Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

2020 State of the Meeting Report

Public ContentAnyone can view this post

Community Friends Meeting 2020 State of the Meeting Report
The past year has of course been like no other in the life of our meeting. We have had to create new practices and new ways of maintaining connections with one another. We have found ways to support one another through a year of the pandemic, political divisions, climate disasters, racial injustice, and personal struggles. We will all be forever changed.

We have been holding meeting for worship through Zoom since March. Although this format has not met the needs of everyone, we are grateful to have this virtual opportunity to continue to worship together and maintain our spiritual connections. There has been consistent attendance of between 25 and 30 Friends each week, sometimes including visitation from other meetings and distant members from around the world. We have had several new attenders join us at virtual worship! Vocal ministry has often been spirit-led and powerful. The practice of some members beginning worship early and holding the meeting in the Light has been helpful. We've experienced some struggles with technology, and personal struggles related to isolation and missing being together in person. A small group of Friends did meet in person on the meetinghouse grounds on Sunday afternoons when the weather allowed. We've developed a practice of having virtual potluck lunches on first Sundays, with break-out groups to encourage more personal sharing and fellowship.

Our Fall Renewal was held virtually in September, facilitated by Deborah Shaw, with the theme of "Transforming our Hearts; Transforming the World." We shared our sense that the pandemic has given us time to slow down and appreciate family, home, and the natural world. It has also laid bare the inequality and injustice in our world, and motivated us to take action against systemic racism. We have been shaken out of a sense of complacency, and we sense that spirit is rising up in this upheaval. There is an underlying hopefulness in this opportunity for transformation, along with feeling a responsibility to work for change. We are grounding ourselves in the turning of the seasons, the cycles of sun and moon, and the wisdom of the trees. We understand more clearly that we are bound together, and interconnected with all creation.

In late October, the clerk of our meeting informed us that he was withdrawing his membership in the meeting. His leadership in the meeting had been very important during the challenges of the pandemic, so his decision left us suddenly with many tasks and responsibilities to fill. We were grateful that so many Friends stepped up to take on responsibilities in the meeting, including the assistant clerk now filling the clerk's role, and a gifted volunteer to serve as newsletter editor. We are rotating responsibility for hosting Zoom meetings for worship each month.

During the spring and summer we provided monthly First Day School classes by Zoom. However, the families soon grew weary of spending time online with children, and so we offered a few opportunities for children and families to get together safely outdoors, including a walk at Cincinnati Nature Center to see the holiday lights. For our annual Christmas program, we held a virtual Talent Show where Friends young and old shared music, dancing, poetry, jokes, and stories. It was a special joy to see the children dancing and playing instruments!

Our meeting has several ongoing ministries that are continuing faithfully. We are part of a Sanctuary Coalition that is supporting a refugee family from Congo, and many Friends continue to provide a monthly home-cooked meal to formerly homeless individuals at Tender Mercies. We have a committed FCNL lobbying group that reaches out to elected representatives to share Friends' concerns for political action. We are supporting two members who are faithfully following their call to ministry, one through writing and teaching about Quakers, and the other through sharing her music ministry widely.

We have had several "Inreach" groups for spiritual deepening and fellowship, including book study groups and a weekly opportunity for worship sharing. One group is reading the book "How to Be an Anti-Racist" by Ibram X. Kendi, and meeting bi-weekly to discuss our new understandings. In these times, we feel an urgent call to acknowledge and respond to the systemic racism rooted so deeply in American history.

Through all these changes and challenges, Community Friends have felt accompanied and lifted up by that which is eternal. We are grateful for the connections, the support, and the fellowship that continue among us. Though we may be worshiping in our own homes, we know that we are always connected in the spirit of abiding love.