Dunnings Creek Friends Meeting Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports
The text of recently received Spiritual State of the Meeting Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
|2011 Report||2012 Report||2013 Report||2014 Report||2015 Report|
|2016 Report||2017 Report|
No report received.
We at Dunnings Creek Friends are blessed to return each First Day to a peaceful and centered space, warm greetings all around, and good coffee (thanks to Allegany College Peace Studies Program who sells fair trade organic coffee and our co-clerk, Dave Bohnert who brings it us). Although we are a small Meeting, it seems that our warmth and sometimes challenging discussions have encouraged attenders to be an active and integral part of our Meeting. The local AA group continues to find mid-week peace and quiet. After a winter break, our Meeting House was a welcoming place of retreat for this group.
Way open has found new opportunities for us to connect with folks locally and in the larger community. International Day of Peace found Friends asking folks in the area to please acknowledge this all-important time, now and always, to consider peace as a path for our world. We welcomed the Friendly Quaker Folk Dancers for a day of fellowship and a night of wonderful dancing, not to mention a hearty potluck and breakfast to send them off to their next “dancing partners”. We look forward to their next visit.
Christmas Eve is always a time of renewing and heartfelt love for all. This year was no exception. It was a time of homecoming for some who are so welcomed with open arms, and of course lots of goodies to eat. The weight of the weary world is lifted for a blessed while.
It was a bittersweet meeting for worship and potluck when we bid farewell to Karen and Dave Treber who are off to another chapter in their lives, but happily we welcomed our new member, Trisha Bettien, who has been an attender for several years. We are fortunate to have such an eager helper and friend
Changing times in our country have also opened up opportunities to connect with local groups seeking an assuring place to use for workshops. We hosted a workshop for friends and Friends to learn ways to respond non-violently to situations involving harassment to people. Many people who attended this workshop commented on the light and peaceful feeling of our Meeting House. This has resulted in a follow-up request by the same group. We feel that these opportunities are a way open for new friends who have expressed interest in coming for First Day. Our new complexion of our country has prompted us to express our concern for our Muslim neighbors to the northwest of us. As per the workshop mentioned, we wanted to respond to reported bullying in their community. After some thoughtful and soul-searching discussion here at Dunnings Creek, a letter was approved and sent to their mosque expressing our concern.
Even though we have had these new developments in our Meeting, we still labor to find continuity and sustainability in our First Day program. There are times when we feel gathered, and there are times when we do not feel such a deep connection. We seek to find ways to achieve this illusive quality. The fact that we are all getting older, with dwindling attendance, and that most of us do not live close to the Meeting House makes it a constant challenge. However, we continue to make non-judgmental listening a priority. It has been our focus for quite a long time now and sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. In addition to listening, we have been trying to figure out how to escape the “we/them” mindset that seems to be ubiquitous in our culture. How do we find common ground with those who may seem so different? How we live up to our highest Light we have, knowing if we do so, more Light well be given us. The path will become clear to us.
Many of us feel that we should be an example to inspire others, rather than fighting with resistance, which creates polarity in our world. Some feel that it is the time to speak truth to power as well.
We all have something to offer to our Meeting, and we will continue to seek and search for the way open to deepen our spiritual state of the Meeting.
When Friends gathered to reflect and search ourselves about our meeting, Dunnings Creek MM, Friends overwhelmingly shared that they feel the peace of the meetinghouse when entering. Some of us come on our own at times other than meeting or events just to sit in the presence of the meetinghouse. Our meetinghouse is not necessarily more holy than other places, but we seem more aware when we are in this space. When we are away for a while, it is always good to “come home” to the meeting. That said, our meetings for worship are sometimes more “gathered” than other times. As in life, our openness to the Presence waxes and wanes.
We see our dwindling number of Friends and ask ourselves, “ What will happen to this meeting?” “Why aren’t folks coming? Are we welcoming? Do we unknowingly offend visitors and attenders? Can we learn from our mistakes? Some folks do attend for a while, but then realize that the meeting does not speak to their needs. The Friends and attenders, who do come, come because they want to be fed. If we provide nurturing for folks, they will continue to come. If we live to our highest good, then that will in turn produce more goodness. If we focus on goodness and joy, goodness and joy will then follow suit. Conversely, if we worry about the future, our meeting may be bogged down with negativity, and therefore not be very pleasant for visitors and attenders – members as well. We must be true to ourselves, but it would be nice to have more people to share with who we really are. Can we as a meeting embrace the idea of trying to seek more actively a way to encourage folks to worship with us?
