Pennsdale Meeting has been blessed by new members and attenders who have brought new ideas, new skills, and new energy. The timing couldn’t be better: our treasurer of many years requested to retire and our two-century-old meetinghouse has been in need of major attention. Our meeting has been able to address both concerns.
Pennsdale Meeting has grown over the 40 years I have been attending – not a huge amount – but with 19 members and numerous attenders, we now have more than a dozen at most Meetings for Worship instead of the single family keeping it going during the 60’s. We have younger members who are at ease with iPhones, droids, clouds, and instant access to information.
We have formed a finance committee – instead of an individual treasurer – to share the corporate responsibility. We have four eligible to sign checks – with two signatures required on any amount over $500 (although the bank has warned us they may not notice if there are not two signatures). We have always had an annual budget, but now each financial request must fit into the big picture – not merely, “do we have enough money to pay for this.” Financial requests are generally reviewed by the committee before being submitted to Meeting for Business. We look to the Finance Committee to help determine the extent and source of meeting funds to be used for our needs.
The committee recommended we consolidate our accounts and select a bank with branches convenient to all of the committee members. We may be the oldest house of worship in Lycoming County, and we are located within a mile of the branch we chose, but we were there almost four hours satisfying all of the new banking requirements resulting from the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 regulations. Fortunately, PYM was only a phone call and many emails away. We also consider it Divine Intervention that the woman assisting us has been attending our annual Christmas Carol Sing since she was a little girl – and this was her last week before retirement. No one else would have had the patience to see us through the maze.
At the same time, we established a separate account to administer a $25,000 grant from the Margaret Waldron Foundation administered through the First Community Partnership. Our Meetinghouse is showing its age, and we needed help to pay for replacement of weather-rotted windows, a broken attic beam, window mullions chewed by a critter desperate to escape, peeling paint on exterior trim, rain-damaged plaster, a collapsing chimney, and damaged and ailing trees.
Even before we appointed a finance committee, Pennsdale formed a Building and Grounds Committee, which met monthly to work out and prioritize our needs, research and interview contractors, prepare a grant application, present everything to Meeting for Business for approval, and monitor the on-going work. Because of our meeting’s size, chores overlap and three of the finance committee are also on this committee, but everything is kept light-hearted and each month we enjoy a picnic dinner together.
We estimate our total restoration project will cost $50,000, so we are dipping into our savings as well as writing letters requesting support from both Friends and friends within the community. We will be inviting them to an open house in December, as well as to our annual Carol Sing – where attendance swells to over 200. We keep it simple – everyone has a candle, fires burn on each hearth, we sing our favorite carols, read the Christmas Story and “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and share cider and cookies.
All are welcome – but come early if you want a seat!