Category Archives: Committee Reports

Report from Peace and Social Concerns, March 17, 2019

By Brown Letham

Upcoming events:

April               Lenten Saturday vigils at Bath Iron Works

April 27          Vigil at BIW for the christening of a destroyer          

April 28          P&SC give message, and sponsor potluck and discussion at Durham Friends Meeting

May 10           Co-sponsoring a panel discussion of climate change action at the Brunswick  Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church

May 11           New England Yearly Meeting Permanent Board will meet at Durham Meetinghouse

May 11            Game Night to follow

May 17           Peter and Annie Blood concert at Portland UU church

Ingrid Chalufour reports that she will be attending meetings of the Brunswick Interfaith Council. Cush Anthony is involved with the Maine Council of Churches.

Planning of the Friday, May 10 climate change action panel discussion: Panelists will be Sen. Brownie Carson, Rev. Sylvia Stocker, and Ann D. Burt. There might also be a Bowdoin student.  The purpose of the panel and the activity below is not to describe climate change or debate its existence but to talk about actions that people can take on an individual, legislative , and most importantly, organizational level.

Sunday April 28 Worship, potluck and discussion: The P&SC committee is generating queries to prompt thinking and discussion about corporate witness as a Meeting. A short First Day message may spring out of the queries that will be brought into worship.  Finger food potluck followed by discussion.

Peace vigils at BIW: Brown mentioned that the next destroyer christening at BIW was planned tentatively for April, as well as the remaining Saturday Lenten vigils there. He brought a pamphlet about a call for a conversion to peacetime production at BIW and asked if Durham Friends would consider endorsing/sponsoring it.

The Minute reads: “Peace and Social Concerns Committee recommends to Monthly Meeting that Durham Friends be a co-sponsor of the vigil for conversion of Bath Iron Works to peacetime production at the upcoming warship christening.”

Sponsorship would entail permission to print our name in the flyer, display the banner at the vigil, but no financial obligation.

[Editor’s note: the destroyer’s christening has been scheduled for April 27 at BIW.]

Library News for March 2019

By Dorothy Hinshaw

Hal Tucker was an ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and a mentor to many students at Bangor Theological Seminary (BTS) and in the UCC tradition.  He was one of “Bee’s Boys” and learned to love our Quaker way during his years at Bowdoin College while rooming with Bernice (Bee) Douglas. He also served our meeting as a pastor while a student at BTS.  He and his wife, Bettina, have given us many valuable Quaker books from their collection. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading one of these donated books, Living in a Larger World, the Life of Murray S. Kenworthy, who grew up in the Midwest (as did I). Kenworthy became a well-loved Quaker pastor, teacher at Earlham College, and served with the American Friends Service Committee.  This book gives an insight into the development of the Quaker pastoral system and programmed meetings, and the AFSC feeding program in Russia.   His son, Leonard, was a prolific writer about Quaker subjects; several of his pamphlets are on the pamphlet shelf. 

“Check out” these valuable books and pamphlets!

Attending to the Light — Worship Theme April to June 2019

Quakers have an unusual way of talking about what we are seeking: we are seeking “the Light.” 

The Gospel of John, long a favorite of Quakers, begins by saying “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  That’s an arresting way of talking about what we are seeking, but quickly John moves to speaking of the Light.  John says the Word was “the light of all humankind.”  Moreover, “the light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Of the coming of Jesus, John says “the true light that gives life to everyone was coming into the world.” John 1:1-9.  And later John quotes Jesus as saying “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. 

The early Quaker James Naylor said  “Art thou in the darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost thee will feed it more. Stand still, act not, and wait in patience till light arises out of darkness and leads thee.”

The early Quaker theologian Robert Barclay said “That for this end God hath communicated and given unto every [person] a measure of the Light of his own Son, a measure of grace, or a measure of the Spirit.”

And in worship we often ask that we hold someone “in the Light.”

What a remarkable gift is “the light.” How can we awaken the Light within us?  How can we wait in patience till light arises out of darkness and leads us?

Worth watching is this QuakerSpeak video: 

State of Society, Durham Friends Meeting, 2018

In 2018 the State of our Society at Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends was healthy and thriving. We gather at our old brick Meetinghouse from towns north, south, east and west from Durham, forming a community grounded in a vital worship life that that both gives and receives strength from a range of other activities in the Meeting.  We are still feeling our way, but more confidently, in our second full year of proceeding without a paid pastor. 

Ministry and Counsel has accepted new responsibilities both for the worship life of the Meeting and for pastoral care of members and attenders.  We love receiving messages from one another, sometimes in linked themes across weeks, and also as each individual is led. We also have been much enriched by invited message-bringers from outside the meeting.  We continue to reserve 5th First Days in a month, when there is one one, for unprogrammed worship.  We have been adjusting our regular schedule to accommodate expressed needs for more gathered silence during Meetings for Worship. 

All of us are still not completely comfortable proceeding without a pastor, but we are finding ways to have various committees and individuals do what a pastor once did for us.  An ad hoc committee appointed in 2017 led a yearlong consideration of the issues in proceeding without a pastor.  We asked ourselves, what can we do to strengthen the Meeting?  We came to focus on three needs to which we need to be attentive:  pastoral care, outreach and coordination.  Without a pastor, each of these areas is an important function with which we may struggle if we do not fresh approaches.  An adult Sunday school meets regularly and we have been experimenting with prayer circles. 

Our membership numbers have stayed relatively constant with a few passings and a roughly equal number of new members.  Nearly every week we have visitors.  We average 30 to 40 in worship each week except in the summer when, with one and another of us scattered to other Maine pleasures, numbers are a bit lower.  We meet for business regularly and appreciate an excellent monthly newsletter. 

Ministry Counsel has taken on responsibility for pastoral care of members.  Having this as a committee responsibility rather that mostly relying on a pastor has been an important challenge.  We have developed an organized approach to seeing that we are attending to all expressed needs.  Some of us are still learning to see a visit from a fellow member rather than a pastor as pastoral care. 

We take delight in the presence of children among us and are grateful for the creativity and care of our Youth Minister.  We provide childcare every Sunday, and children’s programs on 1st and 3d Sundays.  Our Christian Education Committee continues to be a source of vitality for the whole Meeting.  It has developed an inter-generational approach to reaching out to families and provides spiritual nurture to youth through Godly Play and Young Friends seeking.  CE also arranged a series of Game Nights for children of all ages and these will continue.  Through our budget and extra efforts we arranged support for several children to attend Friends Camp.

