Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2008

For this year’s State of the Meeting Report we will list some of our blessings and problems, so that the reader can assess for him/herself, the spiritual state of Menallen Monthly Meeting.

We are blessed that all three of the historic meetinghouses under our care, are located in a beautiful valley of south central ‘Penn’s woods’. This rural beauty enriches us and continually inspires our vigilance on behalf of the planet.

We are so very blessed to have members and attenders who are most generous with their time and energy, their talents and resources. The Meeting benefits from their labors on the inside and the outside, whether it is physical or mental labor. Their offers of help run the gamut from carpentry to web building, from teaching to giving tours, from paper work to yard work. The Quaker principles are evident by the careers of our members in all facets of social service, and the active volunteerism of our retirees who serve locally and abroad.

We recently began the practice of having a ‘circle of joys and concerns’ at the rise of Meeting, initially for the purpose of announcements. The children of the First Day School, who have always been our greatest source of joy, are learning that they can speak up in this friendly, family-style format, which is good practice for everyone. Indeed the atmosphere inside our meetinghouse is informal and welcoming, including the coffee-fueled fellowship after Meeting and the Brown Bag Lunch book discussion group for the adults.

The First Day School has completed a semester of studying Everyday Quakers booklets, written by a member. Now they are working on composing a letter to President Obama. In it they will outline how they are complying with his inaugural directions to take “responsibility for ourselves, our nation and our world”. They have explored how local and global groups work to improve our world. Five children will be attending the 21st annual Peace Camp produced by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice and directed by a member of Menallen Meeting.

The Menallen Friends Preschool just held its 36th annual graduation. We are blessed to have dedicated teachers who gently and individually guide the children to acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to make sense of the world and to succeed in it in a non- confrontational way. During May, we held our annual children’s creative work shop with the theme “Lincoln in our Land”. It was well attended and greatly appreciated. We will be hosting a Day of Peace and free concert in July and Warrington Quarter’s summer campout in August.

One of our members guided the Meeting in a visioning process in March. We wanted to air everyone’s concerns and get an idea of the direction that Friends would like to see the Meeting take in the future. The discussion focused on the need for gentle Quakerly outreach and evolved into questions about what we offer spiritually; and why we have been unable to reconnect with the traditional, Quaker families of the area. Some feel the Meeting has moved away from the “agrarian type Meeting” that it used to be and now it is moving to the humanitarian outreach type Meeting. The diversity in the Meeting was also evident when one Friend worried that our “War is Not the Answer” sign could be misinterpreted and asked to put up a support the troop type sign. Five members who took a year long course entitled “New Dollars/ New Partners for Your Sacred Places” produced a Mission Statement, a Time Line, a Case Statement, and a list of priorities for the Meeting. And they proposed a fund raising tool called Friends of Quaker Valley. No one stood in the way of forming Friends of Quaker Valley but there was not unity on how to proceed. Friends seemed concerned how to balance a vision for Menallen Monthly Meeting that reflects the values of the past and embodies the needs of the future.

Our other big problem is our lack of resources because we only have the financial support of about 20 families. This is not enough money to cover the increasing costs of caring for three historic meetinghouses and five cemeteries. But yet when the appeal went out last winter for the new roof, the amount raised was close to the amount needed. Perhaps we need more faith to be able to trust that a way will open for us to meet our financial and stewardship responsibilities.

We send our greetings and welcome to the Yearly Meeting and ask that they remember Menallen Friends in their prayers.

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