Hopewell Centre Monthly Meeting Interchange Reports
The text of Hopewell Centre Monthly Meeting reports in the Interchange 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.
Hopewell Centre has enjoyed an active and productive fall. The highlight of the season was when Art Larrabee brought his “Quaker Decision-Making Workshop” to Hopewell Meeting House. Benches were filled with nearly all our members, as well as with Friends from nearby. It was a great success and we came away with new insights and ways (not without good humor) to make our Business Meetings more spirit-led. We are all now coming to Meetings for Worship with a Concern for Business with a newfound commitment to “clerking consciousness.”
We are pleased to report that our Peace & Social Justice Committee has passed a minute denouncing “all speech that promotes, directly, or indirectly, white supremacy ideology….Friends are urged to test their leadings by confronting resurgent hate rhetoric wherever it occurs.” We’ve been engaging in ongoing discussions about how to confront and respond to racist remarks in a Quakerly way. We were excited to connect with other faiths in a Unity Walk (led by Shenandoah University’s Religion Department) in remembrance of 9/11. There were deep and lively conversations amongst Quakers, Jews, Bahá’ís, Presbyterians, A.M.E. Episcopalians, Mennonites, Metropolitan Community churchgoers, and Muslims as we walked and were welcomed into each place of worship. Most recently, we have initiated a Thursday evening Meeting for Worship at Centre Meeting House in downtown Winchester. This will meet the needs of members and attenders who find it hard to be there on First Day; and we hope it will bring in students from Shenandoah University and seekers from the local community. Our Spiritual Formation Group continues to flourish; our Sustainability Dinner & A Dialogue meets monthly; and we continue to reach out to those in need at the Highland Food Pantry. May the holy days be sacred and illuminating; may the New Year bring safe harbors, understanding, and joy.
Summer has brought us many good things, from George Lakey’s inimitable insights and humor at BYM’s Annual Session, to a first-time, fun-filled campfire dinner with the youth and staff at Opequon Camp. Homecoming, as it always is, was a joyous end-of-summer day spent with old and new Friends in worship within our walls and potluck on the lawn.
With the arrival of fall, we are pleased to announce our new clerks: Clerk of the Meeting, Betty McCormick; Assistant Clerk, R. Dixon Bell; Recording Clerk, Dan Riley; Asst. Recording Clerk, Carol Melby; Clerk of Ministry & Counsel, Linda Wilk; Pastoral Care, Pam Hambach; Treasurer Jim Riley; and Asst. Treasurer, Anne Bacon.
Our Outreach Committee continues its focus on the much-needed and ever-growing Highland Food Pantry. Our home-grown Spiritual Formation Group moves happily into its third year. Last year’s group read Mind the Light by J. Brent Bill and To Be Broken and Tender by Margery Post Abbot; they say the whole experience was transformative. But the big event we’re all awaiting is when Art Larrabee comes right to our meetinghouse door in October to give his Friends’ Decision-Making workshop. We’re hoping the entire Meeting will take part so we can all gain the tools we need to deepen our spiritual commitment as a meeting as well as in our personal lives.
As it is in life, we do have sadness to report. In July we lost longtime Friend, James Cosby, who, among his many gifts to our meeting, kept our buildings and grounds functioning and beautiful for many years. Elder and birthright Quaker, Bob Pidgeon, grieves for the loss of his wife, Naomi. Faithful attender, Judy Enterline, has also lost her spouse, Steven, unexpectedly, and her mourning is great. As the tides ebb and flow, may we each catch a wave or two — and ride.
As usual, spring and summer are quickly over. And, as it is every end of summer, Homecoming was a glorious occasion, bringing old Friends back to our historic Hopewell Meeting House for a fun-filled day of catch-up and a delicious luncheon on our grounds. In July, we welcomed BYM visitors, Ann Venable, Ken Stockbridge and Bob Rhudy. After a presentation and a lively Q&A time, we were left feeling a greater connection to and understanding of the larger BYM community. And we loved those green shopping bags! Our members who attended this year’s Annual Session returned, filled with a greater awareness of and dedication to living in right relationship with creation. Opequon campers stopped by for worship and to do what they most love to do – sing! And, as always, we loved listening. Our Spiritual Formation Group that began in September 2014,continued on into June. Every one of its ten participants said they benefited tremendously from their chosen spiritual practices; from reading selected books; and from personal sharing with their smaller groups. We are all ready to begin again this fall! We wish all BYM Meetings joy and bounty in the fall season.
