in their Queries in over 2 centuries, however some Friends have chosen to write new Queries to better reflect where their meetings are currently.
Questions for discussion:
In what ways have you used the Queries, or practiced the “Examine?”
Should we answer the Queries, individually, if so to whom?
Should we answer the Queries cooperatively, if so, how?
What are our current testimonies?
How can we live our our testimonies as a meeting? Also, how as individuals?
Assignment for next week:
- Find an accountability partner
- Answer IYM’s first query, both for yourself and for the meeting (you may keep this private)
- Look for ways that you can become more aware of God’s presence.
- Be prepared to share your experience next week
- (Extra Credit) – 1st two queries of Ireland YM, Queries 1-4 of NWYM, 1st commandment of Orthodox Examine.
Historical and current Queries:
|Philadelphia YM, 1806||Unified Discipline, 1902||Indiana YM 2011|
|(Query 3 overlaps with this one)||1. Do you strive for the constant realization of God’s presence in your life? Are you obedient to the leading and sensitive to the timing of the Holy Spirit? Do you use prayer, meditation, Bible study, other devotional literature and disciplines to grow and mature spiritually? How do you seek to be a faithful steward of your life and all that God has entrusted to you?|
|1. Are all our religious meetings for worship and discipline duly attended; is the hour observed; and are friends clear of sleeping, and of all other unbecoming behaviour therein?||1. Are all meetings for worship and discipline duly held, and are you regular and punctual in attending them?||2. Are meetings for worship and business held as scheduled and do you attend them consistently and on time? Do you come to meeting with heart and mind prepared for communion with God and fellowship with one another? Are your meetings for business conducted in a spirit of worship and a united search for God’s leading in transacting the affairs of the meeting? Is the Meeting faithful in teaching and upholding Friends testimonies? How do you individually accept responsibility for your rightful share of the worship, work and financial support of the Meeting and Friends’ broader shared concerns?|
|2. Is love and unity maintained amongst you. Are tale-bearing and detraction discouraged. And where any differences arise, are endeavours used speedily to end them?||2. Do you love one another as becomes the followers of Christ? Are you careful of the reputation of others? When differences arise, do you make earnest efforts to end them speedily?||3. As followers of Jesus Christ do you love and respect one another? Do you thoughtfully consider the differing viewpoints of others as an opportunity for deeper understanding within the Christian fellowship? When conflicts arise, are you prompt to make a sincere effort to resolve them in a spirit of understanding and love that avoids divisiveness in the Meeting? How are you careful to maintain the good reputation of others?|
|3. Are Friends careful to bring up those under their direction, in plainness of speech, behaviour, and apparel; in frequent reading the holy scriptures; and to restrain them from reading pernicious books and from the corrupt conversation of the world?||3. Do you seek to maintain a religious life, and to be watchful that you may not be unduly absorbed by temporal affairs? Are you in the daily practice of reading the Holy Scriptures in your families, giving time for reverent waiting upon the Lord?||Do you make your home a place of hospitality, friendliness, peace, and Christian fellowship? Do you consistently read the Bible? Do you read Christian devotional literature in your home, giving time for reverent meditation and prayer? Do you set a Christian example before your children and live in a way that promotes the sanctity and health of marriage and family life? Are you sensitive and do you minister to the needs of single people, single parent families; merged families and extended families? How do you provide instruction to your children for their spiritual lives; in educational, moral, and social issues of the day?|
|4. Do you, who have children or others under your care, endeavor to train them for upright and useful lives; and do you prayerfully seek the guidance and blessing of the Lord on your efforts for their conversion and growth in grace? Do you encourage them to read and study the Holy Scriptures?|
|5. Do you encourage your young people to choose a commitment to Jesus Christ and the church? Do you endeavor to instruct them in the principles and practices of Friends? Do you nurture the spiritual development of the youth of the meeting and promote their spiritual, mental and physical well-being? How do youinvolve and affirm the youth in the life of the meeting?|
|4. Are Friends careful to discourage the unnecessary distillation or use of spirituous liquors, frequenting taverns and places of diversion; and to keep in true moderation and temperance on the account of marriages, burials and other occasions?||5. Do you abstain from the manufacture, sale, or use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage? Are you careful to avoid all places and amusements inconsistent with a Christian character; and do you observe true moderation in all things?||6. Do you observe simplicity in your manner of living, so that devotion to Jesus Christ comes first in your life? Do you celebrate life as a gift of God? Do you recognize the extreme danger in the use of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and other destructive drugs? Do you refrain from their use? How do you actively avoid self-destructive stresses in your life?|
