2015 Spiritual State of the Meeting

After nearly a decade of striving with complex issues, we have settled into a more unified time at Meeting. The years of change have winnowed our Meeting and we, like so many other meetings, are examining our work with an eye toward simplifying our focus. At the same time, we are expanding into the community of BYM and into the world community and returning with a fullness of Spirit.

In anticipation of the renovation of our community house, we moved the 11:00 Meeting for Worship to the Ashton Meeting House at Sandy Spring Friends School, in the fall of 2014. The numbers of Friends attending Meeting on First Day have become fewer since the move. This Meeting still benefits from the exuberant presence of families with children. Young Friends are a particularly engaged group, with several members serving on committees. We are heartened by their presence. First Day School is integral to the life of the Spirit at this Meeting. Listening to our youngest Friends prompts us to access God with their simplicity and confidence.

Meetings for Worship at the Friends House Worship Group at 10:00 on First Days continues to be deep and rich in the Divine Presence. This meeting welcomes into worship Friends who have moved to Friends House and residents from other faiths.

The 9:00 First Day Meeting at the Sandy Spring Meeting House has grown in size. Friends are drawn to this Meeting by their sense of connection to the Meeting House and to each other through years of communion in the deep stillness of this Meeting for Worship.

The Fifth Day potluck dinner and Meeting for Worship draws a faithful group who delight in fellowship and in worship. Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business is well attended, worshipful and productive. It is a regular reassurance of the wisdom of the Inward Teacher when we are still and listening. It is a testimony to the tenacity of our deep roots and our commitment to one another.

Memorial Meetings for Worship welcome many to our Meetings who are not Friends, but are often sparsely attended by members of the Meeting. These meetings for worships are gathered around the way members of the passing generation let their lives speak. Our
presence or absence at the memorials also speak to our strength as a community during this sacred time of transition.

We are grateful for the blessing of many Friends – from youth to the aged – in our many Meetings for Worship. Wherever we choose to worship, we take comfort in the familiar rhythms of the restive beginning, the quiet settling and the deep gathering into the Divine
Presence.

Friends who are new to Meeting come to us with fresh eyes. They often remind us of the power that lies in the stillness of our waiting worship. They remind us that heightened expectation, as well as letting go of expectations, leaves us more open to the still small
voice. They remind us that Quaker process is profound and a model for working in the world.

Some Friends from our meeting went to visit a group of Nicaraguan peace workers. At this visit, Friends invited peace workers to a retreat, conducted workshops and did hands-on healing work. Our new Nicaraguan friends commented that this was the first time that
a group of outsiders came to them and did not try to change them or take something away from them.

This ministry of presence is strong in our Meeting. Friends participate in inter-visitation within FUM, FGC and BYM. We sit in kitchens and dining rooms, boardrooms and hospital bedsides. We go into the world and create room for the Infinite, and return to our
Meeting enriched. When we go into the silent world of nature and allow ourselves to experience its beauty and wonder, we know God.

As we experience the Light in the everyday world, it brings us into the joyous present and we prime the pump of the Living Waters and return to our Meetings refreshed. At times when we may feel the world is an ocean of darkness, we carry the Light always. Friends relay the spiritual practice of deep listening into the world – we stay with the Light – without expectation for cure, but trusting in its transformative healing power.

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