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.