Meeting History: Stan Myers' reflections
From Stan Myers, now of Blue Hill, ME:
My clerkship days at Chestnut Hill Meeting seem very distant to me now, lacking in thigh-slapping anecdote or soul-searing episode. In any event Peg and I will not be able to attend the June 13th homecoming and we will miss being there. We know it will be a great occasion.
At this point I remember several facts. I was clerk for 7 years and Natalie Kempner succeeded me. I'm unsure of the dates for my clerking years but I'm guessing the latter 70's. I do remember the Meeting's life was at a particularly low ebb when I was asked to accept the responsibility. Attendance was small and aging and our First Day school had long been a thing of the past. We started a series of community outreach programs that slowly increased attendance. But it was Steve Gable's loyal attendance, and the presence of his young daughter Elizabeth that ultimately led to the rebirth of the First Day school, along with changes in the community's younger demographic makeup.
Natalie Kempner's interest in the El Salvadorian refugees, and the Meeting's willingness to declare itself a "sanctuary" greatly increased the Meeting's vitality. This completed for me a major cycle of growth, decline and rebirth in the life of the Meeting. The Meeting was founded in the 20's by individuals on a spiritual quest. I was an attender in the 1930's as a child and an active participant in the 1950's as an adult in the major Meeting House expansion to accommodate an overflowing First Day School. When our kids' generation grew up and left the meeting they were not replaced, and Meeting life settled into a minimalist period. This ended in the 1980's when the Meeting offered itself as a refugee sanctuary.
There is a lesson here. Organizations have the ability to influence their future positively. In my experience Chestnut Hill Meeting's life has mirrored its decisions to engage actively in a spiritual journey, provide for the religious instruction of its children or to address social needs. When any of these motivations are quiet, so is its life.
Best wishes to all who remember us,