I’m happy to report that Bristol Friends Meeting survived 2021. During the warm months we met outdoors under the Buttonwood tree. Outdoor worship has been very popular.
In 2021 Bristol Friends Meeting found three ways to help the Bucks County Interfaith Coalition for Refugee Resettlement (BCICRR) sponsor an Afghan refugee family of six in Bucks County.
First, as we did when BCICRR was preparing for two Syrian families five years ago, we used our meetinghouse to store donated furniture and household goods for the family until an apartment could be rented. The furniture dominated the meetinghouse for a few months, during which time members continued to gather in the midst of the donations and received the unspoken ministry of compassion and generosity on display.
Second, BCICRR was hesitant to assume financial responsibility for a new family because they were planning to raise money for an emergency loan fund for the Syrian families, who are now largely self sufficient but lack a cushion for any substantial unexpected needs. Our treasurer, Jim Fine, realized that our perennial bank balance would allow us to provide no-interest loans to be repaid over one to two years should the need arise. This has allowed BCICRR to move ahead with confidence to support an Afghan family.
Finally, the synagogue that served as fiscal agent for BCICRR for five years (since BCICRR is not a tax exempt organization) wished to be relieved of this responsibility. Bristol Friends has found it easy to assume this role by opening a dedicated bank account accessible to the treasurer of BCICRR and providing documentation of our non-profit church status when asked.
In addition, Bristol Friends is currently in discussion with two other faith groups, an Anabaptist congregation in Bristol Borough, and a Unitarian Universalist community in Lower Bucks County about the use of our meetinghouse. We hope these discussions will bear fruit and that we will soon see diverse worship taking place in the meetinghouse.
We still meet once per month, and our numbers are well below ten. Outreach work continues and clerk Paul Shaffer attends the Bucks Quarter outreach committee meetings. In the past year a few new people have visited once or twice. In February we had a few extra people “due to the war.”
Historic Bristol Day was a welcome return to normalcy. We had some visitors to the meetinghouse, but no archaeology this year. Our Quarter coordinator Wendy set up a tent on Radcliffe Street, handed out the “Peaceable Kingdom” cards and directed visitors to the meetinghouse.
Our burial ground was discussed at the meeting of burial ground clerks. We are in the process of creating a map of gravesites and a complete list of who is buried in our burial ground. Several people have said they would like to inter their loved ones in our burial ground.
And finally, our 350-year-old (ca. 1672) Buttonwood tree got a check-up from an arborist. Like many old trees, she is mostly hollow. Despite the tornado of 9/2/21 twisting a ten-foot section off the top, she is reported to be in good shape. Everyone is invited to worship under her branches.
Respectfully submitted, Paul Shaffer, Clerk