Nottingham Monthly 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.
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|2016 Report||2017 Report||2018 Report||2019 Report|
We feel the Spirit prospering in the sense that we feel drawn to worship as a community of fellow seekers open to expanding our views and learning from one another. We have limited vocal ministry during Meeting for Worship, but the Spirit moves among us weaving a connection that strengthens us.
We come to Meeting for peace and tranquility and a respite from the controversies of the world. We find the divisions of the world adverse to our beliefs of equality, justice and ‘that of God in each person’. What can we do?
One Friend brought us the leading of having a clothing giveaway, we united with this leading by gathering and sorting clothes, rearranging the Meeting to display those items. We gathered clothing from a local business and a church in another county who had a giveaway. We contacted organizations in our community who assist people in need. They transported many people to pick out clothing and coats for winter. The local High School sent a group of volunteers to help us during the giveaway. Afterwards we sent over 2000 pounds of clothing to a clothing distributor in New Jersey. Even though our numbers are small, we joined with others to accomplish something very fulfilling for us and the community where we worship.
We celebrate the gifts and blessings that are bestowed upon us: One friend shared the history of her family. One Friend brings music to the Christmas Carol Sing at the Brick Meeting and summer Worship at Little Elk Meeting. A grandchild was born this year. We enjoyed fellowship during the summer and fall yard sales. The book discussion group maintains connections to some Friends who have moved to retirement communities. We held three Quaker Speak sessions, inviting other Meetings to join us. The discussions were nurturing to our Spirit.
George Fox Friends School began in 1995 with a leading by two women within our Meeting. It was a labor of love for twenty years, but sadly it closed in 2015. We greatly appreciate the dedication of the Trustees, staff, families and children who were the heart of the school. We are grateful to the Friends who labored these past four years to retire the substantial debt and finalize the legalities for closing the School.
Our shrinking size often overwhelms us, and we tend to focus on maintenance and money. We look to the Spirit to guide us to be more open to gratitude and forgiveness, for ourselves and others. We are incredibly grateful Friends of this meeting are congenial and continue to gather for Worship. We are encouraged by a few attenders who have been joining us for Worship.
As a gathered people, however small the gathering, we rejoice in all that we receive.
The third and fourth queries spoke to us in our discussions.
- There seem to be dueling forces among Friends. We recognize we can be a shining light and healing presence in troubled times, while on the other hand, we value our individual Meeting Community so much we can be unwelcoming to change or discordant voice. What is our meeting’s experience of this? Do you sense a tendency to avoid tension by not discussing differing points of view?
- Is your Meeting a diverse community: racially, philosophically, politically, or theologically? How is that expressed? In what ways?
We feel the Spirit prospering in the sense that we feel drawn to worship as a community of fellow seekers open to expanding our views and learning from one another. Our diversification lies in that many of us do not live in the same political district or state. While we do not discuss politics in Meeting, many of us are actively engaged in our political districts.
We come to Meeting for peace and tranquility and a respite from the controversies of the world. We find the divisions of the world adverse to our beliefs of equality, justice and ‘that of God in each person’. How can we draw people together and build sustainability?
Over the past year, we’ve seen our numbers drop. Some due to illness, Friends moving away and revised work schedules. Those of us who continue to attend do so because we know experientially that Spirit prospers in our lives when we do. “If I miss Meeting, the rest of the week just doesn’t go as well. Things are harder; the path forward does not seem as clear.”
We reflect on the people who came before us, and honor their work and dedication in building our community. The ladies who displayed baby quilts and sweaters they made for AFSC; the artwork drawn by the children; the men who dug out our basement by hand to create a kitchen and fellowship room. We are grateful to the Friends who worked, this past year, to correct the water problem in the basement and refinish the concrete floor.
We are thankful for those who participated in our ‘Friendly Treasures Sale’ and also cleaned out their closets to send 2,000 pounds of clothing to charity. Friends worked diligently for three years to raise funds for the final debts from George Fox Friends School, thank you.
We meet together to try to nurture the values and faithfulness we want to make integral to our lives. One person carries the lesson from his grandmother that the most important word in the 23rd psalm in “through”. Worshipping together affirms our faith that we are supported in our path, in our way through. We learn to recognize that, while we may not always like the answers we get to our prayers, they are the answers we need to receive. As a gathered people, however small the gathering, we rejoice in all that we receive.
