Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2008

2008 saw its share of blessings and challenges.

Blessings:

Many young families are attending meeting, some of whom have joined as members. Many have young children attending First Day School. The children join us in worship for the last few minutes of worship; their scuffling and quiet whisperings are a welcome addition. A “learn about how to become a member” breakfast sponsored by advancement and outreach committee was well attended. In the fall, a Quakerism 102 workshop was held at the State College Friends School.

We have had numerous intergenerational activities, for example the inter-generational and secret friends breakfasts and a candle light service at Christmas. Adult forums have addressed a wide range of topics, with an emphasis on how the topic at hand affects our spiritual lives. Soup at the rise of meeting has provided people both a reason and an opportunity to sit & talk more deeply than they otherwise might.

Vocal ministry has been rich and meaningful. No divisive issues have come before Meeting for Business.

As a meeting in a university town, we are somewhat insulated from the economic woes plaguing the rest of the country and the world. Giving to meeting and the community have remained healthy.

Challenges:

Nominating Committee is finding it more difficult to adequately staff committees. Some people feel that perhaps we are overreaching and that perhaps we will need to lay down some committees and activities. We are seeking ways to engage members and attenders, with the recognition that people make time in their lives for the things that are important to them.

The Meeting has experienced a continuing generational change in leadership as weighty friends age past their leadership roles. At the same time, the younger generation hasn’t really received much instruction in how to lead a meeting. Some feel that this transfer of leadership has led to a sense of “weightlessness.”

While the Foxdale retirement community has been a blessing in the number and variety of F(f)friends moving to State College, it has increased the need for pastoral and end of life ministry that the Meeting has not always been able to satisfy. In addition, we feel the loss as Foxdale Friends become unable to attend meeting for worship and eventually die.

At the other end of the age rainbow, as young Friends approach high school and college, they frequently stop attending first day school and meeting for worship. We are aware that their absence does not necessarily mean that Meeting doesn’t have a place in their hearts, but we do miss their presence and energy. Several young Friends have been incarcerated, which has been a strain on them and on their families. Their experience may, however, serve as a life-direction changing event for them.

The Spirit does prosper among us. In the near future, we will continue to seek clearness on proceeding with Quaker Quest. We will see if there is energy to restart Friday potluck and pursue other opportunities to strengthen and deepen the social and spiritual bonds that call us into community.

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