Our meeting embraces whole-heartedly continuing revelation. We love and respect this concept. Journeys take us on paths that we maybe were not expecting from time to time. Life experiences can influence these paths. Friends should be free to express their ideas and revelations without fear of judgment. Sometimes we fall short of this tall order, but we are committed to always strive to do better.
We are happy to welcome a local AA group who uses the meetinghouse for their weekly meeting spring through autumn. They also have sent the message that the meetinghouse offers a calmness and peace that is greatly appreciated.
We are convinced that “way will open” as we stay true to the Light within.
There is a lot to be learned for a meeting when difficult times come its way. For much of this year Dunnings Creek MM has dealt with an on-going situation that has demanded that we look within and seek guidance. How have we responded to those among us who have caused much consternation and soul-searching? Have we been compassionate, patient, and understanding? Have we actively engaged with tender care, or have we patiently waited for the situation to go away? Do we look for ways to support Friends positively? How much do we encourage each other’s Inner Light to shine? If we see someone with a big bushel over their Light, how do we nourish their dim Light? What about our own Light? How bright is that?
We have been challenged to discern what our priorities are. We have wrestled with forgiveness and what loving unconditionally looks like and feels like, at the same time we have been called to take a stand to right wrongs. What have we learned from this past year of finding our way? The sense of community has been challenged at moments, yet there is an ever-growing sense that it will be and has been forged even stronger by facing this together. There are many questions to be sure, but we continue to search and hopefully grow in the Light
There are other things that must be considered as well. Like many Meetings, Dunnings Creek MM has another challenge. Our membership is declining. Children are few and far between. New ideas for outreach have been a positive result thanks to this time of introspection and review. Meanwhile, we ask ourselves if we are nurturing our spiritual needs so that F(f)riends will want to continue to come to meeting. We ask ourselves, “What makes Dunnings Creek MM a good place to be to nurture our spiritual paths, both individually and as a group?”
Many of us look forward to, and long for the comfort and strength offered through meeting. We continue to maintain a feeling of optimism, and for that we are grateful. We rejoice in the Spirit that brings joy and love into our hearts with the giving and receiving of musical gifts, and continue to find strength and guidance through fellowship and continuing revelation as individuals and as a Meeting.
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
When we asked ourselves,” How does the Spirit prosper amongst us?”, the immediate answer was, “Very well, thank you.”
We meet because the Spirit compels us to come together for the refreshing of our spiritual needs and quests. Friends feel that when they cannot make it to meeting, they feel a sense of loss of refreshing.
Because of Quaker process, the idea of building a labyrinth, and then the possible project of creating a Quaker information-sharing center in the Fishertown Friends Meeting House, we have come to respect, and continue to be amazed by Quaker Process. The labyrinth idea has morphed into a quiet meditation circle, while the Quaker Museum is evolving quietly and carefully. This is mentioned because as the process evolves, we do as well. We are learning to listen and hear each other with care.
The “way of listening” has been carried over with the meeting helping members with personal crises in their lives. We have been nudged to look within, and consider tenderly each other and those who turn to the meeting for strength and discernment.
Friends have benefited from the Spirit of the meeting when interacting with folks of differing views from the communities in which we live. A Friend said, “When common ground is found, the Spirit is manifested.”
“We are never alone - there is help we can always draw from” is what was made more apparent to us from studying The Five Principles by Ellen Debenport . Friends shared gifts of love and spirituality including the gift of learning to let go of anger and fear, and the knowledge that we are part of something much greater than ourselves. Spirit is the well from which we draw, providing guidance for everyday life.
Friends talked about how our meeting has provided guidance for prayers for world leaders to seek peace so desperately needed. Peace may never come about until leaders are truly open to it. We are also mindful that we as well must seek peace within ourselves.
As even the pope has reminded us, God is ever evolving. Creation is never-ending. How do we create positive energy?
Visits from Right Sharing and the BYM Vision Statement Committee have helped open our minds and hearts to the greater Quaker world.
Our meeting continues to strive to stay connected and to support Friends who are ill or who have moved away. We realize that we can do better with this- there is room for growth.
