Charlottesville Friends Meeting Interchange Reports
Major repairs on our roof and the resulting damage to our kitchen were completed in 2015. During the spring and summer, Friends built pergolas, paths and a bench and installed plantings for a new memorial garden on the Meeting House property. With the replacement this fall of the fence on our back border by the neighboring business owner and some Friendly volunteers, our property is looking good and feeling snug and comfortable.
Our weekly Connections hour between the early and later Meetings for Worship covers a variety of topics of interest such as Bible study, the life journey of specific individuals in the meeting, concerns and opportunities for social action, spiritual sharing, and music. The Bible study, led by Vonnie Calland and Alice Anderson, has been particularly engaging in recent months, focusing on how the early church defined itself. The most recent reading was from Acts where God told believers that all seekers were welcomed and grace was available to them with adherence to only a bare minimum of the multitude of Jewish laws. We will continue to reflect on how this applies to Christians today. CFM is again working with PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) to host homeless women for a two-week period in our Meeting House. Through this program, local congregations coordinate efforts to provide a hot meal and a bed for 12-18 homeless women each night during the coldest part of the year.
Charlottesville Friends celebrated Earth Day, Quaker Style with a day of gathered spiritual focus on the Earth. Our base was the pavilion at Darden Towe Park where walks, hikes, water fun, games and quiet meditation were available at various times throughout the day followed by a simple shared meal, provided by our Peace and Social Concerns Committee, in the early evening.
The Meeting has completed one major repair project and another beautifying project at the meetinghouse. Several months ago mold was discovered in the kitchen walls, and inspection showed that the flat roof had been installed poorly so that water had been allowed to flow into the structure. After much difficult labor and weeks of being without a kitchen, the walls and roof were replaced, and we are mold free. At the same time, a beautiful memorial garden was constructed outside the Meeting House with pergolas, benches and plantings. Thanks to the hard work of many Friends, both projects were completed efficiently and economically.
Two major Quaker events highlighted the summer for many Charlottesville Friends. About 25 current and past members and attenders of the meeting enjoyed seeing each other at FGC Gathering in North Carolina in July. In August, 15 Friends from Charlottesville attended BYM Annual Session in Frostburg, and several had an active role in the program and business of the Yearly Meeting. The Meeting will mark the end of summer activities with our traditional family swim and picnic on September 5 at Mint Springs Park in Crozet.
In February, Charlottesville Friends Meeting and Tandem Friends School co-sponsored showings of the film I’m Not Racist…Am I? at the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville and at Tandem Friends School. Nearly 800 people came out to the screening at the Paramount, which far exceeded expectations! There were many people from our Meeting in attendance as well as from Tandem Friends, which was expected, but there was also a very good turnout from the local community. The audience appeared to be diverse in age, race, and ethnicity; it also included City officials, local community leaders, and many students from area schools, both public and private. The discussions held with the director and producer after each of the screenings were robust, with many perspectives and opinions offered. The Meeting held a film discussion during the Connections Hour on March 1st which was very positive and well-attended. Additionally, the City Dialogue on Race Initiative has decided to use the film as a springboard for more focused dialog on both the film and the topic of race in our community. Follow-up workshops have been planned both for teens and for adults.
Last fall we established a Communications Working Group that began studying the ways in which we share information and identifying areas that need improvement. Several technological issues have already been worked out. Now we are considering creating a standing committee for Communications, but we have some concerns about why we need such a committee, how we should determine the members of such a committee, and how it would operate without interfering with the functions of other committees. We would appreciate hearing from other Meetings who have experience with approaching Meeting communications in a systematic way.
In the fall, CFM formed a Communications Working Group when we came to the conclusion that we had some gaps in our efforts to communicate with each other and with our greater communities. The group’s first task was to identify all the established ways in which we communicate, and our list included 13 different communication avenues each of which needed some work, from tweaking to a major overhaul. Our first changes have been a new web site on the Quaker Cloud and an updated e-mail address list. Check us out at www.fgcquaker.org/cloud/charlottesville-friends-meeting.
Mold on the walls in our kitchen area led to the discovery of a major leak in our roof. We had to patch the roof, remove the kitchen equipment and cabinets, tear out dry wall, and have the mold removed. A more permanent repair to the roof will wait until spring. Our traditional December festive potluck had to be moved to Tandem Friends School, but that didn’t dampen attendance or enthusiasm as about ninety friends gathered for the event.
CFM is again working with PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) to host homeless women for a two-week period in our meetinghouse. Through this program, local congregations coordinate efforts to provide a hot meal and a bed for 12-18 homeless women each night during the coldest part of the year.
Spring and summer travels are almost over, and Charlottesville Friends Meeting will soon settle into regular school-year activities. Linda Goldstein was delighted to take part in the Quaker Pilgrimage to Ireland led by Margaret Fraser and to attend Ireland Yearly Meeting sessions this spring. Betsy Tucker found renewal in hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Several members of the Meeting attended FGC Gathering this summer, and others were present for BYM Annual Session. Hank and Frances Schutz were particularly busy, taking part in both events. Charlottesville Friends will mark the end of summer activities with our traditional family swim and picnic on August 30 at Mint Springs Park in Crozet.
In September we will resume First Day School activities using the Playing in the Light curriculum for children ages 5 through 9. Storytelling for this curriculum is a learned practice that requires training, so we have invited an experienced trainer from Philadelphia to visit for a weekend training conference that runs from the evening of the 10th through the morning of the 12th at the Meeting House. All are welcome to attend; cost is $100 per person and hospitality can be arranged. Contact Rosemary Gould firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlottesville Friends Meeting, once again, hosted the PACEM women’s shelter for two weeks in November. We had lots of support from other groups including meal support from Tandem Friends School and several other local churches. It took a community of people to make the shelter work: cooks, bed makers, toilet scrubbers, dishwashers, shoppers, set-up and take- down crews, menders, knitters, musicians, luggers and organizers of stuff, children who made decorations, and people who held us in prayer.
