How does Meeting ensure that ministry is nurtured, and that members and attenders feel valued and cared for?
We find joy in coming together as a Meeting – to worship, to work, to play, to share in the communion of a potluck meal, to support those in need, to consider what it means for us to be a Friend/Quaker.
At the rise of Meeting each week we take time to share and listen to “after thoughts” – messages that weren’t ripe enough for sharing out of the silence and/or heartfelt responses to messages spoken during meeting. We ask for and listen to the children’s report of their First Day School activity, and often query them further. We share the joys, sorrows, and challenges in our lives and ask that others hold us in the light. We introduce ourselves and welcome any guests that are present.
We find joy in caring for one another – checking in with one another – especially those we have not seen for awhile or those who are going through a tough time.
Many of us feel that Meeting supports our inner lives so that we can let our light shine forth in the world. Meeting for Worship has been likened to an oasis, refreshing our spirits from the week we just had and nurturing our spirits for the week ahead, so that our lives can speak as Quakers.
What supports the life of the Spirit in our Meeting community?
Our love for one another (imperfect as it can be at times), and how our lives speak to one another.
Many of us have come to Quakerism as adults, seeking (and finding) support for our spiritual journey in a religion and a manner of worship that allows us to have a sense of our own spirit while becoming part of the spirit of the Meeting community. We value the support from the seasoned Friends among us, as they guide us in the Quaker forms and protocols.
The life of the spirit is especially enriched when we come together as a Meeting to give loving service to one another, to our Meeting House property, and to those in our community.
An openness to the Spirit as it manifests in each of our own lives, and as it manifests in those in Meeting.
There is a willingness to look at our own selves and sit with our own “stuff” (both as individuals and as a Meeting); to labor with issues/concerns that inevitably arise from being human and endeavoring to live as a community.
What challenges and troubles are we facing?
For some of us, there is a fear/reticence to share messages out of the silence of Meeting.
We are laboring to become clear on how much support and what kind of support to give to a Friends/members who do not participate in the life of the Meeting.
In what ways is Meeting less than we wish it would be?
We wish to see and have more exposure to the larger Quaker community. We feel that our spirits would benefit – as individuals and as a meeting community – to meet and hear about the experiences of other Quakers.
Our Meeting is small, and we long to see more new faces and have more diversity among our members/attenders. We have a wonderful diversity of religious experience/backgrounds, but not so much in socio-economic and racial.
One of our members envisions having a school.
Our First Day School is a continual struggle for us, in that there is less participation from the adults in Meeting then we wish for.
How is the presence of Spirit manifest in our lives as individuals?
In many ways. When we really see people and are present with them – being friendly to those we see in the course of our day – making eye contact, smiling, acknowledging them.
When we practice “seeing that of God” in every being that we meet.
Through our daily lives and interactions with all those beings with whom we share this bittersweet existence, looking to find/being open to seeing “that of God”.
When we slow down and allow time to be present – with ourselves and others.
In a tremendous ministry of action to the community.
How is the presence of Spirit manifested as a Meeting community?
See above and below.
Appendix of activities
We had a Summer retreat to look at and discuss selected queries as they changed over time.
We had a Winter retreat to discuss and give feedback on the 2010 Draft of BYM’s Faith and Practice.
We continued to participate in Safe Nights (an interfaith program that provides shelter and food for those without homes during the winter months) by providing meals. The First Day School children made cookies and soap.
We continued to provide dinners of pizza throughout the year for the residents of Project Echo –the homeless shelter in Calvert County- and provided a lovely home-cooked New Year’s Eve meal for the residents.
We continued to contribute food to the End Hunger project in Calvert County.
We continue to have a Quaker presence on the Calvert Interfaith Council.
We continue to support the St. Mary’s County and Calvert County Mediation Centers.
We have offered housing for 3 sojourners this past year.
Many of us were a Friendly presence for a dying friend (an occasional attendee, a dear friend to many of our Meeting). Some of our members who are mediators were involved in assisting him rebuild family and personal relationships that had been troubled for decades. And we all pitched in to assist his children in planning and having a Quaker memorial service that took place in the broader community.