Nottingham Monthly Meeting comprises three historic Meeting Houses. Each one holds an affinity from the Friends/friends who worship inside their walls.
The Brick Meeting House and its historical significance and beauty remain a draw to some worshipers. First Day School discussions bring attendees from various walks of life together for conversations that are meaningful to exploring Quaker values and faith and practice.
The Oxford Friends Meeting House comprises the steadfast core of members. Although aging, these few members remain loyal in attendance, seeking to understand ways to grow membership, welcoming new attenders, maintaining the physical Meeting and looking responsibly to the future. Concerts continue to be held for the broader community of Oxford.
Little Elk Meeting is usually open the fourth Sunday of each Summer month. Families with a longstanding connection to the Meeting have been active working on restoring and maintaining the Little Elk Meeting House and burial grounds.
We are grateful for the faithfulness of Friends who come each week to Worship together and support each other. Several speakers shared how essential the time together on Sunday morning is for our individual spiritual well-being. Having the commitment to worship is both a blessing—coming “keeps me on an even keel”—and a burden “I know it’s up to me as an individual to be prepared for worship.”
Visiting other Meetings proves enriching and is an important part of some spiritual journeys. Fellowship during BYM Interim Meeting and Annual Sessions can be exciting and fun. We see that most other Meetings share our challenges and concerns about the future.
One speaker continues in his pleasure at being privileged that his professional work and engagement in politics has involved partnerships with Friends from other Meetings. The experience of working in partnership with others who share one’s faith tradition is all too rare in our lives.
Friends began a discussion, sparked by conversations at Quarterly Meeting, to help us understand the “The Last Man” scenario, i.e. the responsibilities of the person who would close the meeting. Friends felt a need for a thoughtful plan of transition into laying down the Meeting should the time comes.
These are thoughts from our discussion:
- Are we acting as proper stewards of all the resources of our Meetings?
- Should Friends prepare plans and gather information to assist those who may be called upon to make stewardship and management decisions in the future?
- While our Meeting attendance has been stable for several years, some of us will be going to retirement communities in the next five years, raising concerns for those who will remain.
- Friends recognize the challenges that may face a community of reduced resources and membership. We hope to provide useful information about the options and choices.
- Friends expressed thoughts about outreach. How do we let the local community know we are an active place of Worship?
- We need ideas and support from everyone!! We still continue to have this item on our monthly agenda for more discussion.
Harry Tunis, Clerk of BYM Trustees and Tom Hill, Treasurer of BYM were consulted about what would be involved if a meeting was to dissolve and referenced the 1988 Faith and Practice to assist us with what would be involved in discontinuance of Monthly Meetings.
We continue to desire a stronger sense of Meeting community when we gather at the Meeting House. Several members and former members enjoy fellowship in a monthly book group. Several members continue to work closely together on the final George Fox Friends School closure. Other friends enjoy close relationships of warm fellowship with some members. We look forward to enjoying more opportunities of member fellowship in 2018. When we participate in activities of worship, we will strengthen our community of fellowship.
It is with deep appreciation that those who have worked diligently for 20 years to build up George Fox Friends School, continue their service to close the business in good order. Concerts, contributions, clothing contributions and other activities have been held to assist with meeting the school’s financial obligations.
We think of the generosity of former members who had the ability and foresight to leave bequests to support children to attend camp and adults to attend conferences. Camp continues to be a special place for young Friends to grow in mind and Spirit. Some adults have experienced the wider Quaker community in other areas of the world and closer to home at BYM Annual Sessions.
Our search for guidance and understanding from the Spirit keeps us faithful.
2016 Spiritual State of the Meeting Report
No report received.
We are grateful to have core groups of Friends who faithfully come together to worship as Nottingham Monthly Meeting. We are bound together by love. We face challenges as many of our members look forward to the changes that retirement brings and recognize that these may direct us to reexamine our needs and hopes as a community. Friends value the spiritual support of members as they face the demands of aging parents, health concerns and many of life’s changes and challenges. We rejoice together and share our joys and burdens.
We find great joy in welcoming the visits to and from Friends who have moved to other meetings and communities.
We value the faithfulness of Friends whose dedication makes it possible for us to continue to use the three meetinghouses in our care on a regular basis. Friends meet in Oxford every First Day. The Brick Meetinghouse in Calvert, Maryland is open for worship on the first and third First Days of the month. Adult Religious Education is held on the third First Day of each month at Brick. Little Elk meetinghouse is open on occasion during the summer months.
