Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2008

SPIRITUALITY:

Some of our members who have been in active attendance for several years are feeling that our meeting for worship generally has a deep sense of community involvement. Even when there are newcomers or guests present we feel a strong feeling of the presence of the Spirit. Many of us have overcome our initial resistance to speaking our leadings aloud, but we are not uncomfortable with the frequent happening of silence through the entire Meeting for Worship. We have one attender who will at times quietly sing a song or hymn. We continue to read the query after about ten minutes of silence, when the children, if any are present, then go to First Day School. Also, about ten minutes prior to rise of the meeting the clerk asks if there are any joys or concerns to express, or thoughts that did not quite reach ministry. People who otherwise are usually silent often speak at this time.

We have a covenant group of three people that meets twice a month.

One of our attenders, who is a lifelong member of a West Virginia Meeting, was married at her home here last summer with one of our members officiating along with a member from her old Meeting. This was a joyful and meaningful time and we enjoyed having her family members visiting at worship the next day.

We had a shared meal on New Year’s Eve, preceded by half an hour of silent worship. We feel that this was so successful that we may continue it in the future.

In response to someone using our building inappropriately, we have put a welcoming note on our gathering room table that is near the entrance.

MEMBERSHIP:

We have lost two of our beloved birthright members to a Quaker retirement community: we are pleased for them, but we miss them and their participation. (We had a farewell meal for them; at their request it was at their home, and we had a leaf raking party beforehand.) We have some new attenders who are taking an active part in our business of running a Meeting. We have a young attender who is a lifelong Friend who is active and offers us new viewpoints at times, for which we are grateful. We have a new attender who is gay, and this person reports feeling welcome and supported by us. All of these people are adding to the richness of our Meeting. Our attendance at worship has increased to average about ten to twelve.

BUSINESS:

We have dealt with several issues that have strengthened our meeting, some weighty and some not so weighty. One matter on which we spent a great deal of time and energy was the question of incorporation. After one member did a lot of research and an ad hoc committee met with a local attorney who donates his time to churches, we agreed not to incorporate. We were advised that we could of course incorporate if we wanted to spend the time and money to do so, but that in Virginia it really is unnecessary because the courts seldom find against the church unless there has been negligence or egregious activity. That led us to question what we expect from our trustees and what they should expect from us. After much consideration, one of our decisions was to limit our trustees’ terms to ten years. Our trustees had been in office for about fifteen years and were also part of the group of people that were the founders of Floyd Friends Meeting. We feel great gratitude to them for serving in that capacity.

We installed new clerks this year. We are in the process of having each retiring clerk draw up a written list of duties that are handed over to their replacement. This has been helpful and should continue to help in the future. These lists will continue to evolve.

Also we are compiling a procedure book with written explanations of our varied policies and procedures so that new people may consult this for understanding of how this meeting proceeds .We feel that it is good policy to have written material pertaining to our procedures for all of us to be able to consult and for clarification in the future.

One of our members has been attending the monthly meeting of the county ministerial association, and we were proud that she was asked to speak at the local ecumenical Thanksgiving service.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION:

First Day School: We rotate teachers for first day school, using a sign up sheet. We have decided to not use a set curriculum, but to have a quarterly theme, and let each teacher speak to that as s/he is led, either using materials that we have available or providing their own. Our theme for this quarter is Discernment. We have a notebook to keep a record of what has been taught. We have a small group of children who are not present every First Day, but two attenders are expecting to sit in the rocking chairs soon with little ones on their laps. .

Adult discussion: We continue to have a discussion once a month, preceded by a shared meal, except in the summer months and December. We frequently use a Pendle Hill pamphlet. We have discussed testimony, simplicity, integrity, equality and social justice, and the Bible and homosexuality. We take turns leading these discussions. Our discussions are sometimes intense or are of a deep emotional nature, and it is a sign of our commitment to our spirituality that we can deal with these moments with integrity.

PEACE AND SOCIAL CONCERNS:

We continue to collect non-perishable food items at our Second Sunday Harvest and take them to our local food bank. We sent monetary donations to the Central Asia Institute and to our local New River Community Action.

BUILDING AND GROUNDS:

We greatly appreciated an anonymous donation of a riding mower, The long awaited railing along our front steps became a reality when an attender who is a wood worker donated beautiful wooden posts and rails and even installed them with help from some other members.. We have planted clumping bamboo to hopefully hide some of our neighbor’s various apparatus that he is storing in his field..

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