Fallsington Monthly Meeting submits this Report on “Spiritual State of the Meeting”. It was prepared by the Worship & Ministry Committee and circulated to the Meeting for review, correction, or comment.
We do not take this task lightly. We accept the invitation as one to review our activities over the past year from the vantage point of the Life of the Spirit.
Topic 1 Building the Beloved Community
1. We gather for unprogrammed worship on First Day. This is the heart of our Meeting. There is often a class or program preceding worship. First Day school for younger Friends is provided. We share a simple meal together after worship. First Day is also a time for committee meetings and planning. Worship and programs are typically hybrid, so that Friends traveling or confined can be with us.
2. We observe the historic holidays, Christmas and Easter, in creative ways. We seek to weave Quaker messages into traditional celebrations.
3. Music is an important aspect. (We put the “sing” in “Fallsington”) We sing during or after weekly worship. Music figures in our holidays, social gatherings, and outreach to the community. Our group includes many gifted musicians.
4. We gathered twice, in January and December, with specific concern for nurturing and extending our group. (This is discussed at greater length in Topic 5, Leanings and Yearnings)
5. We gathered socially outside of worship — sing-alongs, game nights, picnics, bonfires.
6. We hold a regular Meeting for Healing, usually the second Sunday of the month, facilitated by Lisa Collins who the Meeting recognized and supports as a Minister for Healing.
7. We sense the distress and hold in the Light those beset by illness, bereavement, financial difficulty, loss of capacity, or despair. Our Care and Concern committee sees to this, but all see this as fundamental, as they have gifts to respond. There has been some decline in our numbers by death, relocation, or disconnection.
7. We celebrate together the progress of life — new opportunities at work, newborn children, graduations, anniversaries, birthdays.
8. Our Meeting is available for memorial services and burials. In some cases families who have moved away long ago return to honor or bury their departed with us. We have devoted some effort to the physical care of our burial grounds and our records of burials.
9. We note when someone has been absent from Meeting. We reach out, as seems appropriate, to see what we can do.
10. We gather at least once a year to work on our grounds — raking leaves and other minor landscaping.
11. Bristol Monthly Meeting is under our care. Meeting for worship is held there once a month. We are encouraging the Meeting to attend there. Several Friends are devoting attention to matters at Bristol. It’s space is being made available for worship to another group.
Topic 2 Relationship to the World
1. We are in a small historic town and must live with our neighbors. This is a community with many views of the spirit and society. We also belong to a wider Quaker community and even wider secular world.
2. We support an Annual Village tree lighting in early December, this year providing music at the lighting and a community gathering afterwards. We host this gathering on a rotating basis, though not this year.
3.Members of the Meeting are active officers, board members andvolunteers at the local community library.
4. Members are active in the governance of Wm Penn Center, a child-care center renting a building on our property.
5. We support Friends Village, the nearby modest-income residential community, through Board membership and volunteer service (such as caroling)
6. We cooperate with Bucks County Mutual Aid, which supports the unhoused and economically disadvantaged. Currently, we provide storage space for donated items. And the Meeting House is used once a month to provide a meal and showers, etc.
7. Our social room is available for rental
8. We held a half day retreat on Saturday, Jan. 29, with specific focus on Outreach and Membership Development. (Discussed further in Learnings and Yearnings)
9. We participate in Bucks Quarter activities. We take a turn leading worship at Chandler Hall, though that has not been active in recent years.
10. At the annual town celebration “Fallsington Day” in early October, we open the Meeting House and provide literature and other information. We cooperate with Bucks Quarter, which also participates in this event.
11. We used an Outreach grant from Bucks Quarter to purchase books (“Faith and Practice” and “Letters to a Fellow Seeker”) to give to new attenders and seekers.
Topic 3. Racism and other social concerns
1. Several years ago, we committed to better educating ourselves about racial justice and seeking concrete ways to respond to promote racial justice in our society. This includes identifying written resources and making them available.