We continue to encourage the ministry of Friends who seek to open the Brick Meetinghouse for worship and hope that the spiritual fellowship that has grown there will continue.
Friends have enjoyed an annual Christmas caroling event at Brick Meetinghouse and other music events in the summer months providing outreach to the community.
Friends Folk Club holds concerts in Oxford, open to the community, giving us an opportunity to welcome visitors to our meetinghouse and extend our outreach into the neighborhood.
Friends were saddened by the closure of George Fox Friends School after 20 years of operation. We embrace the tireless efforts of the dedicated Friends who have enlightened the lives of the many children who came through the school. We are very thankful for the spiritual support of the school by the meetings of Nottingham Quarterly Meeting, Sadsbury Friends and PYM Western Quarterly Meeting.
When preparing the Spiritual State of the Meeting, we find the process and discussions both useful and meaningful for our spiritual growth. We prayerfully seek the guidance of the Spirit.
No report received.
We seek the guidance of the Spirit and ways to nurture our diverse worship community. We enjoy fellowship when we are together and hope to find more opportunities to join together. Friends have expressed a sense that their efforts for the benefit of the community are valued and appreciated.
We held meeting for worship with a concern for business at Brick Meetinghouse in October, in order to include the Friends who worship there in the process of Quaker decision-making. Friends continue to seek ways to nurture and care for one another although worshipping in different places at the same time.
With three meetinghouses, Oxford, Brick and Little Elk, and two burial grounds, under our care, we recognize that our concerns for the material care of the meeting properties are often challenging. We find the working together rewarding and helpful in building fellowship. Friends hope that we can build on the momentum these efforts to enrich our spiritual care of the community.
While we continue to be concerned about our small size, we are welcoming new attenders along with inquiries regarding membership this year.
Friends were saddened by the loss of Dorothy Matlack in September 2013. Her memorial service was inspiring.
George Fox Friends School continues to enrich the lives of young children and their families. The work and efforts of our members who work closely with the school inspires us. The meeting community addressed a request for additional financial support, but failed to reach unity on how to aid the school.
We were glad to have more Friends participating in the Oxford Area Crop walk this year. Five Friends enjoyed the fellowship and the pleasant weather to support a worthwhile local fundraising effort in October.
Friends continue to enjoy and value a book discussion group which meets monthly throughout the year.
The heart of our meeting is resilient and sincere. We continue to seek ways to reach out to our neighbors and the larger community.
Many of us have felt stretched between the monthly meeting in Oxford and the community which meets for worship at the historic Brick meetinghouse. We have felt a lack of unity about our direction. Friends are welcoming a sense of a turning tide in our meeting. We have been earnestly seeking the guidance of the Spirit and endeavor to work with love and patience with one another. We seek for opportunities to bring harmony within our community. We value and appreciate the loving concern of Betsy Meyer, presiding clerk of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, travelling in a caring ministry to nurture small meetings.
We appreciate the efforts of everyone who is willing to care for the meetinghouses and burial grounds under our care. Friends and families are picking up and sharing the tasks of those who have moved on, providing resources which benefit our community.
The community meeting for worship and first day school at the Brick meetinghouse has become a cohesive and growing faith group. They share a love of the historic setting and a sense of adventure worshiping in a building with few amenities. The community brings together members of other faith traditions, which many feel enriches the worship experience and draws us closer to the Spirit.
The faithfulness of Friends worshipping at Oxford displays a sense of loyalty to one another and the conviction that we have a ministry to fulfill in the community. While we have not experienced the lively growth seen at the Brick, we joyfully welcome visitors and are always delighted when past members join us for worship. We have actively sought to make our meetinghouse welcoming. When the building is used for community concerts and programs we have updated information about Friends worship and practices available for visitors.
We are humbled by the Spirit which guides George Fox Friends School. In an era of shrinking budgets, the school continues to enrich the lives of young children and their families.
Several Friends have moved a distance from our community. We rejoice for them as they find comfort in their new homes. We miss them and look forward to visits when they travel in our area. Many friends continue to keep connected with and visit our distant Friends.
Our members generously supported the Oxford Area Crop Walk. Our two walkers raised more per capita than the average of any other congregation participating. Well done!
We celebrate the faithfulness of our communities. We seek ways to nurture and build community among our f/Friends. We humbly listen for the Spirit’s guidance on our journey.
No report received.