STATE OF SOCIETY Report 2008
Barnstable Friends Meeting -- State of Society Report 2008
Barnstable Friends Meeting (BFM) gathered together for Worship Sharing to consider the quality of our worship and spiritual practice during 2008.
We find our meeting to be quite like a community garden, truly a labor of love and hard work, with all of us contributing to the garden’s well being. In some ways, we are not only tending our precious plants but we ARE the plants seeking nourishment from Creator and we are also the soil that nourishes the harvest.
It has been a very fruitful year both in the richness and depth of our worship and in the outward manifestation of our spiritual practice. Vocal ministry at Meeting for Worship has been vibrant, meaningful and spirit-centered. Each of us brings a depth of seeking into our circle, accepting and welcoming differing points of view and fostering each other’s growth. One member stated, “ For me, finding BFM was a great relief from solitude and a lack of spiritual support. It took a great weight off my shoulders.” Another mentioned, “At BFM I have found what was missing in my life. More than a place to worship, it was finding a people whose faith and practice was so pure, so genuine and so active in the world. I know with certainty and heart that their presence was integral to my many deep, spiritual experiences during silent worship with them.”
Our harvest, the outward manifestation of our inward prayer life, included work with the homeless population through funding initiatives, attending events, writing to the newspaper and purchasing jewelry made by the homeless. We supported our clerk during her facilitation of a workshop on white privilege at New England Yearly Meeting and supported her decision to accept the clerkship of Yearly Meeting’s Racial, Social and Economic Justice Committee. We also proposed a revision of a historical writing in Faith and Practice concerning King Philip’s War and assisted a Mashpee Wampanoag elder with a book she is writing on the history of the Wampanoag. Turkeys were purchased and given to the Mashpee Wampanoag food pantry at Christmas for those in need.
Considering our size, we feel that we are a strong meeting and do reach out to our members and attenders in a way that fosters spiritual growth. We do this, in part, by sharing educational materials and holding after meeting sessions such as: Quakerism 101, Worship for Healing, Worship Sharing and Racists in Recovery Anonymous. We also enjoy a meal and social time after Meeting for Worship every First Day. We are excited to report that we approved one membership to BFM this year. As regards membership, it was made very clear that this involves membership to BFM only, not the wider Quaker community. We also hired a First Day School teacher who holds classes every month. As we move forward into 2009, it is the sense of the Meeting that we continue to listen deeply, go with gratitude and feel strength from the spirit-filled meeting we have become.
Individually and collectively BFM continues to work on love and forgiveness within our lives.
Statements from worshippers during our Worship Sharing included the following:
• “I am a little confused by Quaker process in regards to our relationship with Sandwich Quarter. A non-decision in my world IS a decision.”
• “We want our group to be respected and loved by other Friends’ Meetings.”
• “Two and a half years ago, when we started this meeting, we did not know how we would handle logistics, obstacles and discomfort with our presence. We knew we would move forward with faith and in the Light. Each of us brought a spiritual commitment that provided the framework for moving forward in a positive way. We have been guided by that ‘source of all love.’ It has brought us into this garden, into this place of nurture, and through the difficulties.”
With much anticipation, BFM is awaiting a visitation committee from Sandwich Quarterly Meeting regarding our request to become a monthly meeting.
Spirit is so great but it does not force itself on us. As we look forward, we are big in spirit and heart, but we don’t force ourselves on people. The Light of Spirit is incomprehensible, but does not intrude. It offers itself as a gift that we can choose or not choose. Where would the garden be without the Light? Where would we be in our lives without our faith in the Light? We also honor the Darkness and the soil. Mother Earth and Father Sky.
“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime, Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; Therefore we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, Therefore we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; Therefore we are saved by the formal form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr