Frederick Friends Meeting Interchange Reports
The text of recently published Interchange are listed below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the article listed below.
|2014||Winter 2014||Fall 2014|
During 2015, Frederick Friends Meeting addressed several issues: climate change, homelessness, criminal justice reform, and membership.
Climate change. In response to the request from BYM’s Unity with Nature Committee, we held a 2-part program to consider climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. The first event consisted of viewing the video “The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community.” The second was worship sharing on this topic. After Annual Session, we approved adding our Meeting’s name to the “Shared Quaker Statement: Facing the Challenge of Climate Change.” An informal working group of Friends has also been exploring the possibility of responding to climate change by getting more of the Meeting’s electricity from solar power. We are exploring options of installation of solar panels on the roof and/or on top of a pavilion in the yard, which could also serve as additional space for Meeting activities.
Homelessness. Several Friends continue to volunteer in a shelter program that hosts families with children in different area churches. Although we are not able to serve as a host congregation, Friends provide their presence and food from time to time. Our Meeting also testified on behalf of a zoning change to allow the Frederick Rescue Mission to open a shelter for women and children near our Meeting House. The zoning request was approved, and plans are progressing for the shelter to be opened in early 2016.
Criminal justice reform. As an outgrowth of our reading Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, we organized a community-wide program to consider these issues further. Several local churches joined us in sponsoring the event, at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick, which included viewing a video interview with Michelle Alexander and group discussion. The library event also included a presentation from Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR). The Meeting subsequently became an endorsing organization for MAJR, and several Friends have participated in actions urged by MAJR.
Membership. The Ministry and Counsel Committee felt led to give attention to the matter of membership in the Meeting. Their members reached out to long-time attenders who had not requested membership and to members who had been absent from the life of our Meeting for some time. In part as a result of this ministry, we welcomed four new adult members (two of them by transfer from other Meetings) and three new associate members. Nine individuals were removed from membership: four transferred to another Meeting, three resigned their membership, and the Meeting terminated the membership of two others who had been absent for at least 5 years and for whom we had no contact information. In January, we approved a memorial minute for our member John Hastings Darnell, who died October 15, 2014. We greatly miss his presence among us.
In spring and summer of 2014, two issues emerged at Frederick Friends Meeting: concern for homeless families in our community, and improving communications within the Meeting and with the larger community.
Friends from our Meeting have been in conversations with the local Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs about the Coalition’s plans to open an emergency shelter for homeless families, and an ad hoc committee within the Meeting explored options for how we could support that initiative. In a Called Meeting for Business in July, we found that we were not yet ready to offer our Meeting House as one of the 13 faith communities that will provide shelter during the year. However, we agreed that a group of volunteers from our Meeting will receive training and help out at other churches when the program starts in September. After a few months, we will revisit our involvement and discern whether the Meeting House should be offered as an emergency shelter and other next steps.
To better communicate within the Meeting and with the outside community, we have taken several steps. We approved new bylaws that, among other things, establish that we wish to be known as “Frederick Friends Meeting” rather than “Frederick Monthly Meeting.” This change is consistent with the desire to communicate in language that is clearer to the general public, and it was already expressed in our new website, printed materials, and Meeting House signs. We also established a standing Communications Committee that includes our webmaster, newsletter editor, and liaisons to the Frederick Area Ministerial Association and Warrington Quarterly Meeting. Representatives from the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee led us in a workshop that will help us communicate using dialogue rather than debate. And a lively monthly book discussion group is enriching our Meeting through their reading and reflections on the 2013 Draft of Faith and Practice. This group will continue in September as it begins reading The Quaker Reader, compiled by Jessamyn West. A group to read and discuss The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander will also start in September.
We hope that you in the Yearly Meeting will be able to visit us at some point or another. Those of us in Frederick Monthly Meeting always enjoy visitors, and we hope that you can join us.
In the past few months our ad-hoc Communications committee has transitioned us from a list serve to using the Quaker Cloud digital site to communicate to the world and amongst ourselves in a different way. Some of us have jumped in whole-heartedly and others of us may be a bit slower to “get with it” but no one can deny the grace and integrity with which the committee has worked.
