Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship for the conduct of business on Sunday, May 20, 2018 with 8 people present, and 2 people joining later, for a total of 10. Clerk Susan (Sukie) Rice opened the meeting with a moment of worship and a prayer from Bede the Venerable:
Lord God, our Creator of Light,
At the rising of your sun each morning,
Let the greatest of all Lights – Your Love – Rise,
Like the sun in my heart.
- The minutes from April 15, 2018 Monthly Meeting were approved with corrections and edits noted for items 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 13 and 14. Corrections will be made to the minutes currently on file.
2. Margaret Wentworth brought the Trustees Report, which was gratefully accepted. The complete report is attached. Notable items are the development of a 3-year plan for maintenance and repair of the meetinghouse and grounds, including the on-going solicitation of bids for current projects; Dan Henton will complete outstanding projects concerning basement windows that will be enclosed and mortared, as well as servicing the water softener system; Donna Ross will work with Margaret on the cemetery plots.
Friends are reminded that the lease for the parsonage will expire at the end of June, and will change to a month-by-month basis. Trustees recommend that there be no increase in the rent at this time, and expressed appreciation for the care our tenants show for the parsonage.
Trustees have received a request by two local Native American families who would like to use the meetinghouse for worship, drumming, dinners and fellowship to support and develop their cultural traditions. Trustees are still in conversation with this group, but feel a sense of hearty agreement to the request. Trustees believes, if approved, there should be no cost to use the building for worship purposes, but support a request for a free will offering.
The meeting feels united in an anticipated approval of this request, and looks forward to hearing more details as discussions progress and a final recommendation is presented.
. Sarah Sprogell presented a report from the Finance Committee, based on a request from New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) Finance Committee. NEYM is requesting that all monthly meetings consider approving a “letter of affirmation” that our meeting is affiliated with NEYM and wishes to be included in NEYM’s group exemption listing, which exists under NEYM’s 501c3 non-profit status.
This request is being made based on new IRS rules which govern aspects of non-profit organizations including churches. This status will allow to confirm to any donors that their contributions to the meeting are tax deductible, and will keep us in compliance with current IRS rules.
4. The meeting approved the writing of such a letter, as long as there would be no negative impact in doing so. Sarah will follow-up with Frederick Martin at NEYM, and draft such a letter if no negative impacts are discerned.
5. Sukie Rice reported for Ministry and Counsel regarding the receipt of a membership transfer certificate from Dover (NH) Meeting for Brown Letham, who has requested transferring his membership to Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends.
6. All present joyfully approved this request and welcome Brown into our meeting community.
7. Doug Bennett presented a report from the Ad Hoc working group examining outreach and other needs of the meeting. He reminded us that this group was formed in November 2017 to discern the possibility of developing a paid position for the meeting. The group identified 3 areas needing more strengthening: Pastoral Care, Outreach and Coordination of Information within the meeting. Ministry and Counsel is being asked to examine the area of Pastoral Care; the Clerks Group is being asked to examine its role in Coordination of Information. The Ad Hoc group agreed to look more deeply into Outreach needs and possible solutions. The full report from this group is attached.
. We gratefully accepted the good and faithful work of the Ad Hoc working group.
8. We further approved a plan for next steps moving forward, considering it would be most beneficial for the information in the report to be discussed more widely within the meeting. Therefore, we approved:
a. That committees currently providing pastoral care (M&C), outreach (CE, P&SC, newsletter) and coordination (clerks meeting) consider their roles and effectiveness more deeply;
b. That these groups and committees report back to the Ad Hoc working group with their thoughts by Sept. 17;
c. That the Ad Hoc group organize a time for A Community Conversation about the Way Forward on Sept 30 (5th Sunday) 2018.
9. Tess Hartford brought a report from Christian Education Committee. Children’s Day will be June 3, with a lunch provided by CE. The committee is aware of one (college) graduate this year. The committee is also working on updating the “hand quilt” used in the classroom, to include our current children’s names.
The report was gratefully accepted, with acknowledgement of the excellent work and care provided to the children of the meeting.
10. Margaret Wentworth reported as one of our representatives to Lisbon Area Christian Outreach (LACO) that we will be receiving a sign showing our support for the group. The sign is designed for exterior display.
11. We approved accepting the sign, and also referring its placement to the care of Trustees.
12. Sarah Sprogell reported for Falmouth Quarter, which met on April 28, 2018 at Brunswick Meeting, in Topsham ME. Margaret Wentworth and Sarah Sprogell were appointed representatives from Durham; Leslie Manning and Betsy Muench were also present. Perhaps the most significant item of business was the consideration to begin the process of laying down Lewiston Monthly Meeting; attendance has dwindled to 1 or 2 members, with an occasional visitor; no clerk has been found for the current year; and Bates College will no longer be able to host their meeting for worship. An Ad Hoc group is working with LMM on this concern, and recommends that if a worship group develops in the future, it might likely come under the care of Durham Meeting.
Other decisions were the approval of a Denominational Endorsement of a Portland Friend, Elizabeth Szatkowski, as she begins employment as a chaplain for Hospice of Southern Maine. Also approved was the appointment of Nathan Broaddus, also from Portland Meeting, to the corporate board of Beacon Hill Friends House.
13. Sarah Sprogell brought the 2017 annual statistical report (on file), noting that we approved 6 new members this year, and lost one member through death, for a total of 109 current members. 75% of our members are local residents; 75% are women; 50% are over 65 and 10% are 25 or younger. Average attendance last year was just under 40 each Sunday.
14. After a brief moment of contemplation on the value of families, we adjourned at 2pm.
Respectfully submitted by Sarah Sprogell, recording clerk pro tem