Friends General Conference

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State of the Society Report 2017

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State of the Society Report to WYM, 2017

West Newton Friends is a small, semi-programmed, non-pastoral meeting that is very active in our community and the wider world. As such, the state of our local Society of Friends congregation is good. In 2017, we began working together to discern God’s future for our meeting. We have continued that process in 2018.

How are you nurturing your community and your world?

Our meeting and our members and attenders are very active in our local community and wider world. As a meeting, our budget provides funds for seventeen organization and we take special offerings for others as the needs arise. We have four Girl Scout troops meeting in our building and have a Girl Scout Sunday Meeting for Worship every year. We support community needs via organizations such as the Goodwin Center, located in the Mars Hill neighborhood of Indianapolis. We also offer our meetinghouse for use by community organizations.

Individually, our members and attenders are active in a variety organizations and projects locally and globally. These include FUM’s Belize project, Decatur Township Lions Club, 4-H, Sheltering Wings domestic violence shelter, Friends United Meeting boards, Decatur Township Lions Club Fair, Western Yearly Meeting boards, Earlham College/Earlham School of Religion governance, and many more.

As we move deeper into God’s future for us, we are exploring ways to become more involved in our local community through things such as partnering with West Newton Elementary School by supplying school supplies and backpacks, helping with Grandparents Days, having a shoe collection, and adopting a family to support throughout the year.

How are you nurturing your members and attenders?

As a non-pastoral meeting, our members provide care to each other. Some of our members are especially gifted in hospital and home-bound member visitations. Our USFW, for example, regularly schedules its meetings at a long-term care facility where two of our members live.

Other members have a ministry of mailing cards for birthdays, get-well, thinking of you, and other occasions, and sending our monthly newsletter to non-resident members.

For spiritual nurture, we offer a variety of experiences, from vital meetings for worship to Sunday school classes. We also encouraged and sponsored Friends to attend such things as the WYM Spring Retreat, USFW conferences, and other events.

 What challenges does your meeting face and how are you addressing them?

Our small size limits the work we can do. It sometimes hampers our self-image and so we get discouraged. We have few families with children attending and so our Sunday school program for children has been largely non-existent the past few years.

We are blessed with adequate finances at this time.

As part of our discerning God’s future for West Newton Friends project, in 2018 Friends volunteered to be a part of working groups addressing “Telling Our Story,” “Our Families and Children,” “Our Outreach to the Community,” and “Our Building.”

In what ways do children and young Friends participate in your meeting?

As noted above, we have few children who attend regularly. Despite that, we do try to include our youngest Friends in meeting for worship (sitting on the facing bench and helping lead worship) as they want to. We are looking at ways to become more children and family friendly.

What is the one thing you want to see happen in your meeting in the coming year?

We hope to continue to develop and implement plans arising from our discerning God’s future for West Newton Friends project. We will focus particularly in the areas of letting people in our community know that they are welcome at West Newton Friends, becoming more welcoming and nurturing to our families and children, and doing helpful service in our community.

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