In 2022 Doylestown Friends continued to seek, discern, and follow our sense of the Light, in our hearts, in the ways we treat one another, in our local community, and in the wider world.
We faced challenges:
The Covid 19 pandemic continues. At first we worshiped virtually via Zoom only; attendance averaged ~18. With careful consideration of the science, and with care for one another and our many diverse feelings, in April we reopened our Meetinghouse with excellent ventilation, CO2 monitoring, and made masks and vaccination optional. Attendance averaged ~17 in our meetinghouse, ~7 on zoom (whether hybrid or zoom only). (These numbers include all ages.) We continue to strive to balance the needs and wishes of those who cannot attend or don’t feel safe in person to the meetinghouse with the needs and wishes of those who cherish in person worship, and/or do not feel comfortable with technology for various reasons. Our efforts to improve the experience of technology in hybrid worship continues. (Hybrid worship is when online worshipers virtually connect with in-person worship in the meetinghouse.) Virtual worship enabled us to occasionally join Friends across Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in All Together Zoom worship.
We have had trouble filling some committee positions and roles in our Opportunities for Service, and trouble finding volunteers to run technology for hybrid worship. So we came to offer hybrid worship only on the second and fourth Sundays, when after worship we monthly hold meeting for business or forums. On first, third, and fifth Sundays, we worship via Zoom, and in person in the Meetinghouse, but these two groups worship separately.
In recent years, we have benefited from having two Co-clerks, but for 2023 only one stalwart Friend will wear the Clerk mantle.
We planned to repeat our outside Christmas program in the backyard of the meetinghouse as in 2021, a bonfire carol sing, but canceled due to extreme cold.
We met these challenges, and we found reasons to hope and feel encouraged:
Our robust First Day School program continues. Dedicated Friends teach new generations about our testimonies, especially Peace. All enjoyed our Easter Egg hunt. Our children’s First Day School is small, but vital. Children attended on most Sundays, and we are happy that our visitors included children.
In May we virtually hosted Bucks Quarterly Meeting; our featured speaker was our longtime member, Gretchen Castle, Dean of the Earlham School of Religion, who spoke about the Peace testimony in the global context. This topic has been heavy on our hearts, especially as the war in Ukraine rages on, and some of us struggle with how to respond in light of our Peace testimony.
In 2022, after we started meeting in person, and dropped the mask and Covid vaccine requirements, we had more visitors than in 2021. Some visitors are motivated by racial justice, and some are motivated to oppose the bans of books about LGBTQ and racial diversity in the Central Bucks School District. Many of our faithful members share these concerns, and many chose to read books banned by CBSD.
We have worked to address racism, and acknowledge that we have more to do. For example, one member volunteers with the Coalition of Natives and Allies to educate the public and oppose the racist policy of using Native peoples as sports mascots. Another member sought guidance from the meeting regarding a pair of moccasins, handed down from his ancestor who worked at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. We learned that school staff stripped children of every aspect of their Native identity, such as moccasins, as they entered the school and, sadly, that Friends were among the European American perpetrators of this cultural genocide. Once they indentified to what Native American peoples they belonged, our members reverently returned the moccasins to a Native member of the Coalition of Natives and Allies who plans to return them to her Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate community in South Dakota, along with the remains of two boys returned by the Carlisle School for burial on their homelands.
In September, we held a DFM Open House during the Doylestown Arts Fest. It was a great success and was well received by many people in the wider community who attended and expressed interest and curiosity about the Meetinghouse and our beliefs.
Monthly Forums: the Pastoral Concerns, Worship and Ministry, and Peace and Social Concerns committees took turns organizing monthly forums after Meeting for Worship. Some popular forums included singer songwriter Reggie Harris, Outreach ideas, and discussion of book bans by Central Bucks School District.
Our meeting garden flourishes; flowers in front of our meetinghouse beautify our community, and vegetables out back we donate to a local food bank. We updated the bricks around our meetinghouse and sidewalk in front of the meetinghouse, making the way smoother and safer for all.
This report features highlights of our 2022, but is not all the ways that DFM members and attenders corporately and individually live out our testimonies and seek continual revelation of the Light.
Humbly submitted with love,
Lisa Wildman, retired Co-clerk