Buckhannon 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.
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Positives for the Buckhannon Friends
Attenders: With the pandemic it comes as little surprise that our numbers haven’t increased much this year. Beth Post has begun attending many of our virtual Meetings, and has been a pleasant addition to our group. Another new attendee is Matt Losch. Matt lives abroad and travels extensively, but has been attending our Zoom Meetings. Our two new friends join those of us who remain from previous years: Judy Seaman, Grace Harris, Susan Hoch, Cliff Hoch, Judy Halle, and Susan Rice.
On the other hand, following a family tragedy, one of our attendees stopped his regular visits to our Meeting in order to provide family support for his wife at her regular place of worship. However, we still keep this friend in many of our correspondences and thoughts.
Becoming our own Meeting: Following the June 2020 quarterly Meeting and the virtual Yearly Meeting, the Buckhannon Meeting finally became its own entity.
Current Outreach Efforts
We were beginning to plan some of our outreach efforts for the year when COVID-19 struck. West Virginia Wesleyan College, where we meet, shut down, and after a few weeks we began virtual Meetings via Zoom. Since the college campus shut down, we did not have the opportunity to provide the Thanksgiving meal to the international students like we did last year. At the time of the shutdown, we were beginning plans to continue our Adopt a Highway work, as well as initiating visits to the local jails and supplying them with materials for visiting family members, particularly young children. All of these plans have been placed on hold.
Leroy Noble Scholarship Fund: Fortunately, we were able to launch the Leroy Noble Scholarship Fund at the Brooklyn Friends School in New York. Mr. Noble was the father of Judy Halle, one of our members, and he attended the school as a youth through a scholarship. To date $2,195.00 has been sent in support of this scholarship, as well as additional family funding.
Opportunity House: Buckhannon Friends also made a donation to the Opportunity House, a local residential facility for those recovering from addiction.
Quaker Cemetery: In early fall, we took a field trip to a local cemetery that the Hochs discovered. There is a historical marker there indicating that it was a Quaker cemetery. Several of our members have been scouring local records as well as those found on Ancestry.com in order to get a complete history of the Quaker group that was once in our area and what happened that they left. Once our research is more complete, we intend to do something in connection to that, perhaps something for World Quaker Day, but our plans are rather fluid at the moment. In the meantime, we are looking into providing some monetary donations for the upkeep of the cemetery.
Quaker Christmas Tree: In December, Susan and Cliff Hoch were instrumental in decorating a Buckhannon Quakers Christmas tree at the Philippi Courthouse again this year.
In the hopes of better times ahead, we recently began tentative plans for the creation of prayer flags to be displayed in various locations throughout our area as well as a Peace Garden somewhere on the Wesleyan campus.
Additionally, we plan on beginning our Adopt a Highway clean up once again this spring.
As we as a group are becoming vaccinated and our local rates of infections continue to decline, we intend to begin some form of in-person Meetings again, perhaps in our homes. At that time, we will also pick up our plans that have been shelved since last March (jail visits, Thanksgiving meal for international students)
Size: Our small size continues to be our biggest challenge. We have had only a few guests this year due to the nature of virtual Meetings, etc. However, our contacts and connections through our Facebook page have been increasing.
Most of our members have had various difficulties this year, much of it due to the pandemic. For all of us, the Meeting has been a source of support, comfort, and community through those rough times, and we are sorely missing the in-person quality to our Meeting. However, even through the use of an internet connection, we have managed to continue building our relationships with each other and the Divine.
Often what rises and is shared in Meeting strikes a chord with many in our very small Quaker community. Our silences, particularly while practiced remotely, have also provided a sense of unity and fulfillment for us.
We look forward to the rest of 2021 with a sense of purpose and anticipation for better things ahead.
Positives for the Buckhannon Friends
Increasing members/attenders: During the remaining 2019-2020 year, we have increased the number of attendees into our group by three (3) regular attendees, who have also sought and received membership into the Monongalia Friends, under which the Buckhannon Friends is currently a Preparative Meeting. Judith Halle and Susan Rice have been a wonderful addition to the remaining regular attenders of Judith Seaman, Susan Hoch, Cliff Hoch and Grace Harris. Additionally, we have welcomed Allen Cook to our meeting when his work/travel allows. Again, he has been a wonderful addition who has added more depth to our small meeting. We have also enjoyed several guests throughout the year.
Becoming our own Meeting: During the 2019-2020 year, we have been taking steps to become our own meeting. We have already sought and received the blessing of the Monongalia Friends. Additionally, we have set up a tax ID # and opened a bank account. We are planning on attending the March Interim Meeting, which is the next step. We are beginning to assign roles to our members and working hard at outreach in an effort to attract more people. We will then await consensus from Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
Current Outreach Efforts
Public Relations: This past year we have printed up flyers, business cards, t-shirts, and buttons to be worn on clothing in order to gain some local recognition of our group. We have also started a Guest Book for guests who come to Meeting.