We aim to make a difference in this world guided by the Spirit, love and our understanding of scriptures. Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee has new members and new energies for a variety of initiatives.  The Kakamega Orphan Care Center, Lisbon Area Christian Outreach’s food bank, witnessing for peace at Bath Iron Works, a quilting project to address gun violence, the American Friends Service Committee and Seeds of Peace camp all received our attention and support. Towards the end of the year, P&SC arranged a thought-provoking social justice film series. 

Our Trustees have been faithfully attentive to caring for our Meetinghouse, horse shed, parsonage burial grounds, and phone/internet service.  Each has needed and received attention.  Our Finance Committee and our Treasurer have the Meeting’s financial house in good order.  We vexed ourselves with disagreements about whether and which clock to allow in the Meeting room but we appear to have found a solution.  We share the Meetinghouse regularly with a 12-step Group and a Native American fellowship group. 

Outreach has been a question on our minds.  How can we reach out beyond ourselves to bring our message and the delights of our community to others?  We have taken this on as a challenge for all of us, as we turn to a new year. 

Approved by Monthly Meeting, March 17, 2019

Christian Education Committee Report, February 2019

Katherine Langelier reported that the committee is very grateful for Ashley Marstaller’s presence and skill in providing childcare.The Intergenerational Game Night on January 12th was very enjoyable, and the next one will be on March 9th, starting at 5pm with a potluck supper.  

The committee has cleared with Trustees adding a “menstruation station” to the bathroom. This will include personal supplies such as tampons, pads, wipes, and paper towels and a more hygienic means of collection like a small, covered, and lined container for disposal of used items.

Adult Sunday School is covering the book Waking Up White by Debbie Irving.

Durham Friends have been given the opportunity to co-sponsor an event with Friends’ School of Portland in their Parenting For Peace series, “Tell Me The Truth: Exploring the Heart of Cross-Racial Conversations” between Debbie and Shay Stewart Bouley on May 1st. Christian Ed requested funds to share in the cost of co-sponsoring, and it was suggested and approved that the $100 be split equally between the budgets of Christian Education and Peace & Social Concerns. Leslie Manning volunteered to sit at a table representing Durham at the event. 

Christian Ed will be coordinating with other committees including Ministry & Counsel to plan a Homecoming Sunday on World Quaker Day, the first Sunday in October. A key feature of the day will be sharing stories from the life of the meeting in the past. The committee invites everyone to help with preparations for this special occasion.

Library Committee Annual Report, 2018

By Ellen Bennett

We appreciate the addition of Nancy Marstaller to the committee in 2018 and look forward to the addition of Ellen Bennett in 2019.

Many Quaker books were added to the library, donated from a retired Friend, and four books were purchased from the United Society of Friends Women International reading list. We included Library News in the Durham Friends Newsletter and continue to receive Pendle Hill Pamphlets and Quaker Religious Thought pamphlets.

We will compile a list of books we would like to have in the library and ask Friends either to purchase or donate any they can. We always appreciate recommendations and look for special books that people would like to donate. A good place to look for possible additions to our library is Friends’ Journal annual book review issue.

In addition, we thinned the collection some, giving a few books to Kristna Evans for the Vintage Quaker Books collection, and selling a few, taking in $50.00.

As with last year, we are looking for a table on which to put the card catalog to make it easier to use. And we hope people will take advantage of this singular meeting resource, as well as continue to make suggestions for how we can best serve you.

Margaret Wentworth, Dorothy Hinshaw, Ellen Bennett, Nancy Marstaller, and David Dexter.


Peace and Social Concerns Meeting, February 13, 2019

By Ingrid Chalufour

            The committee met with all members present, welcoming new members Bob Eaton and Cush Anthony. We discussed possible spring events and made several decisions:

  • We discussed the importance of addressing climate change, the real crisis right now.
  • We would like to put together a panel to help us move toward taking collective action.
  • We would like to collaborate with another group(s) on this and are looking for partners.

            Ingrid Chalufour has volunteered to represent the Meeting in the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council. The recently revived group meets monthly. This might be a path to finding collaborators.

            As a follow-up to the American Friends Service Committee discussion about action priorities we are planning events for April 28, the last Sunday in April. Our committee will give the message that day and facilitate an after-Meeting discussion.

            We have agreed to host a Peter and Annie Blood concert in May at the Meeting House. They have a new Pete Seeger songbook they will be using for the concert.

P

Durham Friends Meeting 2019 Budget

Prepared by Finance Committee; approved by the Meeting, December 18, 2018.

DURHAM FRIENDS MEETING – 2019 BUDGET
OPERATING REVENUE
     Contributions 31,600.00
     Investment Income 9,215.00
     Other Sources – gifts, use of meetinghouse, etc. 300.00
     Cell Tower 2,500.00
     Rental of Parsonage (1200/mo.) 14,400.00
TOTAL OPERATING REVENUE 58,015.00
OPERATING EXPENSES          
     Committees 4,320.00
     Contributions to other organizations 6,850.00
     Meeting Expenses 4,675.00
     Meetinghouse Physical Plant 11,455.00
     Position developed with Ad Hoc Group 10,000.00
     Ministry – Youth 11,100.00
     Parsonage Physical Plant 9,400.00
TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES             57,800.00

Discernment Around AFSC Program Focus

Peace & Social Concerns Requests Durham’s Discernment,

Hosting a Meeting January 6

By Bob Eaton

Monthly Meeting for Business has endorsed the Peace and Social Concerns Committee request for a special meeting to take place after regular meeting for worship on Sunday, January 6.  The meeting will be convened by Lesley Manning and Bob Eaton for a focused response to the American Friends Service Committee request for Friends’ discernment on what programs the AFSC should focus on in the next ten-year strategic plan for the organization.   Bob will prepare brief (but insightful!) background materials to be available before the meeting.

Here is a brief description of current AFSC Work that may be a useful reference.

Where Are We Being Led: Theme for January through March, 2019

For January-February-March 2019 the theme Ministry and Counsel proposes is “where are we being led?”

One of the Advices (number 9) from NEYM tells us

“Attend to the Spirit at work in the ordinary activities and experiences of your daily life. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Be open to and alert for how the Spirit may be speaking to you in fresh ways, leading you in new directions.”

To what should we be “open and alert?” What are the new directions that the Spirit may be leading you, or leading us?

You may find useful the opening paragraph of Paul Lacey’s Pendle Hill Pamphlet Leading and Being Led.

