Spiritual State of the Meeting – 2009

Menallen Monthly Meeting is in its 260th year. A casual observer, on any given First Day, would see Menallen Monthly Meeting as a gentle, joyful, nurturing community. The members and attenders are openly respectful and affectionate toward one another. Friends who trust enough to make their needs known are met with generous assistance and tender guidance. We all have periods of transition in our lives and the support of the Meeting is invaluable. We have welcomed three new members and another transferring Friend who is retiring to the area of his ancestors. Our membership is 44 adults and of that number there are about 20 contributing households. We have a wonderful greeter who does outreach to area families. Plans are underway to present a program at Huntington Meetinghouse for a group of Mennonite school children whose teacher repaired the slate roof without charge. We are also blessed by the fact that so many of the members are willing to care for the buildings and properties in their own time and at their own expense. Also, by the time this is published our web site will be up and running.

While vocal ministry is rare, Friends have an opportunity to express their concerns during the ‘circle of joys and sorrows’ and the coffee fellowship that follows each Meeting for Worship. There is an adult reading group. We cannot however seem to come up with any device or strategy to meet the spiritual needs of those members who live nearby but never come to Meeting. However, there is one family that does attend at Huntington in the summer months when that historic meetinghouse is open. Plans are underway to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Redlands and the 275th anniversary of the arrival of Quakers to this Valley. The Blackburn family with about 300 descendents will be here over the weekend of June 21-24th 2012.

Several difficult stewardship issues have challenged the Meeting’s resources, both financially and emotionally, this year. Under the format of the called meeting we were able to address some of the issues and work on solutions. The Meeting authorized a new committee called The Friends of Quaker Valley, that will act as the fundraising arm of the Meeting to obtain funds for the care of the 3 buildings and 5 cemeteries under our care. We had another called meeting to address issues of peace with a special concern toward the ‘War is not the Answer’ sign. Some Friends worried that the sign could be misinterpreted and wanted to temper it with a ‘Support our Troops’ type sign. But Friends worried that would confuse passers-by even more. In the end we drafted a letter of support to those troops from the area that we know.

The preschool and the First Day School submitted art work for the ‘Let It Begin with Me’ arts festival sponsored by the Inter-Faith Center for Peace and Justice. The clerk will again direct the 2010 Peace Camp also sponsored by that group. In July the Meeting will host another week long camp here called ‘History Meets the Arts’, this camp has become so popular it will extend to a week.

Friends rejoice in the presence of the children at Meeting, who have their own children’s bench. They are our most important resource and our most important responsibility. While the children hopefully see the members as examples of people living a simple life of integrity, the parents do the bulk of First Day School programs. How can we get the members to share their gifts of the spirit with the children? Realizing that we are all teachers and learners, how can we get Friends to guide the children’s development to a sensitivity to God, others and the earth?

A warm welcome is extended to the membership of the yearly meeting to join us any First Day at 1030 AM. In summary , while we struggle, we realize that we are not perfect, and that we need improvement but, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen……. it’s the cracks that let in the Light.

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