Patuxent Friends Meeting Interchange Reports
During our 12th month Meeting for Business, Friends shared reflections about the Safe Nights program, which shelters homeless men, women, and children during the coldest months of the year. The program is going through a transition in leadership and is in need of continued support. One of our members has come forward to serve as the Meeting’s representative in continuing this service. The discussion caused members present to ask hard questions about homelessness in our community. There is passion present to discuss this issue and to identify how we as a Meeting are called to engage. While we do not act as a host for Safe Nights (our facility is too limited), for a number of years we have assisted Middleham Episcopal Church by providing and coordinating meals. We also support the local homeless shelter, Project Echo, with meals and regular monetary contributions. A member serves on their Board of Directors, and others lead conflict resolution workshops for the residents of Echo House and inmates at the county detention center. Contributions from Patuxent Friends, combined with others in the community, recently helped a single mother stay in her home and keep her family together. And yet, there is always more to do. We spent the second half hour of worship on 16 Twelfth Month in worshipful sharing around the topic of homelessness. We have more to say and do regarding our community’s responses to it (Meeting, county, neighborhood, commissioners, etc.). Friends are committed to doing what we can and perhaps a bit more.
Several of us recently had the privilege of participating on clearness committees for new members. Gathering for an hour or two of Spirit-filled sharing reminds us of the richness of life in our Meeting community. We listen profoundly to the attender as he shares his spiritual journey and how, at this point, she feels called to commit more fully to the life of our meeting. It is touching to hear of her challenges and her passions. We are humbled to learn the aspects of our community that draw others to join in our corporate spiritual life. Joining with a prospective member in this way is a sacred duty. It is the opportunity to support him or her as he tests his leadings. It may be the first time he has thoughtfully articulated his faith and his inspiration to others. This makes for rich and personal conversation, and we respect the exchange with the confidentiality that it deserves. Our reports back to Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business are a high-level summary of our conversation that candidates have indicated they are comfortable in sharing with the broader Meeting community.
Patuxent Friends are fortunate to enjoy the presence of several of our founding members. Some are birthright Friends that bring a depth of Spirit that anchors us when we are tempted to pursue a tangential course. The majority of us are convinced Friends. While we don’t enjoy the same level of Quaker history, we bring diversity of experience and perspective that surely enriches our Meeting. Whatever our background as committee members, we approach these interactions as a gift. As the candidate shares her journey and articulates her measure of the Light, each of us has the opportunity to look upon our own path and check our direction. We are reminded of the important things that led us to this community and encourage us to stay active and engaged. Just as for the new member, we are supported with the opportunity to test our own leadings and check for clarity.
Patuxent Friends were happy to welcome visitors who made the drive to Southern Maryland to join us for Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting on Sixth month 12. Billed as Worship, Fellowship and Fun, the event was enjoyed by all. The beautiful day made a perfect setting as our clerk set up a tight rope and huge water slide outside for children of all ages! All-in-all, it was a perfect summer day to enjoy community.
Friends remain active in support of Project Echo, the homeless shelter in Prince Frederick. Our Meeting Clerk, Tim Keck, who serves on the Board of Directors for Project Echo, has taken the lead in a new event called Camp Out for Calvert. Participants, who raised sponsorship funds in support of the homeless shelter, experienced what it’s like to be homeless by bringing their own tent or cardboard box, spending the night outdoors, and eating their own camp fire prepared meals. The experience included individuals, entire families, and youth groups. Other activities included group discussions to educate the youth on various avenues that lead to homelessness and musical entertainment around a camp fire. Several Friends participated in the event.
Friends recently completed a renovation of our Meeting House to make it more accessible. The central hallway was widened and the bathroom was remodeled to meet current code. Lack of fully accessible facilities has been a concern for years, and Friends are grateful to have found the energy and resources to accomplish this task.