Newtown Monthly Meeting
Annual Report November 2017
Newtown Meeting has been a busy community this year. We had fun participating in the Yearly Meeting scavenger hunt as a team, dividing into small multi-generational groups, getting to know each other better as we interviewed each other, explored the Meetinghouse and delved the web for answers. The children of the meeting also held two fund-raising dinners, one for Mercer St. Friends and the other for All Helping Hands Hurricane Relief, which drew large crowds. Other popular annual family events were the Christmas performance and June picnic. 70 adults and children are also participating in Friendly Eights. We have about 70 attending worship on First Day.
In addition to having several new attenders this fall, we have been fortunate to approve several applications for membership. Membership has grown to 328; 271 adults, 46 minors, 11 associates. 2017 has seen 10 new members, 2 transfers out, 3 deaths, and 4 youth became adult members.
This summer, Children’s Religious Education restructured the program for a smaller number of children, as our large bubble of middle schoolers moved up, only to have several new families begin attending in September! We are very fortunate to have a group of dedicated volunteer teachers who creatively guide our children in exploring spirituality and the testimonies. There are currently around 18 regularly attending. Our teens also have a key role doing child care during worship.
The varied and interesting programs scheduled by Adult Religious Education continue to attract many to Newtown Meeting. Programs this year have included service trips by our youth members to Kenya and Nepal, spiritual journeys, speakers on AFSC, FCE, FCNL, Quakers in business, and gun control, as well as small group sharing and intergenerational dialogue.
Inreach/outreach has been attentive to new seekers, ensuring they get nametags and welcomes, as well as invitations to attenders’ dinners. Fellowship after worship is enjoyed by all. There was also a book discussion group, Quakerism in a Nutshell, and the meetinghouse was open for Newtown’s Market Day. The Newtown Historical Assoc. met at the meetinghouse to hear about Newtown Quaker history and commemorate our 200th and we are on the holiday house tour this year.
Our newly re-formed Worship & Ministry committee has been responsible for several memorial services. Several Friends are involved in Spiritual Formations, and a group has been meeting weekly to explore testimonies and other aspects of faith. We covered our turn at Chandler Hall worship.
Buildings & Grounds oversaw several critical improvements including repaving the driveway, replacement of the burial ground fence on the property line, replacement of the furnace and water heater, updating the audio assistance system, refurbishing the childcare rooms, and several maintenance issues. We continue to work at a “good neighbor” relationship with Stockburger’s which rents us their parking lot on Sundays. A new burial ground sub-committee is working on updating records and tightening processes.
At the end of the summer, the unsafe playground equipment was removed. We are exploring options, using Friends’ process and involving the whole community to discern the right plan, helping the children and newer Friends experience Quaker decision making.
The Financial Oversight committee led a review and update of our Bylaws. Policies regarding charitable giving were clarified. The Meeting is fortunate to have member contributions exceed expectation this year, especially with so many property expenses.
The Peace and Service committee and individual Friends have been involved in many concerns, including the Women’s March, 350 Bucks Co, the Peace Fair, the Syrian refugee families, and many other political and climate change issues. One young adult Friend used her internship at FCNL to teach us about lobbying techniques.
Care & Counsel was busy with pastoral care of our community, several applications for membership, and one wedding. Personal notes and the care quilts have provided great comfort to many friends this year, and continue to be a treasured symbol of concern. Notes will be sent to distant members before the holidays. At Easter, flowers are given to parents/grandparents of new babies and those who find it difficult to come to meeting, and Bibles are given to fourth graders. Faith & Practice is given to 8th graders at the June picnic. The wedding book is being updated. We make efforts to visit and bring older members from Pennswood and Friends Home & Village who want to attend worship with us. The women’s lunch group continues to meet monthly at Pennswood.
Last year we combined the newsletter, website, press release, bulletin boards, social media and announcer functions into one committee, with a single portal for submitting news. The Communications Committee directs information to the best format, which has greatly streamlined and simplified sharing news about meeting, PYM, Friends, and other events of interest without such long announcements. We continue to invite visitors to introduce themselves, share news of ill/absent, and joys/concerns as well as a few announcements at the rise of meeting. All committees have the ability to post materials to their sections of the website. The Facebook page has become a popular place to share both meeting and outside events of interest.
Newtown Meeting continues to have a strong relationship with Newtown Friends School. In addition to board service, NMM has invited families to worship, provided information on Quakerism, hosted a booth at Family Day, among other connections. There is a new Upper/Lower head of school, and the school began to implement the strategic plan and changed its bylaws this year. Enrollment continues to climb (235). It should be noted that we also have members involved at Buckingham Friends School and George School, and there is a high level of involvement with Camp Onas.
Newtown Meeting is a lively, engaged community. We are strengthened by the commitment shown to deepening care for one another. Our worship has been enriched by spiritual seeking and sharing on both an individual and corporate level. And our dedication to making this a better world is evident in our service to others and the environment.
Susan W. Hoskins, Clerk