An Uncustomary Conversation:
The Spiritual State of Herndon Friends Meeting 2010
(approved at Meeting for Business 4/10/11)
Meeting in the context of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, conflicts in the Middle East, and political and economic turmoil in the United States, Herndon Friends gathered 3/13/2011 for a Meeting for Worship Sharing to consider the spiritual state of Herndon Friends Meeting. Speaking out of the silence, 21 Friends rose to respond to the queries:
*How does the Spirit prosper among you? How does your Meeting ensure that ministry is nurtured, and that members and attenders feel valued and cared for?
*What supports the life of the Spirit in your meeting community? What challenges and troubles are you facing? In what ways is the meeting less than you would wish it to be?
*How is the presence of Spirit manifested in your lives individually and as a meeting community?
Friends are drawn to Meeting for varying reasons. Some are drawn to the silence, and the opportunity to share a spiritual journey with a non-judgmental community of seekers. Some seek in Meeting for Worship not the justification of being right but the serenity of being in the right place. Other Friends are drawn to the welcoming and nurturing community at Herndon Friends Meeting as we cope with the weight of illness, or financial and personal stress. Older adults appreciate the opportunity for continued contact with children, and parents realize the value of having other adults working with their children. All these seeks come together to create the community of Herndon Friends Meeting.
The ministry at Herndon Friends Meeting continues to evolve. In a community with many accomplished musicians, music is a growing part of how the spirit leads us. Piano playing for hymn singing is being shared by a wider circle of Friends. Sacred chanting, which began last year as a Friendly Eights group, has been incorporated into our First Day gathering activities. Our experience with clearness committees has grown as we took the marriage of two new members under our care, and this has led to interest in expanding the role of clearness and care committees. Our religious education committee has continued to develop the Faith and Play curriculum for our preschool and to work with our junior high and high school Young Friends including increasing participation in BYM youth conferences. We are grateful for the dedication and loving care of our elementary class First Day School teacher. After 15 years in our meeting house we have established traditions for committee work, potluck, fellowship time, welcoming and observance of holidays that provide comfort and stability.
Underlying this maturation is a maturing Meeting for Worship. We are able to more readily settle into a gathered meeting, enfolding even the small children with which we are blessed in our corporate access to the divine.
We recognize the mystical quality of this experience and cherish the experience of silent meeting. The vocal ministry that arises out of the silence leads to an uncustomary conversation. Received message are neither one sided lectures nor spiritual debate nor coffee table klatch but the beginning of the process of discerning the Truth.
Just as Meeting for Worship is at the center of our religious experience, our identity as members of the Religious Society of Friends becomes central to our interaction with our wider communities. Children, who are often the only Quakers in their school classes or their schools, attend BYM summer camps and become comfortable with a Quaker identity. Hernd