Make it Shine Highway Clean-Up: With the West Virginia Division of Highways, we have adopted a two-mile stretch of highway to clean up. The goal is to complete a clean-up three (3) times a year. In adopting this portion of highway, which is located at a junction of three local counties, a sign acknowledging Buckhannon Quakers was place by WV Highways. We feel this is a good community service, and it provides some visibility for our small group. It is also a good source of community among our members outside of Meeting.
Connecting to Local Environmental Groups: One of our members has made contact with and attended a meeting of a local environmental group. This is an avenue that we may explore further in the future.
Thanksgiving Meal: As we holding Meeting on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College, we determined that there was a need to serve food to students (mostly international students) who were unable to make it home for the Thanksgiving Break. At that time, the college cafeteria is closed as well. We made arrangements to do, and provided a meal for 13 Wesleyan students. These students hailed from several European countries, as well as Japan and South America. We have decided to do this again next year, but we will plan further in advance and bring more food -- food that is more to the liking of the students, not just the traditional American Thanksgiving meal.
Christmas Tree: Our group set up a Christmas tree in the town of Phillipi in the courthouse yard. Several local service communities did as well. Two of our members made homemade decorations that were in keeping with the Quaker value of Simplicity. The white decorations stated the SPICES, and buttons that we had made during the year were also used to decorate the tree. A white dove topped the tree. It truly was a beautiful bit of holiday spirit.
Black History Month Celebration: On February 9, 2020, several of our members were involved in reading individual sentences of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech along with many other community members of Buckhannon as part of Black History Month celebrations. Approximately a total of 70-80 people were involved, each reading one or two sentences of the speech aloud. Again, this is something that we are considering doing again next year.
Regional Jail Visitations and Books: Our group has been working on getting into the nearby Tygart Regional Jail as visitors. We will be completing applications and training in order to do so. Additionally, we are looking into providing books for small children for the waiting areas there. We also anticipate providing books to other locations where small children may be in waiting rooms with very little reading materials available (Department of Human Resources, doctor’s offices, etc.)
Tree Planting: Last year we paid to have a tree planted in a public area in Buckhannon to increase the town’s beautification efforts. However, the entities in charge have yet to provide or plant the tree. Once this is completed, the Buckhannon Quakers will be listed as donors on a plaque in the local town square – Jawbone Park.
Leroy Noble endowment to Brooklyn Friends School: One of our new member’s (Judith Halle) father attended the Brooklyn Friends School on scholarship as a boy. To honor his memory and this worthwhile cause, we are making arrangements to help build an endowment in his name to provide other young Friends with scholarship monies.
Size: We continue to be challenged by our small size. However, we are working hard at outreach, and it seems to be working. We have an established Facebook page, and we have completed several activities to gain some exposure for anyone seeking the Quaker spirituality. Our small size is particularly a problem when one of us must be absent from Meeting and may miss out on key information. We will be working on improving that this year.
COMMUNICATION WITH BYM: We are working on getting better at communication to and from BYM.
In spite of our small size, we have a thriving sense of community and spiritual connectedness among us. We have become friends as we have become Friends. Our silences are deep and fulfilling as are the messages that are shared during Meeting. We have shared books, and life stories, and support of each other. We genuinely enjoy each other’s presence in our lives.
We are small, but we are strong!
On March 11, the members and attenders of The Buckhannon Quaker Meeting met in worship sharing to discuss the spiritual state of the meeting.
Biggest Joys of the Year
- Finding each other
- Finding a spiritual home – discovery of the Silence, appreciating the sharing
- Find the space to dissent, to hold different beliefs
The difficulties of becoming a member. In other churches, you just say you want to, get to class maybe, no committees, etc.
A Friends believes in service to one’s country. Group assured him that there had been fighting Quakers in most wars, quoted Penn to him, “Wear it (sword) as long as you can.”
The Smallness of the Group: We all recognize that this is a challenge. When blended with the geographical spread of our area, it becomes very hard to move into service, committee work, etc. (noted Monongalia’s Meeting’s answer – have a long Sunday meeting with lunch, followed by activities.)
More discussion was requested.
That some Quakers believe in Christ as the Savior and others don’t – The Christ within, and listening to the Spirit.
Consensus -- a useful way to think about groups, small meetings, etc. better than majority.
Outreach – our pamphlets will be revised and given to people to place in various locations. We will reach out to the environment community.
We will look into highway cleaning. We can get our name on a sign. Contact with the Division of Highways will be made to start the process.
No report received.
1. Our greatest joy is finding more members after about a year and a half of just having two attenders. In October a new attender appeared. The two of us who had been keeping the fire alive had a very serious evaluation process to see if the Spirit was urging us to keep sending out messages and maintaining our schedule for Meeting for Worship. We had committed to it seriously and kept on through winter weather and summer vacations. We both had huge smiles when the new attender showed up, and worked hard on just the right amount of glee in seeing her. Several more startedto attend after the new year.
