Sandy Spring Friends Meeting Interchange Reports
After several months of listening sessions and seasoning, the Meeting has approved a Minute on Same Gender Marriage. Friends regard marriage as religious in nature, being a solemn covenant made between two people in the presence of God. We apply the Procedure for Marriage under the care of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends to all couples, regardless of sex or gender.
Sandy Spring has been planning a building program for the past several years, raising funds in hopes of building improved spaces for religious education and fellowship. At the Third Month Meeting for Business, Trustees recommended the Meeting not continue with the current building plan, as they seek to reconsider the best use of Meeting resources. The Clerk of Trustees reported this to be a Spirit-led decision, and a matter of continuing revelation for Way to Open, and the Meeting community is in unity with this decision. The Peace Committee has proposed a minute to ask Friends Fiduciary to divest in companies that enforce, maintain, and profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the Meeting community has learned more about this item through listening sessions and heard from several speakers, the minute has been honed and refined. Friends in Unity with Nature (FUN) have been working on stream monitoring of the streams around the SSFM property, and have planted a native plants garden outside the Community House which they plan to introduce at a garden party on Mothers Day. FUN is also planning for Earth Day when Mark Tayac of the Piscataway Tribe will join us and talk about native traditions of earth care.
We will host Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting, with Tom Farquhar as speaker, on September 23, 2012. The Hospitality Committee has been heavily involved in making sure guests are welcomed with the traditional corn pudding and tomatoes. Friends in Unity with Nature (FUN) is active in two projects concerning the quality of local streams; one involves improving on-site retention of storm water on the SSMM campus, which is located on the headwaters of the Anacostia River. Eliminating storm water runoff from our property will both help recharge ground water levels and reduce erosion downstream. We are sharing information with appropriate Meeting committees as they develop a plan for the entire campus, including new construction—to be used incrementally as opportunities arise. The other project involves stream monitoring by Young Friends from our First Day School and some of their friends. They are led by a member of FUN and other adults. They monitor the water quality at a nearby location on the Northwest Branch three times a year, recording data on the quantity and variety of stream-bed life (mainly water insects), the volume and temperature of the water, and the condition of the stream bed. We have been involved in this ongoing project for several years as part of a region-wide effort associated with the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase. Maryland.