On March 5, 2023, Harrisburg Friends Meeting met in worshipful silence to consider the queries sent by PYM that provided guided promptings for us to consider the Spiritual State of theMeeting. Harrisburg Friends has approximately 15 to 20 regular attenders/members who are present for Meeting for Worship and/or Adult First Day School both in-person and via Zoom.
More people are involved on an irregular basis. Despite our small size, we are an active Meeting with community members involved in many aspects of the Meeting, the greater community, and individual leadings. Below are our responses to the queries which provide a good snapshot of the Spiritual state of our Meeting.
1) In this past year, how has your meeting worked to create and strengthen the reality of a Beloved Community? How has your meeting fostered an environment in which members and attenders of all ages know they are loved, cared for, trusted, and respected?
- A regular 7 evenings/week worship session on Zoom created when the pandemic first began as a means to connect to each other. The sessions continue and have served as a focus of community building especially for those with physical impairments which prevent them from coming to Meeting, or who are unable to attend worship on First Day mornings. The evening worship includes time to share joys and concerns and support those in need with love and care in a small group setting.
- Updated AV equipment which consists of a new computer, room-wide microphone, sound system, adjustable camera, and digital projector. This has greatly improved the hybrid experience for both those in the Meetinghouse and those joining online. We continue to use Zoom which has increased our accessibility and inclusivity.
- Strong Caring Committee that is able to carry, hold and address the needs of the members of the community with discreteness, kindness, and effectiveness. Caring also performs timely outreach to visitors and new attenders.
- Active set of groups who meet regularly: Women’s group, Men’s Group and Couple’s Group.
- Strengthened communications via the listserv, Zoom availability, upgraded and newly implemented website, an active Facebook page, and a regularly published newsletter.
- Robust Adult First Day School Program that offers something nearly every First Day during the school year, including a recent Quaker Points of Light series where we learned about the lives and Spiritual journeys of some of our Meeting members.
- Individual devotion to committee work and spiritual development strengthens the meeting as a whole.
- Improved responsiveness to visitors – hospitality has returned and the community has time to interact with visitors and with each other (Donut Ministry).
- Outreach and intergenerational events organized by the Nurture committee that has attracted some families with children and has helped foster a sense of inclusivity.
- Monthly meeting community fun outings foster community outside of the meeting house.
- Visitation of community members not able to participate in Meeting.
- Participation in the Thread Gathering as a Meeting and as individuals.
- Hosting joyful singing together.
2) How have you sought to be neighbors and in relationship with other communities?
- Involvement with Christian Churches United, Inter-religious Forum, and generous support of the Community Service Fund.
- Individual Members and Attenders following their leadings working in the community as representatives of Harrisburg Friends Meeting (Friends Committee on National Legislation Advocacy Group, American Friends Service Committee); participating in Quaker Peace-building Perspectives: Giving Peace a Chance, an international endeavor to discern Spirit-led ways to help bring about peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine; Pendle Hill Worship; Alternatives to Violence Programs, FGC and various Philadelphia Meeting committees.
- Making the building available for groups to utilize the space for meetings (Three Mile Island Alert, LGBTQ Center, Neighborhood Dispute, Church World Service and others).
- Hosting Continuing Sessions in March and inviting neighboring meetings.
- Active participation in Caln Quarter.
3) How has your meeting been called to address issues of racism this past year? What additional concerns and initiatives have your meeting or meeting members been led to address?
- Work of Wider World and the community events (public meetings/George Lakey), Community Service Fund, Community Engagement – actively participated in Pride Fest in July. Program on peace work in Ukraine. Alternatives to Violence Project
Palestine Program funding and AVP work in Peru.
- Total Community Service Fund usage (donations and Meeting budget) is over $18,000. Members of the community have increased their giving to this fund. This fund services the Greater Harrisburg Area and provides assistance with basic needs such as: preventing shutoff of utilities; assisting with temporary housing; helping with food resources.
- Little Library created – Meeting Community and Wider Community donate books, non perishable food and other essential items for those in need to access. The little library sits on a busy street by an apartment complex and across the street from an Elementary School.
- Individuals following leadings to participate in various community activities on their own.
- The medicinal garden beds that grow plant materials for herbal medicines provided to underserved and stressed communities in Chester County. Through the garden beds, we have also developed connections to other Quaker grow sites locally and nationally.
4) How has the Spirit guided your work on climate change? How has your meeting addressed the five action areas identified in the Climate Change Sprint Report? Has your Meeting appointed a Climate Witness liaison?
- Strong leading regarding Climate Change. Pollinator garden has been started to continue the process of changing the landscape of the Meeting Grounds. Plan created and approved to adopt permaculture and native plantings to transform the Meeting grounds from a predominantly grass monoculture into a more diverse green oasis.
- Installation of energy-efficient HVAC and Hot/Water system; upgraded the ceiling Insulation.
- Two members of the community have met with PYM Climate Witness Steward
- Invited PYM Climate Witness Steward to present at AFDS
- An Eco-Justice and Environmental Action Plan was created 3 years ago. This is a working document that is a reference tool for the meeting and is updated as activities occur and additional needs are identified.
5) What learnings and yearnings particular to your meeting would you like to share?
- Use the medicinal garden and permaculture plans to connect with the localcommunity.
- Attract more individuals and families.
- Increase our Light in the wider community – let them know who we are, what Quakerism is and our faith entails.
- Increase our investment in green technology.
6) What are things the Yearly Meeting might do to support your meeting?
- Thankful for the communication and sharing of information by the YM. Supporting leadership in Monthly and Quarterly Meetings (quarterly zoom meetings).
- Thankful for the Grants available though PYM for initiatives.
- Toolkit for Meetings to use for Adult and Youth Programs.