|5. Are poor Friends necessities duly inspected, and they relieved or assisted in such business as they are capable of. Do their children freely partake of learning to fit them for business: And are they and other Friends children placed among Friends?||(8) Do you provide for the suitable education of your children, and do you guard them against hurtful reading and evil associates? Are the necessities of the poor and those likely to require aid inspected and relieved?||(See 8, 10, and 11)|
|6. Do you maintain a faithful testimony against oaths; an hireling ministry; bearing arms, training, and other military services; being concerned in any fraudulent or clandestine trade; buying or vending goods so imported, or prize goods; and against encouraging lotteries of any kind?||6. Do you maintain the Christian principle of peace and consistently refrain from bearing arms and from performing military service as incompatible with the precepts and spirit of the Gospel; from taking or administering oaths; and from defrauding the public revenue?||(See 9)|
|7. Are Friends careful to live within the bounds of their circumstances, and to keep to moderation in their trade or business: Are they punctual to their promises, and just in the payment of their debts; and are such as give reasonable grounds for fear on these accounts timely laboured with for their preservation or recovery?||7. Do you frequently inspect your affairs and settle your accounts? Are you just in your dealings, punctual to your promises and prompt in the payment of your debts; careful to live within your income; and to avoid involving yourselves in business beyond your ability to manage?||7. Do you avoid such undue expansion of your business and social responsibilities as to endanger your personal integrity or detract from your Christian commitment? Are you truthful and honest in your business and social transactions, punctual in fulfilling your promises, and prompt in the payment of your debts? How do you work in business and social relationships to maintain Christian integrity in economic affairs and the use of technology?|
|8. Do you take due care regularly to deal with all offenders in the spirit of meekness, without partiality or unnecessary delay, in order for their help; and where such labour is ineffectual, to place judgment upon them in the authority of truth?|
|9. Is due care taken to keep a regular record of births and burials?|
The following are “new” to Indiana Yearly Meeting
8. Do you strive to educate yourselves and those in your care with the spiritual needs of the world? Do you support by prayer and systematic giving those who are laboring to extend the realm of Jesus Christ? Are you sensitive to the material needs of those within the meeting and in the local community? How do you use your spiritual gifts in serving humanity as God grants you light to see such service?
9. As Christians do you consistently practice principles of love and good will toward all God’s people, toward the earth and all creation? Do you work actively for peace and justice by living in such a way that harmony results? Do you endeavor to make clear to all whom you can influence, that war and the preparation for war is inconsistent with the spirit and teaching of Jesus Christ? How do you observe the testimony of Friends that leads toward creative, life affirming ways of resolving conflict and away from violence and destruction?
Attitudes in Human Relations
10. Does your attitude toward people of other races and gender indicate your belief in their right to equal opportunity? Do you believe in the spiritual capacity of all races and do you recognize their equality in the Sight of God? How do you fulfill your responsibility as a Christian to help in the elimination of racial, sexual, ethnic, religious and other forms of discrimination and prejudice?
11. Are you concerned that economic systems function to sustain and enrich all life? Are you giving positive service to society in the promotion of peaceful and just methods of reconciliation in all cases
of personal, social and global conflict? Do you use care in the materials you consume and the materials you discard to maintain the integrity of God’s creation? How do you intelligently exercise all your constitutional privileges and thus seek to promote Christian influence locally, nationally, and inter-nationally?
Sacramental Living: Individually
12. Do you seek to live in constant communion with Jesus Christ? Do you partake of the Bread of Life and find refreshment in the Living Water, which is found in Jesus Christ alone? Do you experience baptism with the Holy Spirit, allowing every part of your life to come under the transforming influence of Christ’s power, truth and love? Do you recognize that this life is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and does not depend on any ritual, ceremony, or outward observance? Does your life bear testimony to this fact?
Sacramental Living: Corporately
13. How is God’s presence regularly experienced in the shared life of your Meeting? What does your Meeting do to help individual Friends to experience the sacredness of Christ’s presence in their
homes, family relationships, work places, leisure activities, and relationship with neighbors? What does the consistent remembrance and awareness of Jesus’ sacrificial forgiveness motivate your Meeting to do to express that same loving grace to one another and to people beyond the Church? What does your meeting do sacrificially for others with nothing expected in return? In what ways is the life of your Meeting community nourishing and nurturing new spiritual maturity and growth?
1. Are you convinced of the reality of God and do you respond to His Spirit at work within you? Have you individually, through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, experienced true conversion of heart? Do you depend on the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit and do you show this by your devotion to God and by your love to all people?
