The Spirit prospers among Valley Friends in ways we cannot predict and which are sometimes surprising to us. We recognize the movement of the Spirit and see the fruits emerging among us. We strive to listen for that motion, and learn to trust its leading.
We struggle sometimes with the tension between our desire for ongoing corporate witness, and our experience that it is as individuals that many of us are engaged in the social justice work in which we so deeply believe. We are seeking ways to support one another in leading lives grounded in and guided by Spirit.
We recognize among us a variety of ways of understanding our relationship with the Divine. We encourage one another to deepen that relationship however we know it as individuals. We also vary in our personal spiritual practice and how we engage in Meeting for Worship. This diversity is a strength as we are able to enrich one another. However we also yearn to develop a greater shared sense of communion with Spirit and a more cohesive meeting community.
We find that the things we do together outside of worship have helped us to forge stronger bonds with one another and we seek to strengthen these contacts and connections. Our worship community provides a place to experience and to develop and practice behaviors and attitudes we would wish to bring into the wider world. Many of us express gratitude and wonder for this explicitly.
We have begun to consider whether our unspoken norms make us less accessible to others in our wider community. We want to find ways to make our meeting known to and welcoming to a diversity of people.
Second hours, Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, and children’s First Day School offer important opportunities to deepen our spiritual lives and connections with one another. We are pleased that those of our children who participate regularly report a sense of belonging in the meeting and feel welcomed into our fellowship. The older children have been thankful for the opportunity this year to read the Bible critically and to develop their understandings of their faith journey through this study. We note that second hours and meetings for business are not as widely attended as we wish. When only a small group of us take part our community loses.
Valley Friends know that Spirit moves through and guides each of us individually and accept that we may not find a single focus for social action, much as we have looked to over the past several years. We will continue to bring forward our needs for support and gather together for single, time-limited projects. Perhaps support of and prayer for the individual as each of us takes our faith into practice in the wider world is what we have to offer at this time. We encourage each other to draw on the Meeting community. We will continue seeking to deepen our corporate worship and increase the spiritual nourishment we can find there.
Addendum to the Report:
As we deliberated on the State of the Meeting during 2009 Valley Friends found the following events underlay our report in significant ways and felt a desire to acknowledge them:
Meeting continued to work with the concept for an outreach and service arm of the Meeting to act as a clearing house for activity by individuals and groups that are in keeping with Quaker values, whether they occur in the Meeting House or are performed by Friends in the broader community.
Peace and Social Concerns/Outreach Committee surveyed membership to learn what professional and volunteer organizations or institutions our members and attenders currently serve. We see this as a networking tool and as an opportunity to further volunteer participation and/or donations and support.
We continued to reflect on and to wrestle with issues with FUM’s personnel policies and our response. We minuted support for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender persons and our intent to stay in relationship with those organizations who do not share our conviction on this issue. We affirmed our commitment to work energetically for equality for LGBT persons.
We had on-going discussions of the new queries, advices and voices of BYM. These were rich experiences.
We continue to open our Meeting House to the community. We provide a home for a weekly Insight Meditation Group which a number of Friends also participate in. Two home school/play groups use the Meeting house.
We continued with the work of placing peace-poles in other prominent locations in our community.
Efforts to celebrate and build our feelings of community included our annual corn roast at summer’s end, our fall retreat at Camp Shiloh, celebrations for newborns and celebrations of life. Our Newsletter included a “Friendly Profile” which gave us opportunity to learn more about each other. Our book group continued to meet twice a month.