Miller Center Meeting for Worship (previously called Friends House Worship Group)
Miller Center Meeting is very different from most meetings and does not have the usual statistics. Miller Center Meeting is not a formal meeting and does not have members. We of the Committee on Aging of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting provide continuity in a situation where occasionally there isn't any. The Miller Center Meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend and many of the attenders are not Quakers but want the time of Meeting to participate and be a part of something spiritual. Some are also members of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting and divide their time between the two meetings.
We have no births, we have no deaths and right now we have one or two angels in the making who are living in bodily husks that sustain them slightly. How could we say which deaths are Friends House non-Quakers and which are Miller Center Meeting members and attenders? We cannot say that.
Miller Center Meeting is not an independent Meeting because it can't be, but it is a special Meeting, a gathering of wisdom, some fading, some very much in the present and searching for truth. It is a special place where people with infirmities and age-related problems can attend without needing to leave the grounds of Friends House. There are many "firm" people also who choose to be there because their friends are there and they don't have real ties at Sandy Spring. It is warm in that room, and full of light from the back windows. You can hear the clanging of pans in the kitchen, the conversations of passers-by but the mood of quietness still pervades. Often there are profound messages, some of them totally silent.
Again, Miller Center Meeting is a special meeting, it is sustained by the continued presence of the Committee on Aging as well as active members of the Friends House Community. It is a special place but has no statistics to give you except to say that it has continued every Sunday, that Charles Keach used to coordinate the Meeting Facilitators and now Emma Cadbury has taken that job, that Bea Whittaker makes the coffee for after meeting Social Hour, that Margie Jenkins and her daughter bring down people from Stabler almost every Sunday, that there are the usual complaints about the way things are done coupled with moments of great beauty. The Miller Center Meeting celebrates that of God in everyone regardless of their health, and has a great host of angels who you can feel sitting with us every First Day morning. Our usual living attendance runs from 20 to 50, and the norm is somewhere in the middle with usually one or two visitors.
Sincerely, Susan Fitch Brown, Clerk
Committee on Aging of SSMM
No report received.
As always we want to say that the Miller Center Meeting celebrates “that of God in everyone” regardless of their health or infirmities, and has a great host of angels who you can feel sitting with us every First Day morning. Please come and visit the Miller Center Meeting. The host of angels make sure that it is always a weighty meeting.
The main purpose of the Committee over time has been ministering to that Meeting for Worship, helping when the aging process requires leadership changes and keeping things going as best we can though many members of the Committee don't live there. It might interest you to know that the Miller Center Meeting started after Marie Klooz was found walking up the center of Norwood Road from Friends House on her way to the Sandy Spring Meeting. She really wanted a Meeting but it wasn't safe for her to leave Friends House so a Meeting was started for her in the Millers Center and it progressed quickly from an occasional meeting to a monthly meeting to what it is now, a weekly Meeting for Worship.
This year the Committee has begun to reach out beyond the Miller Center Community. Many of our members are aging in their own homes, or even those at Friends House may need services that Friends House cannot provide. We've begun to look at the needs of our members and attenders wherever they live and are working with several groups with ideas on how to proceed; among them the Aging Well With Friends Group (AWWF), a group that developed out of Friends House Long Range Planning but has also reached out to the local community and to this Meeting as well. AWWF sponsored focus groups on aging issues last summer which was the basis for a report on needs of the communities. They are now looking at funding for staff to help coordinate and promote future planning. AWWF has also been in contact with a local group the Olney Home for Life, an emerging village in Maryland.
If you don't know about the new village movement we suggest you take a look at the website: www.beaconhillvillage.org. It also has a number of links and videos you may find valuable. What the village model does is take the process of caring for the aging and put it back with the people who will need services, neighbors helping neighbors, young helping older, older helping younger as well. Neighbors help neighbors and they work together for a better future for themselves and the people who will age after them. It started with Beacon Hill but there are now literally thousands of villages around the country and in this area. In the DC metropolitan area there are more than 50 in various stages of emerging or totally active.
How can we facilitate this kind of work across the Meeting? Villages work best in local areas. By finding out about local villages we can serve as a resource to connect members and attenders with villages in their areas.
Right now we are working on mapping the database of the meeting and will try to put together regional meetings so people in an area, young and old can get to know each other where they live. The intention is not to be like a Friendly 8's though there are similarities. Instead it is hoped that all ages would get together so that neighbors can get to know each other and be able to watch out for each other as they age. Kids could shovel snow or change lightbulbs in exchange for cookies or stories or help with homework. And the kids without grandparents would have grandpartners to get to know. This is still somewhat in the dream stage, the mapping takes effort and time but we continue to work on it.
Another issue is simply that life is a terminal illness. We will all end someday and helping each other face the issues in light of Quaker values is something that we think is very important. Friends House has begun a series of talks on the subject and our Committee sponsored a potluck/lasagna dinner last month called “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner”, somewhat based on the Conversation Project which you can find on the web. We sat in groups at round tables and discussed our feelings about dying and what we need to know about that process from a faith standpoint, from a practical standpoint and how we've experienced that issue. Death has become a nasty word in our culture, kind of a taboo. It exists, how do we, the living face dying, how do we face the death of loved ones, how do we help our loved ones face the fact that we may die before them, that we may make a journey that they can't take with us.
Last year we lost people. Several of our members and former members died, the energy was low. This year we gained three members and the members who were scheduled to come off the Committee decided to stay. We also have some regular Committee attenders including Takeo Nishioka who graces us with his presence.
We still have the Oral History Subcommittee. It has been quiet this year but plans are being made to get it going again. I've heard Ellen Atkinson, the leader of the group, talking to various people about future appointments to be filmed.
In conclusion, Aging has become an industry not something that happens at “my” house and not in “my” community. We are all growing older. Let's do it better, let's do it well. We are a large meeting but we can be here for each other as we grow.
No report received.