Middletown Friends Meeting at Langhorne
Annual Report to Bucks Quarterly Meeting
Hosted by Plumstead Meeting at United Friends School
August 20, 2017
Here is an overview of what has been happening at Middletown in the last year.
Our Ministry & Nurture Committee has visited our shut-ins and those who are ill or in the hospital, provided clearness committees for membership, sent cards and flowers on joyous and sad occasions, and attempted to be aware of other joys, concerns, and needs of our members and attenders. The Committee coordinated volunteers to provide worship services at Chandler Hall in October and June; members and attenders who participate find this to be a rich and rewarding experience. The committee also arranged for two of our young people to provide child care during meeting for worship in the summer months when First Day School is not in session. The committee also produced an updated meeting directory for 2017. We no longer need to ask for volunteers to sit on the facing bench because our benches have been rearranged in a U shape so everyone is on a facing bench! In December, we addressed Christmas cards to all our members and attenders and delivered poinsettias to our shut-ins. Finally, at the request of our treasurer, we followed up with seven inactive members who had not contributed financially or participated in the meeting community for several years and Friends approved removing these people from our membership rolls. We plan to follow up with other inactive members this year to see if they wish to maintain an affiliation with the meeting.
Our biggest activity, and one of the social highlights of the year, is our auction and potluck supper held every fall. The proceeds of the auction go to fund requests that come in during the year that are not covered by our General Fund. Some of the many requests we were able to fund this year included donations to the Bucks County Interfaith Coalition for Refugee Resettlement support a Syrian refugee family that arrived here in November 2016, the Camp Onas camper scholarship fund, the Friends Village Elevator project, and Doctors without Borders.
Our First Day School is attended fairly regularly by 4 families, for a total of 9 children. We have two other children who come occasionally. We opened the year on September 18th with a multi-age event. Using clues, the children and adults looked in the Bible to find the ingredients to bake a cake. Our focus for the fall was famous men and women in the Bible, and how God worked through them. The intention was to show that women, as well as men, had an important relationship with God. Some of the challenges faced by these women are still challenges today. We also wanted to show the children how the Bible stories had inspired art, music and even colloquial expressions that are still in use today. As usual, we had our traditional celebrations: a collection for UNICEF, Stone Soup to celebrate Thanksgiving and our Christmas play, held December 11. The play was entitled Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden. Nancy Pickering had performed the play as a child and adjusted it to work with our group. The message was that God is more impressed with gifts that are given with love, no matter how small, rather than large gifts to show off wealth or power. When we returned in the New Year, we started reading about the Prophets and their role in the society of the time. Again, we supplemented our collection of Bibles with maps, information about the country, and the politics during the time when these men lived. We used the stories to show the children how Prophets foretold the coming of Jesus and the books of the New Testament. We ended with the story of Palm Sunday and Easter. On Good Friday, the children decorated cookies for the marchers in the Cross Walk that always begins at Middletown. They also dyed eggs, using natural dyes, for the hunt on Easter Sunday. Following Easter, we spent several weeks talking about the care of our environment. We talked about water and solar energy. Thanks to David DiMicco, Alan Farneth and Lance Mervine the fence around the children’s vegetable garden was replaced. We planted vegetables in mid-May that were shared with the meeting and a local food pantry. Robin Hipple, again, helped the children plant the butterfly garden next to the Waln Building. Alan Farneth built a solar oven to cook marshmallows for S’mores.
The Pickerings faithfully take food and other donations from Middletown to the Penndel Food Pantry. In addition to food (for humans and pets), we have contributed to the “summer fund” drive with toys but especially appreciated children’s books, and veggies from the kid’s garden. We also collected for the back- to-school event, as well as Thanksgiving/Christmas and other special collections.
As stewards of our property, two large trees were taken down, and several meeting members were able to take the wood for their stoves and craft projects. We spent a significant amount of money on the schoolhouse so that it now serves as a school. We are also repairing/relaying the sidewalk from the meeting driveway to the end of our property line in front of the school. We are in the process of cataloguing our book collection, and hope that Swarthmore will want some of our oldest books.
Our Speakers Series concluded last fall with a talk on Green Burials by Gene Sonn and on the PYM Spiritual Formation program by Dale Myrtetus. We did a field trip to Grounds for Sculpture in the spring to marvel at the art and be seen outside the meetinghouse. Monthly movie nights continue to be a source of amusement for members and the community. In particular, our October showing of the first Harry Potter movie drew a large crowd of wizards and witches, along with the usual muggles. We have found that chatting in the social room while the movie is on is a great way to get to know each other better. Our September 16th movie will be one of the movies shown at theme weekends this summer at Camp Onas and campers will talk about why they love Camp so much (please join us and share stories of your time at Camp Onas!).
The Quaker Women’s Social Hour continues to provide a monthly informal gathering at a restaurant or home for a chance to enjoy the fellowship of women. Friends from all meetings are welcome.
Since last year’s report, 1 of our members died, and we released 7 inactive members. We gained 4 new members (1 by transfer and 3 by application), for a total net loss of 4 members. Our current membership stands at 94 (6 of these are under 21).
Jess Walcott, Clerk