Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting
Annual Report to Bucks Quarterly Meeting
Presented at Bucks Quarterly Meeting, August 20, 2017
Plumstead Meeting hosted BQM at United Friends School, Quakertown PA
How to sum up a year at Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting in a page or two? It’s a mix of panicked activism, deepening prayer, caring for each other, and some fun and silliness thrown in. Here are some of the highlights for 2016.
During meeting for worship, we usually have about 30 to 45 people. Within some worship periods we’ve had eight messages, and during other meetings for worship we’ve had none. We have about 90 members, and about 67 are active. We have about 38 active, regular attenders, many of whom are long-time members of our community. Between 18 and 27 people attend Meeting for Business regularly. We hold Meeting for Business on the second First Day of the month after Meeting for Worship and Announcements. Our Announcements (and After Thoughts and Holding in the Light) can take about 20 to 25 minutes after the rise of meeting. Yet, it is enjoyed and appreciated in part because it’s the only time all of us are together at once.
We have two paid care-takers in the Nursery every week during worship and the planned activities. Occasionally we have four or five children in the Nursery. However, usually we have one child, and some days we have none. Religious Education faced the challenge of decreasing numbers of children in First Day school. We have about 8 to 10 children total and they don’t come every First Day. RE’s creative solution was to have a different 2-person team each week lead the class of the whole mixed age group of children. Each semester had a theme—for example in the Fall it was Bible stories.
A group has been meeting regularly to discuss readings in Quaker history. It has traveled to several Quaker historical sites as well.
In the Fall of 2016, Donna Hartmann led four sessions of “Quakerism 101,” with a focus on being a Quaker in our particular meeting.
We are so fortunate that Annual Sessions was held at nearby Muhlenberg College this year and many could attend. In addition, we hosted Quarterly Meeting in November, 2016.
Worship and Ministry committee has prepared our own creative queries based on the committee’s sense of the needs of the meeting. This has increased the wisdom and grace of those who attend the monthly Query discussion.
Spruce Lake Retreat, Canadensis PA, was the site of a weekend-long meeting retreat in April. The meeting paid for lodging (but not meals) for 68 members, attenders, and family members to participate in worship sharing, story sharing, skits, games, reflection, and hikes.
Now Lehigh Valley has a presence on Facebook at “lehighvalleyquakers”. Also, we had WiFi installed at the Meetinghouse. Regular maintenance–such as installing six new windows in the Gathering Room, buying a new refrigerator, and repairing the heavy-duty dishwasher–is on-going. The Meeting approved hiring a Certified Public Accountant to perform a financial review of LVMM. On other financial efforts, sadly, we seem to realize there will be a budget shortfall late in the fiscal year. And once again, after a dedicated few roused us all to act, we managed to end the year on budget.
Social concerns are an on-going and vibrant part of the Meeting. We are inspired by the Friends Committee on National Legislation to act in various ways for a better world. We continue to be involved with Citizens Climate Lobby and LEPOCO. In addition, in the Fall as we approached the presidential election, we had three workshops on “Constructive Conversations in Difficult Situations” led by Mary Lou Hatcher. We enjoyed what has become an annual event: The Harambe with traditional Kenyan food. This builds community as we raise money to support two or three young women who are attending schools in Kenya.
Social Concerns Committee has provided us with many opportunities to write postcards to our various representatives. We support the Pennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry with canned goods, and with money from our Frugal Feasts. Safe Harbor is a shelter in Easton for homeless people. Once a month, members and attenders help cook and serve food to 30 to 35 residents at Safe Harbor. In total, 44 different individuals, both members and attenders, have helped throughout the year.
In October, one of our members gave the invocation in the Pennsylvania Senate. Through contact with our state Senator Lisa Boscola, and Senator Charles T. McIihinney, Jr., John Marquette served as Guest Chaplain and gave the invocation to open a state Senate Session. For a community of faith, deeply rooted in Pennsylvania’s history, this is appropriate. This served as a reminder that Quakers helped establish the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a place of religious liberty, and that Quakers are an active presence in the state today.
Once a week, three members of Lehigh Valley have been tutoring five of the six members of a Syrian refugee family in Allentown in conjunction with the Lehigh Valley Council of Churches.
We have raised money, as well as our presence, in the wider community through our annual Craft Fair and Book Sale. And we have enjoyed the Talent Show and our own Quaker Jeopardy.
In 2016 an attender and several members died: Marq Calhoun, an attender who was brought up in our meeting; Mary Lou Muhlhausen and Kirt Muhlhausen, long-time members; and Lew Dreisbach, a former long-time member.
We have two new members: A transfer, William Evan Lifer, and one new member, Jamie Weis.
It’s difficult to gather themes, or steps forward or even steps backward, but as we seek, The Light will show the way.
Christine D. Murray, clerk
Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting, Bethlehem PA