Our challenge now is to knit ourselves into a community and to find a mission. We are so excited about our group that that we are not critical of it at all. I think, though that as we go on we will wish for more diversity. We are all white, all over 50. But for now, this is wonderful.
2. In 2016, we did not do anything special for spiritual nurture for the two of us. Judy attended BYM and the WV Friends Gathering. Grace was unable to go to either of those because of the imminent arrival of a grand baby. But we felt that our faithfulness was our gift of the spirit and our gift to the community.
3. Our community is not as diverse as one could wish, but that will be a long-term goal. When we welcome new attenders, we are so overjoyed to see them that we have to be careful not to overwhelm them with too much attention. We introduce ourselves, talk a little about the history of our meeting, and if they are not familiar with Quaker worship, explain what will happen. After meeting, we linger to get feedback, share more about ourselves and what the meeting is doing.
4. We engage with Monongalia Friends who are our parent meeting. We have a couple of potlucks a year when the people from Morgantown come to worship with us. Judy has visited some other meetings with FWCC, where she is a regional coordinat or. She shares with Grace what she can of her experiences. We have been looking for an activity in Buckhannon that we can all work on. So far nothing has arisen.
5. Racism is alive and well in West Virginia. Monongalia Friends is working with The AFSC staff to put together a program for youth. Perhaps we can work with the chaplain at Wesley to take some students from the college to participate.
I think that the presidential election has sharpened our sense of community, of common beliefs and commitments. We have also found a need for congenial companionship
No report received.
No report received.
Buckhannon Preparative Meeting is a very small meeting of three members, but these members are very faithful. This year we had a visit from Betsy Meyer, the clerk of BYM, who gave us the message that “God had a purpose for our meeting.” This was an encouragement to all of us to keep on trying to grow a meeting in Buckhannon.
The three members feel very close. We keep in touch by e-mail, especially in the winter. We support each other in prayer, as well as praying for the meeting and the towns and counties where we live.
Our quest is always to grow, in size and in the Spirit. We read a query from the BYM Faith and Practice at every meeting, and this gives us a common theme in our worship. We are also searching for a community service we can render. We have just put up a Face Book page.
We try to bring the Quaker way of doing things to our daily lives. One of our members is a teacher in the public schools. She tries actively to bring Quaker values and ways of doing things to her work with colleagues and students. For example, she encourages longer discussions and consensus rather than majority votes when there is a lot of diversity and conflict. Or people ask, “What would Quakers do?” It is a challenge to represent “Quakers” but often we can offer a different viewpoint and voice to discussions.
Many of our seekers have different concepts of God and Jesus. We try to focus on the testimonies and the way of life, rather than getting into theology. But if we must get into theology, we emphasize that there is room for all. We hope to be like the yeast in the parable, to grow from a small beginning to a leavening force in the community.
No report received.
The Buckhannon Meeting is a very small, isolated meeting in central West Virginia. We have been in existence since 2006, and while a number of people have visited and attended for varying periods of time, the core of three people, with two more attending regularly when the weather permits, has remained steadfast. The three of us met in worship sharing to consider the spiritual state of our meeting.
The question of how the Spirit was prospering among us found us a little puzzled. We decided that two indicators that we are growing in the spirit are the increasing participation and depth in the vocal ministry of our group, and our incredible faithfulness to our difficult task of growing a new meeting in rural WV.
The growth of the Spirit in our lives has been nurtured by our participation in BYM. We did not feel a part of LEYM at all. The welcoming ceremony at the annual meeting and the visits from the staff, as well as the communication by e-mail, have given us a sense of belonging to a larger Quaker body. In our own practice, we have added worship sharing this year. As we have become more practiced with it, we rejoice in the additional closeness it brings to us as a community and to each member as an individual as we share in the spirit. We also share books and magazines informally.
The Spirit in our individual lives manifests itself in our desire to live the testimonies of the Society of Friends. Our discussion topic for one of our worship sharing sessions was how to respond to That of God in those we meet in our lives. Since we are such a small and scattered group we have not been able to find a community mission that we realistically can maintain and which at the same time gives us an individual identity (rather than just helping someone else’s project.) We are considering a presence in the local state mental hospital.
Our image in the community is that of a tiny voice crying in the wilderness. More positively, we are a refuge for those who want the Spirit without the constant pressure of proselytizing and salvation. We have had attenders who say that they have been Quakers without knowing it On the other hand, in a quiet way, we hunger for more recognition—at present we are mistaken for Amish, Puritans, or the man on the cereal box. We will be sponsoring a film for the college students who surround us, with hopes that this will give us an opening for discussion. We are hoping to join the Ministerial Association and perhaps invite some young people’s groups to come learn more about Quakers.
We have had no difficulties as a group. In fact we have all become very good small “f” friends. Small as we are, we are part of the great cloud of witnesses to the presence of the Spirit among us.