Yet another year of COVID drove our way of gathering as a community this past year. While we gather indoors now, we continue to also use Zoom for our Meetings for Worship, Meetings for Worship to Attend to Business and some special programs. We held our Christmas Eve Caroling and Meeting for Worship in person and on Zoom this year. We began our coffee breaks outdoors on the porch, but now hold them indoors once again. Some of our committees and other groups, such as spiritual nurture groups, hold only Zoom meetings and others hold hybrid meetings, while some have decided to once again meet only in person.
We lovingly received 4 new members and 1 transfer this year. Sadly, we experienced 9 deaths this year and had 1 resignation from membership.
We hold a Women’s MfW quarterly, a silent Contemplation Communion every Saturday, Spiritual Nurture Groups that meet monthly, Sundays @ 7 for 7 weeks designed for new attenders as well as seasoned members, and Adult and First Day classes. These are held for the Spiritual growth and nurturing of our Beloved Community. In that same spirit, we also offer a list of resources addressing racism on our website and encourage Friends to be active.
In our weekly announcements and in our monthly newsletters, we have a list of those requesting to be held in the Light. From my own recent experience, I know the power of such holding. I would venture to say everyone who has been on that list knows it as well. The power comes from this Beloved Community truly caring for each other and for that we are all blessed.
Our standing committees are continuing their loving work to care for our community as well. These committees working together in each of their separate areas, sometimes coming together to work for the Meeting, are the backbone of our Beloved Community. Our Adult Education Committee provided us with thought-provoking classes with their theme “How does connection with the Inner Light nurture transformation in ourselves and our community?”. Our Care of Members Committee continues its outreach to members of our community, offering valuable Spiritual, social, psychological, practical, and financial assistance to our community members and committees. Our Children’s Religious Education Committee began holding classes once again and weekly childcare is still available during Meeting for Worship. They are also in the process of seeking a Children’s Religious Education Coordinator, and the job description continues to be publicized. Our Finance Committee is in good working order with members all doing their part to keep us running. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the committee, our donations were down this year, and we concluded the year with a significant deficit. Along with the Finance Committee, our Trustees of Abington Meeting, Inc. and our John Barnes Trustees, Inc. continue their good work as well. Our Funeral Committee did its usual good work in holding Memorial Meetings and consoling grieving families. Our Hospitality Committee has made a comeback this year. Besides providing flowers for our Meeting for Worship, they also provide a coffee break with beverages and simple snacks between Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Worship to Attend to Business. It started out outdoors on our porch but is now being held indoors once again. They also provide assistance to any other committee or individual who wishes to do a coffee break. Our Library Committee continues to keep books, pamphlets, and journals at our avail to check out and purchases books of interest for all to enjoy. Our Nominating Committee has had many changes to address and is busy keeping our committees filled with good fits. Our Peace & Social Justice Committee is about to distribute the $3000 Right Sharing Funds. They collected food to be distributed at Crisis Ministry in Germantown. Work with the John B. Kelley School continues. Two subcommittees were formed last year and became active this year – Sustainability and Reparations. The Sustainability Subcommittee has enacted composting, engaged our standing committees on sustainable practices, is planning Adult Classes for information for all, and more. The Reparations Subcommittee took an intense course on Reparations and dispersed its first distribution of funds of $1200 to FarmerJawn, an organization dedicated to working on food deserts in black and brown neighborhoods by teaching farming. Our Property Committee has had to work diligently to keep our property in good order. The entire committee has put in much time, effort, and sweat and it shows. There is constant upkeep of our buildings and grounds necessary. Besides the committee members’ own work and the hiring of specialists such as landscapers and cleaners, we also have a Property Coordinator and now a Site Manager, who lives in the cottage on our property. Our School Committee continues to keep us connected to Abington Friends School and, under the care of our Meeting, our school continues to be a wonderful example of Friends Education. Our Worship & Ministry Committee continues to care for our Meeting for Worship (MfW) and our Meeting for Worship to Attend to Business (MfWtAtB). In addition to their efforts mentioned previously, they convene and act as tech hosts for our MfW and our MfWtAtB. One member also acts as a Spiritual Anchor, holding our MfWtAtB in the Light. They continue to provide programming and guidance to our community to ensure that our worship and business are Spirit-led by holding Adult Classes and Sundays at Seven, nurturing those with a ministry, and providing opportunities for members and attenders to join spiritual nurture groups. Our Youth Committee is currently inactive and will reform when the interest in doing so is there.
After years in the planning, our ad hoc Accessibility, Safety & Inclusion Committee has brought our Meeting into unity on the plan, is reporting monthly to MfBtAtW for transparency, and will begin the process of collecting contractor bids early in the new year. Once a contractor is chosen, construction to create an accessible entrance, an accessible bathroom, and some accessibility in the kitchen will commence. The committee is searching for assistance with grant writing and fundraising as well.
Under the care and direction of one member, the Lighthouse Coffeehouse Concert raised funds to be used toward the Accessibility project. The event included musical performances, refreshments, and a silent auction of a painting donated by Meeting member and nationally recognized artist, Phyllis Purves-smith. This event also provided fellowship for our Meeting community as our first larger event since the Covid closures.
We also had some special programming. Two such programs of note were celebrations. Under the guidance of a Friend, we gathered for an inspiring MLK Day celebration. Another Friend, with sponsorship by our Peace & Social Justice Committee, coordinated our Second Annual Celebration of Pride.
We created a Children’s Area in the Meetinghouse. The children’s area was envisioned as a place for the young folk to spend time either for the whole Meeting for Worship, if that’s what their family wants, or for the first 15 minutes if they then go to the First Day School class. There are coloring pages (both crayon-type and colored pencil type), an activity book with things like mazes and word searches, books from our library, wiki sticks & pipe cleaners for bending, etch-a-sketches for drawing, and even finger puppets. And of course, a rocker to soothe a child and pillows to lounge on the Heart Quilt, lovingly made by a member’s grandmother.
We continue to seek ways to provide service to our neighbors in the full sense of the word. We stopped sandwich making during COVID but will begin again in January. The First Day classes held a winter clothes drive and collected money for UNICEF. We collect food to donate. We volunteer to read at the John B. Kelly School.
An exciting enlivening part of our summer was hosting Ujima Peace Center’s Freedom Summer for the second year. The youth and their counselors came Thursdays and Fridays, spreading themselves out over our grounds sometimes seen on quilts brought to the meetinghouse for their use. We hope to host them again next year and we have already had talks about our Meeting members getting involved with sharing their talents with the youth. In the bigger picture, we wish to develop a sister relationship with Ujima Friends Meeting and Ujima Peace Center in the full sense of Ujima, collective work and responsibility working together to build our union.
Our Meeting community also gathered again, after a few years off due to Covid, for our annual Christmas Breakfast and Christmas Program, and Friends expressed appreciation for the in-person gathering. This event happened just two weeks after our Meeting community came together on a Saturday to decorate the meetinghouse for Christmas and, under the leadership of our Property Committee, to help with outdoor tasks and clean-up during our Day of Service.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we are blessed with very special Friends that keep our Meeting running – Loretta Fox, Administrator, Cathy Callan, Secretary, Robert Sloan, Property Coordinator, and our latest addition, Mike Holly, Site Manager.
When presented at our Meeting for Worship to Attend to Business, two additions were raised. One was to note our involvement with both the Quarterly Meeting and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and to thank them for all they do. Second, was a concern that we do not have an Outreach Committee any longer and we should consider reinstating it. The latter will be taken into advisement.