“Leading and being led: the words are simple enough. But for Quakers they have the most profound resonance as defining religious experience. Friends speak variously of being drawn to an action, feeling under the weight of a concern, being called or led in act in specific ways. We speak of being open to the leadings of the Light, of being taught by the Spirit or the Inward Christ. Extraordinary claims lie embedded in these phrases. They say it is not only possible but essential to our nature for human beings to hear and obey the voice of God; we can be directed, daily, in what we do, the jobs we hold, the very words we say; and that our obedience may draw us to become leaders in all spheres of human life – in the professions, arts and sciences, but also in discovering the ethical, political, social and economic consequences of following the will of God.”

So, again, where are we being led?

Themes in Worship

December 12, 2018, from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Our past two years it has been rich and challenging to have Sunday messages brought by various people. This has also deepened our connections to one another. Many of us have appreciated when there have been a series of messages around a single theme or topic.  Sometimes those messages came when we had a pastor, other times when a member felt called to speak several weeks in a row.

The Meeting’s Committee on Ministry and Counsel has prayerfully considered ways to bring greater continuity to our worship.  We would like to encourage having a theme for our worship that would change every three months.

We ask that Durham Friends Meeting use these themes we propose as encouragement and stimulus, not as a straightjacket or as a discouragement of other messages that arise within the Meeting.

Messages that do not fit the theme will continue to be most welcome.

Each few months we plan to propose a theme for worship and circulate it among Meeting members. Members of Ministry and Counsel will use the theme in our care of worship activities: we will use the theme to select a reading or a reflection, for example, to open worship.

We encourage Meeting members to consider whether they have a message to offer that arises from or speaks to this theme.

We also encourage other committees of the Meeting to suggest possible themes for our worship.

November 2018 Library News

By Dorothy Hinshaw

Most of you may know that New England Yearly Meeting was the first yearly meeting organized in the Society of Friends, even established before London Yearly Meeting. For more information about NEYM, check out one of the newest additions to the Durham Friends Library (289.6): Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beginning of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, a printed account of a gathering in celebration held at Moses Brown School, Sixth Month, 24th, 1911. Other recent additions to the library include booklets which contain NEYM minutes of sessions held in 1904, 1905, 1907, 1927, 1928, and 1944.   Fascinating reading! The early years included minutes from both the men’s and women’s meetings. Also, in those early days, not only were queries read, but answers were included regarding compliance to the queries! These minute booklets are located in a plastic bag in the Quaker section (289.6 New) of the library.

Newsletter Committee Updates, December 2018

By Liana Thompson Knight, Clerk
The Newsletter Committee has a few updates and reminders this month:

1. Newsletter Deadline: We are changing the deadline for submissions to the newsletter to 5pm on the Wednesday after Monthly Meeting.

2. Newsletter Submissions: We need your help with submitting information to the newsletter. If you have a submission (report, article, description of an upcoming event, etc.) please write it up in a way that will be able to run in the newsletter without requiring further writing. Pieces will be edited; however, we need them to arrive to us written. However, please do not include formatting (no hyperlinks, heading fonts, etc.); pieces will be formatted as part of being put into the newsletter. If possible, please send submissions in the body of an email, rather than as an attachment.

3. Durham Friends Notes: We remind Friends who have information that should go out as a Durham Friends Note please to pass that information not only to Jo-an (who sends out the emailed Notes) but also to David Dexter (207-595-3329), who initiates the phone tree for the same information. If you cannot reach David, Liana Thompson Knight (207-737-9781) will be a backup for initiating the phone tree.

Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting – November 2018

November 16, 2018

The final report of the Paid Position Working Group will be presented to Monthly Meeting this Sunday, November 18.  The members of the Working Group, which has focused on the larger question of Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting, are Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Wendy Schlotterbeck.

A compilation of the Working Group’s earlier progress reports to the Meeting can be found here.

Our Approach to Pastoral Care Today   

Committee on Ministry and Counsel, September 2018                      

For many decades, Durham Friends Meeting had a paid pastor who, among other responsibilities, took primary responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community.   The Meeting made the decision in November 2016 first on a trial basis, and then, in October 2017, to continue “for the time being,” to proceed without a paid pastor.

With this decision, the Committee on Ministry and Counsel took on the lead responsibility for pastoral care in the Meeting community.   Especially over the past year, members of Ministry and Counsel have discussed how we should carry out this responsibility. We would like to give Meeting members a summary of what we have developed as the current approach to pastoral care.

  • Members and attenders of the Meeting are encouraged to bring situations calling for pastoral care to the attention of The Meeting clerk, the clerk of Ministry and Counsel or another member of Ministry and Counsel.
  • Ministry and Counsel discusses situations calling for pastoral care at least once each month as part of its regular meeting agenda, and more frequently if pressing.   The committee maintains a list of such situations to be sure we don’t neglect any of them. We regularly review this list.
  • We ask one member of the committee to be the point person for each situation, asking that person to make visits or take other appropriate action and subsequently report back to Ministry and Counsel. In more complex situations, we convene a team to work together on the matter.
  • The Committee on Ministry and Counsel takes the need for confidentiality very seriously. We respect the confidentiality of whatever is said to us by those experiencing difficulties, and do not discuss specific pastoral care situations outside of the committee without specific permission from those affected.

We know this approach to pastoral care is a change from the past, particularly for those with long experience in the Meeting of having a paid pastor providing pastoral care.

We ask members of the Meeting community to give us feedback on how this new approach to pastoral care is working. What is going well and what is not going so well?

Ad Hoc Committee Continues Its Work

By Doug Bennett

The work of Durham Meeting’s ad hoc committee will be back on the agenda in September and we need your help. The most recent report of the committee (from April) is on the Meeting’s website.

At the May Monthly Meeting we agreed to these next steps:

  1. That committees currently providing pastoral care (M&C), outreach (CE, P&SC, newsletter) and coordination (clerks meeting) consider their roles and effectiveness more deeply;
  2. That these groups and committees report back to the Ad Hoc working group with their thoughts by Sept. 17;
  3. That the Ad Hoc group organize a time for A Community Conversation about the Way Forward on Sept 30 (5thSunday) 2018.

So please, if you are a member of a Meeting committee, please note what we are asking you to do, and send the ad hoc committee your thoughts by September 17. And please mark your calendars for a special discussion on Sunday, September 30.

Thank you.

Recommendations on Outreach, April 27, 2018

Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Strengthening Durham Meeting, presented to May Monthly Meeting

A. Framing Thoughts. Three large ideas have emerged to frame our thinking about how to strengthen outreach for Durham Friends Meeting. We should bear these in mind as we consider what specific efforts we might want to undertake.

