In July 2021 PYM approved minutes of action to be taken on anti- racism and climate change. How has your meeting been called to address these issues? What other concerns and initiatives has your meeting been led to address this past year?
Yes we have been called to address these issues. Climate Change has not been a specific focus of KFM, yet. Edie Burkey from the Kennett Community Grocer (Co-Op) spoke with us on January 23, 2022. She clearly stated the intersectionality of climate change, food supply and co-ops. More Friends joined the co-op and expressed interest in doing more (beyond our individual efforts to reduce our carbon footprints) about climate change. We need a lot more education. Get an outside speaker.
KFM has Minutes about Climate Change and Racism. In 2018, KFM joined PYM with many other Meetings and groups, on a Climate Change Minute.
“A Minute on Addressing Climate Change in Pennsylvania Since 1998, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has united on five minutes related to the urgent need to address climate change, including commitments to “care for God’s creation and for the future of humanity’s children,” and a plea “to hold ourselves lovingly accountable.”
The time to act is now. An October 2018 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that climate change is proceeding much more rapidly than previously predicted, and that humankind has at most only twelve more years to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if we are to avoid catastrophe.
In Pennsylvania, we have an opportunity to take action, building on our state’s Environmental Rights Act which guarantees all Pennsylvanians the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
The Clean Air Council has researched and developed a petition urging Governor Wolf to use his regulatory authority to uphold this constitutional right, to immediately put a price on the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions, establish a cap on such emissions statewide, sell or, in some cases, distribute allowances to those businesses and entities which produce CO2, lower the cap every year and retire allowances. Our faith community’s queries ask if our Meeting is “concerned that human interaction with nature be responsible, guided by a reverence for life and a sense of the splendor of God’s continuing creation.” They ask, “How does our Meeting learn about environmental concerns and then act in the community on its concerns?” In response, Kennett Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, at Meeting for Business on November 11, 2018, agrees to file as a co-petitioner to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board, to establish this comprehensive program to limit greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to stabilize the climate and conserve and maintain the public natural resources for which the Commonwealth is a trustee. We urge Friends throughout our Yearly Meeting to examine this approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to join as co-petitioners in this process.”
KFM Statement on racism: “As Friends, we are guided by our belief that there is that of God in every person, and thus our belief in human equality. Kennett Friends Meeting recognizes that we have been slow to understand how the legacy of slavery and continuing systemic racism devalue all Black people and damage Black communities. As a privileged group, we are awakening to a deeper awareness of the ways we have participated, both consciously and unconsciously, in the system of White Supremacy resulting in racism and oppression. We are called to actively acknowledge, bring to light, and abolish structures, institutions, language, and thought processes which support the profound injustice of White Supremacy. We affirm that Black lives matter and we support the Black Lives Matter movement. We know that now is a time for action. We pledge to continue educating ourselves, to examine Quaker institutions and literature, to work with community organizations and anti-racist movements, and to engage our government representatives in ongoing efforts to confront and eradicate White Supremacy. We pledge our resources in support of these efforts.”
FFIS (Friends For Immigrant Support) is a very active, ongoing committee at KFM, supporting many Hispanic people in our community. A lot of our work happens in smaller groups and by individuals in the Meeting. We address immigration support, climate change, systemic racism and housing inequality through these efforts. The Housing group is meeting regularly. Subsidized housing is needed for younger families to address severe shortages.
We had the Vocal Ministry Retreat February 27, 2021 with Benjamin Lloyd, that moved us forward as a Meeting.
We continue our work on White Privilege and Systemic Racism, more specifically started two years ago and ongoing, monthly.
We have done the Amnesty International letter writing campaigns for numerous years. We plan to start an effort writing our local officials on the issues of housing.
How has your meeting evolved as a spiritual community given the ongoing opportunities and challenges of the pandemic?
Today, February 6, 2022, we have 12 Friends on Zoom and 4 in the Meetinghouse (masked), using our hybrid setup. We are a kind and generous group, doing our best in this time of COVID.
Friends often hear support of Quaker values from non-Quakers (at Crosslands and elsewhere). We need more outreach and have a new Communications Committee.
Quaker schools often have (non-Quaker) graduates that come out more “Quaker” than some actual Quakers.
