- How does the Spirit prosper among us?
- What supports the growth of Spirit in our lives?
- How is the presence of Spirit manifested in our lives individually and as a meeting community?
The growth of Spirit is supported by, even dependent upon, our worshipping together. It is in worship that those who need comfort can be comforted; those who are comfortable can be challenged. A challenge to all of us is to seek a deeper relationship with the Spirit, and in this way create a deeper relationship with one another. We need eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that are open to the Presence that surrounds us. In this way we can welcome the Light which will show us those areas where we have come to rely on our own judgment as individuals rather than seeking the leading of the Spirit.
We are grateful for the presence of the Spirit in several important decisions we reached this year. After long years of struggle, we adopted a Marriage Minute that includes overseeing marriage of same-gender couples. We also fairly easily reached clarity and moved forward with a plan for renovations to our Meeting House. In addition, problems with our committee structure were solved, and the committees are functioning well.
The presence of spirit can also be seen in the growing bonds of our Meeting community. These bonds help us support, acknowledge and nurture individual spiritual growth, a fundamental value of our community’s worship. Our formal tradition of sharing observations, experiences or family news at the Rise of Meeting allows us to know one another more personally. Potluck suppers, book discussion sessions, events planned by our Young Friends and other activities help us to know one another socially.
Appendix: Committee Reports from Maury River Friends Meeting for 2009
MRFM Fellowship committee organizes snacks and hot drinks, which are shared each first day following meeting for worship. The committee also organizes occasional potlucks in Friends homes. In 2009 Fellowship organized a camping trip to James River State Park, which was enjoyed by many.
Young Friends Service Committee: We continued our weekly Carpooling Initiative. We had our annual Spaghetti Dinner/Talent Share to raise money for a local charity. We sent care packages to our Friends in college. We had our annual Simple Meal and raised over $600 for Heifer International.
Care & Counsel (C&C) and Worship & Ministry (W&M)
C&C began 2009 with a new clerk, and some energy for approaching several long-term C&C goals, which keep not making it to the top of a longish list, such as 1) putting a plan in place for reconciling difficulties that arise within the Meeting community (before we’re in the emotional midst of such a time), 2) contacting all couples married under the care of the Meeting each year, and 3) offering a workshop at Meeting every several years for enriching our marriages. Our committee’s history shows that usually our energy is fully absorbed into our main duties of responding to Meeting individuals and families in need, welcoming newcomers, organizing clearness committees, and finding ways to foster Meeting’s sense of community. We did manage to make loving contact with all those married under the care of the Meeting.
W&M also began the year with a new clerk, and a small committee. By the end of April it was clear that individual life events, and insufficient experienced committee members had made W&M unworkable for the time. C&C undertook adding W&M’s work (primarily planning 2nd Hours, and overseeing the health of our worship and MWB) to its own, until our Nominating committee could put together a stronger W&M committee in the fall. We had our hands full attending to only the most pressing of C&C/W&M’s combined charges.
With W&M now reinvigorated with a full slate of experienced members, both committees are eager in 2010 to get on with fulfilling their own charges.
Finance & Stewardship
The last of our loans was paid off in September 2009. Giving has been down, but we have had enough to cover our needs.
Nominating was challenged again to fill our committees with appropriate Friends willing to make the time for actually doing the committee’s work. We have a large phone list, but find that many on that list already have lives and schedules that are full and overfull. We were able to reconstitute W&M because we have been blessed with several experienced Friends who have recently moved here or retired. RE is always a challenge, and this year Fellowship has emerged as the thinnest committee, despite our efforts. We are also finding recruitment for Nominating’s work to be a continuing challenge that has not yet been met for 2010.
The committee always appreciates its worshipful deliberations together, and is occasionally blessed with unexpected and excellent pairings between who and what.
Peace & Justice (P&J)
In general, P & J com. leads, with Spirit, and people of Meeting participate. The committee doesn’t do it all by any stretch. In fact, that is strength of our Meeting—that people, with Spirit, are right there with us —supporting and participating in the peace and justice activities.
As a result of past work by the P & J com., the local high school again provided a separate full-page form in the fall admission packet for the parents to opt out of giving their students’ contact info to the military recruiters.
We followed FCNL’s guidance of working with our elected officials related to the closure of Guantanamo Bay, prisoner interrogations, and banning cluster bombs.
We participated in a vigil on the anniversary of 6 years of war in Iraq where we read the names of US soldiers killed in Iraq.
As we have done for several years now, we helped our local food pantry during the US postal food drive in the spring as well as picking Asian pears from a local orchard for them in October.
Meeting donated to and participated in the “Every House a Garden” (EHAG) project developed by Rockbridge Grown (a local group supporting local foods). The project helps low income people plant gardens and learn gardening with experienced gardener mentors. We had 4 successful gardens this year.
We are a member and were active in the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. We support and participate in the process of organizing to have a Quaker voice on the Board of Directors.
We worked with FCCL and VADP on the Death Penalty in Virginia We sent letters and made calls to have executions stayed. We had vigils for the 3 executions that proceeded. We also worked to stop the execution of Troy Davis of Georgia, which has been stayed for now by the US Supreme Court. We worked to stop the bills that expanded the DP in Virginia. Thankfully, Gov. Kaine vetoed those bills.
We had our annual peaceful presence at the Rockbridge Community Festival where we talked with people and displayed “War is Not the Answer” signs and bumper stickers along with several Quaker pamphlets in front of our “Peace on Earth” Maury River Friends Meeting banner.
We walked in the annual holiday parade in 12th Month. We carried our “Peace on Earth” banner and handed out origami peace cranes we had folded to people watching the parade.
We presented a list of organizations, which was approved by Meeting for our annual Benevolences. MRFM gave $2000 for Designated and $700 for Undesignated Benevolences.
House and Grounds
H&G Committee continues to build community within the Meeting, and in our neighborhood. While it continues its primary goal of caring for that portion of creation for which we have become stewards.
We oversaw two successful workdays. Friends worked together, cleaning house, shed, creek and yard. While we do have a housekeeper who cleans once a month for cash, and a neighbor who mows our grass regularly, also for cash; we reserve the heavier work for ourselves, taking pleasure in singing, food and conversations while hands are busy. In 2009, this included fond farewells to 2 trees whose presence we have enjoyed since we moved in. Both died of presumed natural causes. Their wood became art and fuel. Our small lot includes its share of invasive aliens. In 2009, the number was considerably reduced using the friendliest methods available. Inside, we have agreed to protect ourselves from field mice by using an electronic deterrent, and so no longer resort to traps.
H&G continues to meet on a regular schedule in the evenings at the home of a committee member who otherwise would not be able to serve. We appreciate hospitality in the support of our corporate work.
Ad Hoc Committee for Meetingroom Renovations
The Ad Hoc committee began work in the fall of 2008 on how to handle storage requirements and remnants of wood that had been part of an altar when the building was owned by another church. With careful attention towards keeping the meeting informed and by gaining approval for every step, the committee came up with a plan for storing tables and chairs in custom-made storage units and found unity in the meeting’s agreeing to remove the wooden remnants. The storage units are now in place and work is going forth on the final parts of renovation.