Hopewell Centre is happy to report an active and productive autumn. In September, after much thought and preparation, we began a 9-month Spiritual Formation Group. Drawing on BYM’s guidelines, our ten eager participants attended an initial one-day retreat here at Hopewell, and each has taken up a spiritual practice, from meditation and journaling to yoga and contemplative prayer. We are reading from works by Patricia Loring (“Listening Spirituality); Arthur Larabee, Parker Palmer, Mark Nepo and others. The group meets once a month for potluck, discussion, and worship-sharing. In November, we welcomed visiting Friend Dr. Campbell Plowden, founder of CACE (Centre for Amazon Community Ecology) who shared with us, in an informative and delightful slide presentation, the work he is doing to find positive alternatives to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. We hosted his “Amazon Crafts Sale” of beautiful, native artisan handicrafts—a great success which will give much back towards the improvement of the individual artists’ rainforest communities. We continue to enjoy other ongoing projects, including our ever-growing Childcare RE program; new peace and social justice efforts; as well as the involvement with some of our members with FCRP and BYM. We rest in the cold of our Valley winter and look forward to spring.
Looking back over summer, Homecoming at Hopewell Centre was, as always a happy and memorable reunion with treasured Friends. We celebrate the fact that our small Meeting is taking on a more active role in the Baltimore Yearly Meeting as witnessed by the numbers who attended this year’s Annual Session, and those who are now serving on BYM committees. As we move into autumn, we thank Becky Ebert for her invaluable and tireless services and welcome a new Clerk of the Meeting, Mike Hambach. Our committees with some new clerkships are underway, and we’re particularly happy to see the revival of our Peace & Social Concerns Committee under the energetic leadership of Judia Gallinger. Using a new format, Seekers Group is flourishing as members take turns sharing their knowledge about a topic close to their heart — from changes in Faith & Practice; Buddhism and Quakerism; and Creeds; to a Dylan Thomas poem on dying — all stirring a lively spiritual interchange. Outreach to the community through our local food pantry and Interfaith Council is ongoing; and our new childcare program continues to delight and nourish our children.
In March we lost a dear and longtime member of our Meeting, David McCormick. David’s beautiful family— his wife Betty and their three children and seven grandchildren have brought us much joy throughout the years —and will continue to do so. David was our faithful and able web master for many years. We are also sad to hear that Elias Tamari has passed. He and his wife Mary Ellen became members of our Meeting and attended with us briefly before they moved to Friends House in Maryland. On a happier note, we announce our new members, Clyde and Bonnie Bryant who were recently married at Hopewell.
And happily we send this news to all of you and rejoice in hearing back.
In October, Hopewell Centre Meeting hosted BYM’s Interim Meeting, welcoming 120 attendees at Hopewell Meeting House. Everyone was pleased with and grateful for the space and nourishment we provided and we ourselves feel it was a great success. We thank Clear Brook Presbyterian Church for assisting us with additional meeting space.
Happily we can now report that the extensive renovations of our bathrooms have been completed and we continue, with the help of generous donations, to care for our much-loved Meeting Houses, caretaker’s home, and graveyards.
Member Jim Riley has been leading us in a series of fruitful First Day discussions on “What We Believe as Quakers.” Everyone is reviewing Faith & Practice in order to share our thoughts on key questions, including “Why were we attracted to Quakerism?” and “What values are at the center of our Quaker faith?”
We were most happy to see Clerk Betsy Meyer not just once, but twice in the past few months. The first time was at Interim Meeting when she stayed over to worship with us on First Day. The next was in January she came to discuss BYM’s Vision Statement with us. The general response of those in attendance was that the statement rings true and expresses simply but deeply, our feelings as a Meeting under BYM’s umbrella. We also talked about implementing the vision statement and what it means to be a worshiping community.
Recently, we’ve embarked on a new Children’s RE program, spearheaded by Kristin Adams and Martha Hanley. Working in two-person rotating teams, we plan to focus each month on a different Quaker belief or concern from Simplicity and Peace to the Bible and the Natural World. The challenge is to teach our young ones (ages one to six) the Quaker way—through reading and wondering; music; and arts & crafts.
We are all experiencing great sadness as some of our members face serious illnesses. Please hold them, their loved ones, and our entire Meeting in the Light as we seek to support and care for them.
Hopewell Centre continues to ebb and flow as its members age and grow. Over the last six months, we have lost two Friends: Margaret “Tony” MacDonald, a former member of the Meeting, and Teri O’Connell Lifschutz who was a long-involved attender. We are sad to see these two vibrant women pass. The Meeting congratulates and celebrates this year’s high school graduates: Amber Fager, Kai Gingerich and Kelsey Harris. With pride, we can report that Julia Melby, who graduated college in 2012, has entered the Peace Corps and will teach biology to high school students in Ghana.
