STATE OF SOCIETY REPORT 2007
STATE OF SOCIETY REPORT 2007
Barnstable Friends Meeting
Barnstable Friends Meeting gathered in personal and group worship to consider how Spirit had grounded us and moved through our midst during 2007. Reflecting upon the past year, since our founding in December 2006, we are grateful that attendance has more then doubled since our beginning. We began the year mindful of this quote from Faith and Practice:
“That is the beauty of the way of love, it can not be planned and
its end cannot be foretold.”(pg.188)
Usually our worship experience is blessed with two to three deeply spiritual messages that touch people in important and powerful ways. Many of us rely on this time to “recharge our spiritual batteries.” Other accounts from worshipers included these statements: “Personal concerns can be put away and mind and heart is rejuvenated and able to move forward with a clean slate”; “It is inspirational and rewarding to worship Sunday mornings with the most pleasant, committed group of nice people I have ever known”; “It is like a nest that I fly back to each Sunday”; “It is a joy to find a meeting which I feel I can both give and receive energy towards shifting the paradigm from fear to Love, from violence to Peace”; “We cherish a unity that transcends all differences as our worship fills with the Loving Light of All that is.” We have found ourselves to be a beautiful garden of Friends that bears a rich and varied produce.
We seek to act upon messages received with a constant, active seeking of the Light of Spirit, a questioning, “Is this truly where we are being led?” One area of great concern and action for our Meeting is with homelessness. It was an honor to be a part of the annual walk with four of us participating and events of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. In return for our prayers and acts of love, we have felt great blessings in return.
In Business Meeting sometimes our enthusiasm interrupts the sense of worship; we hope to do better at this in the coming year. However, many are struck by the joyfulness that is present. Every action is based upon complete unity and so we have had little internal conflict. One example is how we dealt with a request that we change our name. We gave time for Spirit to move everyone to a place where we could lovingly move forward. In May, we changed from Cape Cod Friends Meeting to Barnstable Friends Meeting. In addition, with celebration, we wrote and approved a same gender marriage minute.
Our relationship with the Marstons Mills Village Association, which owns our beloved Burgess House, (once the home of Quaker physician, Dr. Bennett Wing), has been sustained by an cooperative attitude of appreciation. Many of us participated in clean-up days and in planting a variety of annuals and perennials in the beautiful grounds. Our relationship with wider Friends, though, still saddens and troubles us. We were disappointed in the decision of Sandwich Quarter, nine months after we made a request, to not accept its Ministry and Counsel’s recommendation to appoint a clearance committee for us. Instead we were asked to “forbear” for an additional year. Some of us look forward to the restoration of unity with Friends of other meetings, others have let go of all expectation and are simply remaining receptive to possibility, however Spirit manifests. Some of us feel there are blessings in the challenge, that we become stronger in our ability to stay in the positive in the face of any storm — recognizing that the challenge of the Light sometimes is to be willing to be uncomfortable and still hold our hearts open.
Our Ministry and Counsel committee has been an active contributor to the well being of the meeting. It organized a number of memorial services and produced a booklet on death and bereavement. Ministry and Counsel oversees a wide variety of meeting activities and initiated monthly Quakerism 101 discussions and Worship for Healing. Ministry and Counsel has also produced other publications: a brochure for general information about the meeting, one on worship and another on healing. It also oversees work on Racists in Recovery Anonymous.
Barnstable Friends hosted a retreat for the Yearly Meeting Racial, Social and Economic Justice Committee [RSEJ] and supported RSEJ’s co-clerk in visiting Atlanta for the Freeman’s fund. We felt called to assist and support our own clerk as she accepted the request from this committee to write an article for the Freedom and Justice Crier on the circumstances which lead to a parting of Friends from the East Sandwich Meeting. We also gave input and participated in a Yearly Meeting workshop on white privilege that our clerk conducted, sponsored by RSEJ. Unfortunately, this article did stir things up again. It has been and continues to be our hope that we can all learn from this discord, recover and move on in a more wholesome way. What does the Light ask of us here? We are committed to work on learning more about racism and the difficulties around talking about and addressing these issues.
Our children’s program continues to grow. Our co-coordinator is one of our young Friends who said “I attend Meeting because of the people I have met there. I feel respected by adults who want to know my ideas and consider that what I have to say is important and matters. I feel like an equal. I like the peaceful way I feel after attending Meeting for Worship. I also like the vocal ministry, and how one message will connect to the next and grow, change, and add to other messages, and to what I am thinking. It's like a painting that everyone creates together, some add to the foreground, others the background, and some add the colors.” One of our secret blessings is our five Elders over 75 who add a dimension of dedication, intellect, humor and creativity; but mostly they add wisdom.
We move into the new year with hearts full of gratitude.
“When all else is stripped away, a life lived with love is enough." (Kent Nerburn, Small Graces)