Stephanie Crumley-Effinger was “recorded” as a minister in Indiana Yearly Meeting in 1982. We talked with her about the recording process, and what she’s learned about Quaker ministry since.
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I see ministry and our life together in a local Meeting and beyond its doors and walls as rooted in a belief that God is at work in other persons and in our world, and that the invitation to us is to pay attention and be sensitive to that work, and to see what part of it we’re called to do, and to do that.
Becoming a Quaker Minister
I’m Stephanie Crumley-Effinger, a member of West Richmond Meeting in Richmond, Indiana, which is part of the New Association of Friends and I am a teacher at the Earlham School of Religion, director of supervised ministry. So I work with students on formation for faithful ministry in a number of ways.
Types of Quaker Ministry
Quakers use the term “ministry” in several ways. One very important one is the “ministry of all believers” which is a Protestant phrase, but it’s really taken seriously among Quakers, that everyone is called to ministry and it might take a form of vocal ministry—of speaking in Meeting for Worship—or it might take less vocal forms.
And then there’s also the “called-out” or public ministry, which is… not everybody has a call to public ministry. In some meetings and Yearly Meetings there is a process of recording of gifts and public ministry, but it’s not meant to be about giving a person a special set of things that they can do, but of acknowledging in front of a larger body the presence of those gifts and calling the person to accountability of living those gifts in a faithful manner.
My Recording as a Minister
I was recorded as a minister in 1982 in Indiana Yearly Meeting. I had said yes to a calling to be coordinator of religious activities at Wilmington College at that point. My meeting (West Richmond Meeting, where I currently am a member) had brought my name forward to the various committees of the yearly meeting. The actual recording service was really special. It was a year when Indiana and Western Yearly Meetings—these two Quaker bodies—were meeting together on Earlham campus and quite a number of us were being recorded from both Yearly Meetings. In Indiana it was the practice that each person was invited to speak.
For me, I received as a message what I was to give, just very clearly. I’m not sure I can remember all the parts to it now but it included that recording is about gifts and ministry, not about somebody becoming special and about holding people accountable for those gifts, and also mentioning to people, “there might be a little girl here who is called into ministry. Are you having your eyes open to her gifts as well as the gifts of the boys and the men?”
Cultivating Faithful Ministry
Resisting the temptation to think it’s about me and my accomplishments is a very important part of seeking to be faithful to this mission of joining in with what God is doing. It’s all meant to be done under divine power, not our own, for God’s purposes, not our egos. And that it’s not about what we accomplish; it’s about seeking to be faithful in our being and in our doing.
We often are planting seeds the next steps of sprouting and flowering and fruitfulness of which we may never ever see, and that the outcome we see in the moment is small compared to all of what’s possible. And so paying attention to where God is at work and joining up in that includes making my particular gifts and skills available and not needing it to be about me or accomplishment, but about seeking to really be a part of what God is trying to make happen with and through me and others, and to rejoice in that.
- Stephanie Crumley-Effinger says, “Resisting the temptation to think it’s about me and my accomplishments is a very important part of seeking to be faithful to this mission… It’s all meant to be done under divine power, not our own, for God’s purposes, not our egos.” What does she mean? Have you done work that you felt was for “God’s purposes” not your ego?
- What is the value of recognizing gifts and ministry? What are the potential pitfalls? Is this something you would like to see your meeting do?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.