Within the Meeting, we have continued our outreach work with the Highland Avenue Food Pantry; and for the first year, we have sponsored a boy in Boys and Girls Club Summer Camp. Members participated in an April Poetry Event at Meeting to celebrate the publication of a new volume, Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets, in which two members, Margaret Stetler and Kristin Zimet, are published. In addition, Adult Religious Education has focused on members’ and attenders’ spiritual journeys and memoirs and with renewed vigor, on social justice issues.
We are pleased to announce that Robyn Harris has taken over the position of Newsletter Editor for our Meeting. In addition, Jim Riley is the new Assistant Treasurer of Baltimore Yearly Meeting; and Rebecca Bacon now serves as Youth Programs and BYM representative to Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. Josh Riley continues to serve on Camping Programs, as does Laura Nell Obaugh on the Nominating Committee. We are pleased to have so many from our small Meeting in the service of our Yearly Meeting. As always, Hopewell Centre is focused on building and preserving community, and so this summer we “cooked up” an ice cream social and a potluck dinner, “just because.” At the end of August we celebrated our annual Homecoming, welcoming home old Friends and making new ones, as we opened our much-loved Hopewell Meeting House doors to the public. Guests and members shared Silent Worship and a conversation- and fun-filled picnic lunch (always delicious) afterwards.
We excitedly wait to greet the larger Friends’ community as we host Interim Meeting this Fall. Toward that date we are scurrying to complete renovations on our bathrooms; plan for hospitality and meals; and make available some wonderful committee spaces. Please join us!
How fast the winter went, and the snow came even faster. At Hopewell Centre, we enjoyed warm interludes between storms, including a visit from Sheila Bach and Betsy Meyer who came to ask our thoughts on the latest draft of Faith and Practice. Some Friends reported concerns at the lack of coverage on death & dying and aging; others noted a shortage of references to Jesus and the Bible. Those in Seekers’ Group who have been reading and discussing this draft expressed an overall satisfaction with its revised content.
In addition, our Co-clerks met with those faith groups now sharing Centre Meeting House, and were gladdened by the shared spirit of cooperation and appreciation for our old-town “Quaker House.” In February, five of us attended BYM’s “Clerking & Leadership Workshop,” to the delight of our own Laura Nell Obaugh (workshop coordinator), and experienced an inspiring, instructive session at the hands of Arthur Larrabee. We continue to enjoy a lively round of adult RE sessions led by enthusiastic members and attenders, and we look forward to — and wish you all — the joys of the returning spring and sun-filled summer.
Hopewell Centre’s second round of public talks in October was a great success. Members shared their personal experiences about why they are Quakers; how they practice Silent Worship and Vocal Ministry; and how they live out the Quaker testimonies. Many guests joined our Seekers’ Group afterwards to learn more about Quakerism; several began attending Meeting regularly. Although an outreach effort, the ripple effect of the talks has been substantial. Members reported a reawakened faith in Quaker tenants; a desire to re-explore Faith and Practice; and a renewed sense of community and closeness within the Meeting.
Our ongoing Seekers’ Group is now reading and discussing Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings with its inspiring foreword by Douglas Steere, as well as studying the Peace Testimony at the request of newcomers. Friends in our journaling/memoir group continue to support each other in their writings which range from prayers and life stories to spiritual journeys. After some post-restoration heating repairs and a costly new roof for our tenants’ house in Clearbrook, our building funds need replenishing. So we look forward to fundraising activities including a Peace Festival and continuing sales of our popular Quake ‘n Bake cookbook.
Hopewell Centre Meeting continues its community outreach by joining with neighboring churches and local agencies such as CCAP to feed the hungry. Through our presence at the Valley Interfaith Council, we enjoy the opportunity to interact with other faith leaders and explore contemporary issues such as poverty, death penalty and racial unity. Our Centre Meeting House in old town Winchester, known by the local community as “The Quaker House,” has long been a haven for AA meetings and Bahai’i services. Now we are welcoming other like-spirited groups, including a newly formed Buddhist sangha and the Metropolitan Community Church for weekly services. We also hosted a Memorial Service for Victims of Domestic Abuse, led by the Unitarian Universalists, the first of what we hope will be many joint ventures.
With joy, we announce the birth of Arlo Adams, son of Kristin and Tom Adams and brother of Abraham, Anna and Ava. With sadness we note the passing of a long-time member and wonderful spirit, Pansy Estep, at the age of 98.
