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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.