2. Do you make time, in private retirement, for meditation, prayer and thanksgiving, and do you take opportunities for reading and understanding the Bible and other writings which reveal the ways of God? Do you encourage these practices in members of your family, individually, together and in other groups?
3. Do you gather together at Meetings for Worship in expectant waiting on God, prepared to share experiences and insights? Are these Meetings occasions, when, by the help of the Holy Spirit you are enabled unitedly to worship God? Are you open to the promptings of the Spirit, and sensitive to one another’s needs, whether your response be in silent worship or through the spoken word?
4. Is your way of life in keeping with the teaching of Jesus? Do you watch against conformity to commonly-accepted standards, and against the love of ease and self- indulgence which hinders your spiritual growth and service for Christ?
5. Are you honest in your daily work and in all your personal relationships? Do you maintain integrity in your dealings with government authorities and other outward concerns? Do you guard against covetousness, remembering that the quality of life does not depend on the abundance of possessions? Do you seek to discern how much of your time, talents and resources you should devote to the service of others?
6. Do you cherish an understanding and forgiving spirit? Do you avoid unkind gossip and the spreading of rumour? Do you avoid damaging the reputation of others? Do you cultivate an appreciation of each individual’s worth?
7. Do you live in that life and power which takes away the occasion of violent conflict, and with God’s help work for reconciliation between individuals, groups and nations? Do you faithfully maintain our witness that all war, or preparation for it, is inconsistent with the spirit and teaching of Christ?
8. Are you concerned with the Preparative, Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Meetings during which the business of the Society is conducted? Are these meetings held in a spirit of worship and dependence upon the guidance of God? Do you take your right share in the service of these meetings, realising they are essential for the support and development of our corporate concerns? Do you carry out discipline, when advisable, in a sensitive and Christian manner?
9. Is your meeting one to which all can feel a sense of belonging, taking their full share in its concerns and practical work? Do you as a meeting maintain a loving and watchful care over all who worship with you including those who are unable to attend?
10. Do you, who are parents, and others having children in your care, seek by prayerful endeavor and example to lead them to a knowledge of the Truth as it is in Jesus Christ? Do you make opportunities for all, especially the young people in the meeting, to learn of essential Christian truth and to understand the basis of Quaker experience and witness?
11. Do you fulfill your part as a religious society and as individuals in promoting the cause of Truth and in spreading the message of Christ throughout the world?
Do you live in vital relationship with God, trusting in Jesus Christ as your saving Lord and obeying the leadings of the Holy Spirit? Is Christ’s presence evident in your life?
Do you cultivate your spiritual growth through prayer and Bible reading and through attendance at meetings for worship and study? Are you finding joy in the Lord?
Does your inward faith turn outward? Do you pray for your friends and associates and for those engaged in spreading the Gospel? Have you examined your beliefs and prepared yourself to share them, with sensitivity and humility, as the Holy Spirit leads?
Do you acknowledge God’s ownership of all that is under your care? Do you give of your time and abilities in service to church and community and gratefully use your possessions as a trust to honor God?
Are meetings for worship and business duly held, and are you regular in attending them? Do you come ready to commune with God and to fellowship with believers, willing to participate in contemplation or in spoken ministry?
As followers of Christ do you love and respect each other? Do patience and consideration govern your interactions; and when differences arise, do you resolve them promptly in a spirit of forgiveness and understanding? Are you careful with the reputation of others?
Do you give generous financial support to the work of Friends? Do you contribute regularly to the ministry of your church and to the wider outreach of the Yearly Meeting? Are you and your meeting aware of those likely to require material aid, and do you give freely to those in need?
Do you uphold the standards of Friends? Are you careful in appointing officers and Sunday school teachers, in calling pastors and special speakers, in sending out missionaries and recording ministers, to see that they are in harmony with the principles of Friends as stated in the Faith and Practice of Northwest Yearly Meeting?
Do you conduct yourself in a manner that supports and preserves the sanctity and permanence of marriage? Do you who are married yield to each other in decisions and build up each other as individuals, always cherishing your common bond?
Do you who have children under your care educate them for upright and useful lives? Do you nurture them toward Christian faith and commitment, giving them the Scriptures for their guide? Are you watching over your young people with loving concern and providing a place for each one in the life of the church?
Are you teaching your children the ways of Friends? Do you encourage them to participate in Friends programs and to attend Friends schools?
Do you and your family use your free time in ways that refresh the spirit and benefit mind and body, that encourage creativity and friendliness? Is your home a pleasant, peaceful place?
Is your life marked by simplicity? Are you free from the burden of unnecessary possessions? Do you avoid waste? Do you refuse to let the prevailing culture and media dictate your needs and values?
