Doylestown Friends Meeting Annual Report to Bucks Quarterly Meeting
Held on February 18, 2018
At the Quakertown Friends Meetinghouse
In 2017 Doylestown Monthly Meeting continued to experience a steady growth of regular attenders, some of which were families with young children. We enjoyed another year as a vibrant worship and socially active community.
Pastoral Concerns Committee replaced our membership database while continuing its work to update our membership records. Membership now stands at 155: we had two resignations, suffered one death and added two members, one of which was by transfer.
Pastoral Concerns also felt moved to make a written statement concerning the Meeting’s beliefs, values and concerns, emphasizing that the meetinghouse is a place to experience unity, connection, dialogue and mutual respect. It was intended for our newsletter, web site and the editor of the local newspaper.
To support our attenders, Worship and Ministry Committee created guidelines for vocal ministry based on Faith and Practice. They were laminated and put on the benches in the meetinghouse. Feedback was mixed, some attenders saying that, after reading the flow chart and guidelines, they felt intimidated to give a message.
Worship and Ministry organized two retreats in 2017: an all Meeting, one-day retreat in May at Camp Onas which 17 adults and 9 children attended. The ropes course, again, proved to be very popular. A women’s retreat was held in late October at Grove Hall in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Ten women attended. Both events were a great opportunity for members and attenders to get to know each other better.
There were other opportunities during the year for fun and social interaction: Rick Howe arranged for a showing in the meetinghouse of the opera, Lucia Di Lammermoor, social groups were reintroduced (there are now four such gatherings a month in members’ homes) and we had an outing to a Phillies game in June (every time we’ve attended over the past five years the Phillies have won so we’re hopeful that the Quaker magic will hold again this year!).
Property Committee is still exploring how to make the lower level of our building handicap accessible. Installing a chair lift would be very expensive as there is some additional work that would have to be done to connect the existing ramp to the set of back stairs. Some outside painting was completed, a new thermostat installed and an overflowing toilet fixed. We have many more outside groups using the meetinghouse and testing the limits of our facilities—Save Bucks Votes, Moms Demand Action, Rise Up Doylestown, a men’s group and an AA group meet regularly in the meetinghouse.
First Day School began the year with a unit on music as a means of expressing emotion. Other highlights included a trip to the Pearl S. Buck House as an experiential part of a unit on Circles of Friendship and a holiday play with lots of singing. Each year the children create out of recycled goods a 3-D community of their design. For the last few years the Mayor of Doylestown has graciously visited FDS to hear the children’s ideas and proposals for making constructive use of potential space in Doylestown Borough. The FDS garden, planted and harvested by the children, produced 70 pounds of fresh produce which was donated to the Bucks County Housing Authority food pantry.
Our finances were healthy in 2017. We had a surplus of $1,900 that went to our endowment fund, after giving to various Quaker schools and to the Borough of Doylestown.
We decided to start using name-tags in 2017 and it has now become a kind of ritual to find your nametag before entering the worship space. The children especially enjoy it.
In addition, we initiated the practice of asking for any joys or concerns or after thoughts that didn’t make it into a message after MFW. This has helped us be aware of who is in need of help or who has enjoyed some kind of blessing that we might not otherwise know about. I think it has helped create greater intimacy amongst us.
In November we celebrated the life of beloved member, Bob Trepeta in a memorial service that filled our meetinghouse to capacity. At Christmas, members Joe Simek and his wife, Alexis Ridge-Simek put up a Christmas tree in the meetinghouse. Each ornament had written on it a request for clothing and items for foster children in transition. All the items were put into backpacks and distributed throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Peace and Social Concerns Committee chose four focus topics for the year: immigrants/refugees, gerrymandering, money in politics and peace. Jenny Isaacs and others were involved in efforts to support residents of Doylestown and surrounding areas impacted by immigration enforcement. Jenny used her Spanish skills on numerous occasions to inform immigrants of their rights and to help them obtain representation. She spoke in NYC about our legislative letter- writing project, had direct engagement with those affected by detentions and deportations, and had face-to-face lobbying visits with
State representative Quinn, State Senator McIlhinney, and US Rep Brian Fitzpatrick as well as the Regional Police Commissioner.
Another outreach event was the Hiroshima Day vigil on August 6th at the corners of State and Main Streets in Doylestown. We held banners, focusing specifically on abolishing nuclear war and handed out paper cranes as symbols of peace. We have held this vigil since the 1980s. Representation from several other meetings in the Quarter attended and there was coverage in the Intelligencer and the Bucks County Herald.
Respectfully submitted, Wendy Steginsky, Clerk