Finally, it has been said that the process of coming to the realization of this report is more substantial that the report itself. We thank the Yearly meeting for directing us in the path of self-awareness.
Dunnings Creek Monthly Meeting continues to be a rural meeting with a small attendance. Sometimes we may wonder what will become of our meeting if our numbers remain small. When this meeting was young, most all members lived close by. Today we are scattered far and wide. Even so, Friends are willing to travel considerable distances to commune with meeting.
Because of the concern for our small numbers, the meeting was led to explore avenues to reach out to the community. Whether it was writing notes to Friends who are not able to attend meeting, mounting a plaque at the Quaker Cemetery commenting on the local Quakers’ part in the underground railroad activities, or continuing our ice cream social for the local community, these were all manifestations of our reaching out to our local community. It is the sense that Friends feel the Spirit has prospered amongst us even though there is an ebb and flow of attendance. There is a greater spirit within the meeting, and we try to maintain a core attendance through the grace of God.
As the Spirit moves we realize that we are learning the need to be open to consider the viewpoints of others. Even as we encouraged each other in many ways on their journey of spiritual seeking, we are challenged to learn how to deal with issues as a meeting, rather than as individuals. As we have been worshipping together now for quite some time, we find comfort and strength with silence both through Meeting for Worship and First Day Discussion. “For when two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.
When our meeting was called upon to make physical changes within the meetinghouse, we realized that Spiritual growth arose from dealing with “nuts and bolts” situations. We came together to make plans that pleased all Friends. This process, as all Friends know, requires us to open up and listen to each other. The gift of learning to listen to each other has been a process used this year in supporting several or our dear ones through difficult times in their lives - even as one of these dear members passed on.
The talents and interests are shared each and every First Day. We have members who bring the gifts of fair-trade coffee, sharing the value of our meeting and meeting house both historically and spiritually, labyrinth plans.
Accepting the responsibility for the core of the meeting has made us all have an enhanced feeling for the meeting, from a spiritual point of view as well as just a concern for the physical meetinghouse.
2011 was a year of continuing revelation at Dunnings Creek Friends Meeting. Throughout the year, a number of Friends shared a wide variety of topics for spiritual consideration at First Day School. Friends received all offered lessons with open minds and hearts. Lively discussions resulted. Learning was paramount.
Accomplishments at Meeting for Business included the reunification of Fishertown Meeting with Dunnings Creek Meeting. Over the course of several months, many thoughtful and difficult decisions were made to achieve this goal. Sacrifices were made, most notably the sale of the Fishertown Meeting House. Letting go of so much local Quaker history hurt; but, in the end, Friends came together and healed. Proof is that a former member of Fishertown Meeting is now Clerk of Dunnings Creek Meeting.
Other resolutions on various issues were also reached at Meeting for Business. More important than the specific determinations made, however, is that all decisions were made in the spirit of worship. Friends listened to one another, sought the light revealed in each person and searched for truth as a unified community until a Sense of the Meeting emerged. Happy conclusions were the result. Meeting for Worship at Dunnings Creek Friends in 2011 was unprogrammed. Although there is some current feeling among several Friends that a moderate amount of preplanning might positively facilitate the gathering. Suggestions include having a particular subject as a focus point of expectant waiting, as well as having someone speak on a topic for a few minutes or do a reading before settling and beginning silence.
There is also some current feeling among several Friends that Dunnings Creek Meeting should adhere more seriously to the established schedule in regards to First Day School, time for informal fellowship among Friends and Meeting for Worship. Others prefer the spontaneity and unconstrained nature of the recent gatherings. In any case, 2011 held several “gathered meetings” for Dunnings Creek Friends Meeting, as well as a wellspring of profound and heartfelt vocal ministry.
In 2011, Holly Coia, a beloved and integral member of Dunnings Creeks Friends Meeting moved to New Orleans with her husband, Gene, to be in closer proximity to their daughter, Emily. Holly is greatly missed by Friends; but she will never be forgotten. Friends made a donation to Holly and her 650 kids at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy for Global Studies where Holly teaches art.
As sad as Friends are at Holly’s parting, members are equally joyful at the arrival of Bennet Elizabeth Spitzer Koontz who was born on January 18th to Heather Koontz, Todd Spitzer and big sister Tess and who is an Associate Member by request of her proud parents. Welcome Bennet! We are thrilled to have you in our Quaker community and will love you forever.