Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2010

Our Committee framework continues to be a centrally important support to Spirit in our Meeting. Friends experience the work of our committees as safeguarding the creative tension between worship and action, caring for individual needs in Clearness Committees, keeping us abreast of national and International peace and justice concerns, and allowing Friends to share their gifts both with the Meeting and with the larger community. Religious Education continues the important work of nurturing our youngest friends. House and Grounds and an ad hoc committee on meeting room renovation, with careful oversight from Stewardship and Finance (including special fundraising), have worked to make our meetinghouse both comfortable and beautiful.

As a way of encouraging verbal participation, Worship and Ministry suggested changing the manner in which we end our Meetings for Worship. Now, near the end of silent worship, a member of W&M invites those present to either share spiritual messages that need a nudge for vocal ministry or to ask that we hold someone in the Light. This was adopted by our Meeting after a trial period, and has helped make those present feel more comfortable.

The spontaneous spirit that emerges when an individual asks for the support of the Meeting is a reflection of our corporate spiritual vigor. In asking, the individual trusts that the need expressed will be tenderly held, and that we are gathered up in Spirit as we support the one in need.

During the past year, the adult religious education Second Hours, overseen by Worship and Ministry were based on themes built on central concerns such as Quaker witness as sacrament. These were well attended, and most participants spoke about the readings, sharing deeply felt personal responses. As one Friend said, “This makes me feel valued. I am listened to and taken seriously.” In this way, too, we come to know one another and together advance our spiritual journey.

It remains helpful to remind ourselves that we are having trouble in some areas. For instance, our committees are thinly populated. But we have reached a level of spiritual maturity, so that we trust the work of our committees. Thus Meetings for Business are kept short and our corporate needs are met. This is a healthy change, and one that sustains the mutual benefits of giving and receiving in committee work.

We are yet again challenged to find ways to make Maury River Friends more central to our lives and to make Meeting more significant in the larger community. This includes reaching younger people and younger families who attend infrequently or only on special holiday occasions—both made more difficult because we lack the appropriate committee to focus on this concern.

Our meeting encompasses a range of views about fundamental theology. This is a real strength. Spirit is manifested within the numinous silence of our expectant waiting and in the acceptance and encouragement we give one another on our individual spiritual journeys.

Mary Barnes
Clerk, Maury River Friends Meeting

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