  1. Strengthening the worship life of Durham Friends Meeting should be the main concern of our outreach efforts in the future. We believe we should focus on those outreach efforts that have promise to draw more people to worship regularly with us. (Holding events that draw new people to the Meetinghouse but that draw none of these people to come to worship with us on Sunday should not be high among our priorities.)

2. Attend to deepening community as well as outreach. We want to strengthen not just our outreach to newcomers or those who do not yet know us; we also want to strengthen the relationships among those of us who are already members or regular attenders. We want to know each other better. A fair number of us still feel relatively new.

3. Also pay attention to Pastoral Care. Though perhaps not outreach per se, as we have sought ideas for outreach, people keep mentioning the need to strengthen what we are doing with regard to pastoral care. (We do not pursue this here. The Committee on Ministry and Counsel is currently considering how to strengthen Pastoral Care at Durham Friends Meeting.)

B. Possible Initiatives. While we have considered a large number of possibilities, these seem like the most fruitful ones to pursue. We are already doing many of these things, but the suggestion is that we do more.

  1. Make more and better use of media.

a. We should try to place more articles in local print newspapers, especially the Brunswick Times Record, but also others. We might also consider placing paid advertisements in newspapers.

b. We should make greater use of electronic media, especially our website and Facebook or other social media, trying to make these work together and to reach out beyond our current members and attenders.

c. Signage out front of the Meetinghouse. We should have signs or banners outside our Meetinghouse visible to traffic that passes by.

2. Hold more regular family events. We have had good success with intergenerational game nights, and similar events. We should do more of these and more regularly. We should also work on extending invitations to these more broadly.

3. Hold more Potluck Suppers with a speaker or panel. Again, regularly, we should consider having a series of events, widely publicized, each featuring a speaker (might or might not be a member). Peace and social concerns issues might be the focus of these.

4. Pursue some special Durham-focused efforts. We should try to make ourselves better known to our immediate neighbors in Durham, where we have a declining number of members. We might do a town-wide mailing inviting them to visit. We might do an open house. We might sponsor a forum on a topic of interest to Durham residents.

5. Make a more sustained effort to follow up with new visitors. We should be sure we get contact information from visitors and be sure we follow up via phone, mail, e-mail, invitations to potlucks and the like. We should also provide more opportunities for newcomers to learn more about Quakerism, perhaps through a Seekers and Sojourners class or gatherings.

C. How to pursue these initiatives. Whichever of these initiatives we pursue, there are two broad options for how we pursue them. We can see these options as alternatives, or we could see them as complementary. We especially seek the Meeting’s advice on which way to proceed.

  1. We could see Outreach as everyone’s responsibility. Perhaps we should see outreach as something to which every part of the Meeting and everyone should contribute. On this option, we’d all try to face outward a little more. For example,

a. We could ask each regular committee of the Meeting to be sure to undertake some Outreach activities. Christian Education could do game nights, Peace and Social Concerns could hold potluck suppers with speakers, Ministry and Counsel could follow up with visitors and hold Seekers and Sojourners sessions.

b. In addition, we could expand the charge and perhaps size of the Newsletter Committee giving it responsibility for our website and Facebook page as well as print media possibilities, making it a Communications Committee.

2. We could place responsibility for Outreach in a particular place in the Meeting. On this option we focus responsibility within the Meeting.

a. We could make Outreach the focus of a regular committee – an Outreach Committee that would pursue many of the ideas sketched in section B.

b. We could have also have a paid, part-time Meeting Secretary or Coordinator who would work on communications and outreach activities, under the direction of an Outreach Committee.

Trustees Report, May 13, 2018

Trustees met on Sunday, May 13 and reviewed the list of outstanding projects, and began the planning for maintenance and repair for the next three years for the meetinghouse and grounds.  In June, we will have a similar process for the parsonage and cemeteries.

Outstanding projects:  Windows in Basement have been installed and Dan Henton will mortar up the windows that sit in the ground and cannot be replaced.

He will also refresh the water softener and replace the filter cartridge in an attempt to increase water pressure.  We have been advised by a plumber that our system is obsolete and we are considering options in our long term planning.

We are still soliciting estimated for the repair and replacement of the ceilings and since the job is “so small”, to add the painting of the walls of the meeting room to the estimate.

We are actively looking for a lawn care provider, and Donna Hutchins will follow up. Cemeteries will be mowed 3-5 times between Memorial Day and end of September, parsonage and meeting grounds more frequently to reduce tick exposure.

We discussed tick control and will research both toxic and nontoxic alternatives, with cost estimates, before next month.

We are still soliciting bids for the horse shed.

A water test conducted at the parsonage show it is within acceptable limits other than the presence of radon.

Donna will work with Margaret on the cemetery accounts and plotting, which Eileen Babcock had previously done.

We are in need of an additional member to replace Eileen and ask Nominating Committee to also consider who might serve.

We remind Friends that the lease for the parsonage will expire in June and that it will go to month to month.  Based on 2017 costs of approximately $11,800 and expected income of $14,400, we recommend that there be no increase in the rent and expressed appreciation for care our tenants show for the parsonage.

We received a request that the meetinghouse be made available to a Native American group for worship, drumming, dinners and fellowship and heartily agree to this.  We do not believe that there should be a cost for worship and recommend that a free will offering of any amount be requested but not required.

We closed in deep gratitude and with silence, and then did a walk around to look at winter damage and identify future tasks, including the hanging of banners.

State of Society – Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends – 2017

April 29, 2018

State of Society — Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends — 2017

In 2017 the State of our Society at Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends was strong, vibrant and energetic. Our trust in our community and shared Quaker faith led us to explore new terrain with hopefulness, trusting that more Truth would be revealed to us through expectant waiting, spiritual faithfulness and good stewardship.

We took a risk early in the year, agreeing to explore becoming an un-pastored meeting. Ministry and Counsel guided our path through a number of listening sessions, surveys and called meetings to help chart our course and measure our community needs. While we had grown to see ourselves as ministers among ministers, we wondered whether we were ready to take on this responsibility more fully and without a pastor to guide us. Ministry and Counsel coordinated and arranged for spoken ministry by meeting members and the wider spiritual community. This experience has resulted in a growing number of members of our community feeling led to speak more regularly, which has become a deeply rewarding part of our corporate worship. We continue to be moved and inspired by the variety of voices and messages.

A Clerks’ Committee was developed which met bi-monthly to help support and encourage communication and coordination within the meeting. This group was successful at building stronger connections and mutual support across committees and with the presiding clerk.

Another Spirit-led effort was the successful completion of a project involving the installation of a new roof, a solar installation to meet our electric needs and a heat pump for a portion of the meetinghouse. We are incredibly grateful to the NEYM, Obadiah Brown’s Benevolent Fund and Friends General Conference Green Meetinghouse Fund contributing 60% for the costs of this project, helping us meet our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and living as an example in our community. The completion of this $50,000 project was recognized with a ribbon-cutting in June. We look forward to many years of sunshine warming both our bodies and our souls!

We were cheered by another year of increasing membership, adding four new members and two children. We are delighted by a growing number of new attenders and families that have become a regular part of the meeting. Attendance at worship was generally 30-40. Peace and Social Concerns Committee took on welcoming many of our new attenders, inviting them to special dinners throughout the year, which were filled with warmth and good conversation.

First Day school for both children and adults continued to meet regularly. The Christian Education Committee offered a number of gatherings and activities to encourage family and inter-generational involvement. Godly Play continued as an inspirational curriculum for the young children, along with First Day School for young Friends. We continued to support our highly capable Youth Minister, involved in family ministry and we also hired a childcare worker to assist with the younger children. The adult hour included a variety of topics including discussions, of NEYM Interim Faith and Practice updates, and a very popular fourth-Sunday series featuring a different member’s spiritual journey each month.

In other areas, our Woman’s Society remains an important catalyst for many good works, including a monthly meal for a local homeless shelter, ministering to our home-bound friends, and supporting projects for the United Society of Friends Women International. A new Men’s Group came together, meeting for discussion and companionship. Energy converged to bring new life into our website, for which we are deeply grateful, and we remain thankful for many individuals in the meeting who are involved in service and action as well as numerous Quaker-affiliated groups.

As the year ended, we drew together once again for a series of listening sessions to guide our discernment of the meeting’s needs and direction. Are we on the right path? What is our vision? How can we best meet our needs and work toward this vision? We look to 2018 with awe and wonder… and with faith we will be led to our unique Truth.

 

 

Next Steps on Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting

Second Report of a Working Group – February 2018

[The first report of the ‘Paid Position Working Group’ was presented to Monthly Meeting on January 18, 2018.  This is the Working Group’s second report.]

Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Jo-an Jacobus, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Martha Hinshaw Sheldon.

At the January Monthly Meeting of Durham Friends Meeting, we brought a report that sketched a number of alternative models for an additional part-time paid position at the Meeting. That was what we had been asked to bring. The Monthly Meeting was unusually well attended, and we are deeply appreciative of the many thoughtful comments and perspectives we heard in the consideration of the report. It seemed to us that those in attendance spoke from depth and listened unusually carefully to one another.

In this report we want to (A) summarize what we heard and (B) tell you how we propose to proceed.

(A) A Summary of What We Heard. Here is a brief summary of what struck us as the most important things we heard. (Of course, we heard a great deal more.)

1. We are a healthy Meeting. We affirmed we are a healthy, strong middle-sized Quaker Meeting. We are still adjusting to not having a pastor.

2. We have some things we need to work on. At the same time, we know there are some things we need to work on doing better, especially pastoral care, outreach, and coordination.

3. An additional paid position? Perhaps it is the way to go, but perhaps it isn’t. The report listed some reasons from having another paid position (confidentiality, reliability and accountability), but in the discussion we also lifted up a reason not to have another paid position: we all need to feel responsible for what the Meeting does, and we should all feel called to contribute.

4. Let’s focus on releasing one another to Ministry. There are lots of gifts in our Meeting. We need to encourage one another. We need to call one another out, call one another into taking initiative where and when someone has a leading. Perhaps this would lead us toward a paid position, but perhaps it wouldn’t. (For those who may not be familiar: A Released Friend is a Friend whose leading to carry out a particular course of action has met with approval from a Meeting which then promises to provide such support as would enable the Friend to follow that leading.)

5. We need to talk together more. This was an important discussion together: a joined discussion in depth. We need to have more of these.

(B) How we propose to proceed. Given the discussion at the January Monthly Meeting, we are reluctant simply to bring forward a single recommendation for a paid position, at least at this point.

We heard affirmation that the Meeting needs to work on all three of these matters: pastoral care, outreach and coordination. These are three important matters. All three need attention, but we do not think we should take the same approach with each. Indeed, we think each needs to be addressed in its own way. So, at this point we propose the following ways to work on each.

(1) Pastoral Care. The pastoral care team has now become part of Ministry and Counsel. Ministry and Counsel has taken responsibility for pastoral care, but has not really had an opportunity to consider how best to make sure we are meeting the needs of Meeting members in this regard.

Approach. We should ask Ministry and Counsel to consider how best to proceed with pastoral care, and to report and make recommendations to Monthly Meeting.

(2) Outreach. At present, Outreach isn’t really any person or committee’s responsibility though there are some good efforts being made, especially by Christian Education and Peace and Social Concerns. We lack a Meeting-wide understanding of what we should be doing about Outreach and who should be doing it.

Approach. This should a topic for discussion at a Monthly Meeting in the near future, perhaps March. Our Working Group would be willing to make preparations for having this discussion.

(3) Coordination. A relatively recent innovation, better known to some than others, is to have a Clerks’ Meeting from time to time: a gathering of the Meeting Clerk with the clerks of the various standing committees. This is one approach to coordination and seems to be doing good things. But is this enough? Does this Clerk’s Meeting connect with all the different parts of the Meeting that need to be coordinated?

Approach. Ask the Clerk’s Meeting to consult broadly about the issue and consider whether there is something more we need to do about coordination or whether our new approach to this is sufficient. 7 of 8

Again, they should report and make recommendations to the Monthly Meeting in the near future.

Perhaps consideration of these three matters, as we’ve sketched them, will lead to a recommendation for a paid position, or perhaps not. Perhaps it will lead to a new standing committee, or perhaps not.

At some point we also believe the Meeting Handbook should be updated and revised, but we believe that should wait until we take these further steps.

Strengthening Durham Friends Meeting – Working Group Report 1/18

Report and Recommendations of a Working Group            January, 2018

Doug Bennett, Joyce Gibson, Jo-an Jacobus, Theresa Oleksiw, Sukie Rice, and Martha Hinshaw Sheldon.

At the October Monthly Meeting for Business, Durham Friends Meeting approved a recommendation from Ministry and Counsel that we continue as a semi-programmed meeting but without a part-time pastor.

The six of us were appointed by the Monthly Meeting at that same Monthly Meeting for Business as an ad hoc committee to develop a job description for a stipend position to address pastoral and other needs. The committee will explore alternative models to help us discern what might work best for us. The entire community is asked to hold in our hearts the concerns that we have heard for pastoral care, confidentiality, spiritual nurture and outreach.”

This first report from the Ad Hoc Committee we intend to be a basis for discussion among members of the Meeting. As requested, we present a few “alternative models” for consideration. After discussion by the Meeting, we intend to bring back a single recommendation to consider for approval.

The full report can be obtained here.

Christian Education Committee Minute of Appreciation for Clarabel Marstaller’s Contributions

The Christian Education Committee minutes its appreciation for our beloved Friend Clarabel Marstaller’s many years of faithful work in Christian education for Durham Friends Meeting. When she resigned from our Committee in March, she mentioned that she has been involved in the work here since 1949 – 67 years! She has seen our Meeting and its work in religious education go through many changes over the years, and has worked creatively every step along the way. We are grateful for the continuity and resilience she has lent the Committee’s work. She has offered a deep well of experience and knowledge to draw upon. We hope we can continue to draw upon her insights and encouragement in the future. Thank you, Clarabel! For the Christian Education Committee, Tess Hartford, Clerk Approved at Monthly Meeting, April 17, 2016

From the Ad Hoc Fundraising Committee

May 27, 2012
Good morning Friends,
These are sad times, having recently lost two dear Friends. It is often at sad times that we are reminded of
the importance of our physical presence, and how we each support and care for the Meeting. At times like this,
it is clear that we are here only through the Grace of God, that it is through God’s Grace that we each provide
the care and support so necessary to sustain our Meeting. So perhaps it is not too big a stretch to consider also
the importance of our financial support of the Meeting. Since it is also through God’s Grace that we have this
building in which to gather.
And so it is that we introduce ourselves to you today as members who are working on the Financial Health
and Care of Durham Friends Meeting. We are members of the ad hoc Fundraising Committee which was
appointed by Monthly Meeting in February. We come to you today to introduce ourselves and to speak about
the need for this committee. Our task is to explore ways to strengthen our weekly giving which supports our
operating budget, and to rebuild our capital funds.
You might ask: Why?
For the past several years we have been falling short in our operating budget, and we have been relying on
savings to fill the gap each year. Using this method, we are steadily depleting our savings. Also, with the
accomplishment of several major building improvements, we have depleted our capital funds.
We want to develop wise practices so that we can move forward toward a bright future for our Meeting.
But where and how to do we begin?
Appreciation: As a committee, we began with deep appreciation for what we have been given. We are
fortunate in many ways at Durham. We know that we have a generous membership, with people giving in
many ways to support our Meeting. We realize that each contributes as they are able. We know that all gifts
are accepted with gratitude. We recognize that all gifts, be they monetary, volunteer or in-kind contributions
come from a sense of spiritual and loving generosity.
Through this loving care we accomplish many things. We pay our bills each month. We have made many
improvements both at the Meetinghouse and at the Parsonage: (Fellowship Room, Library, Children’s Room,
Parsonage boiler). All of this demonstrates our loving care for each other and for the Meeting. The physical
improvements and maintenance of our buildings help ensure us all that Durham Friends will continue to be here
for us, as our Spiritual Home. We know that our ability to continue to function is due primarily to the
commitment to giving that comes from each person active in the meeting. It is this faithfulness that forms the
core of Durham Friends as a vibrant and loving community.
For these things we are deeply grateful. We are all blessed to share in this good fortune.
Current Status: However, our financial strength at Durham Meeting needs careful attention.
A. Operations: Our Operational Budget is like our heartbeat. It keeps us going each day, just like our hearts do
for us. Sometimes it is easy to forget that our hearts are working for us all day, every day. Similarly, we find
ourselves now in a situation where we our weekly giving does not match our operational expenses. We are not
keeping up with our heartbeat. The Heart-blood of our Meeting needs some help. Although we live modestly
at the Meetinghouse and the Parsonage, we find that we will fall short this year by about $15,000.
We currently take in about $42,000 a year in the weekly offering. With about 45 people attending each
Sunday, that averages about $18 per person per week. Some give more; some give less. But, in order to reach
our goal of $57,000 the average individual giving would need to increase to about $25 per week.
We are asking each of you to consider your current giving level, and determine whether you have room to
increase your offering. We realize that this is not an easy task, nor a very tempting one, and we know that there
are some who may not be able to make any changes. But for those of you who do have room for change we
have some ideas…
Page 7 of 14
I recently found a quote that spoke strongly to me on this subject, and I modified it a bit: “There is no set
formula for financial giving. Just as each person is unique, so is their ability and their response to financial
giving.”
That has become my mantra for this committee.
In a few minutes, some of our committee members will speak about ideas that work for them. Perhaps one
of these ideas may inspire you.
B. Capital Fund: Although we come to you today primarily to present and explain our operational needs,
our group will also be working on ideas to re-build our capital fund. Similar to the needs and care of our
physical bodies, our capital needs also require attention to maintain the physical health of our Meeting
buildings.
How can we best support our Meeting?
Just as Durham Friends feeds your Soul, which enlivens your heart, breath and body, may each of you
discern with wisdom how best you can financially support the Heart and Body of Durham Meeting, so that we
may remain spiritually vibrant, active and well-nourished.
Thank you.
— Presented by Sarah Sprogell

Woman’s Society April Meeting Notes

By Nancy Marstaller
Fourteen women met at Muriel and Karen Marston’s. Their recent work on the house makes the place just glow.
Margaret Wentworth led the program and devotions on the theme “God Speaks Through Others.” The author of the lesson in our Blueprints quoted Psalm 46: “As the deer panteth for water, so my soul panteth for you, oh God.” We shared how God can speak to us through others or in ways we might not recognize.
We sent many cards: thinking of you, birthday, get well, and thank you. Our treasurer reported a balance of $2,140.94, with $2,000 dedicated to a meetinghouse sound system. The April Tedford meal was chicken and rice, green salad, fruit, brownies and
cheesecake. Angie and her team will provide the May meal.
We are asked to pray for all Friends attending the Friends World Committee for Consultation world conference in Kenya. We planned details of the NE USFW meeting to be held at the meetinghouse on May 12 and the Yard Sale on May 26 (see related articles!). In closing our meeting, we held in prayer all those who could not join us for the evening.
We enjoyed Karen’s fabulous refreshments, the antics of their dog, and each other’s company before heading into the night. Our next meeting will be Monday, May 21, at Nancy’s house, with Angie leading devotions and Dot Hinshaw leading the program. Hope you can come!

