State of Society – Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends – 2013
Our journey as a spiritual community seeking God’s will among us was rich with the continuation of many beloved traditions and our commitment to a number of inner and outer concerns that we hold dear. We continued to be sustained by our traditions. Our Pastor’s spirit-led messages gathered and deepened our Worship. Music was an important part of each Meeting. Our Youth Minister and Christian Education Committee offered a vibrant and engaging program for the young people and children of the Meeting. Adult study remained an inspiring and sustaining practice for many. The Woman’s Society continued to be a strong and important part of our vitality. Through this group we constructed numerous baby quilts, held the annual yard and plant sale, provided a reading program for all ages, and offered financial support to many community and wider Quaker concerns. Peace and Social Concerns engaged with environmental concerns. Our library continued to provide a rich resource to the Meeting.
Our spirits were nourished in additional ways. The contemplative prayer group was a powerful means of centering and deepening for those who participated. Community dinners and fundraisers, such as those for Lisbon Area Christian Outreach (LACO) and Kakamega, Kenya, Orphan Care Center, served to strengthen our friendships and build strong bridges among us. Ministry to those needing special attention provided a mutual benefit to all and served to deepen our relationships to one another. We were delighted to receive a number of traveling friends from Bolivia and Cuba this year.
Care of worship was especially important this year, particularly when we received the news that our pastor, Daphne Clement, would be retiring in October. This drew us together to arrange an interim plan, and further deepened a movement toward exploring and visioning the emerging needs of the meeting. While we know our spirit is strong, we recognize that our numbers have diminished. We know that each of us carries the power of ministry, and we are drawn to find new ways to develop and share these gifts more fully. We desire that our corporate Light would shine more brightly in the larger community, encouraging others to more easily find us.
As the year came to an end, we found ourselves on the cusp of new growth, bringing both a feeling of excitement and exhilaration and also a sense of caution and confusion about a future that will bring some form of change. We seek wisdom and strength for our journey, and so we call upon the One Who Knows All to watch over us, and we say: Divine Creator and Guide, help us to deepen our practice, awaken our insights, and remain true to Your Way, so that we might expand our vitality and feel Your Presence among us. Keep us steady and trusting of Your Wisdom. Greet us with patience each day, as we learn to listen and grow in love for You and for one another.
STATE OF SOCIETY 2011
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.