Quaker lore is rich in the journals of early Friends who traveled in the ministry under the leading of the Spirit, but it offers little from the viewpoints of the faithful companions who accompanied these ministers, praying with and for them, advising them, and helping them to remain faithful to their callings. Today, as this practice of spiritual accompaniment—or eldering—undergoes a resurgence among Friends, two such companions give us an account of eldering from the viewpoint of the companion and the minister she traveled with.
In 2008, Elaine Emily visited Australia Yearly Meeting to offer workshops and ministry about eldering. Cathy Walling traveled with her as her elder accompaniment. This jointly written account, expanding on Cathy’s journal, explores the lessons, challenges, and gifts of that experience. It is offered in the hope of increasing our understanding of how eldering can be effectively and lovingly achieved, and in the hope that it will inspire other elders to offer their own firsthand accounts.
Questions for reflection and discussion are included.
About the Author(s)
Cathy Walling is a member of Chena Ridge Friends Meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. She has been recognized as having gifts of Spirit-led eldering since 2002, when a traveling minister visiting Alaska recognized and called out those gifts. Since then, she has experienced the joy of feeling rightly used by the Spirit in this work, offering eldering support for Quakers serving a ministry among Friends. Cathy and her husband Scott Bell are couple enrichment leaders for Friends General Conference.
Elaine Emily is a seasoned Friend from Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting in Berkeley, California. She has traveled extensively as a spiritual companion and elder, accompanying many different Friends in their service as traveling ministers. She has led workshops around the United States on the topics of eldering, living under a concern for eldering, and on the many ways this practice is being rediscovered among Friends today.
Pendle Hill Pamphlet #428