Spiritual State of the Meeting 2018
First Day 01/13/2019 9:30 am
Attending: Dave Fitz, Ruth Fitz, Lamar Matthew, Richard Waggy, Ken Woerthwein, Chad Smyser, Dorothy Shumway, Wim Neij, Rick Fonda, Sue Hunter, Steve Baker, Belinda Frederick
1. Query from BYM- With fierce winds of political discord and violent expressions of hate swirling in the world around us, what does your community do to strengthen our attention to the Spirit in Meeting for Worship?
– One Friend would restate the query: What does your community do to maintain peace? We avoid individual points of political discord in meeting.
– A Friend reminds us of a letter by George Fox about what to do with civil unrest.
o Pay no attention to storms, go inward
o Remember the Lord is at work in the darkest of times.
– Our Friend believes politics are a distraction from our devotion to God. He also thinks we do a decent job of meeting each other’s needs. We’re not perfect but we are there. He isn’t discouraged by how we do things in our meeting. He goes inside more than he goes outside. He needs to calm his civil discourse first and believes the meeting needs to do this too. The birds continue to sing, life goes on, no matter what goes on around us. God is always at work.
– A Friend tells us he saw a movie about Mary Queen of Scots who was beheaded because of her religious beliefs and reminds us George Fox was born twenty years after her death. It’s astonishing how far ahead of his time he was. Each of us struggles to find our voice to take us out to the larger community. Our Peace Building Working Group has decided to stand down for a period due to conflict within our group. He believes that speaks volumes for where we stand in our larger community.
2. A Friend asked if there was a sense among Friends that these queries serve us well for our Spiritual State of the Meeting for 2018?
- Another Friend thinks they have a role to play in the Spiritual State of the meeting but currently they don’t seem to concentrate on our Spiritual Sense of the our meeting. He sees it as being over our heads.
- A Friend thinks they do pertain but maybe not as much as other queries do. No response can be considered a response also.
- Someone states we don’t need to limit ourselves to these queries. However in response to the first query he remembered a video from a long deceased author about ten disciplines. One of these- don’t react in kind to other peoples reactions. i.e. if someone strongly states an opinion don’t respond with strong opposition. Maintain a voice of peace, sanity and decency among ourselves and the wider community. He believes for the most part we do pretty well.
- One Friend wasn’t at the December 30th meeting but as he looked over the notes he found them fruitful and the sense he got was that they are about how we take care of each other, how we want to be taken care of, how we show up for each other, what it is we want in the best sense of our community. He doesn’t see how these queries speak to that. He is drawn to the sense of the December 30th meeting however maybe there is a place for both, that meeting and these queries.
- Another Friend thinks maybe we should remove the first part of the first query. It feels like the more important part of the query is what are you doing to strengthen our attention to the Spiritual in Meeting for Worship? Then what are you doing to strengthen the Quaker roots of your community?
- A Friend doesn’t see the meeting as a place to deal with a political storm.
- Another Friend thinks maybe the meeting is a place to model a counter-cultural way of being with each other.
- A Friend sees in the current political climate where people often want you to choose sides. He refuses to take sides. He sees being neutral, refusing to take a side, is better. Being grounded and guided by the Light would give us more strength to stay true.
- Someone thinks it’s important for the meeting to be supportive of each person’s spiritual leadings.
o How did we do at this?
o How are we supporting the leadings of those in the spring/summer of their interaction with historical Quaker values for peace and justice? How do we also hold space for those in the fall/winter? He’s a Quaker because he wants to be a part of this interaction but at times life unfolds in a way that takes your strength and attention elsewhere. It’s a big task but he believes we don’t do such a bad job.
- A Friend thinks it speaks volumes that so many of us have shown up on a snowy morning to address these issues.
- A Friend credits enthusiastic Friends for getting out and getting involved in our community against racism and the coffee shop for the homeless. They gave her the initiative to get out and become active. While in the community people are always asking about Quakers. She believes just the presence of the Quaker meeting house being here for so long has the appearance of a steady rock in the community. She thinks if we stay strong we will work out our problems with the Peace Building Working Group.
3. What is our Spiritual State of the Meeting
- One Friend stated that operation decisions should remain with the meeting and not be put to a committee.
- A Friend said during a Spiritual Formation large group meeting two chapters were discussed- one on compassion and one on community. A Friend in the meeting said community is messy, not either/or it’s messy. Never perfect. That’s how she sees our Spiritual State of our Meeting. It feels like it has been tumultuous in her life. It’s been hard to come here sometimes, painful. Her expectations have been sorely unmet sometimes. But its obligation, responsibility, and connection to community, the belief we are bigger than our individual problems and challenges that brings her here.
- Another Friend has seen our meeting treat individuals with unkindness in the past year. She believes we have let our egos lead us instead of the Spirit. We should remember to use tenderness with our members.
- A Friend feels extremely hampered in her duties and often felt unwelcome. However, she is enraptured by the diversity of personalities and so many people bringing forth different talents and hopes for a better year this year.
- Another Friend said we’ve had many people bring spiritual concerns, they have been quiet. He believes we should be more vocal and shout about our concerns, social and ecological, to wake us up. We aren’t unconcerned. We just lack energy. We need to get out of our drowsiness and get going. This is home for him and always will be because this is his family. We are diverse in backgrounds and ideology, and he believes there is strength in our diversity.
- A Friend tells us about John Woolman’ implicit humility and vulnerability and his need for approval of his meeting for all of his actions, which speaks to seasoning. Not just that we have a concern but a community he values and he hopes it will season this concern for him. Due to his seasoning of his concern of the Peace Building Working Group his idea of it has changed. He now tries to see things from others point of view. Is our Friend willing to be seasoned, is he willing to take his ego and try to break it a little bit, is he willing to set aside his vanity, is he willing to be transformed?
- A remembrance of John Woolman’s Journal- in his travels standing by a river on a rock and no idea which rock gives firm footing but he knew he had to jump to one of them. We have no guarantee what firm footing is going to be but we know we have to go somewhere.
At our next meeting January 27th please try to be more specific and avoid generalizations, thank you.