“Evolved?” Survival of the fittest during COVID. Zoom has kept us together. Meeting for Worship harder on Zoom for some, especially those having been in front of a computer all week. It’s REALLY hard on children and effects programming for them. We have a big concern about keeping them engaged. Plus many of our children are teenagers now and have sports on Sundays, and, are burnt out doing school on zoom.
Christmas 2020 we delivered gifts to families with games and projects. This was well received.
We were noticing how resilient, engaged and flexible we have been. We are developing new strategies to connect.
We desire materials from PYM for our children. Melinda Wenner Bradley is a great resource. She did a wonderful intergenerational program with us November 7, 2021. Mary Harper did a great job on Zoom with our children, during the first year+ of COVID. Interest fell off.
One member loves the zoom option for Adult Discussion and Worship, to get grounded every week, wherever she is, often busy taking a teenager to other activities. We want to gather existing resources for children and transform our children’s education. We need to address the needs of young families in our outreach initiation.
What practices and strategies are employed by your meeting to help members and attenders of all ages prepare for worship – whether in meeting for worship or in meeting for business? – Faith and Practice p. 214
We have focussed a lot on Vocal Ministry this past year, and want to continue with more education.
We are seeking a speaker on Eldering. We are committed to maintaining a healthy container for KFM.
Friends have appreciated our self-reflective conversation of what it means to be ‘welcoming,’ and want it to continue.
“Worship & Ministry is doing a great job with education these past two years.” The value of Zoom! Not just “in-person” worship. Some say Meeting for Business isn’t the same or as good on Zoom. We’re noticing that a Friend’s age impacts their impression of worship and business. It takes practice to worship on zoom. It’s been eye opening and it allows us to survive.
We might want to rearrange the benches to better suit integrating the zoom screen. House & Property is looking into improving our zoom set up.
Friends are appreciating our more consistent effort to read and contemplate the query a week before Meeting for Business. The queries are our foundation and we want to give them more credence in our process. We also hope they will guide us more deeply. They also help us remember that worship is part of Meeting for Business, hence ‘Meeting for Worship with Attention for Business.’
What is most needed to strengthen the communal witness of the meeting to the local community and beyond? – Faith and Practice p. 214
It’s good for us to be aware of what is needed in our community. KFM has always been very supportive of our community. We have FFIS; the Eat Fresh Program; LCH teaching cooking in the kitchen; hosting the Bizarre for the United Way; etc… ENERGY is needed for communal witness. We lost energy to maintain the Quaker Fair (fundraiser of AFSC). We have also lost a lot of our elders in the past ten years. Outreach is a renewed focus of Meeting, especially as we face the challenge of COVID.We wish to use more of the tools provided by PYM and other Meetings. We’re very active with the Kennett Friends Home.
Our front lawn is a great, visible space where we have: held Black Lives Matter vigils; posted our large BLM (and other messages) signs; Dorant Well’s program September 12, 2020 CIVIL DISCOURSE: The Black Lives Matter Movement and The Impacts of Protesting; T-shirt display on gun violence; Boots On the Ground display. We want to use that space more for future programs. Outreach and social media plans are essential for getting the word out. We have 2 websites. One for KFM and one for Old Kennett Meeting. We want to update them. We also have more than one KFM FaceBook page. We need to consolidate those into one page. The Communications Committee will get ur outreach more organized.
Is there a query (or queries) that your meeting would like to respond to that has not been included here? Please share it (or them) and your response.
Be advised more about what Quakers are doing now and our impact on the world. Is the Friends Service Committee still active (like it was in the 1960’s)? There’s been a shift from collective action in the past. Not sure why. Our spiritual grounding is important to us. “We cannot be all things to all people.” Social justice challenge and individualism.
One Friend’s favorite thing about Quakerism is support to follow leadings. We appreciate this opportunity to provide this Spiritual State of the Meeting to PYM as it allows us to reflect on our own spiritual process.
*One way to think of covenant is as a promise to stay in relationship with Spirit/ God. Faithfulness is just a part of that promise; it is the commitment to stay in relationship that is the enduring part of the tradition we carry as Friends. Those who are interested in more information about covenant relationships may find Tom Gates offering, “Seeing Beyond Our Differences: Meeting as Covenant Community.”