Stony Run SSMR 2011
Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run
Approved at Monthly Meeting, March 4, 2012
The spirit prospers among us when we are open to new spiritual experiences and insights and when we give ourselves time to deepen those we already possess.
We find that much of our life together actively supports the growth of spirit among us. Spiritual growth comes from small group discussions and worship---including Spiritual Formation, our First Day Forums, Stony Run’s Working Group on Racism, reaction to queries printed in our newsletter, book discussions, interactions with our children, and in worship-sharing at committee meetings and among our teens. Smaller meetings for worship also have enriched us: monthly “Meeting for Healing,” a small mid-week meeting, and special meetings at the bedside of those nearing the end of life. Although having two meetings for worship can cause some tendency to grow apart, we recognize the continued value of having a smaller, quieter early meeting and a second meeting full of children and spoken ministry.
As we have looked at the past year, we have considered whether many of our challenges deal with how we relate to each other in a very large Meeting. We have named specific problems that we need to work on because of our size, including: making newcomers’ welcoming and integration a seamless effort though one addressed by several committees; making more general the responsibility to reach out to those we suddenly stop seeing at Meeting; creating a culture where all of our eldering aims to support growth; and creating an atmosphere where we can all express freely our spiritual pluralism without appearing to be critical of the religious experience or views of others.
As we have considered the matter more deeply, we have concluded that relating to one another may not be sufficiently explained in terms of the size of a Meeting and that we might get closer to an explanation by asking ourselves why people seek to join any group. Further, we might ask why one joins a community of worship and if we tend to ask more of such groups than of others groups to which we might belong.
In our seeking truth about the critical need to belong as it relates to our Meeting, we recognized that the size of our Meeting may increase the tendency for some to feel that they are not connected to the community of worship. But the fundamental issue for any Meeting, regardless of size, is this: are we able to ensure that those who are members or attenders do not feel isolated or estranged? We know that a good quality relationship, even one that occurs only once a week, can enhance a sense of community, love and centeredness. The kind of insightful, benevolent, spirit-led community of worship we seek to be will engender a sense of belonging, increase our individual and collective perception of purpose for our lives, and increase our will to work together to build a healthier community and a more just and peaceful world.
Stony Run Monthly Meeting accepts the challenge that our search for a healthier and better community of worship has revealed to us. We hope that every decision we make and every action we take is spirit-led. We will continue to strive to hold in the Light this challenge: to enhance trust and spiritual harmony at Stony Run. The task that is before us is to heighten our sense of being an interpersonally engaged and spirit-led community of caring and compassion. In accepting this challenge we hold ourselves and every member of the community, individually and collectively, answerable for lending energy and talents to this effort.