Are you careful to live within your income? Do you avoid involving yourself in business beyond your ability to manage or in highly speculative ventures? Are you willing to accept a lower economic standard rather than compromise Christian values?
Are you honest and just in your dealings? Are you true to your promises, prompt in paying your debts, and responsible in handling money or property entrusted to you?
Do you discipline your mind and body to serve as instruments of the Lord? Do you avoid pornography? Do you abstain from harmful, addictive, and unnecessary drugs-including alcoholic beverages, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine-and from profiting through their use? Do you refrain from gambling and taking part in lotteries?
Do you exercise your civic responsibilities and support acceptable legislation? Do you pray for those in authority? Are you careful to avoid defrauding the public treasury? In or out of court do you affirm instead of taking oaths?
Do you speak out for justice and morality, and against oppression, exploitation, and public wrong? Do you recognize the equality of persons regardless of race, gender, or economic status?
As a Christian steward, do you treat the earth with respect and with a sense of God’s splendor in creation, guarding it against abuse by greed, misapplied technology, or your own carelessness?
Do you observe and teach the Friends testimony against military training and service, making clear that war is incompatible with the spirit and teachings of the Gospel? Do you find appropriate ways to work for peace?
When we read the Queries as individuals, we begin the prayer of examen; we hold up our lives before God and examine our own faithfulness. When we consider the queries together and share our responses with other groups of disciples, we begin to provide each other with support, encouragement, and accountability as a body. Capitol Hill Friends considers one query each month, and we forward our answer to the other members of our network. Answering honestly and specifically, we hope that this discipline will help knit us together in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
1. Are meetings for worship well and punctually attended? Do we come with hearts and minds prepared to receive communion with Christ? Is our worship held in a spirit of expectant waiting on God, trusting that Christ is present, teaching his people himself? With waiting worship at the heart of all we do, are we open to other forms of worship – including vocal prayer, congregational singing and teaching ministry?
2. Do we live in the life and power that takes away the occasion of all war? As followers of Jesus Christ, do we refuse to cooperate with military efforts? How do we examine our own lifestyles to see how they contribute to the cycle of greed, oppression and war? How are we standing with the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed?
3. Do we forgive each other and ask for forgiveness when we wrong one another? Are we careful with the reputation of others? When differences threaten the unity of the church, do we take prompt action to seek reconciliation as a community, following the example laid out for us in Matthew 18? Do we confess our sins to one another? How do we support and hold each other accountable in our growth as disciples of Jesus?
4. Are our homes places of peace, joy and contentment, where the Kingdom of God is a lived reality? How do we care for married couples and single individuals in our fellowship? How do we provide our children with an example of Christ-like living? Do we take care to raise our children with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and the testimony of Friends? How do we direct our children to seek the voice of Christ within them, so that they may have a living relationship with him?
5. How do we bear our testimony that God’s creation is good and should be honored? What steps are we taking to reduce our destructive impact on the creation? How are we careful to practice good stewardship of the material resources that God has blessed us with, remembering that all the earth is the Lord’s and that we are ultimately answerable to God for our actions?
6. Do we observe simplicity in all aspects of our life – in the way we live, the clothes we wear and the words we speak? Do we avoid taking on excessive work, allowing the Spirit to order our lives for God’s purposes? Are we submitted to Christ in all areas of our life, seeking to follow him in all things? Is our entire life of one piece, or do we compartmentalize?
7. How do we care for our brothers and sisters, bearing one anothers burdens? When those around us have material, emotional or spiritual needs, are we faithful in sharing freely with them, just as we have received freely from Christ? Do we counsel lovingly and prayerfully with members of the church whose actions give us cause for concern? Do we guard against materialism and addiction in our own lives as well as in the lives of our brothers and sisters?
8. Are we always honest and straightforward in our speech and actions? Do we obey Jesus’ command to let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no, refusing to swear oaths? Do we avoid gambling and financial speculation?
9. How do we obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations? When others interact with us, are they brought into the presence of God? How do we partner with the Holy Spirit in welcoming people of all backgrounds to walk with us in the Way? How do we nurture new churches in different cultural, ethnic and class contexts from our own? Are we sensitive to how Christ Jesus is at work today in the hearts all people?
10. Do we stand firm in our testimony that God has poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh? Do we recognize the spiritual equality of all people? How do we wrestle with and seek to be healed of our sexism, racism, classism and homophobia? How do we empower youth? How are we fully inclusive of all people, regardless of physical or mental ability? How do we recognize and support the Spirit-led ministry of all?
11. Do we live in the life and power of Jesus Christ? How do we make Jesus our explicit center and accept him as leader of everything that we do as a community? Do we regularly read and meditate on the Christian Scriptures, both together and individually? How does our shared wrestling with the Scriptures shape our witness as a community that seeks to embody Christ in a suffering world?
12. Are our meetings for business held in a spirit of expectant waiting on God for guidance? Are we careful to seek after God’s will, going beyond a majority or even consensus? How have we felt ourselves drawn into unity in our business practice? Are there places where we still feel out of unity as a community?
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me.
Has God been the source, center and hope of my life? Have I put myself, others or things before God? Have I failed to trust in God’s existence, love and mercy? Have I failed to pray to God, to worship Him and to thank Him for His blessings? Have I tried to serve God and keep His commandments faithfully? Have I murmured or complained against God in adversity? Have I praised and glorified God through my words and deeds?
You shall not make for yourself a graven image in order to worship it.
Have I valued anyone or anything above God? Have I given to anyone or anything the love, honor and worship that belongs to God alone? Have I made and idol of any person, idea, occupation, or thing?
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Have I blasphemed God’s holy name in any way? Have I sworn a false oath? Have I broken any solemn vow or promise? Have I entered into an agreement, promise or contract against God’s law? Have I cursed or used foul language?
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Have I worshiped regularly on Sundays and major feast days and have I helped others to do the same? Have I worked unnecessarily on Sundays or major feast days or caused others to do so? Have I spent the Lord’s Day in a wholesome and edifying ways?
Honor your father and mother
Have I loved and respected my parent s as I should? Have I neglected them or failed to help them? Have I disobeyed them, deceived them or caused them pain by my words or deeds? Have I treated all my family members with patience and love?
Thou shall not kill.
Have I caused the harm, injury or death of anyone? Have I wished my own or anyone’s harm or death? Have I been cruel to animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily?
You shall not commit adultery.
Have I committed any immoral acts alone or with others? Have I caused others to commit immoral acts? Have I committed immoral acts in my heart?
You shall not steal.
Have I taken anything that was not mine from anyone or from anywhere? Have I cheated anyone? Have I caused others to steal or cheat? Have I tried to find the owners of lost things I have found? Have I damaged or destroyed anything that belonged to another? Have I defrauded anyone of rightful wages? Have I paid my debts? Have I given to the poor and to philanthropic causes in proportion to my means?
You shall not bear false witness.
Have I given false testimony against anyone? Have I spoken evil, told lies or spread rumors about anyone? Have I disclosed to anyone the sins and faults of another? Have I made careless statements or done anything else to harm the name and reputation of another? Have I engaged in idle gossip?
You shall not covet.
Have I looked with envy jealousy or hatred toward the possession talents or achievements of others? Have I desired the downfall or loss of others out of evil intent that I might benefit? Have I grieved that God has bestowed greater blessings on others than on me?
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Have I truly recognized my complete dependence on God? Have I been proud arrogant and self-righteous in my ways? Have I been selfish, possessive and self-seeking? Have I sought after status power and wealth?
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Have I endured difficulties and afflictions with faith and patience? Have I felt sadness for the sufferings of the poor, the hungry, and addicted; the sick, the lonely and the sinful of the world? Have I truly been sorrowful for my sins and faults?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Have I tried to serve or rather to dominate others at home, school, work, office, Church and elsewhere? Have I nursed against anyone? Have I been resentful, bitter, unforgiving or insulting and abusive to others? Have I loved my enemies?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Have I truly yearned for God’s will to be done in all things? Have I worked for justice in my family, society and the world in ways with in my reach? Have I tried to cultivate a righteous life through prayer, fasting, worship, receiving Holy Communion and deeds of love toward others?
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Have I shown compassion and help toward the poor, hungry, lonely and needy around me? Have I tried to understand and forgive others? Have I been indifferent judgmental or legalistic?
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Have I loved goodness, purity and holiness? Have I succumbed to evil motives and intentions? Have I given way to impure thoughts, words or deeds? Have I been guilty of bias and prejudice? Have I been hypocritical, pretentious or self-indulgent to sinful passions?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Do I have God’s peace in my heart? Have I been unfairly angry, aggressive or impatient? Have I worked for peace at home, work, Church and in society? Have I been irritable, polemical, or divisive?
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Have I complained when persecuted for God’s sake? Have I prayed for my persecutors? Have I failed to defend anyone in the truth for fear of humiliation or persecution? Have I had the courage to stand up for what is right despite criticism, ridicule or persecution?
Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you on my account; rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven
Is the joy of Christ in my heart even in trying moments? Have I been pessimistic despondent or despairing? Have I truly delighted in the promise of God’s treasures in heaven?