Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run Interchange Reports
Stony Run has been both faced with pain and blessed with several opportunities to grow spiritually and as a community recently. The pain of unexpected serious illness and death of vibrant Friends has brought us together in worship and caring community support. We have found great solace in having small groups worship with Friends in declining health at their own homes. Many Friends have been contributing practical help where support has been needed.
On a note of joy without pain, we are blessed with the experience of opening the Meeting House on First Day afternoons to a congregation of Friends from Africa. Their music and prayers leave us with a sense of the beauty of variety in worshipping the one God. The Working Group on Newcomers and Welcoming has continued its work to identify those new to Meeting, to help them feel welcome to Stony Run, and to sponsor events with a welcoming and community-building focus. We have recently sponsored a Make a New F/friend Simple Lunch as well as a reading and discussion group.
Stony Run continues to do many things to reach outward, inward, and laterally. We continue to reach out to our visitors and newcomers at Meeting, and work (often in ecumenical settings) with organizations to reduce violence and the conditions that lead to violence in our city. We reach in to feed the life of our large meeting of members and attenders of all ages. We have First Day School, a Young Friends group active in service and with other BYM Young Friends, adult discussion forums, a reading group, and many other Meeting-wide activities. Our Peace and Social Issues Committee officially joined with that of Homewood, and the new name for the combined committee is the Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee. There is also a presence on it from Old Town Friends Worship Group. We have a longstanding relationship with the McKim Center, an after school and summer program housed in a building that came from the will of a long-ago Friend with a deep concern for educating children. The building still stands, and in this time of funding cuts, Stony Run members are helping to discern a way forward so that the children can still have McKim’s teaching and support in their lives! Stony Run hosted Interim Meeting in October and provided input for the Faith & Practice revision. We continue to work in our diverse Meeting to worship together both at weekly Meeting for Worship and at Monthly Meeting for Business, trusting that way will open and the search for divine guidance will always bear fruit. We continue to sow seeds widely, remembering always that they grow where they are nurtured.
We are a large Meeting with many activities, and here are updates on a few. Our annual Celebration of Membership was held on March 25th. This is a wonderful time not only to hear from those relatively new to membership at Stony Run but an opportunity for us all to pause and consider the privilege and the responsibility that membership brings to our lives, individually and collectively as a community. We note that we have experienced the passing away of several friends and family. We are grateful to the community for the outpouring of support and the loving tenderness with which we have held each other in the Light.
Stony Run continues to have an active Working Group on Newcomers and Welcoming. They work to be sure visitors get the information they seek and are helped to feel comfortable in our community. We have been looking at a visitor’s initial experience and invite ideas from other Meetings on greeting newcomers and encouraging them to get involved in our community. The Meeting for Healing group continues every second Sunday. Anyone is welcome to join us whenever we meet. We have an e-mail list of those who have a daily practice of holding people in the light and information about those to be held in the light is shared with them. In March Friends met to develop recommendations for FCNL’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The Baltimore-area Working Group on Racism, which some Stony Run members belong to, organized a visit to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday, March 31st. Just over 20 adults and children enjoyed the 90-minute, docent-guided tour of both the permanent exhibits and the current special exhibit, “Dandy Lions.”
After process of discernment, the Meeting approved this minute in July:
Baltimore Monthly Meeting of Friends, Stony Run, supports the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012. The Meeting welcomes the day when couples, regardless of gender, can marry and be entitled to the state’s legal protection for themselves and for their children.
We will host an event called “Finances Through the Lens of Spirit: Inviting Open Conversations about Money in Friends Meetings, Churches, and Organizations” on October 26 & 27, 2012. It will be presented by Friends Fiduciary Corporation and will cover various topics from fundraising challenges to simply having an open conversation about how finances can better express Quaker values and your Meeting’s or organization’s priorities. To register or to get a copy of the flyer with more information, e-mail Adrian Bishop, Meeting Coordinator. Overnight hospitality is available – please include your needs in your registration. Also in October, we will host a fund-raising concert of live Irish music at the Meeting House. All are invited to join us (tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door) on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30.
On February 23, Friends will gather at the Benjamin Banneker Museum for a living history presentation. Quaker Martha Ellicott Tyson (portrayed by Virginia Schurman of Gunpowder Meeting) and friends of Benjamin Banneker will “visit” us through gifted interpreters and answer our questions about relations between free African Americans and Quakers at the start of the 19th century. The museum is in Oella, which is near Ellicott City. Stony Run will have a three-part forum series as part of our Religious Education for adults. This exercise and discussion based series is based on the book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. The mess referred to is the crisis of climate change and what we need to do to participate in turning away from the causes of it and toward a future where right relationships among people and the earth sustain us. The dates are February 24, March 3 and March 10. Everyone is welcome to join us. You can contact Karie Firoozmand for information at 410-302-1684.
We will have a community-building concert featuring local hammered dulcimer player Ken Kolodner and other musicians to benefit Stony Run Friends Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8:00 p.m. We will have Festive chocolate treats at intermission. To purchase tickets, contact Cindy at 443-703-2590 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.stonyrunfriends.org.
In January, Stony Run held a discussion called, “Aligning Our Invested Assets with Our Values” to talk about the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The Baltimore Quaker Peace & Justice Committee sponsored the session. Also in January, some members and attenders held a silent vigil protesting the timing of the Sons of Confederate Veterans celebration of the lives of Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson, which did not occur prior to the proclamation of the Martin Luther King federal holiday. We vigiled across the street from the war statue where the Confederate Sons held their commemoration.
Really ‘big’ news is that Stony Run and Friends School of Baltimore are hosting the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Friends Peace Teams from June 20-22, 2014. The opening event speaker is Karl Wilkens. In 1993 during the Rwandan genocide, he was the only American to stay in Kigali, trying to help people to survive. Saturday and Sunday will be workshops in peace-making and creating ideas and programs to more effectively bring peace to our planet. Please go to our web site: www.peacequest2014.org for more information, to register, or to offer a workshop.
A second event at Stony Run is the Advanced Training and Facilitators training in Healing and rebuilding Our Communities (HROC). Here is an opportunity to learn to be a HROC facilitator, and help put HROC methods to work in US and other communities. Please call us for dates! 443-7023-2591.
The Spiritual and Intellectual Nurture Committee (SINC) sponsored First Day Forums for adult religious education, including the Seekers and Speakers series aimed at newcomers. Working Group on Racism participated in the BYM “One Book Project.” We held several discussion groups, and a session in May will discuss what actions Quakers can take to help reduce mass incarceration. The Baltimore Quaker Peace & Justice Committee is focusing on the prevention of violence, the Quaker peace vigil, sponsoring Healing and Restoring Our Communities training, and other projects.
We approved a minute on Maryland legislation to study of the use of prolonged isolation of prisoners in Maryland State prisons and local jails. Another proposed minute concerned banning the use of physical restraints of inmates during labor and delivery. After considerable reflection, Friends felt that they could not support such a minute.
We have a Spirit-led Parenting Group, meeting monthly, that shares readings and concerns. Kenyan Friends in our area hold a programmed meeting for worship at Stony Run once a month and hosted the All Kenyan Quaker Worship Experience, with attendance from throughout the US, in August. 18 people from Stony Run and Homewood are participating in our local Spiritual Formation Program this year. Our member Barbara Treasure has installed “PeaceFire” banners and flags on our front porch during the quarterly Baltimore Ceasefire weekends in 2018. Our annual Fall concert featured Warren Wolf and Wolfpack.