Our Meeting grew in spiritual strength through painful struggle, loving confrontation, and careful listening and healing, as well as through diverse opportunities to celebrate and work together. This was a unique year as we completed remodeling our building and as we focused in a new way on what we are as a community. Blessed with the addition of physical space and new Friends, we continue looking for better ways to organize this growing community of ministers. We feel deep sadness that some Friends were hurt along the way. We were encouraged that healing had begun by year’s end.
The two First Day Meetings for Worship offer opportunities to meet different schedules and worship needs of members comprising the full range of interweaving generations. While the richness of the silence is described as enveloping like a soft blanket and messages are found to stay with us throughout the week, a few messages were experienced as accusatory and even offensive. Pamphlets and discussion about vocal ministry offered guidance and encouraged Friends to discern when to speak. Although we were enriched with new speakers, giving testimony that Spirit speaks to us through one another, we commit to seek additional modes of communication and learning that further deepen our worship times together. We sought to dispel any notion that one must be a seasoned Quaker to speak.
Attendance at Meeting for Business increased this year. Many from Meeting, however, did not attend, resulting in compromised communication. Our monthly newsletter played a vital role in keeping Friends informed and connected. Some felt overwhelmed by the abundance of Meeting activities including committees, projects, pot lucks, healing meetings, newcomer welcomings, and friendly circles, but we valued the diverse opportunities presented. Our adult education hour (Connections) was particularly enriching. We looked for guidance from the Spirit as we sought to play friendly roles in large and small ways.
We encountered many opportunities to strengthen our life and ministry together. Although most committees have clear roles and strong, active members, we felt that we could do more to help our committees fulfill their vital roles. Religious Education continued to need greater support from across the Meeting. We endeavored to strengthen our ministry and relationships with our immediate neighborhood, our region, and the wider Quaker community. We were mindful of the long history of Quaker engagement with the world.
Spiritual strengths were visible in many aspects of our community, particularly in meeting the financial challenge of our building, the flexibility and creativity of First Day teachers and those leading the construction project, and the joy of physically working together on the building. Equally important to our spiritual well-being were our participation in providing food and shelter for the homeless, young Friends coming to worship and returning from camp, Friends active in the community, and our listening project for U.S. soldiers and families most directly affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two Called Meetings for Healing were a balm to many. We were blessed by the experience of Friends’ practice of disciplined openness, which continues to bind us into a loving community.