Woman’s Society July 18, 2011

By Nancy Marstaller

We met on a perfect summer evening at Helen Clarkson’s lovely home with its fantastic view.  Margaret Wentworth led us in devotions and the program – taking highlights from the last two programs from our Blueprints lessons book.  One was based on the story of Jesus healing the man who had been crippled for 38 years.  Jesus asked if he wanted to be healed.

We pondered how sometimes we cling to old ways of life, even if new ways of being open to us.  The known feels safer, even if we know the new way will be better for others and ourselves.  We wondered how we might need to change our Woman’s Society so that we continue to be a group that meets women’s spiritual needs.

We talked about the past split in New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, and what might have happened if we had lived up to our ideals and the split never occurred.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that we are looking for God’s will in our lives, not our own will’s desires.

In the business meeting, we sent “thinking of you” cards to several.  Our treasurer reported a balance of $3540.93, of which $2000 is earmarked for the meeting sound system.

We decided to donate to several of the USFWI projects: $150 each to Keys to the Kingdom, Four Funds, Peace and Christian Social Concerns, and the Christian Service Fund and $100 to the Thanks Offering.  Locally, we approved donating $100 each to Opportunity Farm, the Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine, and Tedford Housing.

We are asked to pray for those attending the Friends United Meeting Triennial, especially visitors from Kenya, many of whom have been denied visas by our government so won’t be able to attend.  We pray for our policy makers, that their hearts be opened.

Our nominating committee reported that most positions have been filled for the coming year.  They still have a couple more people to ask.  We are so grateful to all who are willing to share in the roles needed to keep our society working.  Jo-an volunteered to produce an updated contact list.

The Tedford meal in July was vegetarian and hot dog macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, green salad, watermelon, and cookies.

If you don’t already receive the NE USFW newsletter and would like to, let Clarabel Marstaller know.  You may receive it by email or post.

Our August meeting will be our annual eat out on August 15 at 6 PM.  We agreed we would like to go back to the Lion’s Pride.  Theresa will check out making arrangements.

We polished off our evening with Helen’s delicious raspberry and cherry pies, and other goodies, after that we continued to enjoy each other’s company before heading into the warm summer night.

Woman’s Society Report for June

By Angie Reed

The Woman’s Society met on June 20, 2011 for a High Tea (light suppa) at the home of Dorothy and Ed Hinshaw.  12 women dined on cucumber sandwiches, beets, soda bread and jam, strawberries, cheesecake, among other delights, and of course freshly brewed tea.  These were served by the beautiful hostess, Dorothy with help from her male family members, Ed and grandson Chris, all with good humor.  All women who attended felt like queens for the day and had a wonderful, unforgettable time.  A HUGE thank you goes out to Dorothy, Ed, and Chris for providing those gathered with a wonderful way to begin the summer.

Following the tea, we gathered in the parlor for our program and meeting. Jo-an Jacobus lead devotions by reading the children’s book, “Praying with our Feet”.  The program for the evening was titled “Working for Peace” and was read jointly by all attendees. It described the work of Charlotte Stangeland and a team of people who are developing a Peace Curriculum to be taught to young people in Kenya.

In business, we were asked to pray for the team of people we had just discussed who are developing the Peace Curriculum in Kenya and have been hindered by government regulations and are doing their best to complete the curriculum before the next presidential elections in 2012. The Tedford meal for June was Sloppy Joes, 2 salads, rolls, ice cream and rhubarb sauce. We discussed the book list for the next season of the reading program.  Please let Angie know if you have any books you would like to share with the Meeting for the next reading program which starts in Sept. of 2011.   Nancy read a list of donations for Tess Marstallar’s camp program in Cameroon.  Items donated included soccer balls, crayons, pens, pencils, 10 jump ropes and lots of stickers. Please check Tess’s blog to see how your items are being used.  Thank you to all those who contributed to the care package Tess Marstaller will use in her camp program

Last but not least, we discussed the Yard Sale which made a grand total of $1,789.75 and is a record for us. People were pleased with the new pricing system for Jumble items, and expressed regret that Syretha Brooks was not home to share in the kitchen fun this year. We decided to spend some of these funds to continue contributions to the “Adopt a Nurse Program” and also send monies to the youth funds that were listed as under funded in the last “Advocate”.  Some of the money was placed in reserve to fund community needs throughout the year, especially as winters have been so hard on people lately.

The meeting ended by Dorothy Curtis who read silly quotes and messages of friendship. The next meeting will be on July 18 at the home of Helen Clarkson.  All are invited to attend.

Woman’s Society Newsletter Report for May

By Angie Reed

The Woman’s Society met on May 16, 2011 at Nancy Marstaller’s house. 15 women gathered for a devotional prayer by Dotty DeLoach, and a program by Sarah Sprogell. Sarah shared her experiences with Bobbie Jordan in the last months and moments of Bobbie’s life here on earth. We were all touched by the pure love and devotion these two wonderful women share for each other and join Sarah in prayers for her next steps in her journey.

In business, Prayers were asked for the recipients of the Joy fund who are Christine Wood of Kickapoo Center; Brenda White of Mesquakie Center; and Ann Kendall of MOWA Choctaw Center. We would also suggest you include Joseph Makokha in your prayers. He is the clerk of the Friends Church Peace Team in Kenya and is much involved with the Peace Curriculum being developed for Kenyan schools. The Tedford Meal for May was hot dogs, and buns, green salad and 2 wonderful deserts.

Kitsie Hildebrandt has purchased four platters to be used for Woman Society sponsored events and was asked to purchase a few more in the event of breakage. The new Blueprints for 2011-2012 are available for purchase for $5.00 from Margaret Wentworth. Angie Reed asked that members review the book list for the coming year in the Advocate and let her know if there are any books on this list you would like to read during our next year’s reading program. Final plans were made for this year’s yard sale to be held May 28th at the Meeting House. Please look for new pricing on our Jumble items.

Lastly, Nancy Marstaller read an email from Tess who is in the Peace Corp in Tombel, a province of Cameroon. She has asked for a care package for her students to help her put on a summer camp for girls this coming summer.  We will put together a care package similar to that sent to Japan to be mailed out after Father’s day. See newsletter article for more details.