2. We virtually hosted Bucks Quarter in August, 2022. We invited a talk by the African American Museum of Bucks County. This museum which is under construction will record and teach Black history and experience in this area. We also financially support the museum. We celebrate that it has received significant funding from the county government to restore a historic building as a permanent home.
3. We contribute financially two groups in neighboring Trenton, NJ: “Men for H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Evolve)” and “The Father Center”. The Father Center supports parenting by fathers who face challenges (including adolescents, people in the juvenile justice system, or people returning from incarceration). Men for HOPE works for economic development, including sponsorship of a paid apprenticeship program and food distribution programs.
4. We struggle to respond to the crisis in Ukraine. We had an adult class in January 2023. How to interpret the peace testimony in the context of aggression has always been difficult.
5. We are blessed financial investments that offer us opportunities to give to others. Every two years, we review our Meetings contributions to different helping organizations.
6. Work with FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislaton)
Some members are active in FCNL. We met in October to discern priorities to share with FCNL. Friends from Bucks Quarter supported Fallsington Friends in this discussion. We arrived at the following, which were communicated to FCNL.
-Increased Resources for effective diplomacy
-Reduce economic inequality
-Defend voting rights and correct campaign financing
-Improve the social fabric
-Reduce greenhouse gasses
-Cleanse and protect our planets water
-Access to healthy food
We see many of these concerns reflected in FCNL’s final decision for priorities.
Topic 4. Climate Change
1. Our Meeting has a strong focus on protecting the environment. We supported individual members lobbying for legislative change and working to limit fossil fuel extraction. A member’s artistic gifts create music and video offering ways to combat climate change.
2. How can we as a Meeting reduce our impact on the earth? The second meeting house on our land is a child care center (William Penn Center). We work with them to increase energy efficiency of their building. We have longer-term plans for renewable electricity and creating a net zero campus.
3. We have not specifically worked within the action areas of the Climate Change Sprint Report, nor have we appointed a Climate Witness liaison. However, we are in alignment with the 5 dimensions of the Sprint report (Activism, Education, Sustainability/Conservation, Financial, Spiritual).
4. An appreciation of nature is often expressed in our messages and sharings in worship.
Topic 5. Leanings and Yearnings
During 2022, we gathered twice with intent to consider ourselves as a Meeting, both among ourselves and in the world. At a half day retreat in January 2022, we considered our Outreach/Membership Development opportunities. We shared what drew us to Quakerism initially. We divided into groups to discuss what each of our functional committees could contribute. These ideas were memorialized. Examples: 1) Greater use of social media 2) Community events to draw in a wider group. In 2023, we plan to use outreach grant funding for singer/songwriter concerts expressing social justice in accordance with Quaker values.
In December 2022, we met to discuss our “regathering” after a long period when our physical gathering was stopped or limited. This reemphasized some of the ideas of the January 2022 retreat. For example, there will be social gatherings (such as game nights, bonfires, sing-alongs) outside of worship. There was also interest in learning more about Quakerism — which was moved forward in early 2023.
Quakerism in a Nutshell — a Saturday morning class for the meeting and wider community, grew out of our wish to share the Friends experience, and used the teaching talents of several of our members. We began planning in the last quarter of 2022, and were able to present this to about 40 folks in February, 2023. Several new participants have attended meeting since then.
Topic 6: Yearly Meeting Support
We acknowledge the supporting role of PYM in the operation of Meetings like ours. Organization of semi-annual gatherings, preparation of educational materials, provision of leaders for workshops, and financial grants have all supported us. Even the request for a report such as the present one is a support because it leads us to self-evaluation in a caring way that we probably would not otherwise do, certainly not with such thoroughness.
All Together Worship is a welcome innovation. We enjoy seeing the many other Meetings in PYM.
Our Meeting would like to maintain closer contact with the Yearly Meeting. We intend to re-establish the role of a liaison to PYM, which we understand is encouraged. We invite PYM to come and speak to us, for example at one of our 10 AM pre-meeting programs, on any topic — as examples history of Quakers, mysticism, differing views on theism and Christ-centered theology, and social activism.