December again was the time for our traditional holiday gatherings. Our festive pot luck and carol sing was attended by an overflow crowd, and we enjoyed meeting and greeting friends, old and new. The children, led by our Religious Education Committee, enhanced our holiday experience with a selection of First Day school children and Young Friends performing “A Gift of Peace,” the younger children staging a performance of “The Friendly Beasts,” and the Young Friends performing an original skit on peace and non-violence. The season was complete with two Meetings for Worship on Christmas Eve.
We look forward to two events coming soon to the Charlottesville Friends Meeting House. On January 25, George Schaefer of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, will be the speaker for a day-long retreat titled “What Love Requires.” On the first Saturday in April, CFM will host a BYM all-day sing, and we are hoping that there will be a good turn-out of visitors from all over the yearly meeting to enjoy a full day of singing together.
Jesse-Blue Forrest, Peacewalker and beloved attender of Charlottesville Friends Meeting, embarked last June on a walk across the U.S. to advocate for the abolition of the draft. Jesse tells us of all the love and encouragement he found during the summer and fall on his walk from Charlottesville through DC, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and into Indiana. He interrupted his walk in Indianapolis in November because of a foot injury that was causing him a lot of pain and returned to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to heal and wait out the winter. He was welcomed by the Yellow Springs Friends Meeting and was housed, fed, and supported by Friends and by The Vale, an intentional community where many Yellow Springs Friends reside. He has also been sponsored by the Dayton International Peace Museum and the Gandhi King Foundation to go to India to walk in the steps of Gandhi on the 83rd anniversary of Gandhi’s Salt March to the Sea. After the Salt March, Jesse will travel in India to many of the other places significant in Gandhi’s peace witness and return on April 25 to resume his walk across America.
After many months of thought, discussion, and planning, the Meeting has approved a design for a Remembrance Garden to be built on the Meeting House grounds. There are still issues to be resolved, but work will go forward over the next months, and perhaps years, to realize the vision presented by the ad hoc committee charged with this project.
A Charlottesville chapter of 350.org has been formed by a member of the Meeting and holds its monthly discussions at the Meeting House. The mission of 350.org is strategic campaigns and programs to mitigate climate change and keep earth habitable for humans and other species for the long term. In Charlottesville, three tracks will move forward: energy policy and political advocacy; transit and transportation; and encouraging adoption of energy efficiency and conservation in homes.
We were happy to welcome Linda Goldstein back in Meeting for Worship after her long hospitalization following an accident in early February. The Meeting has showered Linda with good wishes, cards, visits, prayers and offers of help and will continue to give Linda assistance and support now that she is at home but unable to put weight on her left leg as yet.
As is our usual custom, Charlottesville formed Friendly Circles groups in the fall. This year we have a group exploring BYM’s revised Faith and Practice as well as groups involved in hiking, exploring ways to claim and live the lives we’re meant to live, and enjoying eastern mystical poetry. There’s a men’s dinner group and a group focused on events for children and families. The book discussion group was so popular that we established a second one to keep the size manageable and the discussion lively. For a two-week period in November, CFM participated in the PACEM program by hosting homeless women for an evening meal and overnight accommodations. In December we celebrated the holidays with a festive potluck and carol sing as well as the Christmas pageant produced by our religious education classes.
In June, member Jesse-Blue Forrest began a cross-country walk advocating the abolition of the military draft of slavery. In preparation for the trip, Jesse presented the Meeting with his most prized possession, a pipe, which in his Native American culture indicates that we are part of his family. The pipe is in the Meeting’s safekeeping until his return. In July, Charlottesville accepted a communication from Louisa County Worship Group indicating that they had stopped meeting and the group was laid down. Charlottesville have discontinued midweek Meeting for Worship but continue to hold an extended Meeting for Worship once a month. This two-hour worship opportunity is in addition to the regularly scheduled Sunday morning worship. Charlottesville Friends were invited to worship with Shiloh Quaker Camp one Sunday in July. This has become an annual event, and those attending enjoyed a refreshing dip in the new pond and a delicious lunch following Meeting for Worship. A total of 14 people from Charlottesville Meeting attended all or part of Annual Session this summer. Three of those were first-time attenders.
Charlottesville was pleased to host two BYM events recently. The Clerking and Leadership Workshop was held at our Meeting House in February, and Interim Meeting was held at Tandem Friends School and the Meeting House in March. Many CFM Friends were involved in the organization of hosting duties during these events, and several Friends also took part in the workshop and in Interim Meeting business. Our entire Meeting will be enriched by the connections we made to other BYM Friends during the events and by our better understanding of the Yearly Meeting’s many activities.
In our continuing effort to connect with the surrounding community, members of Charlottesville Friends Meeting distributed Halloween treats to trick-or-treaters from our Meeting House porch. The Meeting was pleased to host homeless women for two weeks in November through the PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) program. Between nine and seventeen women were fed and housed each night with help from Tandem Friends School and three area churches. The Meeting enjoyed a festive potluck and carol sing during the holiday season. The event was well attended with participants overfilling our community room and spilling into the library and meeting room spaces. Another holiday event was our Religious Education pageant on the Sunday before Christmas. The children enacted a Christmas story featuring Mary and Joseph as well as dogs, lambs, angels and even a bunny. Our youngest child, born this fall, played the part of baby Jesus perfectly. The Meeting is planning for BYM’s Clerking and Leadership Workshop which we will host in February and the Interim Meeting to be held in Charlottesville in March.