The Spiritual State of the Meeting - 2018
Each year, Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) asks individual Meetings to prepare a statement of the spiritual condition of their Meeting over the past 12 months. BYM’s Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee collects these reports and uses them as the basis for the development of the Yearly Meeting's Spiritual State of the Meeting report, which is presented to, considered by, and approved by the Yearly Meeting during Annual Session.
The 2018 Frederick Friends Meeting Spiritual State of the Meeting was presented and approved at Meeting for Business in April 2018.
The lifecycle of the Meeting moves as the sea—a constancy of waves, shifting sands, and shorelines. As some areas erode, others are built up.
We miss long-time members who have left us and welcome new attenders who return Sunday after Sunday and are slowing becoming involved in the life of the Meeting. We have been purposeful in welcoming visitors and returning new attenders. We recognize that we can always do more in getting to know each returning new attender to help them become part of the spiritual life of the Meeting; perhaps be more deliberate in our invitations to participate. We can continue to engage new attenders in conversations about how they find Meeting for Worship and where they find joy.
We see that Friends have diverse expectations of worship and community. Our personal leadings often pull us in different directions. Because of these varying priorities, we notice a tension within what we bring to Meeting for Worship, what we experience during worship, and what needs we hope get met. Perhaps the most tangible aspect of this tension is between Friends whose priority is social action and Friends whose main focus is the worship experience. (In previous years, we have called these groups the “doers” and the “mullers.”) Some feel FFM has no central or Meeting-wide focused leading as a Meeting. Can we be more ardent about our joy and work on a Meeting structure that grows out of the spirit? Can we pull back to our core and rethink and restructure Meeting in an intentional way? Can we promote living worshipful, spiritual lives that will help us arrive prepared for Meeting for Worship?
Many express frustration at distractions in worship, especially the absence of a centered feeling or feeling of depth during worship, a perceived lack of discernment before vocal ministry, and the presence of cell phones. Many say they find Meeting to be a joyful and loving experience, with a strong and shared sense of responsibility to one another and to the community at large. Coming together in worshipful silence is a very nurturing and joyful time to many at FFM. Can we build on this dedication to challenge ourselves to deepen the sense of worship?
Frederick Friends have availed themselves of many FFM community-building options: potlucks (3rd and 5th Sundays as well as Friendly 8s), monthly book discussion group, property work days, service auction, fall festival, spring retreat, Martin Luther King, Jr. Beloved Community dinner, FCNL advocacy, and end-of-life discussions. In recent months, our email discussion list (which is separate from our email announcements list) has been a noticeably lively venue to share ideas and foster discussions. Some have said the listserv discussions about a number of topics that affect our Meeting are also worshipful.
Youth who come to FFM have said they feel loved, valued, and respected as part of the Meeting family. First Day School at FFM is usually a very small group—and those involved say they wish more kids would attend—but they find it enriching. Several youth have been active in larger BYM community activities (camps, conferences, and yearly meeting) and have taken initiative in asking their parents to come to FFM. We want to continue to cultivate ministry to (and from) our youth, from birth through young adulthood.
We continue to encourage commitments to FFM: more consistent attendance at Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, offerings of gifts and talents in committee work, financial support, and membership. Many yearn for more centeredness and leadings that focus on joy in service to the spirit rather than duty. Can we ensure that committees are serving Meeting rather than Meeting serving committees? Can we better discern priorities and leadings to help us bring action out of the Center rather than as a reaction to external demands?
May we bathe ourselves in the loving waters of the Spirit, channel energy from waves of Worship, and joyfully be moved by the currents of the Divine.