Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends
A Quaker Community in Medford, New Jersey

Changes at Medford Meeting Through April

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Dear Meeting Family,

As I write this email, I feel as if the earth had shifted under my feet.  In a matter of days, my understanding of what it means to be a good family member, a good friend and a good neighbor has changed.  Questions we asked a week ago about whether or not we should cancel an event or attend one have now been answered for us by the CDC or state and local governments.  Social distancing makes our desire to take care of one another by being together not the right instinct, for the time being anyway.  But the desire to take care of ourselves and those we love has not changed.

One way I can take care of the Meeting is to keep you informed of changes in how the Meeting will operate in the near future.  On Sunday the Meeting Trustees and members of Ministry and Counsel met to talk about how best to protect the health and safety of members and attenders and to be responsible members of the community during the pandemic.  Here are the steps that we are taking now.  As the situation evolves, there may be other actions needed.

First, the following Meeting events have been canceled: the March 29th program on Membership, the April 12th Easter Breakfast, and the April 19th Retreat at Camp Dark Waters.  In addition, the March 22nd Worship Sharing to consider the spiritual state of the meeting has been postponed.  A new date will be set as the evolving situation allows.

Second, all meetings and other gatherings at the meetinghouse have been suspended until further notice, the one exception being Sunday meeting for worship.  For next Sunday at least, the meetinghouse will be open from 10 to 11 on Sunday morning for those who wish to worship.  There will be no adult class, no coffee hour, no extracurricular activities. If you do choose to worship at the meetinghouse, you should maintain a safe distance from one another, not shake hands, and observe other safety guidelines. The decision regarding Sunday worship will be revisited weekly in light of changing guidelines and restrictions.  Unfortunately, Wednesday night fellowship is suspended for now.  

Third, all meeting business should be conducted remotely, such as by phone call, email, phone conferencing or online conference.  We are working on making resources available to clerks and others responsible for conducting the business of the meeting.  We are also considering whether our April meeting for business might be conducted as an online conference.  If we decide to try that, we will provide instructions well ahead of time, and some of us who are already experienced with online meeting formats will be available to help those who may not be.  Any decision will be guided by a desire to make the meeting accessible to everyone while abiding by all guidelines and restrictions. That doesn't mean some of us won't need to stretch a little, with loving help.

Fourth, for now Sarah will continue to work in the meeting office and can be reached by phone.  But the meetinghouse will not be open for visitors during her work hours, and we ask that you restrict your visits to the office. We are all advised to consider ourselves and others as already infected by the corona virus whether or not we exhibit symptoms.  By staying home, we protect not just ourselves but everyone we might come in contact with.

Finally, the Trustees are committed to doing whatever is needed to help the Meeting family during this health crisis.  I participated in the first of three PYM online meetings for clerks last night where new ideas for ways to worship, do business, and be in community were shared.  I will share what I learn with you. We welcome your questions and suggestions, too.  

We realize that some people will be more inconvenienced by the steps outlined here than others.  Some more than others are being asked to give up cherished activities or ways of doing things.  Please remember that these are not permanent arrangements. Things will return to normal.  In the meantime, let us be tender with one another as we learn to make some small sacrifices for the good of the Meeting family and the larger community.

Holding us all in the Light in these difficult times,

Ruth Darlington, Clerk

Medford Quaker Meeting