After two years of planning, fundraising, and actual work by the contractors, the interior restoration of Hopewell Meeting House was completed in time to host the wedding of Bonnie Wilson and Clyde Bryant on June 30. We are in awe of our landmark building’s restored beauty; and our Committee of the Interior is striving to further simplify and de-clutter our inside walls and spaces in the true Quaker fashion. At our end-of-summer Homecoming, we welcomed back many old Friends, including those from BYM and local Meetings for a re-dedication of our now doubly beautiful Meeting House. In a brief ceremony, we paid tribute to long-time, now passed member, George Sheetz, who loved and cared for Hopewell Meeting House for many years; and R. Dixon Bell read a poem he wrote for the occasion. Showers did not stop our picnic outdoors where we enjoyed an as-always delicious potluck and catching up with old friends.
In reaching out to the community, some of our members recently attended a “Hands on Hunger Education Workshop” at a local food bank. In Religious Education, we continue to explore the monthly Queries and “Faith & Play” lessons. Seekers’ Group is reading and discussing Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline; and our youth, led by Linda Wilk, look forward to connecting with the youth at surrounding Meetings for group activities. Happily, we have named our new Clerk of the Meeting, Rebecca Ebert, with Betty McCormick as Assistant Clerk; and Carol Melby as Clerk of Ministry and Counsel. Ahead of us in October, is our second series of Public Talks on The Quaker Way—four Wednesday evenings on which we invite the local community to join us at Centre Meeting House for a lively exchange on the topics of Quaker Meeting: My Spiritual Home, Quaker Worship, Peace & Social Justice, and Simplicity. Watch for more details on our website, hopecentre.quaker.org and on Facebook. We wish you all a bountiful and bright fall season.
The Hopewell Meeting House, located near Winchester, Virginia, is undergoing extensive interior renovations. The building, the oldest part of which was built in 1759, is one of the two Hopewell Centre Meeting Houses and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hopewell and Centre used to be two separate Meetings, and they joined together in 1999 to form Hopewell Centre Meeting.
All of the interior plaster is being repaired at Hopewell. Over the years, cracks had formed in the walls and parts of the plaster ceiling had either fallen or become loose. In 2009, the Meeting decided to move forward with an extensive renovation project. A committee was formed to research what had to be done and to recommend a way forward. After talking with a number of contractors and other individuals familiar with repairing old lime-based plaster, the Meeting decided to hire a local contractor, Vintage Renovation and Construction. One of their specialties is restoring historic buildings using original techniques and materials. After further planning, the Meeting launched a fundraising campaign in November, 2010. The goal was to raise a minimum of $80,000 which would allow the project to proceed.
Besides seeking individual donations, the Meeting carried out a number of fundraising projects, including the production of a calendar and a cookbook, putting on a Colonial era dinner at the Meeting House, and holding a Peace Festival and Auction. We reached our fundraising goal in June, 2011.
While waiting for the work to begin, we planned for the removal of everything in the Meeting House. We rented storage trailers for our benches and other furniture. Historic books were stored at the Archives at the Handley Regional Library. All items were removed from the balconies, everything was taken off the walls, and eventually the only item remaining in the Meeting House was our piano. What a sight to see a completely empty Meeting House – probably the first time since 1759.
In October, scaffolding was erected inside and work began. All of the old, loose plaster was removed and the cracks in the walls were prepped. Then the remaining plaster on the ceiling was stabilized. Along the way, we found that some additional work had to be carried out on our slate roof. Plastering began in January and we are planning to move back in soon.
We are fortunate to have another Meeting House. We have been meeting at Centre Meeting House in Winchester since October. This project has required the support of everyone in our Meeting and many outside the Meeting. Our Yearly Meeting Friends have been spiritually and financially supportive of our efforts, and we are very grateful for that. We hope our friends from throughout the Yearly Meeting will join us in commemorating the renovation when it is completed, as it gives us another cause for celebrating our community.
We have been enjoying our ongoing discussions of the monthly Queries; listening to Friends tell their “spiritual journey” stories in Adult RE; and welcoming many visitors and new attenders, including young ones. Throughout the spring, our Young Friends will be visiting local Friends Meetings and they’ve already enjoyed an inspiring visit to Shepherdstown Preparative Meeting. Our Seekers Group continues on with its lively exchange of ideas and reflections on the latest revision of Faith & Practice. For fun, many Hopewell-ians have been gathering at the Good Natured Green General Store in Martinsburg (owned by members, Pam and Jim Smith) for delicious, home-cooked food and down home bluegrass and bluesey music sessions. Sadly, we wish to mark the passing of Mary Ann Joliffe Light. She attended Hopewell Meeting when she was young with her parents; she is buried in Hopewell’s graveyard along with her family.