The meeting was closed by Kitsie who read a poem by Mary Oliver which in part said… in life “it is not the weight you carry but how you carry it.” The next Meeting will be hosted by Dorothy Hinshaw on June 20th at her home at 5:30pm.

Youth Minister’s Report Spring 2011

By Wendy Schlotterbeck

1. Durham Young Friends held a very successful “Rise Up singing” sing-a-long concert on March 19th.  It seemed that all who came had a wonderful time and the youth made $1001.  My highlight of the year was watching the young friends in the front row thoroughly engaged and enjoying both the concert and one another.

2. The April Young Friends Meeting was held at Aunt Bee’s house and the youth, as always, had a fabulous time.  Special thanks to Brenda Masse for helping with the group as Wendy was at the Playing in the Light workshop along with Jeanne Baker-Stinson and five others.

3. At our May 20th meeting, we had a sleepover at the Meetinghouse.  We held a wonderful, lengthy Quaker discussion about whether we wanted to sponsor a Kakamega child.  The sense of the meeting was that we would indeed sponsor a child and accept the responsibility of continuing the sponsorship year by year.  The youth were excited about writing letters and hope that in a few years, some of us may participate in the Summer Trip to Kakamega to meet the children.

4. As the school year comes to a close, I am amazed and humbled by our youth who in a short time (the Philadelphia trip was just last year!) have really bonded into a lovely group.  Some remarked how Durham Young Friends (DYF) feels like family, they love coming to Meeting, and really enjoy being friends and Friends.  We at Durham are so very blessed to have such incredible young people in our midst.

5. Passages has been focusing more on Conscientious Objection this spring, our final gathering on May 22nd featured excerpts from the documentary “Soldiers of Conscience,” and a special guest who is a member of Veterans for Peace.  We hold Kris Reed in the Light as he ventures forward in his journey after graduation from high school in June.  Next fall, we plan to continue the high school “Passages” group and look forward to more study of faith communities especially Islam and Judaism.

6. Please attend “Children’s Day” on Sunday, June 12th when the youth will have the care of worship.  There will also be a picnic after meeting with food, games, and activities.

7. On June 17 – 19 our annual campout will be held at Betsy Muench’s summer home.  All of Durham Meeting is warmly invited.  If you can’t stay overnight, come for a few hours during the day for kayaking, swimming, beach activities, singing and wonderful conversation.  Contact Wendy Schlotterbeck for more details.

Woman’s Society Report for April

By Margaret Wentworth

The Durham Friends Woman’s Society met on April 18 at Clarabel Marstaller’s home.  Ten women attended.  Bee Douglas led devotions, emphasizing the many ways she has felt cared for by her family and f/Friends.  Theresa Oleksiw gave the program on care of the elderly.  Her presentation of the Blueprints information led to much sharing among the group.

In business, we were asked to pray for Ann Riggs, Principal of Friends Theological College, and her excellent work in Kenya.  We had no report on the April Tedford meal.  Team F has the May meal.  Five Easter pies were ordered.  Their baking and delivery to meeting was coordinated.  The Yard Sale is set for Saturday, May 28.  The plans for advertising were discussed.  We noted that the box of toiletries for Japan is filling nicely.  Jo-an Jacobus presented information about the Durham Friends Meeting website and we clarified contact information to be used on the site for our group.  We appreciate the good work Markus Schlotterbeck and the website committee have done in setting it up, and are grateful for Jo-an’s willingness to keep it up to date.

Six women from our Meeting attended and enjoyed the USFW NE Spring Gathering in Portland.  USFWI has asked if New England could host the 2016 Triennial.  After discussing the information laid out in the Handbook on hosting those events, as the only organized Woman’s Society in New England, we decided we are not ready to attempt the task.  The 2011-2012 Blueprints have arrived and are available from Margaret for $5 each.  Our next meeting will be May 16 at the home of Nancy Marstaller.  Theresa will lead devotions and Sarah Sprogell will lead the program.

Dorothy closed the meeting with some wildly hilarious quotes from church bulletins, and we adjourned to feast on Clarabel’s delicious goodies.

State of the Society, 2010

Prepared by Ministry and Counsel, approved at Monthly Meeting
March 20,2011

“Let us cherish the seed of God in ourselves and in others, that we may be open to new revelations of truth. Let us look to our meetings to guide and stimulate our spiritual growth.” Advices on Spiritual Life, F and P, NEYM, 1985

How have we been open to truth and how has our meeting guided and stimulated us? At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century after the birth of Jesus, what do we offer to our families, our community and our world that speaks to “that of God” in each of us?

Our spiritual community has been deeply enriched by the work and messages from our interim pastor, Andrew Grannell. Our Pastoral Search Committee worked diligently and deliberately to call the best qualified Friend to our midst, Daphne Clement. Our Youth Minister and her able assistants provide a rich array of resources and opportunities to our beloved youth. They made a field trip to Philadelphia, worshipped with our Shaker neighbors and visited the Heifer Project. Attendance at Sunday School, Youth Passages and adult religious education has been consistent and strong.

The Woman’s Society has been active, raising more money in their annual yard sale than ever, and thus has more to give away. Our worship time is enlivened by the gifts of music, ministry and silent waiting. We offered Quaker Quest to our neighbors to let them know that they are welcome among Friends.

We have been ably led by our co-clerks, and the faithful stewards of all our gifts, spiritual, financial and material. We have completed extensive work on our buildings, making them more energy efficient, welcoming and as well ordered as resources allowed. We welcomed new attenders and mourned the passing of several of our members who were inspiring in their lives of grace and faithfulness. We grow older and bolder, but take time to offer each other fellowship and support in times of illness and duress. We know the power of love and tenderness and have heard repeatedly the calls to forgiveness.

We need to take the love and concern we experience in our meeting and pour it out in the rest of our lives. We have benefited from the ministry of traveling Friends, from our deepening connections with our Quarter through Quaker Quest. We are distressed to find ourselves without unity in matters that speak directly to our testimonies and pray that unity with all Friends, everywhere, may be found. We rejoice in our connections to Kakamega, Cuba, Kaimosi and Ramallah. We wish to offer more to the needy in our own neighborhoods, to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe those in need. We pray for peace.

We have found comfort in the metaphor of the potluck. Each of us brings what we are able, and we gather joyfully to share the bounty. It does not matter if we have little or nothing to bring, there is always enough. And being with each other, in light and laughter while giving thanks, is our deepest blessing. We are grateful.