Individually, and also out of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, many of us are working on various social action items , or find that our work moves us to serve in these ways. We continue to develop relationships in our community around social justice issues. Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee once again sponsored a Beloved Community Potluck in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
We wrestle with the questions that face many smaller Meetings, yet know that we are still one of the biggest Meetings in our Quarter. We look forward to our retreat this Spring to which we are inviting the Quarter, and which has been billed as the Second Annual Warrington Quarter Retreat. In January we had a record attendance at a Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business! Of course we hope the trend continues!
Frederick continues with an ebb and flow of attenders and members, and we are always delighted to have visiting Friends. We delighted to have Friends from three other Meetings in Warrington Quarter join us in late April for the retreat at Camp Catoctin. We look forward to continuing the tradition of having Friends from elsewhere in the Quarter join us in the future, and participate in some planning as they feel so led. In the summer months not many children come to worship on Sundays, so First Day School has not been very active, but worship has been fairly well-attended. Our Wednesday night Worship also continues. We welcome into membership Olivia Evans who has transferred from Homewood. We also welcome a new baby into our midst. In addition, we had another record-breaking attendance at Annual Session with 15 adults and 5 children in attendance, with about half of those being first-time attenders. Some of our Friends continue in their service at the Yearly Meeting level, while others have discovered connections with Friends from other Meetings.
Peace and Social Concerns Committee continues to bring to our attention the needs of our wider community, and have encouraged our involvement in Frederick 48, a coalition of non-profit groups. These organizations serve the Frederick Community and seek additional funding since the county budget was slashed eliminating financial support for groups that meet essential human needs. Ministry and Counsel Committee continues to strive to meet the many needs of those in our Meeting. A new ad-hoc Communications Committee has begun to meet, and help facilitate discussions about how we communicate with each other and the world. Property Committee and Stewardship and Finance continue to be careful stewards of our physical and fiscal resources, and Trustees try to work closely with both. Program Committee has begun book studies, and will be looking at Faith and Practice 2013, and are reading some pamphlets as well. We also are working on how to facilitate the book reading and discussion of the one book The New Jim Crow. We look forward to welcoming Friends back from their various travels, as we gather this fall, and welcoming you if you should be in our area at any time.
Frederick has been busy with the usual challenges many Meetings have: keeping the building in good order, encouraging First Day School attendance, as well as adult attendance and involvement in Worship and Meeting activities. Ministry and Counsel has been busy organizing clearness committees, contacting members, and beginning the process of crafting the annual Spiritual State of the Meeting report. Quarterly Meeting was held in November. It was good for many of us to get to the quarterly session at which we said good-bye to Andy Hoover as clerk, and hello to Leada Dietz as the new Clerk of Warrington Quarter. We shared our perspectives about the importance and function of the quarter and its activities.
As a Meeting we have been organizing (via a small ad-hoc committee) a Quaker Quest program which will (Lord willing!) take place on February 11. We held our annual Christmas potluck on Sunday December 18th, and then our Christmas Eve Service on the 24th, and started Friendly 8s this January. Even though there does not seem to be much new, inspiring, or earth shaking, many are busy with the responsibilities of raising children, care giving for elderly parents or others, and this takes a fair amount of energy. However, sometimes when we come to Meeting, we find the Light of corporate worship lifts us up and carries us on.
Frederick Monthly Meeting Friends are beginning to gather again as the school year begins. Many of us spent time travelling to see relatives and friends and some of us participated in the wider Quaker community. It is these nurturing relationships which sustain us as many of us find challenges throughout the busy work of our lives. Some of us are blessed with being in the right space at the right time, doing the right work. Others of us question what we are doing. All in all our connections in the Spirit strengthen us individually and corporately.
In early July, a couple from our Meeting attended Friends General Conference in Iowa. Throughout the summer, many of our young people attended the Quaker camps. And, as is tradition, many of the parents participated in camp life as well, trading a week of service for tuition. But let’s face it, if it weren’t for the joy that adults feel in shared service with other Friends, they wouldn’t be going back to cook, nurse, or maintain the camps! About twelve Frederick Friends attended Annual Session in Frostburg, for all or part of the week. There we gathered with other Friends to explore what it means to welcome others into our midst. This is a theme which touches a core at Frederick Monthly Meeting, and one which we hope to further explore. We are beginning to investigate ways to reach out to people in the community, and to Friends from whom we have not heard in awhile. On September 11, we hope to hold a worship sharing session with others in our community.
We look forward to meeting with you whether it is at Yearly Meeting sponsored activities, or if you make your way to our Meeting.